Tuesday, March 31, 2009

2009 book 69

Scarlett Thomas' Dead Clever
I had remembered really liking Thomas' mystery series, but it turns out I thought the first one wasn't that great (check out how verbose I used to be in these reviews!).

Anyway, I'm heading to Pittsburgh tomorrow for oral surgery and family funtime, so I imagine I'll have lots more book blurbs coming soon.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

2009 book 68

Jincy Willett's Winner of the National Book Award
I really enjoyed this novel when I read it five years ago, but found it to be a little too depressing this time around.

2009 book 67

Thrity Umrigar's The Weight of Heaven
God, was this book bad. It starts off interestingly enough--after their son dies, an American couple moves to India and get involved in the lives of the locals--particularly a local boy. Things clearly aren't going to end well, but it's ridiculous how idiotically they end. I mean, the end of this book was maybe the worst, most unbelievable ending I have ever read. D.

Friday, March 27, 2009

comics etc

Working at a comic book store (the inestimable Chapel Hill Comics) gives me plenty of time to think about all the things I'd buy with my birthday* money, if I didn't need it to pay for, say, electricity and internet. Anyway, there are lots of cool things in stock, so come check some of these out!

--New Ugly Dolls! I love Babo's Bird best, but the limited edition Ox (in six different bright colors) is pretty sweet. too.

--Wonderland has gorgeous art and tackles the question of who is the mysterious Mary Ann of Alice in Wonderland?

--The Double-Daring Book for Girls--the first one was totally fun and I bet the sequel is too! (We have a ton of books along this line in the store.)

--Can't go wrong w/ a hefty autobiography by one of the great manga authors.

--Or with the latest pretty book by Neil Gaiman and Dave McKean.

--Or the complete Perry Bible Fellowship collection.

--I love perusing the Nicholas books. They're not comics, but they're by the Asterix dude, so we carry them, and they're pretty awesome.

--I also love the new editions of the Love and Rockets comics (my all-time favorite series, besides Scott Pilgrim). I own the content already but the formatting is just gorgeous on these.

--And speaking of favorites and of excellent formatting, the new Art Spiegelman sketchbook has incredible packaging.

* I will officially be old in 10 days.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

2009 book 66

Alison Croggon's The Crow
Croggon takes a surprising turn in her third book, focusing on the protagonist's brother instead of the Chosen One herself (which is fine w/ me, as I've spent the past two books worried that she'll end up hooking up w/ her much older teacher/traveling companion). Anyway, war war blah blah magic lord of the rings. Not entirely my cup of tea, but still readable. I'm excited to read the fourth one, assuming the library gets it. B.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

2009 book 65

Lisa Lutz's Revenge of the Spellmans
Lutz's third book about a family of eccentric--and very funny--PIs is another satisfying entry in the series. The mystery was light (though I only correctly guessed part of it), and as always the best part of the story is the relationships b/w all the characters. I will say that Lutz's editors need to work a little harder; I found a couple of minor but somewhat annoying continuity errors in this book and the previous one. A- (only b/c one romance I was hoping to see happen didn't, haha).

2009 book 64

Lisa Lutz's Curse of the Spellmans
OK, now I've reread the second Spellmans book, which is pretty much just as funny and entertaining as the first. And I'm still dying to read the new one! Stupid library not having it in yet.

Monday, March 23, 2009

2009 book 63

Markus Zusak's The Book Thief
I've been in a reading mood today, but don't have anything new to read, so decided to peruse the ol' bookshelves and pick out a good one. The Book Thief was one of my favorite books of 2006 and is still a great read--and I still sobbed through the final chapters. (It's a story that takes place in Germany during WWII and is narrated by Death--there are bound to be some tears. Still, it's mostly very beautiful.)

2009 book 62

Lisa Lutz's Revenge of the Spellmans
The third Spellman book came out recently, and I've been dying to read it, but the dang library still doesn't have it! So I reread the first one, which is still an absolutely hilarious mystery involving a family of PIs.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

bsg finale

I (mostly) totally loved the BSG finale--but I had a few qualms/questions when it was all said and done. Spoilers in the comments!

Friday, March 20, 2009

2009 book 61

Alison Croggon's The Riddle
Since I had a lack of other things to read, I did decide to keep going w/ Croggan's YA fantasy epic series (scroll down to book 55, which was the first). This was a much better read--the writing was less clumsy, things were slightly more action-packed, and there were several unpredictable bits. My only beef with this series is that sometimes it feels a little bit like "oh hey, we're on a journey to discover something and the road is hard and dangerous things happen, and now we're stopping at a safe place and meeting awesome ppl who we love and who are hard to leave, but now we're back on our journey and the road is hard . . . rinse and repeat." I think I would mind the journeying less if the purpose was more defined (a la Lord of the Rings) but I'll still read the next one. B+.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

yay shows

I went to my first show in over two months tonight, and it was so worth it--Broken West and AC Newman! Of course I was mainly there to see Broken West, who I LOVE, and who I hadn't seen since Tallahassee several years ago. They were still amazing live--K&K and I were totally bopping along the whole time--and I ran into Ross on my way out and he totally remembered me and my cookies and gave me two hugs! Aw!! Nicest rock star ever!!

AC Newman was also fun live (though I didn't stay for the whole set)--I don't have his new album but played a song during the show I subbed--and it all seemed so much more dynamic live! Maybe b/c his backing band was busting out everything from violins to recorders to, much to my delight, a melodica. Such a fun show, and I got to see lots of people I hadn't seen since I moved back, so that ruled too.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

2009 book 60

Sandra Novack's Precious
It's a summer in the 70s in a small PA town, and everyone's dealing with a missing girl, and one family's dealing with the fact that their wife/mother left them. It all pretty much plays out the way you'd expect, and I feel like I've read similar books before. I guess it's worth noting that an author's note says some of this is autobiographical, in which case I feel pretty bad for the author, since it's a dark and depressing story. B.

2009 book 59

John Green's Paper Towns
I loved Green's last YA book, An Abundance of Katherines, so I was psyched to see he had a new one out. Unfortunately, it felt really formulaic--a nerdy kid loves the quirky girl next door, and they have a night of crazy adventures and then she disappears, blah blah prom blah blah road trips blah blah cliche cliche. It's some amalgamation of Katherines and Jay Asher's Thirteen Reasons Why, except with teenagers inventing annoying slang. C.

Monday, March 16, 2009

2009 book 58

Victoria Forester's The Girl who could Fly
I started and promptly gave up on two other YA books before picking this one up, and I actually made it all the way through, which speaks in its favor. Anyway, it's about a girl who can fly; she end up getting send to a school for kids w/ special abilities, but just when you think things are going to take a turn toward the X-Men, everything turns out to be a lot darker and more interesting. B+.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

2009 book 57

Abraham Verghese's Cutting for Stone
Well, this makes two great reads in a row! Maybe it's hard to go wrong with love, nuns, families, doctors, etc, in Ethiopia. Of course that makes it sound kind of cheesy--it's really about two identical twin boys whose mother, a nun, dies in childbirth. There are large and small family dramas as they grow up and both become involved in medicine. Anyway, I loved the characters, and this gets an A/A- b/c the end was kind of predictable.

Friday, March 13, 2009

2009 book 56

Yoko Ogawa's The Housekeeper and the Professor
Excellent, excellent story about a housekeeper caring for an elderly mathematician whose memory only lasts 80 minutes. There's lots of stuff about math in here--but it's all really interesting and lovely. A.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

2009 book 55

Alison Croggon's The Naming
Ah, fantasy epics, you're all the same. Take one orphan living in depressing circumstances, have him or her be revealed as having special powers, then reveal further that he or she is some sort of chosen one who must defeat some evil power or another. All of those elements are here--a young slave girl turns out to be a Bard, and has special powers, plus she's the chosen one. There's way too much traveling on dangerous roads in this story, plus an abundance of capital letters to make words sound Special and Meaningful. Some of the characters were very likable though. I mean, I enjoyed it enough to read the whole thing, but haven't decided if I'll read the next one yet (of course it's part of a series). B/B-.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

2009 book 54

Paul Jaskunas' Hidden
I did not enjoy this book at all. That's not to say it's a bad book--it's quite good, actually, from a literary point of view--but I didn't enjoy the story, about a woman whose ex-husband is in jail for brutally attacking her, until another man confesses to the crime. Also, I hate the cover of the book, which prominently features a buttcrack (in an arty way, of course, which is somehow even more annoying).

2009 book 53

J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
It doesn't matter how many times I've read this, or that I know everything that's going to happen--I still can't put it down and I still get all teary for parts of it. It's really a great--and I mean that literally--ending to the series.

Monday, March 09, 2009

2009 book 52

J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
I'm too eager to start re-reading the 7th book (again) to want to write much, so here's a link to the summer book discussion!

Sunday, March 08, 2009

2009 book 51

J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
This one took me a little longer to get through than the first four--not b/c it's traditionally been my least favorite (though I didn't mind it as much this time--there really are lots of bits to enjoy), but b/c a) I work on the weekends, and b) it's the longest one. I'm looking forward to tearing through the next two, though I am about to head out for pizza and Scrabble night!


Originally uploaded by drelk3
Here's another photo my dad took--I think in Florida at a nature reserve. But it's so cute, a mom and baby turtle!!! Or two comically mismatched turtle friends chilling. Either way, turtles!

Saturday, March 07, 2009

2009 book 50

J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
I think I'm at the point where I'm running out of things to say about Harry Potter (at least for the moment), so here, check out the comments from our HP book discussion from the summer.

Friday, March 06, 2009

2009 book 49

J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
The third Harry Potter book is where the series really starts to feel epic, as the really detailed backstory created by Rowling begins to emerge. For a long time, this was my favorite of the books, and I still think it's one of the most satisfying.

who watches the watchmen?

I do! More specifically, I watched it at the midnight showing at the Lumina tonight, since Chapel Hill Comics was having an event there. I'm tired, so I'll jsut note a few general impressions and minor gripes:

--Minor gripe: The movie kept calling the group of heroes "The Watchmen", whcih they were never really called in the book--the book's title is metaphorical. Or am I misremembering? (A friend has my copy.)

--Minor gripe: The soundtrack was AWFUL. Erin said it sound like they compiled it a week ago. Like a cemetery scene has "Sound of Silence" playing. And an 80s scene has "99 Luftballoons". Most egregious was Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah"--a very unsexy song--playing over a VERY VERY graphic sex scene. Yikes. On several levels.

--The movie was a lot gorier than I like--I hid my eyes a lot but the sounds were just as yucky.

--I liked it well enough. The consensus at the end seemed to be "It was good" with a shrug. Does that average out to a B? No idea if people who haven't read it will enjoy it--I think it was fairly coherent, especially compared to the source, but of course I was filling in all the holes as it went along. I should note that I'm not a die-hard fan of the book--I get why it was so ground-breaking, but I'm not bummed about changes the movie made or things it left out. If you're interested in spoiler-ridden comparisons, here's a handy guide.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

2009 book 48

J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
Once you start, you just can't stop! It's a testament to Rowling's storytelling that, even though she introduces several annoying characters (Dobby, Lockhart, Colin), the second book is just as satisfying as the first one.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

2009 book 47

J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone
Seeing the HP movies on tv always makes me want to reread the books, and why fight such an awesome impulse? I was thinking on this umpteenth time through that Rowling really does know how to hook readers--from the very first chapter, when it's clear something unusual is happening, I'm just dying to know what's coming next! Even when I already know the answer. :)

Monday, March 02, 2009

Sunday, March 01, 2009

2009 book 46

Lisa Genova's Still Alice
Genova's first novel is a moving story about a fifty-year-old Harvard professor who's diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer's. A.