snugglekitty: (Default)
So, I had another conversation with my mom about recommending her some sf. In the conversation, I was able to determine the following:

1) She's read something in this genre all of once before, a book I recommended to her in high school. Neither of us remembers what the book was.
2) She is more interested in fantasy than in SF. (I gave her examples of themes of each.)
3) And sadly, she's already read The Time-Traveler's Wife (although the good news is, she enjoyed it!).

So now I'm looking for something in a literary fantasy with good prose. Susannah Clarke is pulling ahead, I'll admit. I'm also wondering what she would think of Bujold's Chalion series, and what deLint book I would recommend to her if I had to tear my hair out and choose just one. If I was going to suggest a Sharon Shinn book to her I imagine it would be The Shape-Changer's Wife. If I suggested McKillip it would be Forgotten Beasts of Eld.

Then, there is also the possibility of just suggesting she read the anthology A Tangled Web, which has Sharon Shinn, Patricia McKillip, Lynn Kurland,

Does this inspire any further suggestions, faithful readers?

What I would like to do is narrow the list down to two or three books, and then describe them to her and see which one catches her interest.
snugglekitty: (Default)
The Lambda Award finalists have been announced for 2010.

http://www.lambdaliterary.org/awards/2011-finalists/

I'm happy to see that _Gender Outlaws_ is on the list. I say "Squee!" for Bear and Kate.
snugglekitty: (hourglass book)
I am a bit behind in posting reviews - there are four more books I finished in 2010. I hope to post them all within the next few days.

My total number of books read for the year is 64. This goes to show that 2010 sucked a very great deal - what is normal for me is to read at least a hundred new books every year. (I don't count rereads in my total.) Of these, seven displayed excellence sufficient to earn the grade of A. All of these were fiction; I didn't read much nonfiction this year. Here they are, with the overly specific award categories you've come to love.

Best Children's Book I Should Have Read Decades Ago: Peter Pan by JM Barrie. I had seen and heard many variations on this story and the classic original leaves them all in the dust. If you haven't read it, you should.

Best Platonic Character Pairing: With the Lightnings by David Drake. Adele is a librarian with a past. Daniel is a lieutenant in a space navy. These two could save the galaxy - if they don't kill each other first!

Best Coming of Age Fantasy: Lord of the Changing Winds by Rachel Neumeier. Surprising plot twists and complicated interpersonal dynamics will keep you guessing in this riveting tale of griffins.

Best Fantasy Set in a Sightless Society: Darkborn by Alison Sinclair. Lady Telmaine Hearne has a secret. She has the gift of magic - something that could ruin her reputation in the society of the Darkborn. But this gift may be the only thing that can save her family when the city of Minhorne falls into chaos.

Best Fantasy Series Conclusion: Treason's Shore by Sherwood Smith. Inda is back at the side of his friend Evred, now the Marlovan king. The fleet he raised to stop the pirates is the only chance the Marlovans have against the Venn invaders. But will Evred know when to end the war?

Best Black, White, and Red Illustrated YA Fantasy Collection: Lips Touch Three Times by Laini Taylor Three different fairy tale retellings center around kisses. This book would be worth it for the illustrations alone.

Best Serious Science Fiction: Fool's War by Sarah Zettel. Artificial intelligence, what makes us human, forgiveness, and prejudice are some of the themes of this thoughtful book.


In addition to these seven titles, four also earned a grade of B+: The Penderwicks on Gardam Street by Jeanne Birdsall, Lt. Leary Commanding by David Drake, Storm Witch by Violette Malan, and Crossover by Joel Shepherd.

ETA: See the best books of 2009 here.
snugglekitty: (Default)
Dear Never After the book*,

I think it's finally time for me to be honest. I'm sorry I was holding back. And I know that you think we meant something to each other. But the truth is, I was just using you. I knew that you had a story by Laurell K. Hamilton and one by Sharon Shinn. And I also knew that I was not interested in reading anything by Yasmine Galenorn and Marjorie M. Liu, because I've not liked their books in the past. Perhaps you believed it was more. Perhaps you hoped that I might change my mind and add you to my reading total. But it wasn't meant to be.

I still don't want a relationship with you. I will never read those two stories, short of being kidnapped and held at gunpoint and forced to read them. But I didn't realize how I would feel now, today. You gave me something that in my heart of hearts, I've been longing for for years. You fulfilled a fantasy that I had started to think would just never be realized.

Between your cheap white covers, Sharon Shinn finally brought the gay. Shinn is my favorite author of romantic fantasy, bar none. She writes quickly, so there are a lot of books, and they are GOOD books. But up until now, they've also been straight. I hoped for a while with Cameron. I hoped again with Wen. I have hoped with numerous side characters. None of them were queer on the page. But finally my dream is realized!!

Not just one but... )

I'm so grateful to you for helping me realize this dream. You're still not what I want in a partner, but can we be friends?

Again, my apologies.

LadyA

* Not to be confused with Never After the awesome musical my talented friend [livejournal.com profile] ceelove wrote.
snugglekitty: (didja see?)
This year in total I read 144 books. That's a pretty high total for me. That does include graphic novels but it does not include books that I've read before. I'm not going to list them all here, because I like you more than that, but if you want to see every single one, click here.

These books are those I label best. I either feel that they changed me, changed the genre they were written in, or could change the world. "But wait!" you said. "We love your best books of the year, but please, give us overly specific award categories and imaginary theme songs!"* All right, all right. Anything for my loyal readers.

Best comedy of manners masquerading as a mystery. Strong Poison by Dorothy Sayers - Let's Call the Whole Thing Off, Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong.
Best comic supernatural retelling of an early novel. Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Jane Austen and Seth Grahame-Smith - "Living Dead Girl" by White Zombie
Best fairy tale graphic novel for children. Rapunzel's Revenge by Shannon and Dean Hale - "Take the Road" from Never After
Best gay teen superhero story. Hero by Perry Moore - "I'm Coming Out" by Diana Ross
Best Greek-tragedy-influenced classic noir. The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler "One for my Baby, and One for the Road" by Billy Holiday
Best late-life sexual memoir.** A Round-Heeled Woman by Jane Juska - "F*ck and Run" - Liz Phair
Best sexy pentacle tattoo novel set in Victorian England. Soulless by Gail Carriger - "Don't Leave Me This Way" by Thelma Houston
Best speculative suspense novel. Touchstone by Laurie R King - "Don't Let It Bring You Down," Annie Lenox
Best YA fantasy with a skeleton hero. Skulduggery Pleasant by Derek Landy - "You Can't Keep a Good Dog Down," from All Dogs Go to Heaven
Best YA starring a female assassin. Graceling by Kristin Cashore - "Bitterblue" by Cat Stevens

Honorable Mentions

These books earned a grade of B+, which is the high end of the "I love this book and would read it over and over!" category.

Santa Olivia by Jacqueline Carey
The Thin Man by Dashiel Hammet
The Grand Sophy by Georgette Heyer
No! I don't Want to Join a Book Club by Virginia Ironsides
My Most Excellent Year by Steven Kluger
Julie and Romeo by Jeanne Ray
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Anne Shaffer and Annie Barrow
Get Up: A 12-Step Guide to Recovery for Misfits, Freaks, and Weirdos** by Bucky Sinister
The Fox by Sherwood Smith
Dies the Fire by SM Stirling
Gate of the Gods by Martha Wells
The Wizard Hunters by Martha Wells
Maisie Dobbs by Jacqueline Winspear
Tempting Fate by Chelsea Quinn Yarbro

Want even more best-of goodness? Click here for 2008's best fiction, and here for the best nonfiction.

*All right, so you didn't. But you would have if you had thought of it. Am I right, or am I right?
**This year's notable nonfiction titles. Surprisingly, there were only two - usually it breaks down more evenly.
snugglekitty: (bookcase)
Cotillion by Georgette Heyer Didn't know there was a "witty YA romance set in the Regency era" genre? Well, you do now.
The Host by Stephanie Meyer Meyer became a household name this year, with her Twilight series soaring to new heights of popularity. In what I think her best work to date, she redefines the genre of romantic SF.
Holy Fire by Bruce Sterling Think a hard sci fi writer won't tackle issues like aging, beauty, and art? Think again.
The Autumn Castle by Kim Wilkins This lyrical treasure will give hope to anyone who thinks the golden age of urban fantasy is over.

Four and a Half Star Books. )

Click here for last year's best fiction.

As of today, I am going to switch from a five-star rating system to a grade point rating system. I've been talking about this for a while. I think it will allow me more nuance. I am also going to try out using an outline or summary outside the cut, with Title, Author, Genre, Grade, and similar categories, but that is more experimental and I may not do it beyond January.
snugglekitty: (bookcase)
207 books later... )

Five star titles, alphabetical by author

Hello, Cruel World: 101 Alternatives to Suicide for Teens, Freaks, & Other Outlaws by Kate Bornstein This book is not just for teenagers and the suicidal. It should be required reading for anyone who is really unhappy and/or doesn't know how to change their life.
Many Roads, One Journey by Charlotte Kasl A holistic guide to recovering from addiction, for women. Places our understanding of addiction in context of our lives and society.
Wild Fermentation by Sandor Ellix Katz How to naturally ferment anything in simple, easy, unintimidating steps. If you don't know what to do with your garden surplus, or have always been intimidated by the idea of canning, you must read it.
Face to Face by Audrey Kishline and Sheryl Maloy What would you say to the person who killed your child? What if you believed God wanted you to forgive them? A true story.
Operating Instructions: A Journal of My Son's First Year by Anne Lamott A brutally honest look at parenting from the front lines. Written with compassion and humor for everyone involved.
Strategic Sex: Why They Won't Keep It in the Bedroom edited by D. Travers Scott Possibly one of the best sexually-themed anthologies I've ever read, and I've read many.


Four and a Half Star Books )

Still not enough? Click here for my take on last year's best nonfiction.
snugglekitty: (cradle tree)
What books would you recommend to someone who wanted to be cheered up? I'm not talking about self-help titles, but easy, gentle reads that might lift you up a bit when you need it. They shouldn't be graphic. They can be fiction or nonfiction. They can range from "older child/YA" on up. They can have spiritual overtones, but shouldn't be strongly Christian and definitely shouldn't be about Christmas.

Click here for examples! )

A little romance or mystery is okay - again, as long as it's not graphic. Mostly I'm looking for some cozy tales to get me through the winter, since it's never been my best time of year, as I think most of you are already aware.

Thanks in advance.
snugglekitty: (Default)
Recently I read the fantastic and funny Hit and Run, fourth in Block's series about Keller the hit man. However, those of you who have just tuned in may not yet know of my love for Block. So, instead, I am writing a this post in praise of this mystery writer and his several series.

My old friend [livejournal.com profile] zzbottom introduced me to Burglars Can't Be Choosers a long while back. I believe it was Block's first published novel. In Burglars Can't Be Choosers, the high-class cat burglar Bernie Rhodenbarr is shocked to discover a body in the apartment that he has been burgling. Alas, he discovers it after the police have found him in the apartment, and if you think this is leading towards him being the prime suspect in the murder, you'd be correct. The hapless Bernie must solve the mystery to get himself out from under. Like many of Block's works, this book takes place in New York City and has a wonderful sense of place.

After I had read five or six of the Rhodenbarr series, I picked up The Thief Who Couldn't Sleep by mistake. TTWCS features another eccentric character - Evan Tanner, writer of term papers for cheaters by day and a member of more secret societies than you can shake a stick at. Tanner's quirk? A combat injury to his brain has left him permanently unable to sleep. Through a series of events that you will have to read to believe, Tanner is drawn into a web of international espionage that will leave him hungry, muddy, and desperate to get home safely, with lots of laughs along the way. Tanner On Ice, the final book so far, is my favorite in the series.

Once I had exhausted the in-print possibilities of Evan Tanner, I came across Hit Man. Keller, just Keller, is a nice guy. He pays taxes, he likes the ladies, he does his jury duty when called. What is not obvious to everyone is that he is actually a hit man. Operating under the radar, Keller performs contract killings all over the country for his boss, The Old Man. This series now has four books and I think that the writing is consistently excellent throughout it - a notable feature in a world where most series go straight downhill after the first book or two. It is funny in a wry, dark sort of way.

The only series of Block's that I haven't been able to get into is that featuring the hardboiled police detective Matthew Scudder. I found it too bleak and a bit gruesome to boot, but if you like noir, give it a try.

I recommend Lawrence Block to anyone who likes mysteries. I strongly recommend him to those who enjoy the works of Carl Hiaasen.
snugglekitty: (open book)
As of the end of the year (January first, 2009) I will be changing from a five-star system to a letter grade system.

F = One star = It was so bad I couldn't/didn't want to finish it.
D = Two stars = I finished it but it had some serious problems.
C = Three stars = I liked it. I would recommend it at least to some people.
B = Four stars = I loved it. I would read it over and over again.
A = Five stars = It could change the genre, or it changed my life, or it could change the world.

The reason for this is that I would like to indicate further gradations, and folks generally understand the A+, A, A- system. Three stars, especially, is too general - everything that I didn't hate or love gets three, and there's a lot of middle ground. This way I can be more specific.

For the book review communities where I publish things [livejournal.com profile] bookshare and [livejournal.com profile] bookish I am also considering posting quick-and-dirty summaries in front of a cut full review, like this:

Title: Cry Wolf
Author: Patricia Briggs
Genre: Sexy-woman-with-pentacle-tattoo, aka dark romantic urban fantasy a la Laurell K Hamilton
My Grade: B+
First sentence: "No one knew better than Walter Rice that the only safe place was away from other people." (If I have a quote that I like, I'll use that instead. In this case I wasn't attached to one.)
Who Should Read This Book: Folks who like the genre or would like an introduction to Briggs' work.

I consider the folks who read this journal to be my primary audience, so I would be very interested in any suggestions or refinements you all might have to offer.
snugglekitty: (Default)
So, I was torn over whether to read Breaking Dawn, the triumphant and monstrously huge conclusion to Stephanie Meyer's Twilight epic. Then, I heard from [livejournal.com profile] omnia_mutantur about a long, hilariously funny recap that would tell me all I needed to know, without the pain, trauma, and disappointment of having to read another 500 pages of teen vampire angst and whining.

The recap is even better and funnier that I imagined.
For anyone else who might be in need:
http://cleolinda.livejournal.com/2008/08/02/

For those who have read the book (or the summary) and are hungry for more, here is a spoiler-riffic interview with Meyer:
http://www.twilightlexiconforum.com/viewtopic.php?t=22552&sid=c8cc128ad75009592871ed0b4144e7ca

I also want to mention that I recently found out that Stephanie Meyer is a Mormon, and I feel that information has deepened my understanding of her work.

And a lovely evening to all.
snugglekitty: (Default)
Today was my bookswap. It was a lovely time and there were tons of books and people. [livejournal.com profile] teratomarty, [livejournal.com profile] mrpet, and L were all super helpful in keeping things running smoothly. [livejournal.com profile] trouble4hire provided cheezy biscuits and a marvelous sense of calm (and not just to me!) [livejournal.com profile] tsuj went out of her way to drop off the hardcover books at More Than Words after we were done. And everyone who was there while we were closing up was great about pitching in to pack the books away.

Of course, I could not resist grabbing a few tasty titles for myself. Joining my collection are:

Blue Moon by Lori Handeland
My Immortal by Erin McCarthy
Lies My Teacher Told Me by James W. Loewen
The Crow: The Lazarus Heart by Poppy Z Brite
The Simpler Life by Deborah Deford
Herbal Salads by Ruth Bass

And two special books I'd been wanting for a while - Written on the Body by Jeanette Winterson and Wild Side Sex by Midori. And, okay, I did pick up The Adobe Story for my sister. But considering I put close to seventy books in the "out" pile, I feel I was pretty virtuous. Make that "very virtuous." Of course, it helped that I had hostess duties - I couldn't stare at the books like a hawk every single second. :)

I hope that everyone who came had as good a time as I did. :)

At this point, we are decided - our next swap will be of music and movies. To be specific, CDs and DVDs. :) See you then.
snugglekitty: (bookcase)
The Color of Magic. Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman! Erotica Vampirica. Chicken Licken. 501 Spanish Verbs. Then She Found Me. What to Expect When You're Expecting. In Defense of Food. The Tale of Peter Rabbit. A Scanner Darkly. You: On a Diet. Wildly Foxtrot. The Amber Spyglass. Running with Scissors. Smoke and Mirrors.

Read more... )

The swap will be on Sunday from one to four, in a private home in Davis Square. There is no charge to get in but you should bring one to three bags of books. To get more details, including the address of the book swap, leave a comment with your email address or send email to ladyanemone at gmail dot com.
snugglekitty: (pickles)
The subtitle of this book is "The Health Drink Sweeping America." It is the only book on kombucha easily available through my library system. Of course, I had to check it out, and I read it in just a few hours. The book consists of an introduction, which describes how the two authors got involved with kombucha, thirty pages of testimonials by random folks all over America, directions for making kombucha, a chapter about drinking the tea and other uses, and a chapter on the history of kombucha and research about its properties. Of great interest to some readers will be the extensive scientific bibliography, although many of the articles referenced are not in English.

This book is a little out of date. You can tell just in the first chapter, based on the celebrities they list who drink kombucha - Ronald Reagan, Darryl Hannah, Linda Evans. It is also very much "My way is the right way." "As far as we know, this is the only way to make the purest, most effective tea." (p 47) Which way? Well, the author's way. And you can visit her website, Laurel Farms, to order your own baby. And if you really care about your friends, you should buy this book for them! Yes. It actually says that, on page 56. As well as "No ingredient or utensil substitutions. Ever. No matter what." (p 52) Oh-kay. To me, that sounds like, "You must always trust this book over your own experience." The techniques she describes are pretty standard, but some folks say you can, for example, make kombucha with part decaf tea, or part herbal tea, if you're experienced and know what you're doing and keep a "back-up baby" around in case of mishaps. According to Pryor, ANY substitution is almost guaranteed to ruin your kombucha. Also, as I understand it, the idea that you can only grow kombucha in the dark has been disproved, as well as the idea that you should never use a Mason jar to brew.*

I think that the many comprehensive kombucha websites out there make this book a bit unnecessary. Except for the testimonials, which I found a bit over-gushy, it doesn't have much to offer that they don't already have. But it was probably more ground-breaking and important at the time it was originally published. Nonetheless, I will keep on searching for a kombucha book that will be terribly helpful. I definitely still want Tietze's 1001 Ways to Brew Kombucha! It would be more useful to someone who had never heard of kombucha, but then, why would they read it? Two and a half stars.

*I also have anecdotal evidence to the contrary in both cases - the Mason jar of kombucha brewing in my sunny dining room is looking effin' awesome.

book stuff

Jul. 3rd, 2008 09:23 am
snugglekitty: (bookcase)
For starters, I wanted to mention that I bought and am now reading Tristan Taormino's new book on open relationships, Opening Up. Nobody that I know seems to have read this book yet and I was dying to know how it was and the library didn't have it. So, I bought the bullet - I don't usually buy books new unless I've already read them and determined them to be awesome - and picked it up at Porter Square Books. [livejournal.com profile] mrpet is already next on the list to read it, then it will go to other tribal members and roommates if they want to give it a shot, and then I will lend it to whoever.

The other thing, which I was just mentioning to [livejournal.com profile] jenaflynn, is that I'm not sure how to handle the division of my books between paperbackswap.com and the in-person bookswap. I have all these books hanging around. Like, fifty, or maybe even more. Do I put all fifty in the pile at the bookswap? Do I save some for the website? Which ones? Argh. Decisions, decisions. If I unlist the books, then I will lose my place in line for those copies to go out... and if no one picks them up at the swap I will have to relist them and start over. Argh.

I haven't decided what to do about this yet.
snugglekitty: (books not bombs)
So, I was realizing recently that I was uninterested in the dozen or so library books I had out, not to mention the hundreds I own.

For those of you who don't know me well, a lack of fascination with books is a sign that the [livejournal.com profile] lady_anemone is Not Well. Seriously, seriously not well.

I decided to go to a different library, to see if I could get out of my rut. [livejournal.com profile] trouble4hire suggested going to multiple libraries, and this I did. In less than 24 hours, I visited the main branches of the Cambridge, Arlington, and Medford public libraries.

Book geeking. )

I'm hoping this loot will get me out of my reading rut. So far it seems to be working.
snugglekitty: (bookcase)
...before I was quite through.

Stumbling on Happiness by Daniel Gilbert - a fascinating but depressing piece of nonfiction.
Candy Girl: A Year in the Life of an Unlikely Stripper by Diablo Cody (who wrote the screenplay for the movie Juno and has one of the most awesome names in the whole world)
Breaking the Maya Code by Michael Coe
A Princess of Roumania, which I can't recommend. The reviews were stunning and I kept waiting for it to get good. I won't request this one again.
snugglekitty: (bookbabe)
Do you enjoy reading translated books? Does the experience differ depending on the original language, or on other factors? If you read other languages, do you enjoy reading books in their original languages?

Okay, I'm getting back on the question wagon. Hopefully I can finish the ones I like by the end of the month.

Read more... )
snugglekitty: (Default)
Are books a passion of yours or are they part of your professional life as well? How much do you read a day?

Read more... )

Do you like to read, [livejournal.com profile] tootlelulu? What sort of books do you enjoy?
snugglekitty: (psychedelic library)
So, I just discovered that paperbackswap does this thing where you can look at all of the books you've gotten from it, and see what ones have been wished for by other people. This is awesome, because it turns out that a few books I got and wound up not reading have been desired by other people. I will happily let them go.
(ETA: I have also discovered that PBS has a one-hour Buyer's Remorse period for you think about requests that you have made before they send them out. That's kind of awesome, and I will feel better about cancelling things now.)

I thought I had figured out a non-hold way to keep a list of books on the library website, but I was wrong. Boo.

Also, [livejournal.com profile] syprina suggested I try the website Goodreads. So far, it hasn't really pulled me in. The site design is bad, and it seems like most of the people who are on it aren't using it for much. Any thoughts from people who love it, hate it, or have other opinions to share?

Also also, does anyone in the Boston area have a Kindle? I just want to look at one and see what it's like before I decide whether I want one. Not that wanting one will necessarily translate to having one, of course - I'm not a corporate chick anymore.

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