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


Originally uploaded by wordnerdy
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.


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


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


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:

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-.


Originally uploaded by wordnerdy
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.)