Friday, December 31, 2010

2010 book 312

Siobhan Vivian's Not That Kind of Girl
This is about what happens when a total type-A high school senior--the student council president type--wants to raise the consciousness of freshman girls who are deliberately dressing like sluts, and also a boy maybe likes her, and her best friend maybe wants to start having a little fun. Occasionally I wanted to give the protagonist a shake and scream "relax a little!!!!" I don't think any of the girls I knew in high school were THAT uptight. Fun read anyway. B/B+.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

2010 book 311

Melina Marchetta's Saving Francesca
Marchetta is one of my favorite discoveries of this year--all of her books are just completely satisfying reads. In this one, teenager Francesca is dealing with starting at a new school that has only just gone co-ed, and meanwhile, her mother has stopped getting out of bed. Making new friends, crushing on a boy, and trying to save her mother make for a stressful school year and for a great read. A.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

2010 book 310

Matt Haig's The Radleys
The Radleys are your typical small-town-England family--father a doctor, mother an artist, two angsty teenage children. Only they're not a typical family at all--they're secretly vampires who abstain from drinking blood, and the kids don't know. Things come to a head when daughter Clara is attacked after a party, and overcome by bloodlust, kills her assailant. Dad Peter calls in his brother, a practicing vampire, for help dealing with the mess, which raises a whole new set of problems. Even the minor characters are interesting here, and I liked this more lighthearted take on a vampire story. Very fun read. A.

2010 book 309

E. Lockhart's Real Live Boyfriends
The fourth (and I believe final) Ruby Oliver book is just as enjoyable as the first three, and though some drama felt a little manufactured at first, it all came together in the end. Not much else to say about it--A-.

Monday, December 27, 2010

2010 book 308

Scott Spencer's Man in the Woods
Michael T. dropped this off for me tonight, and I was curious about it, since it's made a bunch of best-of-the-year lists. But then I remembered why I hadn't read it yet--part of the plot hinges on a dog being beaten, and you all know I can't stand stories where bad things happen to animals. For the most part, the characters and story made reading this worthwhile--it's about a fancy carpenter named Paul and his girlfriend Kate, who's written a bestseller about getting sober and finding God, and her somewhat troubled daughter Ruby, and their family and friends and neighbors. And it's about what happens after Paul attacks a man who's beating his dog. I felt almost nervous while reading this book--Spencer does a good job building Paul's tension and fear--but in the end I did think the murder subplot wrapped up in a fairly unbelievable manner and some other plot points weren't really resolved. The atmosphere is pretty stellar though. I guess that works out to a B.

2010 book 307

Lauren Oliver's Before I Fall
This was one of my favorites of 2010 (see the entry below if you don't believe me) and totally holds up to rereading. Oliver is currently writing a YA dystopian trilogy, and I can't fault her for that (and I liked the first one), but I wish she'd write another one like this. The story of a bitchy, popular high school girl reliving the day of her death could just be a teeny-bopper Groundhog's Day, but Oliver makes it much more powerful and special. Yet another book that makes me weep, but sometimes that's what you want in a book.

best books of 2010!

I read a lot of really awesome books this year, in a variety of genres. Well, I read a lot of books in general, but many were awesome. This list reflects a wide variety of books--literary fiction, YA (fantasy and otherwise), mysteries, even a choose-your-own-adventure. Because I read so many books, narrowing it down to ten was impossible. I narrowed it down to a top 25.

And now, without further ado, my favorite books of 2010!

Sarah Addison Allen's The Girl Who Chased the Moon
Aimee Bender's The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake
Chelsea Campbell's The Rise of Renegade X
Suzanne Collins' Mockingjay*
Emma Donaghue's Room
Heidi Durrow's The Girl Who Fell from the Sky
Louise Erdrich's Shadow Tag
Jennifer Egan's A Visit from the Goon Squad
Julia Glass' Widower's Tale
Rebecca Newberger Goldstein's 36 Arguments for the Existence of God
Gail Godwin's Unfinished Desires
David Grossman's To the End of the Land
N.K. Jemesin's The Broken Kingdoms
Nina LaCour's Hold Still
Lisa Lutz's The Spellmans Strike Again
Melina Marchetta's Finnikin of the Rock
Wendy Mass' The Candymakers
Heather McElhatton's Million Little Mistakes
Paul Murray's Skippy Dies
Pete Nelson's I Thought You Were Dead
Maggie O'Farrell's The Hand that First Held Mine
Lauren Oliver's Before I Fall
Julie Orringer's The Invisible Bridge
Scarlett Thomas' Our Tragic Universe
Ayelet Waldman's Red Hook Road
MaryRose Wood's The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place: The Mysterious Howling




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*I know a lot of people weren't into the third Hunger Games book, but I really liked it.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

2010 book 306

Rebecca Stead's When You Reach Me
I think this was my third or fourth time reading this book, and I still spent the last third of it crying, b/c it's just that good. Here are my initial comments on it.

2010 book 305

Stephanie Perkins' Anna and the French Kiss
In this cute and fluffy YA book, a teenage girl's bestseller author father decides to send her to boarding school in France, where she miraculously makes friends easily and of course falls for the cutest boy in class--who has a girlfriend, but seems to like her too. Which is pretty much all that happens, and I found the end to be a bit silly, but I'm sure I'd have eaten it up when I was a teenager. Interestingly, this is one of those books where the protagonist is never described in detail--except that she has a bleached streak in her hair--which according to common wisdom is so every girl reader can feel like she's the character, or something. And I actually have had bleach streaks in my hair at several points in the past, but this character wasn't one I particularly related to. Anyway, yeah, cute and fluffy. B/B+.

2010 book 304

Lisa Lutz's The Spellmans Strike Again
Now that I know Lutz is working on a fifth Spellman book, I do wonder how she'll match the awesomeness of this one. This is easily my favorite of the series--but of course, it couldn't be as great as it is without the buildup of the previous three. Ms Lutz, thank you for inventing such fun characters for our enjoyment.

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PC260007
Originally uploaded by wordnerdy
Snow day! Here is a view of the famous traffic circle, whose festive winter decoration is completely obscured by snow. There are several inches out there and I enjoyed tromping around in it. Thanks again to Mom and Dad for buying me winter boots!

Saturday, December 25, 2010

2010 book 303

Lisa Lutz's Revenge of the Spellmans
Yeah, I'm rereading this whole series. I love these books.

2010 book 302

Lisa Lutz's Curse of the Spellmans
Holiday time is light reading time! I've said before that the mystery in this one annoys me a bit, but the Henry/Rae/Isabel interactions--and all the discussions of Doctor Who--still make it worth a reread.

Friday, December 24, 2010

2010 book 301

E. Lockhart's The Treasure Map of Boys
The third Ruby Oliver book is just as sweetly satisfying as the other two, with more friend and boy drama. Sadly, I have to wait to read the fourth, since it doesn't come out till Tuesday. A.

2010 book 300!!!!!!!

E. Lockhart's The Boy Book
Ruby Oliver's junior year is just as entertaining as her sophomore year--though the excerpts from a notebook Ruby and her former best friend kept (the titular Boy Book) didn't really entertain me. Of course, I'm a grownup, not a fourteen year old girl, so I'm not really the target audience here anyway. B.

300 books!! And more to come! Who wants to guess what the final number will be?

2010 book 299

E. Lockhart's The Boyfriend List
Lockhart's The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks was one of my favorites of 2008, so I figured I'd give her other YA series a try. These books focus on Ruby Oliver, a high school sophomore dealing with all sorts of teen drama after her first real boyfriend breaks up with her. Very likable character and I'm off to read the sequel now.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

2010 book 298

Mira Grant's Feed
I've been putting off reading this for a while, even though Grant is an author I like (she writes the Rosemary and Rue books under her real name, Seanan McGuire) because it's a zombie book and I'm not really into horror. But the thing I'm discovering about zombie books (including The Walking Dead comics) is that really they're postapocalyptic dystopias that happen to feature zombies occasionally, and I do like my postapocalyptic dystopias. Anyway, in this one, it's 2039 and the zombie outbreak happened like 25 years ago; our protagonists are a brother-sister team of blogger/journalists who get tapped to cover a presidential campaign. Only the zombies aren't the only menace out there . . . DUN DUN DUN! Great characters and a riveting story, though some of it is a bit far-fetched (I mean, as far-fetched as anything can be in a zombie book) and the tech is really not different from what we have today, which is a minor weakness in such a tech-heavy story. Also, who calls smartphones PDAS anymore? Will we really be calling them that in 30 years? OK, that's just quibbling. I liked it! Two books to go!! B+.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

2010 book 297

Jenny Han's It's Not Summer Without You
This one picks up a year after the other one, and it's the first summer ever Belly isn't at the summer house. She's dealing with multiple kinds of heartbreak when she gets called to help save the day. I liked that part of the narrative duties were taken over by the younger brother, and I liked the ending (except for the very brief and mysterious epilogue that presumably implies a sequel). B+.

2010 book 296

Jenny Han's The Summer I Turned Pretty
The title of this book was a turn-off, but I was in the mood for some realistic YA and this has gotten good reviews. It's about almost-16-year-old Belly (Isabel), who spends every summer with her mom, older brother and their mom's best friend and her two sons. The book flashes back and forth in time, chronicling Belly's crush on the older of the two boys, and the climactic summer when she turns 16. Han pretty well nails the dynamics of both sibling relationships and crushes, and I'm going to read the sequel next. A-.

Monday, December 20, 2010

2010 book 295

Isobelle Carmody's The Winter Door
It's a few months after the events of The Night Gate, and Rage Winnoway is dealing with the aftermath of her adventures. Meanwhile, her mother is still in the hospital, there are some jerks at school, and winter seems like it will never end. That's when she starts traveling to the magical world of Valley in her dreams, to try and help solve a new crisis there. And it's just as satisfying as the first one. Rage and Billy Thunder are totally lovable characters. The only problem with liking these books so much is that they're the first two of a trilogy, and the third one hasn't come out, even though this one came out in 2003. Sigh. A.

best comics of 2010

OK, here it is--my long-awaited best comics/graphic novels list!

In no particular order:

Batwoman: Elegy by Greg Rucka and J.H. Williams--this collection of the Batwoman run on Detective Comics (mentioned on last year's list) totally blew my mind. You know I don't read a huge amount of superhero stuff, but the art was so great that I checked it out--and the story completely sucked me in. Batwoman's own book starts for real in February and I can't wait.

Beasts of Burden--Evan Dorkin and Jill Thompson are both great, but somehow this is like the best thing EVER. C'mon, cute doggies and a cat fighting the paranormal?? You have to love it. It won a bunch of awards for the art, which is incredible. The book contains all the short stories from various Dark Horse books and the miniseries that ran last year--and in a very affordable package, too.

Hereville by Barry Deutsch--a little Orthodox Jewish girl wants to find a sword so she can fight trolls? Yeah, count me in! I thought the ending was going to go one way, but what it did instead made me go "YES!"

Castle Waiting vol 2 by Linda Medley--OK, this doesn't really have an ending (I gather there is conflict b/w Medley and Fantagraphics) but Castle Waiting is a great look at . . . I don't know, the lighter side of fairy tales? It's very character based and I really hope Medley continues it in some form, since I've been dying to know Jain's backstory for like 10 years now.

How to Understand Israel in 60 Days or Less by Sarah Glidden--I still have no idea why Vertigo published this, but I'm glad they did. Glidden's memoir of her Birthright Israel trip and her own growing understanding of Middle East politics make for a riveting read, and her watercolored art is just great too.

Scott Pilgrim vol 6 by Bryan Lee O'Malley--of course this is on my list!!!

Love and Rockets vol 3--Jaime Hernandez's stories in this are his best work ever, and since he's one of my top-two all-time-favorite comics dudes, that is saying a lot. Also check out The Art of Jaime Hernandez, which is part bio, part comics retrospective, and ALL awesome.

Smile by Raina Telgemeier--This gave me serious flashbacks to my own dental dramas.

Hopeless Savages Greatest Hits--this big book collects the whole awesome series--where I first got into Bryan Lee O'Malley's art--and some short pieces that I'd never seen.

Plus there were so many good ongoing things that I'm in love with--Unwritten (first two volumes are out!), iZombie, Locke and Key (first three volumes are out!), 20th Century Boys, Fables, Criminal/Incognito, and Chi's Sweet Home (cutest cat-related manga ever, and one of my favorite discoveries of 2010).

Sunday, December 19, 2010

2010 book 294

Isabelle Carmody's The Night Gate
I enjoyed Alyzon Whitestarr so much that I decided to try another book by Carmody--this is apparently the first of a trilogy, and involves a young girl whose mother is in a coma, and she hasn't been allowed to visit. So she runs off with her four dogs and a goat tagging along, but on her way to the hospital, she find a mysterious gateway where a voice tells her she can wake her mother if she goes through. This leads her to a strange, dying land, where she and her companions--who have become mostly-human--go on a quest to find the wizard who created the land, who can perhaps save her mother. There are some nice twists and turns along the way, and I loved her doggy-human hybrid friends. A-.

Friday, December 17, 2010

2010 book 293

Caroline Leavitt's Pictures of You
I'm pretty sure the release date for this isn't till January, but for some reason it's for sale on Amazon right now, so of course I grabbed a copy for my Kindle. :) The awesome folks at Algonquin have been pretty excited about this one and I was eager to read it. It's sort of about the aftermath of a bad car accident and how that impacts three people--if I explained the plot more thoroughly you'd be like, what?, but Leavitt somehow makes everything work while breaking your heart a little. I especially liked the character of Isabelle Stein, a photographer leaving her husband, who later gets one of the best pets of literature ever. An excellent read. A/A-.

2010 book 292

Isobelle Carmody's Alyzon Whitestarr
Aside from having to get past a heroine with a somewhat silly-sounding name, this book was fantastic. Seriously, there is some good YA coming out of Australia right now. Anyway, after Alyzon is in an accident, her senses are suddenly hyper-activated, and she can especially smell people's essences and emotions. Her musician father smells of coffee and caramel--but ammonia when he's worried about money. And the boy she had a crush on smells horribly rotten--what can it mean? The aftermath of her injury leads Alyzon to uncover some pretty disturbing things, but also brings new friends and hope--can the latter combat the former? I classify this as fantasy because of the somewhat fantastic elements, but it's grounded in a dark and compelling reality. A.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

2010 book 291

Lisa Lutz's The Spellman Files
I'll stop rereading the Spellman books all the time when someone else writes such a fun, character-based mystery series. Till then, I can look forward to a new Lutz book in April and a new Spellman book in 2012!

Anyway, it was a snow day, and you HAVE to reread your favorite fun books on snow days.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

2010 book 290

10 books to go!!

Robert Paul Weston's Dust City
Very fun book set in a more modern fairy tale world where fairies have disappeared. Our protagonist, Henry Whelp, the son of the Big Bad Wolf (who's in jail for killing Little Red Riding Hood and her grandmother) is in a juvenile detention center where his best friend is Jack. When they break out, Henry starts to uncover the dark secrets behind what happened to the fairies, as well as perhaps finding romance with another cute young wolf. I really liked this a lot. A/A-.

Monday, December 13, 2010

2010 book 289

Charles de Lint's The Painted Boy
De Lint is one of those writers I've always meant to read but never got around to, but he had a book come out this year that got some positive attention so I figured now was the time. Anyway, this is a fantasy set in the modern world, where there are people who are animal/spirit kinds of things. Chinese-American teenager Jay comes from a line of dragons and is marked with a dragon, and somehow ends up in the Arizona desert, making friends and figuring out his place in the world. Though things are slightly more action-packed than I'm making it sound. I will say, at first I felt weird reading a book by a white Canadian dude with predominantly Mexican characters set in "the barrio" and using all sorts of Mexican/gang-related slang, but eventually I got caught up in the story enough to get past that. Now I'm thinking I'll check out more of de Lint's stuff. B+.

2010 book 288

Linda Schlossberg's Life in Miniature
As their mother slowly gets crazier, life gets much more complicated for middle-schooler Adie and her teenage sister Miriam. Plus it's 1982 and feathering your hair is hard. But mostly their problems are because of their mother. I found the characters interesting enough, but the ending didn't work all that well for me. B/B+.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

2010 book 287

Sarah Beth Durst's Ice
Durst writes magical stories set in the modern world (another new one of hers, Enchanted Ivy, set at Princeton, is getting a fair amount of buzz. She also wrote Into the Wild, which I mostly liked). This one involved a fairy tale I'm not familiar with called "East of the Sun, West of the Moon"--something about a polar bear king and trolls and whatnot, with shades of Beauty and the Beast. Anyway, 18-year-old Cassie has grown up in the Arctic with her scientist father, and with her grandmother telling the story of the daughter of the North Wind, who has a whole fairy tale story that ends with her trapped by the troll queen. But then Cassie finds out the story is true, and she's betrothed to the polar bear king. The plotting and dialogue are well done here, but Durst does a bit too much of telling, not showing, especially regarding Cassie's growing fondness for the bear. Still, Cassie's quest is entertaining, and this was a nice light read after The Raising. B+.

2010 book 286

Laura Kasischke's The Raising
A year ago, beautiful angelic college sophomore Nicole Werner died in a car accident, and this story focuses on a few people affected by that accident--her boyfriend, Craig, who was driving; his roommate and her childhood friend Perry; Shelly, the woman who was first on the scene of the accident, and who knows the accounts of what happened are totally inaccurate; and Mira, a professor with a troubled marriage who teaches a seminar on Death mythology that Perry decides to take. Of course, things are never that simple, and what seems like a fairly standard take on college life and grieving quickly takes a very creepy turn (comparisons to Donna Tartt are somewhat apt). The truth is not too hard to figure out, and I will admit that the conclusion is far-fetched, but that doesn't make things any less creepy or disturbing. Very enjoyable read, especially on a dark, cold winter night. A-.

(An e-galley was provided by the publisher.)

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

best music of 2010!

I don't think I'm going to be buying any more new CDs this year, so here are my top ten releases of 2010 in alphabetical order!

Gayngs--Related
Janelle Monae--The ArchAndroid
Love Language--Libraries
Magic Kids--Memphis
Mates of State--Crushes
Rabbit--Connect the Dots
Scott Pilgrim Soundtrack!
Sleigh Bells--Treats
Superchunk--Digging for Something
Teenage Fanclub--Shadows

I also enjoyed songs this year by Tennis, Best Coast, Wavves, Broken Bells, Bird and the Bee doing Hall and Oates, Radio Dept., The Salteens, Lissie, and a whole bunch of others. It was a fun year for music and I can't wait for 2011!

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

200 book 285

Michele Jaffe's Rosebush
After a teenage girl is hit by a car and left for dead, she tries to piece together what happened to her that night. She begins to receive death threats, but are they real or is the medication making her hallucinate? Some of the relationships and events here are unrealistic, but I totally was on the edge of my seat waiting for all the reveals. A-/B+.

2010 books 283 and 284

Megan Whalen Turner's The King of Attolia and A Conspiracy of Kings
The third and fourth books in this series were weaker than the first two; the third watches the new king cement his role through the eyes of a soldier, and the fourth revisits a character from the first book through some mildly boring political stuff, leading to a fairly unsatisfactory conclusion. King: B+. Conspiracy: B.

Monday, December 06, 2010

2010 book 282

Megan Whalen Turner's The Queen of Attolia
The sequel to The Thief is less of an adventure story than its predecessor, and more of a story about war and political machinations. But there is still some adventure and the characters are just as fascinating at they were in the first one. A.

Sunday, December 05, 2010

2010 book 281

J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
This book never stops being awesome. But am I the only one who wondered what happened to the Dursleys? Did they get to come back home? Were Dudley and Harry friends after all that?

Saturday, December 04, 2010

2010 book 280

Megan Whalen Turner's The Thief
This won the Newbury award back in 2005, which seemed like a good enough reason to add it to my to-read list--plus, the last book in the series came out this year and has received some positive attention. Anyway, it's the story of what happens when a king's advisor springs a boy who's famous as a thief from prison and forces him to help steal a neighboring kingdom's special stone. I knew nothing about this going in and found the character development, the Greek-like god worship, and the awesome ending to be above and beyond what I expected--I immediately bought the sequel for my Kindle, I was so eager to see what would happen to these characters next. A.

Friday, December 03, 2010

2010 book 279

Chelsea Cain's The Night Season
In her fourth Archie Sheridan mystery, Cain wisely stays away from another story involving the Beauty Killer, Gretchen Lowell, who has left Archie both physically and emotionally scarred (the first two books in the series were great, but the third felt forced) and instead focuses on a whole new serial killer who may have ties to a past tragedy. He and intrepid girl reporter Susan Ward are both in fine form, and though I did have to suspend disbelief a little (would a cop really question a possible suspect alone?) and thought the end wrapped up a bit too neatly, I absolutely tore through the book to find out what would happen next. Plus, craziest murder weapon EVER. This one totally revitalized the series for me and I can't wait to see what Archie and Susan will be up to next. B+.

Thursday, December 02, 2010

2010 book 278

J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
Man, I'm still mad about how the movie of this one totally butchered its action-packed and dramatic ending!

Monday, November 29, 2010

2010 book 277

Jessica Anya Blau's Drinking Closer to Home
After their mother has a severe heart attack, three adult siblings fly home to California while she's in the hospital. And family secrets come out, as they are wont to do. Blau flashes back to their childhood chronologically, which made everything flow really well, and made the contrasts between the rebellious teenagers and their adult selves much stronger. I thoroughly enjoyed all of these characters--energetic former cop Anna, passive middle daughter Portia, and gay animator Emery were all vividly drawn and I couldn't possibly pick a favorite--and their story. Things may have wrapped up a bit neatly but sometimes that's preferable to a messy ending. I will note that there were, weirdly, three minor characters named Lucy and two named Roy, but this was an uncorrected proof and that may be taken care of by the time it comes out in January. Even if it isn't, I highly recommend this--I love teasing, funny, slightly dysfunctional family stories. A.


(An e-galley was provided by the publisher.)

Scruples book discussion!

Leave your comments in the comments!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

2010 book 276

J.K Rowling's Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
I have often said that this is my least favorite of the HP books, but I have really found a lot to enjoy--especially regarding Neville, Hermione, and the two awesome new characters, Luna and Tonks--on my past few re-readings.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

2010 book 275

J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
I inevitably forget something when I travel, and this time I forgot the charger for my Kindle. In effort to preserve the battery for the next few days, I borrowed my mom's copy of GOF and continued my Harry Potter kick. I know I have read--and blogged about--these books a thousand times, so this time I will jsut say that I get really annoyed when I read articles proclaiming that Hermione isn't a major (and awesome) character in the series. In this book especially, Hermione shines. She's smart, passionate, kind, competent--really, Harry wouldn't get anywhere without her help. Obviously I'm biased in favor of the daughter of dentists, but I have always especially enjoyed her character. In conclusion, suck it, haters!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

2010 book 274

Charles Elton's Mr. Toppit
If you're a fan of the comic book Unwritten (like I am), the basic premise of this story will feel a bit familiar: a young man whose father wrote a best-selling series of kids' books with him as the main character struggles to deal with his fame. Only Unwritten, of course, takes a turn for the magical, whereas this story is very much grounded in reality. Our protagonist is Luke Hayman, known to fans of his father as Luke Hayseed, and he's coming of age in weird times. His father died tragically before the books become famous, and all of that is tied in with a bizarre American radio personality who happened to encounter Luke's father just before he died. Meanwhile, Luke's older sister has been left out of the stories entirely, and is currently in yet another rehab facility. The story of how these books became famous, and how the children deal with everything, is surprisingly moving (though I was less interested in the parts about the crass American) and I highly recommend this. A/A-.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

2010 book 273

Adam Gidwitz's A Tale Dark and Grimm
In this retelling of some of the Grimm stories, Hansel and Gretel become our protagonists and all the other stories are woven into their own. Meanwhile, an unnamed narrator keeps warning the readers away from the stories if they don't think they can handle it (these interjections waver between funny and a little too much, but it's aimed at middle-graders and I think would work well for that age group). Anyway, Gidwitz does a good job of reworking these stories in an entertaining way, and Hansel and Gretel (mostly the latter) are likable and interesting characters. To sum up: a fun read. A-.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

2010 book 272

Mary Glickman's Home in the Morning
Glickman's novel focuses on a young Jewish boy growing up in Mississippi in the 60s, and his friendships with a young African-American boy and girl, and later his relationship with his wife and her relationships with his childhood friends. Things go back and forth in time to try to add a little tension, but the dramatic events aren't that dramatic really. But the focus here is really sort of on the Southern Jewish experience during civil rights and a little bit about the black experience. The characters are all interesting but the ending was a little flat (or maybe I was just hoping for some justice, dangit). B+.

2010 book 271

Judith Krantz's Scruples
Don't forget, we're discussing this here on Monday!!

Monday, November 22, 2010

links

Sorry for the lack of posting. I've been trying to make my way through Scruples as well as the Walking Dead books and haven't managed to finish a book in days! So here, have some links:

A new, Joss Whedon-less Buffy movie? Huh.

I can't wait for the Community Christmas episode!

How to dress like a Mad Man.

You can give Kindle books as gifts now! Hint hint!

The NYT graphic novel gift guide has some really good books (Scott Pilgrim, the Outfit) and some terrible ones (The Night Bookmobile, Superman: Earth One).

Are we running out of chocolate???? NOOOOOOOOOO!!!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

2010 book 270

J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
I think after this one I'll take a short break from Harry Potter--I promised my friends I wouldn't reread Deathly Hallows before seeing the movie. :)

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

2010 book 269

J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
Look, there are not a lot of books being published this time of year, so don't you judge me for relishing the awesomeness of Harry Potter.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

2010 book 268

Cynthia Ozick's Foreign Bodies
I don't even know what to say about this book. I tend to like Ozick--her last couple of novels were especially good--but this book was just excruciating to read. It's apparently a reworking of a Henry James novel (I tried to read that one but god was it dull) and manages to be as stilted and slow as a James novel, even though it's mostly set in Paris in the 1950s and is way shorter than the source material. The writing was just not working for me at all--the long letters, the ridiculousness of the characters' actions, the complete lack of any kind of character development or story. Ugh. I really, really hated everything about this book, and that makes me sad.

2010 book 267

J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone
Because the first part of the Deathly Hallows movie opens this weekend, there have been tons of articles about the Harry Potter universe, so of course they made me want to reread the series again! One of the things that struck me this time around was the opening scene--showing that there was this incredible, strange, magical world living alongside our own mundane one, full of desks and drills and bills. Right from the start, we're sucked into the story.

Now back to watching the HP movies on ABC Family. :)

Friday, November 12, 2010

scruples book discussion date

OK, so the discussion for Scruples will start here on the Monday after Thanksgiving (November 29th)--stock up on your copies now! Or steal them from your moms over the holiday. :)

2010 book 266

Daisy Whitney's The Mockingbirds
When a teenage girl at a boarding school is date-raped, she appeals to a society of students--the Mockingbirds--who dispense justice to the student body. This novel manages to straddle the line between overly preachy/educational about the issue and being just a solid story. The main character is particularly well done (an author's note at the end reveals that Whitney was date-raped, so of course she nails the emotions), as are her friends and the boarding school environment in general. I was really wrapped up in finding out the outcome of the case, so even if things seems to wrap up too neatly, I'm not going to complain about it. A-.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

2010 book 265

Kate Morton's The Distant Hours
I absolutely loved Morton's two previous novels--she does these great things with uncovering old secrets of the past--and have been eagerly awaiting her latest. The action starts when Edie's mother receives a letter lost since 1941 and breaks down in tears. This leads Edie to an old castle with three elderly sisters--the younger one wrote the letter 50 years ago--as we try and piece together what happened on a fateful night during WWII. Unfortunately, this novel moves at a snail's pace. Things pick up slightly during the second half--I especially liked the explorations of how one's dreams can fall beside the wayside--but the mysteries and their resolutions didn't match Morton's earlier works, and the protagonist is alarmingly and annoyingly stupid at times. B/B-.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

magic kids!


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Tonight Christina and I went to see Magic Kids, b/c seriously, that album is so in my top ten this year! It was a super-fun, though poorly attended, show. We also hit up Carrburrito's and Bowbarr beforehand with K and F (I highly recommend the Pom Collins, which tastes like a pomegranate limeade, and is thus my ideal drink). Hooray for awesome nights!


Ps. Sorry for the crappy picture--I forgot to unplug the battery for my camera from the charger. :(

Monday, November 08, 2010

2010 book 264

Daphne Uviller's Super in the City
Zephyr Zuckerman (come on, that has to be one of the best fictional names EVER) is 27 and feeling a bit aimless about her life's path--her hilarious four best friends are all very accomplished--when the super of the building her family owns is arrested and her parents insist she take the job. Things start to seem a little more than she can handle, plus this cute exterminator keeps hanging around. I found this book while trying to find things that were even a little similar to Lisa Lutz's Spellmans series, and though this isn't really a mystery (I couldn't actually tell whether or not it was supposed to be, but that isn't really important), it totally nails the light humor, excitement, and relationships the way Lutz does. Recommended especially to Christina and my mom. :) A/A-.

Sunday, November 07, 2010

2010 book 263

Polly Shulman's The Grimm Legacy
Fun, mostly light story about a girl who gets an after-school job at the New York Circulating Material Repository, a library that circulates objects instead of books--and which has several very special collections, including some of the magical objects from the Grimm brothers' stories. Being a girl with two not-great stepsisters and a good heart, she of course has adventures, finds friends, and maybe even has a little romance. I genuinely liked all the characters and didn't find it too hard to suspend my feelings of "just get help from a grownup already!" and the interactions with fairy tale items were very entertaining indeed. A.

Saturday, November 06, 2010

2010 book 262

Hannah Tinti's The Good Thief
This was one of my favorites of 2008, but I didn't remember the end at all and figured I'd reread it. It started off more slowly and grimly than I remembered, but the subsequent twists made me remember why I loved it the first time around.

Thursday, November 04, 2010

2010 book 261

N.K. Jemisin's The Broken Kingdoms
Often the second book in a trilogy suffers badly from middle chapter syndrome--not much actually happens, as the author puts the pieces into place for the grand finale. Jemisin, however, takes a more world-building approach: instead of picking up exactly where she left off with the first book, this story takes place ten years later and has an entirely new protagonist. Of course we encounter the characters from the previous book and those situations are alluded to, but the heart of this book is a brand new story. So we have the blind magically gifted artist Oree, who encounters an angry old god trapped in mortal form. Meanwhile, someone or something is killing the minor gods, and she--along with her former lover--gets sucked into various dangers trying to stop it. I think I actually liked this more than the first one--the stakes are a little lower, so the characters are more relatable (Oree is especially likable and interesting), and I liked the explorations of magic and history. Jemisin is a super new talent in fantasy and if you like gods and romance and adventure and danger, you should check her books out. A.

aunt alicia



So hey, by the way, I am totally an aunt now (as of 3:53 am)! Look at this adorable little munchkin!! Congrats to Phil and Trish, and I can't wait to meet this little peanut! Now bask in his cuteness.

best books of 2010?

The best books lists have started rolling in--which is unfair, b/c there are a lot of cool-looking books coming out in the next two months, which are still 2010 by the way, and that's why I post my list in very late December--and here's Amazon's top 100 of 2010. I've read like a quarter of these--they have a lot of non-fiction picks, and some really weird fiction ones (like the latest Sookie Stackhouse book--is that really a literary tour de force? Those books are terrible--not to say that I don't enjoy them, because I did like the first 6 or 7). I was pleased to see two of my favorite comic book-related books of the year make the cut--Batwoman: Elegy and The Art of Jaime Hernandez. Those will be on my best of the year list: comic book division for sure.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

2010 book 260

Gregory Hughes' Unhooking the Moon
This book recently won something called the Booktrust Teenage Prize, which I guess is for like really awesome YA in the UK. Anyway, it's about two kids--twelve year old Bob, who has a crush on his student teacher, and his ten year old sister the Rat, who is amazingly charming and eccentric. When their father dies, they're left as orphans, and they run away from Winnipeg to New York to find their uncle, but all they know is his name and that he's a drug dealer. Events that should be completely unbelievable somehow aren't, because the children are so likable and sweet. Things do take a dark turn toward the end, but on the whole I found this story to be really engaging. A/A-.

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

2010 book 259

Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale
I've seen this book referenced in a few election-related articles, which made me realize I hadn't read it in years and only vaguely remembered it the central conceit of women being forced to serve as "handmaids" a la the Torah and bear children. I'd forgotten all the rest though--that women had no rights of any kind, older women were basically useless to society, all the other weird religious rules, Jews being dumped in the ocean, etc. This was maybe not a great choice of a read on this depressing election night.

Monday, November 01, 2010

2010 book 258

Thaisa Frank's Heidegger's Glasses
Lovers--and secret members of the Resistance--Elie and Gerhardt supervise a group of Jews living in a weird underground compound and, on bizarre Nazi orders, answering letters from dead people. It's a relatively safe haven from the Holocaust until they receive orders from Goebbels to answer a letter writing by Martin Heidegger to his philosopher/optometrist friend, who has been sent to Auschwitz. This task sets a chain of events into motion that may lead to danger for all of them.

OK, so this is kind of a weird concept if you think about it, but I was on the edge of my seat waiting to see what would happen to all the characters. A-.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

2010 book 257

A.S. King's Please Ignore Vera Dietz
Vera Dietz's best friend Charlie--who she secretly loved--died a few months ago, but she had lost him to the Detentionheads long before that. Still, she's haunted by what she knows about the night he died, all while dealing with the usual teen crap--her Dad, her crappy job, the cute guy at her crappy job, and school. The story flashes back and forth in time, tracing her and Charlie's relationship as well as her dealing with his death. I found the end a bit lackluster but enjoyed the story and characters quite a bit. B+.

Friday, October 29, 2010

trashy book readalong!

As you may have seen on Twitter (it was even retweeted by the Fug Girls!), Christina and I are planning a read-along of THE trashy 80s books--the Scruples series--over the holidays. She loves them, and I have (embarrassingly) never read them, so now is the time! We'd love you any or all of you to join us in this quest!

We're gonna read Scruples for Thanksgiving week and the other two in December--let me know your preferred dates and I'll announce them here ASAP. In the past, I've posted an entry for discussion and we've chatted in the comments, and unless that doesn't work for anyone, we'll plan to do it the same way again.

Hooray trashy books!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

2010 book 256

Joyce Maynard's The Good Daughters
So two little girls are born on the same day in 1949, and the story is told in their alternating POVs. One is a serious little girl who wants to be a farmer growing up in a family of dreamy artists, while the other is a dreamy artist growing up in a family of serious farmers. Gee, I wonder what the big twist will be. It is a little bit annoying that it's all so obvious to the reader, but takes forever for the two daughters to figure out. Luckily, their stories are interesting enough to keep momentum going, even if the end feels a little bit unrealistic. B+/B.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

2010 book 255

Erin Bow's Plain Kate
A little orphan girl, known as Plain Kate, is suspected by some of the other villagers as being a witch due to her impressive wood-carving skills. With little choice in the matter, she strikes a deal with a creepy male witch, who trades her shadow for a way out. Gypsies get involved, and of course the witch's plans are more nefarious than Plain Kate could have imagined. Her story involves magic, journeying, and one amazing cat. Seriously, one of the great cats of literature. I was so invested in these characters that I spent the last couple of chapters straight up bawling. A.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

2010 book 254

Emily Wing Smith's The Way He Lived
After the tragic death of a teenage boy, six other teens who knew him--including his best friend and his two sisters--take turns narrating a story about him, and about their own grief. All the characters are Mormon, but this is narratively not a huge deal, and it's interesting to read about these characters who are typical teenagers dealing with love and school and loss. Some sections worked better than others, and I thought the end was a bit abrupt (I hoped to revisit some of the characters more), but still a solid read. B+.

2010 book 253

Michelle Zink's Guardian of the Gate
I barely remembered anything about the first book in this series, except that there were twin sisters on opposite sides of a prophecy, but things had gotten messed up, so the bad twin had the traditionally good role, and vice versa. In this sequel--which suffers terribly from middle chapter syndrome--we learn a little more about the mythology of this world, and pieces are moved into place for the finale (and a lot's going to have to happen in that finale), and the main character gets a new love interest, but otherwise it's just a lot of road-tripping. Only on horses, b/c it's the 1900s, which I keep forgetting. B.

Monday, October 25, 2010

2010 book 252

Tony DiTerlizzi's The Search for WondLa
It's sometime in the future, and a little human girl being raised by a robot longs to meet other humans. When an intruder forces her to flee her underground sanctuary, she sets off on a quest accompanied by a couple of bizarre alien types (one is a giant waterbear!), trying to evade capture while figuring out where the people are. At nearly 500 pages, things do drag a little (even with the enchanting illustrations), but I liked the ending reveal quite a bit and look forward to the sequel. Oh, and apparently if you hold certain illustrations up to a webcam, interesting things happen, but I didn't care enough to try it. A-.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

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Gratuitous kitty picture! Now you see why my couch cushions are all misshapen.

2010 book 251

David Handler's The Cold Blue Blood
My mom is currently reading--and totally into--Handler's mystery series, so I figured I'd read the first one. A recently widow(er)ed New York film critic decides to spend some time on a small, exclusive Connecticut island, where he of course gets involved in a local murder and helps the local detective--a sassy black woman who rescues feral cats with the help of her equally sassy Jewish neighbor--find out whodunnit. The writing is a little bit not-great (especially detective Desiree's dialogue/dialect) but I really did want to find out what happened, and the ending surprised me. B.

Friday, October 22, 2010

2010 book 250

Julia Franck's The Blindness of the Heart
Translated from the German, this novel starts with a young boy being abandoned by his mother at a train station just as WWII has come to an end. Then things flash back to the end of WWI and to two half-Jewish sisters with an abnormally close relationship (it's fairly easy to guess that one of these will end up being the boy's mother). Their story starts off interestingly enough, but then starts to drag a bit. Things get predictable and boring, even when the events of the plot are actually exciting. It just all felt dull. I'd have given it up a couple days ago but wanted to know what happened to the little boy, and that wasn't satisfying either. B-/C+.

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The Love Language is back in town after some massive cross-country touring, and their welcome home show at New King's pretty much rocked my proverbial socks off. The audience was practically genuflecting to their awesomeness, and I am not even making that up or exaggerating. Also, there were lots of kids with glow sticks. C and K and I danced the night away; I especially enjoyed the string section (I actually had to move a little to avoid being whacked in the face by one of the cello player's bows) and their contribution to an especially earnest Smashing Pumpkins cover.

Still, it's the original numbers that rocked the hardest. Oh, Love Language, I love you!

ETA: Video of the aforementioned cover, via the Merge Blog.

Monday, October 18, 2010

2010 book 249

Sara Shepard's The Lying Game
I read an article recently about novels not really getting technology right--no one texts, or checks Facebook compulsively, or is always on an iPhone. And that kind of currency/modern ethos is something Shepard has always done really well. Shepard--author of the Pretty Little Liars series, which is now one of my favorite guilty pleasure tv shows, as well as the excellent adult novel The Visibles--here starts a new YA series much in the vein of PLLs--ie, lots of rich bitchy girls, drama, and mysteries unfolding. With plenty of iPhone and Youtube references. Our story is narrated by a ghost who isn't sure how she died, but suddenly she's with a girl who looks just like her. Of course they're twins separated at birth, and the living twin of course ends up taking the dead one's place and must figure out what happened to her sister. Everyone is a suspect! Anyway, things are fairly exciting and the twins are interesting enough, but it does feel a bit like a retread of Pretty Little Liars. Still, if you're missing the fun of those books, this is one to check out.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

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Tonight some friends and I went to the State Fair and it was awesome! Here are the things I ate: roasted corn, onion blossom, deep fried oreos, cheese fries, apple fries, and a fried pickle. And samples of fudge (I brought home Cheerwine flavor!).

Things my (non-vegetarian) friends ate: all of the above, plus fried Frito pie (apparently delicious), some sort of steak and cheese sandwich, and of course, the Krispy Kreme bacon cheeseburger (also apparently delicious).

We also saw the Carolina Chocolate Drops, who I'd never really paid attention to before, but who were AMAZING live, full of energy and old-timey awesomeness, playing guitars and banjos and fiddles and kazoos and bones and harmonicas and jugs and probably some other things I'm forgetting.

My camera died as I was taking pictures of cute prize-winning animals (I almost cried when a stately and massive prize-winning steer--one of the meat ones--started lowing) so no piles of piglets or ducklings to show off, unfortunately. Or one of the goat eating the sign announcing which meat company had purchased it.

Anyway, it was totally a great night, and we even caught the massive fireworks show at the end--fun to see families out in the streets nearby watching them too.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

2010 book 248

Lauren Oliver's Delirium
Oliver--author of the beautiful Before I Fall--has written part one of what is presumably another YA dystopian trilogy. But of course, it's Oliver, and it's wonderful. This one has a somewhat Uglies-esque premise (but with a much more sympathetic protagonist), where when kids turn 18, they undergo a procedure known as the cure. See, in this near future, love is seen as a disease, and scientists have discovered a cure. Lena starts out just wanting to be normal--which is hard for her, as the cure never worked for her mother and she ended up committing suicide, leaving Lena and her sister in the care of an aunt--but soon encounters the power of love (I imagine the power of love is even more powerful and heady if you're a teenager who's been sheltered from it) and wonders if the cure maybe isn't the greatest idea after all. Lena's dawning awareness is believable and she and her best friend are especially likable characters; her love interest is a bit more mysterious but that works in the context of the book. I was riveted to this book up till the unexpected and very exciting ending, and can't wait for the sequel. It comes out in January, so definitely check it out, and read Before I Fall if you haven't already. A/A-.

(An e-review copy was provided by the publisher.)

Friday, October 15, 2010

2010 book 247

Nicole Krauss' Great House
Krauss' History of Love is one of those amazing books that's hard to follow up, which maybe is why it took like five years for this one to come out. But this one manages to build on that a bit. It's the story of a desk, or really the stories of the people who are connected by a desk. Things start with a writer in New York who was given the desk by a Chilean poet who was later tortured and killed; twenty-some years later, his daughter comes to reclaim it. And then the other stories start to come in, bouncing from New York to England to Israel. I think I was most affected by the elderly man whose author wife (a different author than the first one) has just died, leaving behind a secret. I was less enamored of the Israeli man narrating his emotional distress to his estranged son after his own wife's death (some of these narrators were a bit too rambly for me, and this was the worst of those). And there are others as well, all tying together the themes of love and loss and memory. I'm not sure I loved this book as much as History of Love, but it's a big achievement from a literary perspective, and justifiably nominated for the National Book Award. A/A-.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

2010 book 246

Rick Riordan's The Lost Hero
I've been somewhat embarrassingly eagerly awaiting the first in the Percy Jackson companion series, about a new group of heroes at camp a few years after the events of the PJ books. And this didn't disappoint--the new characters are interesting (Jason, a son of Zeus who's had his memories stolen, Piper, a badass daughter of Aphrodite, and Leo, a fire-powered son of Hephaestus) and we see the action from all three points of view, which makes things more quickly. I do think it's funny that pretty much every fantasy series has a main male character, a capable female who's usually a love interest, and a usually funny secondary male character--it is a bit of a rehashing of the original books. But the new villains are pretty compelling and I like where the series is going, mythology-wise. These books are actually fairly educational, but ssshh, don't tell the kids who like them. :)

Monday, October 11, 2010

2010 book 245

Katherine Langrish's The Shadow Hunt
Diverting enough story wherein a boy running away from becoming a monk encounters a mysterious girl, catches her for a local lord, befriends the lord's daughter, and helps the daughter to tame the girl and, oh yeah, try to avoid her upcoming nuptials. And there are some elves, too. B+/B.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

2010 book 244

Mark Mustian's The Gendarme
This book was an IndieBound pick so I checked it out from the library, but just didn't care enough to read it. I mean, it's by some lawyer from Tallahassee. Then it got a fairly good review in the NYT and I picked it back out of my library stack.

But, dudes? This book is terrible. I agree with the NYT that the writing is stiff, but it's not the writing that's the problem, it's the completely ridiculous and unbelievable story. We start with a 92-year-old man who grew up in Turkey but lost all his memories after an injury in WWI, and married an American nurse and moved here and blah. Now he has a brain tumor and is having crazy dreams--which, conveniently enough for the reader, appear sequentially and are full of detail--where he was one of the Turkish guards during the Armenian genocide.

Now here's a big problem I have with this book--for a story that is ostensibly about the Armenian genocide, it barely covers the actual genocide. There's a couple brief chapters covering the deportations/marches of the Armenians to Syria, but then it's all about the guard being obsessed with this girl, trying and failing to rape her (because he can't get it up, not because he feels bad), shooting guys in front of her, going to work in a Syrian brothel while courting her--and we're supposed to believe that she would reciprocate his (completely ridiculous and unbelievable) feelings? Not to mention that the end of the story kind of negates the whole Armenian genocide thing. If I was an Armenian, I'd be really pissed about this book.

Much of the story takes place in an institution where the old guy is committed after having a bunch of seizures; these passages are boring too, and present a bunch of entirely irrelevant characters to spout pithy and/or profound sentiments. His relatives are also stock characters who don't add any depth to the story. Basically I hated everything about this book and found it offensive on several levels, and have no idea why people are so excited about it. F.

Friday, October 08, 2010

2010 book 243

Tom Franklin's Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter
A literary sort-of-mystery set in Mississippi, this book manages to tie together friendships, romances, small-town drama, race relations and murders. Back in their youth, local constable Silas Jones (who's black) was friends with "Scary" Larry Ott (who's white), but all that ended when Larry when on a date with a local girl who never made it home. It's decades later and another girl has disappeared, and Larry is the prime suspect. The reader knows early on what actually happened, and the fun is in watching the revelations unfold for the characters. A-.

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I have a very handsome cat.

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

2010 book 242

Morris Gleitzman's Once
Once is the first of a YA trilogy about the Holocaust (all three books are out in Australia and the UK--this one is the only one out here so far), centering on a boy named Felix. It's Poland 1942, and three years ago his parents brought him to a Catholic orphanage to try and bring him to safety. Only, Felix is ridiculously naive (well, he is only nine) and doesn't understand what's happening to the Jews--he thinks the Nazis are after books and booksellers--and runs away to find his parents. Things don't really go well for him, as you might expect, though his imagination and storytelling help sustain him. So far this story isn't at the emotional level of, say, Markus Zusak's The Book Thief, but it is only volume one, and I think it's aimed at a slightly younger audience.

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

2010 book 241

Tricia Springstubb's What Happened on Fox Street
HarperCollins was pimping this fairly heavily at ALA, but unfortunately it's one of those MG books that isn't meaty enough to sustain adult interest. It's not bad--it's a story about a girl coping with all sorts of changes in her world over one summer--but it just wasn't for grown-up me.

Monday, October 04, 2010

2010 book 240

Peter Beagle's The Last Unicorn
Sometimes your plans to go see an awesome concert fall through and so you decide to reread a book that you know will entertain you. And this one always does.

Did you know there's a comic book version coming out right now? There is, and it's pretty good.

ladies comic project

This is a very cool idea and maybe one I want to emulate! And I too loved the cover of I Zombie #5--seriously, ask anyone who bought it the week it came out, or my boss, because I talked about it to everyone. Anyway, I'm looking forward to reading parts 2 and 3 of this series.

Sunday, October 03, 2010

2010 book 239

David Grossman's To the End of the Land
It's taken me a while to get through this book, both because of the length and because it's not easy reading. Grossman--who is one of my favorite Israeli authors (ok, one of my favorite authors, period)--started working on this book when his older son was in the army, and was still working on it when his younger son was killed two weeks before his discharge. Which makes the whole thing completely heartbreaking. At its heart is a love triangle, between Ora and Avram and Ilan, who meet as teenagers in a hospital in 1967--and then we shoot to 2000, when Ora as an adult is recently separated from Ilan, and her second son--Avram's son--has just extended his stay in the military. She forces the troubled and damaged Avram on a bizarre hiking trip, where she tells him the story of her family in an effort to protect their son. Part of this are slow--I really could have done without an extended sequence involving the dangers of bus rides toward the end--but in general, it's an excellent portrait of a family dealing with war, and an especially thought-provoking glimpse into Israeli society. It's a good enough novel to have merited the front page review in the NYT Book Review two weeks ago, so I'm not the only one affected by this. And knowing Grossman's son didn't survive, and he felt all these things waiting, adds an overlay of emotion to a story that didn't really need any assistance. A.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

2010 book 238

Diana Peterfreund's Ascendant
Peterfreund's second novel about teenage girls who hunt vicious unicorns (Rampant was the first) starts a bit slow--I'm not really interested in protagonist Astrid's lovelife or her being kind of whiny about her destiny, but as she grows more disenchanted with killing unicorns, things take a turn for the interesting. In retrospect, this didn't move us too much past where she was at the end of the first one, but the little bit that she did accomplish was pretty cool. I know this all sounds vague but parts are too complicated to go into and parts would be pretty spoiler-y. Suffice it to say I'm really enjoying this take on unicorn mythology. B+.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

2010 book 237

Terry Pratchett's I Shall Wear Midnight
I've been very eagerly awaiting the fourth (and final?) Tiffany Aching book, Terry Pratchett's sort-of-YA series about a girl learning to be a witch. In this one, Tiffany is nearly sixteen and finally a full-fledged witch--only something is stirring up some very malevolent anti-witch sentiment. Plus there's the Wee Free Men, a loquacious young guard, some romantic disappointment, and a whole cadre of witches, along with Pratchett's usual amusing prose, so things don't disappoint. A/A-.

Monday, September 27, 2010

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I hadn't seen JB in like an hour and got worried--but he was safely curled up on a set of sheets on top of the washing machine!

I took a brief hiatus from reading yesterday and today, b/c the new Terry Pratchett book comes out tomorrow and I didn't want to start something else (the other new book I have is the new David Grossman, which is longish, and which I didn't want to abandon partway through for Tiffany Aching). Expect a new book entry by tomorrow night!

Saturday, September 25, 2010

2010 book 236

Julie Berry's The Amaranth Enchantment
This YA fantasy book starts off strong enough--after Lucinda's parents die in an accident, she's forced to live with her cruel aunt and work in a shop, until the mysterious Amaranth Witch comes calling--but quickly disintegrates into a pack of YA fantasy cliches. Also, it's just a pet peeve of mine when characters consider themselves deeply in love after two brief conversations. B-.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

2010 book 235

Daniel and Dina Nayeri's Another Faust
This first book in a new supernatural YA series by a brother-sister team takes a decidedly darker twist than a lot of others--it's about a pack of teens who, with their mysterious governess, come to NYC to attend an exclusive boarding school. Only they've all made Faustian bargains of one kind or another, and their governess is an evil devil-lady. There is a bit of a twist, as two of the kids aren't really aware of what's going on, so as their adoptive siblings being to spiral out of control, they have to put the pieces together before it's too late. Apparently the second book takes place at the same school but involves the Peter Pan story. Anyway, it's an interesting enough story with some really original characters, etc etc. B+.

link roundup!

The Scott Pilgrim DVD comes out in November! YAY!!

The latest Love and Rockets came out yesterday, and I agree that it's Jaime's best work to date (unfortunately, Beto is still exploring being weird, which drags things down a bit).

Here, read an interview with Superchunk. Though I do find it odd that this interview emphasizes Laura being a mom, but doesn't mention Mac's kids at all.

A UNC professor studies college student slang. And I have no idea what a dorm storm is.

Marvelcats!

Check out this fascinating article on the trial over Kafka's papers. I think this about sums it up:

Etgar Keret, a best-selling Israeli short-story writer who considers Kafka to be his greatest influence, proposes that Brod had no idea that Hoffe would sit on the papers for so long. “Half of us are married to people who say, ‘I’m just going to buy a pack of cigarettes,’ and never return,” he told me. “I think this is the literary version of that, with this Hoffe chick.” Keret characterizes Brod as “a good judge of texts, for sure, but a very bad judge of human characters.” If Brod could see what was happening now, Keret says, he would be “horrified.” Kafka, on the other hand, might be O.K. with it: “The next best thing to having your stuff burned, if you’re ambivalent, is giving it to some guy who gives it to some lady who gives it to her daughters who keep it in an apartment full of cats, right?”

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

2010 book 234

Joseph Skibell's A Blessing on the Moon
I'm not sure how I missed knowing this book existed for over ten years--I mean, I'm the girl who dropped Holocaust Literature in college because I'd already read everything on the syllabus (I ended up taking a class on African drama instead, which was really cool and I'd only read one book on the syllabus). Anyway, this book is a Jewish Holocaust fable of sorts--I mean, it really does read like old Yiddish folk tales at times. In the story, Chaim Skibelski (based on Skibell's own great-grandfather) and all the Jews in his village are gunned down. Even though he's dead, Chaim climbs out of the mass grave, starting down a very weird path of wandering (occasionally accompanied by the local rabbi, who has somehow become a crow). His afterlife is a fairly bleak affair, but could there be a higher purpose to his story?

Thanks to Michael at Algonquin for sending this to me--it's exactly the kind of story I like!

Monday, September 20, 2010

2010 book 233

Megan Mccafferty's Perfect Fifths
If you think I could have waited to find out what happened between Jessica Darling and Marcus Flutie, you are dead wrong. This final book in the series takes a completely different approach than the others--the others are are narrated by Jessica, whereas this one has a 3rd-person take on things (which, if you read the story, is probably symbolic). Anyway, I don't at all understand how girls could be so into Edward from Twilight when they could obsess over a character like Marcus Flutie. I mean, swoon city. I can just see the legions of readers--like me!--wishing they could be someone's Jessica Darling. Great conclusion to the series.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

2010 book 232

Megan Mccafferty's Fourth Comings
The fourth Jessica Darling book is a bit different than the first three--in those, the story alternates b/c Jessica's letters to her best friend and her journal, but this one is a journal/letter to her on-again/off-again boyfriend, Marcus, who has just proposed to her (ps, Marcus is one of my new favorite fictional males). I'm not complaining about it, I just thought I'd note it before diving into the fifth and final one. :)

2010 book 231

Megan Mccafferty's Charmed Thirds
Despite its more negative reviews, I went ahead and got the 3rd Jessica Darling book, and enjoyed it quite a bit. I'm not sure these really qualify as YA anymore--this one chronicles her college years--but even if they fall under the straight-up chick lit category, I'm addicted.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

2010 book 230

Megan Mccafferty's Second Helpings
The second Jessica Darling book is just as entertaining as the first, as Jessica tries to survive her senior year of high school. I'd say these are kind of Sarah Dessen-y, though significantly lighter--maybe b/c of the totally awesome love interest guy. I've enjoyed these so much that I just went to download the third one for my Kindle, only to see that it has much less enthusiastic reviews. Hm. Well, at any rate, this book was total fun.

2010 book 229

Megan Mccafferty's Sloppy Firsts
I had the intentions of reading a deep Jewishy novel on Yom Kippur this year (Joseph Skibell's A Blessing on the Moon) but you just can't concentrate on great literature when you're fasting. So, cute YA books it is! This is the first in a series that always gets raves on YA book blogs for having a real, likable, snarky heroine, and I've been meaning to read it for a while. And the heroine is real and likable and snarky, dealing with high school angst after her best friend moves away. It came out in like 2000, though, so there are a few hilariously dated references to pagers. Luckily high school drama, crushes, and friendships are always timely.

Friday, September 17, 2010

2010 book 228

Caroline B. Cooney's Three Black Swans
After Skippy Dies, I wanted to read something completely fluffy, so chose the latest book by Cooney, whose name you will probably recognize if you too grew up in the late 80s/early 90s and read classic teen books like A Face on the Milk Carton. Anyway, this is the story of cousins Missy and Claire and what happens when Missy decides to pull a hoax in which the cousins play identical twins and the video ends up on Youtube, where another girl who looks like them sees it. The story unfolds at a quick pace (though really, really strains credulity) and the girls are all likable, but things felt a bit stuffed in at the end. I wonder if there's a sequel planned. B+.

2010 book 227

Paul Murray's Skippy Dies
Skippy, one of the main characters in this novel set at an Irish boys' school, dies in the very first scene. But then Murray goes back and shows us Skippy's life, and the life of his roommate Ruprecht, who's obsessed with uncovering the scientific secrets of the universe, and their slightly nerdy, horny friends, and their history teacher, and a troubled classmate, and a girl at the school across the street, and the school and its history . . . and it's all GREAT. This is easily going to be one of the entries on my best books of the year list. I seriously can't believe this wasn't nominated for a Booker when Andrea Levy's boring latest novel was. I can't even express what a great story this is, but I'm giving it a rare A+.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

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Originally uploaded by wordnerdy
Tonight Superchunk kicked off the tour for their brand-new awesome CD with a show at the Nasher, and it rocked!! They played a great mix of old and new songs, including my all-time favorite cover they do, 100000 Fireflies (so much better than the original!). Plus, it was a perfect night for an outdoor show AND we even got there early enough to catch the Nasher's exhibit on records. My favorite piece was the one involving records made out of ice.

Monday, September 13, 2010

2010 book 226

Seanan McGuire's An Artificial Night
The third October Daye novel is a big improvement over the second, which I didn't love--this one was totally action-packed and fun. When two of her friends' children go missing, Toby goes deeper into the faerie world than ever before. Like I said, totally action packed and a quick read--can't wait for the fourth one to come out in March. A.

2010 book 225

Charles Yu's How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe
For a short book, this took me a while to read, b/c even though it's a very cool and interesting idea--a young man who does time machine repair for a living has been living in his machine for ten years, halfheartedly searching for his missing scientist father--but the whole sci-fi angle was maybe a bit much for my own tastes. Though there were some interesting digressions on grammar. B.

Friday, September 10, 2010

2010 book 224

Julia Glass' The Widower's Tale
It took me longer than usual to read this book--partly b/c I've been busy, partly b/c it's kind of long, and partly b/c I love Glass' writing and wanted to savor it. So her latest novel is about a somewhat crotchety--but very funny--old man (a retired Harvard librarian!) living in a Boston suburb, and how his life changes when his wayward oldest daughter convinces him to let a local preschool move into his barn. (As a somewhat wayward oldest daughter myself, I found myself wondering how much of his character my parents would relate to.) Of course, it's also about family, love, immigration, cancer, and treehouses. Really an excellent story with lots of great and likable characters, and even when you know things are going to go awry, you're just hoping things ultimately work out for them. Yes, I highly recommend this. A.

Thursday, September 09, 2010

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Originally uploaded by wordnerdy
In between Rosh Hashanah and work and stuff, I've been slowly savoring the new Julia Glass book--so here's a picture of my cat on top of my graphic novel bookshelf to entertain you till I manage to finish a book.

Monday, September 06, 2010

2010 book 223

Terry Pratchett's Wintersmith
In the 3rd Tiffany Aching book, Tiffany gets caught up in the dance between winter and summer, learns more about the power of stories, has lots of hilarious interactions with the Feegles, and helps define the difference between magic and witchcraft. I'm really looking forward to the fourth one--only three weeks away!

2010 book 222

Terry Pratchett's A Hat Full of Sky
The second Tiffany Aching book is nearly as charming as the first. One of the things I like most about Pratchett is the hilarious--and fitting--names he gives to even the most minor characters.

Sunday, September 05, 2010

last week's mix cd

I made a mix cd last week, but was too lazy to type in the track listing, but then have been recreating all my old mix cds and have found that having track listings on this blog is really a help, so:

Tennis-Marathon
A Classic Education-Gone to Sea (Keith, the first passenger in my new car, said "this reminds me of music I listened to in the 80s")
Lia Ices-Grown Unknown
The Salteens-If love is gone where do we go from here
Magic Kids-Phone
Rabbit-Magic (this and the one above . . . those two albums are sooooo my jam right now)
Yo la Tengo- season of the shark (this song is like 8 years old but i love it so)
The Clientele-as the world rises and falls
Lissie-In Sleep
Like Bells--sea salt
Ferraby Lionheart-Drag me 'round
Blonde Redhead--here sometimes
Metric-Black Sheep (from the AMAZING Scott Pilgrim soundtrack)
Gayngs-Faded High
Four Tet-angel echoes
Clean Equations-a little more 14 on 26
A Sunny Day in Glasgow- drink drank drunk
Quinn Marston-can you see me hear me now
Lights On-Red Lights Flashing

2010 book 221

Terry Pratchett's The Wee Free Men
The fourth and final Tiffany Aching book comes out later this month, so of course I have to reread the first three to get ready. I do love this first one--Tiffany is such a likable heroine, and the Wee Free Men are hilarious in every scene.

Friday, September 03, 2010

2010 book 220

Howard Norman's What is Left the Daughter
Lovely, lovely book wherein a Canadian man is writing his life story to the daughter he hasn't seen in like twenty years, from the time his parents killed themselves by jumping off different bridges on the same day to his love for her mother to his experiences during WWII. I really liked the narrative voice here, and even though this is a small-town kind of story, there were all sorts of exciting and even terrifying moments. A/A-.

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So, this happened.

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

2010 book 219

Sigrid Nunez's Salvation City
A year after a flu pandemic has wiped out millions of people, 14-year-old Cole finds himself living with an evangelical pastor and his wife, adjusting to his new life (after being raised by Jewish/atheist parents, both of whom have died). That's pretty much the whole plot summary right there, if I throw in a phrase here about teenage emotions running high. Of course neither of those sentences gets at what a moving story this is, and plus: finally, a dystopia book for adults! Anyway, this book was good. A/A-.

(A review copy was provided by the publisher.)

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

2010 book 218

Helen Grant's The Vanishing of Katharina Linden
This isn't a mystery per se (at least, the library has it classified as fiction), but there's a mystery at its core so I'm labeling it as such. OK, administrative notes done, time for comments! Anyway. The story is about 11-year-old Pia growing up in small-town Germany in the late 1990s; she's locally famous because her grandmother exploded (sort of), but that gets overshadowed when a girl goes missing. With the help of her only friend, whose bizarre nickname (StinkStefan) is never explained, she tries to investigate, becoming convinced that supernatural forces are at work. Meanwhile, the growing fears in town cause tension in her parents' marriage. Things move along at a quick pace till the exciting (but somewhat ridiculous) ending. B+.

Monday, August 30, 2010

2010 book 217

Robin Benway's The Extraordinary Secrets of April, May, and June
When three sisters (the titular April, May, and June) develop special powers (April can see the future, May can turn invisible, June can read minds) on their first day going to a new high school, it affects their friendships, romances, and relationships with each other. The three characters take turns narrating and Benway does a good job developing a singular voice for each. The ending was a bit muddled and silly, though. B+/B.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

2010 books 214, 215, and 216

I read three books while I was out of town, but, shockingly, I left my laptop at home and thus could not update.

Kristen Tranter's The Legacy
This is the story of three Australian college friends in the late 90s involved in a strange love triangle; when one later disappears on 9/11, her besotted cousin sends the third party to New York to investigate. I found the college flashbacks much more appealing than the NY quest, and the end was convoluted and kind of ridiculous. B.

Melina Marchetta's Looking for Alibrandi
I've enjoyed several of Marchetta's other YA works and figured I'd give this--I think it's her first book--a shot. It's about a teenager growing up in Australia (I swear I didn't have an Australia theme set for the weekend, though since my brother spent a ton of time there in the past year, it would have been appropriate), caught between the world of her peers and the world of her Italian family. When the father she's never known comes to town, things come to a head. The end of this one was a little ridiculous too, but I liked it anyway. B+.

Patricia Wrede's The Magician's Ward
The sequel to Mairelon the Magician picks up a year later, with another magical mystery, along with Kim being entered into society. This one had a predictable, but not entirely ridiculous ending. A-/B+.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

2010 book 213

Kate Milford's The Boneshaker
In this MG novel, a young girl growing up in Missouri in 1913 learns what it means to live near a crossroads, as a story about the Devil starts to feel terrifying real when a mysterious medicine show comes to town. If you take this as a story about stories, it's quite good; as a story itself, it saves way too much information for the big reveals at the end, which was a little bit frustrating. B.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

2010 book 212

Suzanne Collins' Mockingjay
I'll keep my comments brief and spoiler-free, because I know not all of you will have read it yet. :) Let me just say that, like the first two books, it's filled with unexpected moments, both grim and wonderful, and was a fully satisfying end to the series. A. I probably will read it again sometime soon--after I decompress.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Sunday, August 22, 2010

2010 book 211

Julia Stuart's The Tower, the Zoo, and the Tortoise
You'd think a book involving the Beefeaters of the Tower of London, and in particular one Beefeater who is put in charge of the Queen's menagerie of animals (gifts from other countries) because he owns the world's oldest tortoise, and also there's a Reverend who writes erotica under the name Vivienne Ventress, and the Beefeater's wife works for the London Underground's lost articles office, and the two have a strained marriage since the somewhat mysterious death of their son, and there are some other eccentric characters--well, you'd think it'd be right up my alley. After all, the editor compares it to Amelie, Chocolat, and A Fish Called Wanda, and I like all those movies. But--it's really kind of boring. It's too slow and cozy, and even the exotic animals weren't very interesting. It's a perfectly nice book, but really not my thing at all. B-.

(A review copy was provided by the publisher.)

Friday, August 20, 2010

2010 book 210

Diana Peterfreund's Rampant
Teenager Astrid has grown up on her mother's stories of how they're descended from a long line of unicorn hunters--because unicorns are actually vicious and deadly, not the pretty and romantic creatures of legend--but has always half-believed her mother is crazy, until she sees evidence that unicorns are no longer extinct, and is sent to Rome to train to be a hunter, much against her will. In Rome, she of course meets a cute boy, learns to accept her destiny, has adventures, etc. I'm, of course, a sucker for unicorns (I grew up in the 80s--how can I help it?) and enjoyed this immensely. The sequel come out in September and I can't wait!

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Originally uploaded by wordnerdy
Got to go see Wye Oak and Lou Barlow & the Missingmen last night at the Cradle--what a great show. Can't wait for the new Wye Oak album. And Lou played some songs from Emoh (by far my favorite of all of his many albums), some acoustic and some electric--sooo awesome!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

2010 book 209

Laura Lippman's I'd Know You Anywhere
It's to Lippman's credit that, for the first few pages of this story, I forgot I was reading a Laura Lippman book--I was all settled into a domestic drama when it came out that the protagonist, a mother of two, was kidnapped the summer she was fifteen. And then it was like, oh right, this is a Laura Lippman book, and it's a thriller. But again, Lippman does a good job of marrying the domestic with the thrills, as we flash back to that pivotal summer, and as the kidnapper--now on death row--gets back in touch with the protagonist. This book is actually fairly intense, and I had to keep taking breaks from it. And I have mixed feelings about the ending. Still, a solid read. B+.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

2010 book 208

Suzanne Collins' Catching Fire
The second Hunger Games book is so action-packed that I seriously couldn't put it down EVEN THOUGH I HAVE READ IT MULTIPLE TIMES AND KNOW WHAT'S GOING TO HAPPEN. Also, I cried multiple times rereading these books today.

Man, now that Scott Pilgrim's out, and Mockingjay's out in a week, what is there to be super-excited about?

2010 book 207

Suzanne Collins' The Hunger Games
Mockingjay comes out in just a week (!!!!) so of course I have to reread the first two Hunger Games books to get ready. I've read this one four or five times now and it never stops being completely awesome. I had a few thoughts on this reread that I won't mention here, knowing a couple of you haven't read them yet (or haven't read the second one yet) that make me even more insanely excited to read the new one.

fall reading group?

So, who's interested in reading A Wrinkle in Time for our next book discussion? Would a deadline sometime in September work? We can also read the sequels and/or When You Reach Me (one of my favorite books of the last couple of years, which is loosely related to A Wrinkle in Time). Again, I can lend locals a copy of the book.

Would a discussion date of September 17th or 24th work? Let me know your preferences!

Monday, August 16, 2010

2010 book 206

Tana French's Faithful Place
Twenty years ago, Francis Mackey was supposed to meet Rosie Daly so they could run away together--only she left without him. Or so he thought, till he gets a call from the family he hasn't seen in decades telling him they've found her suitcase and it seems she never left after all. Now a forty-something cop (with the requisite ex-wife and adorable-yet-sassy daughter), Frank has to go home again and tangle with his family, with the past, and with distrusting neighbors to try and ferret out the truth. It's fairly easy to guess who did it, but the why is a longer time coming, and the whole thing is totally satisfying. I've loved French's previous two books, and this one is just as good. A.

girl with the . . .

football team?

I'm extrapolating just a little bit here, but: LISBETH SALANDER OWNS THE STEELERS!!!!!!

Saturday, August 14, 2010

2010 book 205

Kirsten Miller's The Eternal Ones
Miller, author of the beloved Kiki Strike books (well, beloved by me, and you too if you'd read them), sets that world aside for a while to tell a YA story about a girl who has mysterious visions of the past, and wants to find out what they mean with the help of her gay best friend and a local snake-handling girl. So she goes off to the big city and blah blah blah. My problem with this is that the main character is a total ninny. Like, every other page she's changing her mind about whether or not she trusts her love interest (when the answer is clear to the reader, this is especially annoying). It's a little hard to sympathize with her, and the villains are maybe a bit too villainous. Still, it's Miller, so things are entertaining enough. I just wish she'd write another Kiki Strike book already. B.

Friday, August 13, 2010

SCOTT PILGRIM!!!

So tonight I saw the Scott Pilgrim movie--which I have been eagerly anticipating since Edgar Wright signed on to direct back in like 2004 or 2005 or whenever it was. And obviously I love the books. So yes, I was SUPER EXCITED about the movie!! And it lived up to my high expectations. Now, it wasn't perfect--it compresses 6 books' worth of action (almost a year of story, I think) into what seems like a small period of time. But honestly, story isn't really the whole point of this movie--the visual stimulation is just INCREDIBLE. Tons of hilarious jokes and graphics and even pieces from the books. I saw it with a friend who hadn't read the books and only knew about the series from my frantic blogging and twittering and jabbering and all that, and she thought it was a lot of fun (though I'm not sure it made a lot of sense to her). Our theater wasn't very full but the audience reaction was really enthusiastic--lots of laughing.

Actually, the best laugh may have come during the previews. There was a preview for some sort of elevator-themed horror movie that just looked AWFUL, and then on the screen came the words: "A Film by M. Night Shyamalan". The entire audience went "OHHHHHHHH" and then the entire audience laughed at everyone saying "OHHHHHH". Good times.

Anyway, go see Scott Pilgrim. I'm buying the soundtrack tomorrow and seeing the movie again on Sunday! And now you're like, Alicia, what are you going to do with yourself when the Scott Pilgrim hype dies down?

Well, there's still Mockingjay to look forward to. :)

Thursday, August 12, 2010

2010 book 204

Carrie Vaughn's Discord's Apple
Evie Walker--the writer of a successful military-themed comic book series--returns to small-town Colorado to be with her dying father. Only America is on the verge of World War Three, and she soon discovers her father is keeper of a storeroom full of the treasures of stories (the golden fleece, the titular apple, etc). As Evie figures out how to proceed in the world where magic and political chaos are colliding, her story is interwoven with the story of the fall of Troy and its aftermath. I enjoyed this quite a bit, but the ending is abrupt enough to make it seem like there'll be a sequel, and I'm pretty sure this is a stand-alone book. So it was a little unsatisfying in that regard. B+.

new mix

I made a new mix cd for my car!

Kathryn Calder- Follow me into the hills
Wavves- King of the beach
Best Coast- Boyfriend
The Love Language- Brittany's Back
Betty and the Werewolves- Good as gold
Pizzicato Five- Baby love child
Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings- I'll still be true
Janelle Monae- Cold War
Stars- Fixed
Tracy Thorn- Why does the wind?
St Vincent- Save me from what I want
Caribou- Sun
Mates of State- Laura
Nada Surf- Question
Versus- Invincible hero
Teenage Fanclub- Into the city
Blitzen Trapper- Dragon's song
The National- Bloodbuzz Ohio
Arcade Fire- City with no children

more stuff i've shared

I haven't posted a link round-up in forever, but here are a few noteworthy things I've shared on Google reader:

I love this bad review of Still Missing (scroll down a bit to see my comments).

Suzanne Collins talks about the books she loves. I am SO EXCITED for Mockingjay to come out. Less than two weeks! And Collins has great taste in books.

Here's an interview with Edgar Wright. I am also SO EXCITED for the Scott Pilgrim movie, which I get to see tomorrow! In the meantime, check out the interactive trailer, where factoids pop up when you click on stuff, and here's the trailer recreated with panels from the books!

Did you know that Brian from The Broken West (one of my favorite bands) guested on Mad Men this past week? Now you do.

Speaking of awesome tv shows--check out the trailer for the upcoming season of VENTURE BROS!!!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

2010 book 203

Lee Nichols' Deception (Haunting Emma)
After her parents disappear, a teenager is whisked off by her brother's hot friend to a boarding school in Boston, where she starts to have mysterious visions. I really liked the world-building here (there are some lovable ghosts) but the end of this one and the preview of the next didn't make me want to read further in the series. B/B-.

Monday, August 09, 2010

2010 book 202

Chevy Stevens' Still Missing
I'm classifying this as a mystery, though it's really more of a thriller type of story. It's about a woman who's abducted by a stalker and kept trapped in a cabin in the woods for a year. The story is told through her therapy sessions after her return to the real world, a conceit that mostly works (though the narrative voice is occasionally a bit much). I was on the edge of my seat for most of the first two-thirds of the book, and even cried at one point, but the ending was so ridiculously bonkers that I can't recommend this in good faith. B-.

2010 book 201

Patricia Wrede's Mairelon the Magician
Wrede writes really fun historical fantasy books; in this one, teenager Kim (masquerading as a boy) is caught burgling a magician's wagon, and gets caught up in the usual web of magical intrigue. This actually reminds me a little of the Agency books (though it was written first), only with magic added, which of course makes everything better. This and its sequel are now in one volume called "A Matter of Magic" but I'm counting this on its own since it was originally a book on its own. B+.

Saturday, August 07, 2010

2010 book 200

Lisa Lutz's The Spellmans Strike Again
I wanted book 200 to be a thoroughly enjoyable read, so I decided to re-read the final book in the awesome Spellsmans series. I hope Lutz writes a new book soon!

Friday, August 06, 2010

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

2010 book 199

Kate Racculia's This Must Be the Place
After Arthur's beloved wife, Amy, dies in a tragic special-effects accident in Los Angeles, he finds a box of her mementos that lead him to her childhood best friend, Mona, who, with her teenage daughter, runs a boarding house and wedding cake business. Teenager Oneida and her cohort deal with the usual high school drama (and some unusual drama) while Arthur and Mona bond. I do wish the dramatic secret had been revealed earlier (it's clear to the reader early on) and found a certain romantic subplot unsettling, but quite enjoyed this (especially the teenagers). Recommended for Sarah Addison Allen fans; it doesn't have any of the magic, but the characters, the small town, and the budding relationships will strike a chord. A-.

My next book is book 200!!