Friday, April 30, 2010

2010 book 111

P.C. Cast and Kristin Cast's Burned
I've been reading this teen pagan vampire boarding school end of the world series for a while (this is the 6th one) and I think I'm over it. I still like a couple of the characters, but find a lot of their dialogue cringe-worthy ("bullpoopie" is not something a teenager would ever say) and am not at all interested in all the battling against evil they're doing these days. At least the main character is in a magical coma for most of the book, so it focused much more on a character I like. Still, over it. B-.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

2010 book 110

Jandy Nelson's The Sky is Everywhere
In this YA novel, as a girl is struggling to deal with her beloved sister's death, she forms a connection with the new musician in school and bonds with her sister's boyfriend in their shared grief. There were some touching parts, but I didn't really feel this one. B.

2010 book 109

Kyra Davis' Sex, Murder, and a Double Latte
The first book in Davis' Sophie Katz series is a fun marriage of chick lit and mystery focusing on a Jewish biracial mystery author with a band of outrageous friends who starts to think someone is acting out her first book--and intends her to be the victim. I totally guessed the bad guy correctly but the story was no less satisfying for that. A-.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

2010 book 108

A. Lee Martinez's Divine Misfortune
A perfectly pleasant story that takes place in a world just like ours, except all the gods and goddesses are still around and involved in mortal affairs. When Phil is passed over for a promotion, he and his wife decide to find a god to pay tribute to--but end up with some unexpected house-guests. And things just get more complicated from there. Really fun take on mythology and I enjoyed the characters a lot. A-.

Monday, April 26, 2010

let's wrestle!

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Originally uploaded by wordnerdy
Went to see Let's Wrestle and Quasi at the Cradle tonight--Let's Wrestle came out in pajamas. Their drummer was, no lie, wearing a bright pink fuzzy onesie. They fucking rocked.

2010 book 107

Tom Rachman's The Imperfectionists
This book is billed as a novel, but it's really a series of short stories involving the people involved with an English-language newspaper in Rome. The stories start off strong, then halfway through become unbearably annoying, then depressing, then extremely upsetting. I've noted here before that my biggest pet peeves is when authors write lovable animals just to have something horrible happen to them, and this was one of those books. F.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

2010 book 106

Y.S. Lee's The Agency: A Spy in the House
It's the 1880s, and a young girl on the verged of being hanged for thievery is instead taken in by a woman who runs a school--and is trained to be a spy. Her first assignment is to act as a lady's companion to a young woman whose father is suspected of being a smuggler--but things are more complicated than they first appear. This reminded me a bit of Laurie King's Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes books--nice historical details, especially regarding women's roles. Apparently it's the first in a series and I'll definitely be reading the next one--I love books about sassy girl spies. A.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

2010 book 105

Heather Davis' The Clearing
A girl fleeing her troubled life moves to a small town where her great-aunt lives; there, she discovers a young man in the field behind her house who's stuck in 1944 avoiding his own tragedies. They form a connection and things start to go awry. I found their stories touching but the end didn't really satisfy. B/B+.

2010 book 104

Robin Antalek's The Summer We Fell Apart
The four adult children from a dysfunctional family deal with life after their father's death and flash back to a crucial summer in their younger lives. Each narrates a section of the text--sometimes filling holes in the others--which works well, and the characters are mostly all sympathetic. I especially liked youngest daughter Amy and next-youngest George--very well-done characters. My only beefs with this book: a couple of unanswered questions, a kind of wishy-washy ending, and it seemed like, for the most part, nothing super eventful happened that crucial summer they're all flashing back to (for some of them, anyway). I guess it's really more about the family dynamics than anything else. B+.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

2010 book 103

Maryrose Wood's The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place
OK, I love love loved this book, but am so frustrated b/c it's clearly the start of a series and I'm dying to know what happens next! Anyway, it's set in olden times in England and centers on a young governess (who's been well-trained at a school for Poor Bright Females, which right there gives you a hint of what this book's humor is like) who's hired to teach three children who, it seems, were literally raised by wolves. I've seen a lot of Lemony Snicket comparisons, but the writing here is looser and less clever-on-purpose. As she attempts to civilize them, the reader realizes there's more at stake than just their education. Here's an article and interview with the author for your perusal. A.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

2010 book 102

Sandra Kring's How High the Moon
I wasn't sure if I was going to like this going in--it's about a little girl growing up in the summer of 1955, and her dialogue is a little bit annoying at first (seriously, one of her speeches takes three Kindle pages to get through) though actually I liked her narrative voice. Anyway, her mother has abandoned her to be raised by an ex-boyfriend while she pursues her Hollywood dreams, and the little girl is forced to participate in a Big Sister-Little Sister summer program aimed to teach her to be more respectable, where she's paired with the most popular teenager in town. Things go about how you'd expect, though I will say that a pair of prostitutes really liven the story up, but by the end I was wholeheartedly into the story and even got a little teary. A-.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

2010 book 101

Tera Lynn Childs' Oh. My. Gods.
This book is kind of like Mean Girls meets Percy Jackson, only not very good. Actually, the first half is ok, as a girl is forced to move w/ her mom and her new stepdad to a small island in Greece, where she has to go to school w/ kids who turn out to be descendants of the Greek Gods. And there's the usual crush on the popular guy w/ the popular bitchy girlfriend, and the quirky new friend, etc. It's slightly elevated by the protagonist being an athlete--she's a star runner and is working her way to a scholarship to USC--but the end is a terrible mishmash of YA fantasy cliches that just made me want to put it down and not even finish. C.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

2010 book 100

Diana Wynne Jones' Enchanted Glass
So I pretty much love all of Diana Wynne Jones' books, and while this wasn't close to being one of my favorites, it was a really nice story, about a man who inherits his grandfather's house (and magical trusteeship over the town), the boy who comes to stay with him, the very entertaining townspeople, and the mysterious and menacing man next door. B+.


Originally uploaded by drelk3
I like this picture my dad took of a bird, so here it is for your viewing pleasure.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

2010 book 99

Sandra Dallas' Whiter than Snow
I didn't love Dallas' last novel but I've enjoyed a couple other of her books and figured I'd give it a shot. It's about an avalanche that strikes a small town in Colorado one afternoon just as the children are walking home from school. Dallas gives the life stories of the families whose children are trapped, and the reader comes to home all of their children will survive--even though they won't. Really good, though I was definitely weepy at the end. A/A-.

2010 book 98

Paolo Giordano's The Solitude of Prime Numbers
In this first novel by a cute young Italian physicist, a pair of damaged young people make a connection, and we see them grow from childhood to adulthood, trying to become whole. It was generally very moving, though I had mixed feelings about the ending and am still trying to process it. B+.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

2010 book 97

Christopher Moore's Bite Me
It's unusual that the second book in a trilogy is the best one, but that was the case with this series. Not that the third one wasn't entertaining, since it involves all the earlier character fighting a horde of vampire cats. B/B+.

Monday, April 12, 2010

2010 book 96

Christopher Moore's You Suck
This was even awesomer than the first one, as part of the narrative duties are taken over by a new human minion, a wannabe goth/vampire teenage girl. Not that her sections are particularly accurate, but they are particularly hilarious. I had planned to read some other books after this one, but I'm dying to find out what happens next! A-.

drop everything and read day!

Apparently today is National National Drop Everything and Read Day, so make sure you take some time out from workin' to read something for fun! Especially if it's by Beverly Cleary, since today is her 94th birthday.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

2010 book 95

Christopher Moore's Bloodsucking Fiends
Funny, light story about a girl who gets turned into a vampire and the boy she falls for. Not much else to say besides that, except I'm reading the sequel next.

Friday, April 09, 2010

2010 book 94

Denise Mina's Still Midnight
I'm pretty sure this book isn't part of a series, but it almost reads like part of a series, like I should have more information on the protagonist cop than I do. So anyway, a cop (lady cop) w/ a troubled past and marriage gets involved in a case of kidnapping for ransom that at first seems random, and then less so. It's kind of weird that one of the kidnappers is the most likable character in the story, but he is. The end is a little bit of a mishmash but things were entertaining enough. B+/B.

Thursday, April 08, 2010

2010 book 93

Wendy Webb's The Tale of Halcyon Crane
This book has a great premise--a woman, who believes her mother died when she was a child, discovers her father actually kidnapped her away in an effort to keep her safe, and s the woman goes to her mother's home and everything is supposed to be all ghosty and Gothic--and was getting great reviews on Amazon, but it was fairly disappointing. For one thing, it needed another round through the editing machine--the writing was clumsy at parts and there was a lot of awkward dialogue, and there were some weird typos in the Kindle edition. And while the story itself was mostly strong, the conclusions were easy to guess and the mysticism wasn't really well-done. Sigh. B-.

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

2010 book 92

Sorry for the lack of updates--I've been busy celebrating my birthday this week!

Lisa Grunwald's The Irresistible Henry House
When I was describing the plot of the first half of this book to a friend--it's about a baby boy who's part of a program where orphans spent the first two years of their life being practice babies for a college's home ec department, which apparently was a real thing for a big chunk of the 20th century--and he said it sounded very John Irving-esque (which was my first reaction as well). The John Irving-ness dissipates a bit as the practice baby grows into a surly teenager and the story bogs down a bit, but his involvement with 60s pop culture is pretty entertaining and on the whole, it's a great character study. A-.

Sunday, April 04, 2010

2010 book 91

Michael Scott's The Sorceress
Not that this isn't a fun series to read, but it has a few problems that make it kind of a lesser series. Namely, all the action so far--in three books--has taken place in less than a week, which leaves little time for realistic character development. And on that same note, two of the protagonists--the teenagers with A Special Destiny--aren't particularly interesting or likable. Plus the villains come off as completely incompetent when they should be terrifying. Still, the titular sorceress, Peregrine Flamel, is a great character, gutsy and smart, and this book was worth reading for her alone.

2010 book 90

Michael Scott's The Magician
The second book in this series features more good vs evil immortal humans and good vs evil immortal gods and monsters, as Flamel and the twins are pursued by bad guys or whatever. I enjoy these books, but wish that all the action didn't take place in like a day--I guess things are more believable when they move more slowly. But the characters are interesting enough--I especially like Flamel's wife--and it's fun to see which historical figures they encounter (educational!).

Saturday, April 03, 2010

new mix!

I know I used to post track listings for all the mix cds I made, but then I got lazy and stopped doing that. I like this one though--I made it for my upcoming birthday!

Songs are first, then artist, b/c I copied and pasted from itunes.

One Evening-Feist
Maneater-The Bird and the Bee
Good Morning (The Future)-Rogue Wave
Four by Four-Shout Out Louds
We Will Stand-Adventures In Stereo
Let Your Love Light Shine-Ann Peebles
Dali-Finn Riggins
The Blessed Breeze-Fruit Bats
In the Sun-She & Him
Give Me All Your Lovin’-The Long Winters
Where's Your Patience, Dear?-Portastatic
Why Modern Rock is A-OK-Roman Candle
Baby Lee-Teenage Fanclub
David-The Radio Dept.
I Hope You Die-Wye Oak
We Are the Men You'll Grow to Love Soon-Let's Wrestle
Boat Behind-Kings of Convenience
The High Road-Broken Bells
Radio-Radar Brothers

Friday, April 02, 2010

2010 book 89

Michael Scott's The Alchemyst
Man, I hate when books replaces Is with Ys to make things sound more magical. Which is neither here nor there and didn't affect my enjoyment of this book in the least. The story centers on a pair of fifteen-year-old twins in San Francisco who get sucked into a bunch of magical intrigue when they meet Nick and Perry Fleming, better known as Nicholas and Peregrine Flamel (and now I know that JK Rowling didn't invent them--Flamel was an actual alchemist and, according to Wikipedia anyway, has been referenced in all sorts of pop culture places). Anyway, there's a good vs evil battle brewing and of course the twins have a prophecy about them, but the story does go some unexpected places, and I'll definitely check out the next book in the series.

Thursday, April 01, 2010

2010 book 88

Rachel Hawkins' Hex Hall
One of my favorite guilty pleasures is reading books about paranormal boarding school (like the House of Night books), so this book, about a young witch who gets sent to magic reform school (for witches, fairies, and shapeshifters), was right up my alley. The usual stuff happens--she makes enemies w/ the popular girls, gets a crush on the popular boy, and her only friend is a vampire suspected of attacking other students--but there's a nice lightness and sense of humor about everything, so it was definitely above average. A.

2010 book 87

Carol Goodman's Arcadia Falls
After her husband's untimely death, a woman and her teenage daughter move to a small town in upstate New York where she can teach at an exclusive arts-relate high school. But soon after her arrival, a student dies, and the woman gets involved in unraveling the mysteries behind the death of one of the school's founders in the 1940s. Anyway, this book starts off strong (despite an unnecessary romantic subplot), with storylines about fairy tales and artists and writers and lovers, but the end's twists are way too easy to guess, and the end itself is entirely overwrought. C.