snugglekitty: (hermione)
In 2006, I read 160 books. Yup. That's how many. If you put them all on top of each other, I think it would make a pile bigger than me.

Here are the titles and authors of all the five-star books I read, with short descriptions. Now, I read a lot more good books this year, books that I would gladly read over and over. To get five stars, a book has to be great. I have to feel that it changed my life, or the genre, or it could change the world in some way.

And, without further ado... )

This year really yielded an amazing haul. I hope you enjoyed it too! If you have found my reviews interesting or helpful, won't you share the love? Leave a comment and let me know, or better yet, buy something at a locally owned bookstore.

ETA: Click here for the best books of 2005.
snugglekitty: (Default)
I wrapped up 2006 with A Brother's Price by Wen Spencer and Don't Sweat the Small Stuff (and it's all small stuff) by Richard Carlson. I also finished leafing through First, Break All the Rules: What the World's Best Managers Do Differently by Marcus Buckingham and Curt Coffman.

A Brother's Price is an intriguing fantasy by the author of Tinker and the Ukiah Oregon series (the latter is next on my list). The premise is this - society is based on large families with many more girls than boys - twenty girls and one boy is a lucky outcome. For this reason, boys are prized. They are sold or traded to be communal husbands (one man per group of sisters) or kept in carefully guarded, very expensive "cribs" for those who can't afford a husband. The sibling bond is the primary bond, keeping family groups together for their whole lives, as they grow (hopefully) from sisters to mothers to grandmothers. The main character, Jerin, is a farm boy who rescues a princess and falls in love with her. The book is suspenseful, engrossing, and actually kind of sexy. Spencer thought through a lot of the details, too - like, where do women who can't afford husbands get sex? How does the reproductive labor get accomplished? Etc. Good book.

Don't Sweat the Small Stuff is a book I got at a book swap earlier this year. It is somewhat repetitive. It's basically focused on enjoying your life more by being a better person - more forgiving, more patient, more relaxed. If I had to sum up the central premise, I think I'd say that if you're good to other people, they'll be good to you. I need to spend some more time considering before I decide whether I agree that that is true, even in the case of strangers. I enjoyed it well enough, though in my opinion, Simplify Your Life by Elaine St. James is much better.

First, Break All the Rules talks about how to find and retain talented employees. Gallup Research did an enormous worldwide study of managers and managing, and then spent some more time analyzing the data they got from it. The focus of this book is the corporate setting, which is not what interested me about it, but it still had some good ideas in it. The central premise is that there are some things you can do that talented people will care about, but others won't. In other words, the really brilliant folks care about having the best tools for the job, knowing exactly what's expected of them, having their strengths played to, and having someone at work who cares about their career development - those who are just punching a clock don't find that sort of thing important.
Something that I liked about this book was the idea that treating everyone equally is NOT the best way to manage. Rather, it's better to treat everyone the way they want and need to be treating. A presented example was a restaurant manager who explained that he treated workers who were supporting families on their own preferentially, giving them extra shifts, where for student workers, he would allow them to take unexpected days off instead, because he knew that would be more important to them. Basically, treating your employees as people rather than drones.
I didn't read the whole book, because I didn't like the writing style, and it wasn't really focused on what I was most interested in. But, if you manage people, you could probably get something out of it - I did.

Look for another post on the books of 2006.
snugglekitty: (Default)
I started out by trying to read Letter to a Christian Nation by Sam Harris. I couldn't get through it. It was just so angry. It's not just that the author isn't a Christian and is opposed to mainstream Christianity - I mean, those things are true of me, too. But it seemed to me like he was mocking Christians, trying to tell them that ANYONE who identifies as Christian is deluding themselves. Even if that were true, which I do not believe, I don't see how his book could change anyone's mind.

When I complained about this to [livejournal.com profile] hanseth, she recommended that I try Why the Christian Right is Wrong instead, so I did. The author of the book, Robin Meyers, is a Christian minister, so he is more sympathetic to Christianity in general. He is not trying to show up the fallacies of believing in the Bible - instead, he is saying that if you call yourself a Christian, you should act like one, and our leaders aren't doing that. He also points out repeatedly that Jesus saved his most righteous wrath for the sin of religious hypocrisy.

The book, essentially, is an expansion of a talk Meyers gave at a peace rally a few years ago. If you haven't read the talk I highly recommend it. Basically, he analyzes the actions of our current government leaders from the perspective of Christian principles and theology. It's... very striking, and the talk itself was one of my favorite parts of the book. I had been carrying around a lot of bad feelings about Christianity for a long time, based on the tendency of many people who identify as Christian to be judgemental, evil, and downright Republican. However, this book made me realize that this is not the heart and soul of Christianity. In that regard, it is a hopeful book. However, in most other regards, it is not. I consider myself to be reasonably informed on political issues, but much of what the author had to say was unfamiliar to me. Even more depressing Shrub quotes. Le sigh.

Another favorite part of the book was an excerpt from a similar essay. The essay, "The Christian Paradox," tells us that only 40% of Americans can name more than four of the ten commandments, and twelve percent believe that Joan of Arc was Noah's wife. Yikes. What does it mean to say that you're Christian if you don't know basic facts about your own religion? Hell, I'm one of the 40% who can name more than four of the commandments, and I'm not even a Christian, nor was I raised one. The essay goes on to say that three quarters of Americans believe that "God helps them who help themselves" is a quote from the Bible. Both the essay and the book talk about just how un-Christian that idea is. A Christian life is meant to be a life of quiet faith and charity. Trickle-down economics are never mentioned in the bible. (The quote is by Ben Franklin, and, imo, is actually a fairly pagan idea.)

My third favorite part of the book was the last chapter. Although Meyers gets bogged down a bit in restating some of his arguments (seriously, guy, if we're not convinced after 150 pages, it's not gonna happen), I liked his practical suggestions. Though the "if you're not part of the solution, you're part of the problem" rhetoric seemed a little too harsh for me, and divisive in the way that our current government is divisive.

Anyway, I'm sold. I think it would be just wonderful if everyone in this country who calls themselves Christian sold all their property, gave the proceeds to charity, and spent the rest of their lives doing good works. I think it would be outstanding if people GAVE, without putting limits on who was worthy - loving their enemies, not just their neighbors. That would really be Christian.

The book was really well-written. I recommend it, although I found it somewhat bleak. It's hopeful in terms of thinking about Christianity as a whole, just not when thinking about our current situation. Three stars.
snugglekitty: (hermione)
To soothe my holiday crankiness, I read My Big Fat Supernatural Wedding, edited by PN Elrod, which was funny, but probably could have been funnier. My favorite stories were "All Shook Up" by P. N. Elrod, "The Wedding of Wylda Serene" by Ester M. Friesner, and "...Or Forever Hold Your Peace" by Susan Krinard. Why? The first was really original. The second was hysterically funny. And the third featured characters and a system of magic that I'm hoping to see again and again. This is the second Kit and Olivia story I've come across, and I'd really love to see those two star in a full-length book. Three stars for the anthology.

I followed it up with Proven Guilty by Jim Butcher. I really like this series. I think it's wonderful that Butcher is still going strong, even eight? nine? books in. It was funny, it was touching, it was believable. Four stars.

Currently, I am trying to finish the last chapter of Why the Christian Right is Wrong, and to get the information I want out of First, Break All the Rules: What the World's Greatest Managers Do Differently.
snugglekitty: (Default)
These all went back to the library before their time was up.

Miss Melville Returns didn't do it for me. In the sequel to the delightful Miss Melville Regrets, Miss Melville is no longer working as an assassin, but rather she has joined the ranks of artistic amateur sleuths. Blas.

Vampire Kisses by Ellen Schreiber. I read one chapter. Maybe it was supposed to be funny, but it only came out sounding trite. And cliched. And sort of dumb.

Glass Houses by Rachel Caine had a promising start, but it seemed pretty bleak. I paged ahead and saw the bleakness continuing, so I tossed it back in the water.
snugglekitty: (fairies)
Aerie was the fourth book in Mercedes Lackey's Joust series. I have read each book with some anticipation but not what you could call excitement. In my opinion, Lackey's glory days are over, even though I still like her new books. They are comfort food books for me, so I like to read them at this time of year. I'd give it three stars. It was okay but it wasn't excellent, and I probably won't read it again.

The Shapes of Their Hearts is by Melissa Scott, one of my favorite cyberpunk writers. This book didn't do it for me, though. It starts out promising enough - an AI is leading a cult, and might be going crazy. Someone is trapped in its brain. And then, it just... kind of fizzles out. What happens to the AI? We're never told. Two stars - I expected better.

Allies is the new chapbook from the Liaden Universe, by Sharon Lee and Steve Miller. The first story, "Fighting Chance," I had read before in the anthology _Women of War_ - I think it was my first brush with Miri Robertson. The other story was okay. Three stars.

The Sunday Philosophy Club by Alexander McCall Smith, the author of the No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency series, was a bit of a disappointment. It was nowhere near as funny as his other books, although I found the characters endearing. I also liked the ending. Three stars.
snugglekitty: (Default)
So, I have now smart-skimmed about 160 pages of this book, and it is just... mindboggling.

Did you know that fungi are an essential part of a healthy forest?
Did you know that a controversial paper published in Nature suggests that slime mold can be used as a model for neural networking?
Did you know that myccorhizae (sp) develop symbiotic relationships with trees, from which both the tree and fungus benefit substantially?
Did you know that mycelium can be used to break down toxic waste, stop soil erosion, bring back forests, and eliminate pests?

Now, I've never been one of those people who are INTO MUSHROOMS, if you know what I mean. I've never ingested hallucinogens of any kind. But I'm starting to wonder about those claims of mushroom intelligence, made by Terence McKenna and others. It seems that fungus is capable of a lot more than I was aware of. I'm so glad I'm reading this book. I think that someday, I'm going to grow mushrooms. Mushrooms to eat, and mushrooms to make my backyard a happy and habitable place.

The most amusing thing I've found out about so far? Specially made chainsaw oil full of psilocybin spores. Cut down a tree, watch a host of magic mushrooms grow in its wake.
snugglekitty: (hermione)
This is the third novel in Sharon Shinn's Twelve Houses series. Overall, they represent a new level of maturity for her as a writer. They deal with more complex issues than the simple black-and-white rescue-the-girl stuff in her Samaria books.

My least favorite thing about the book is a plot development towards the end. It goes kinda like this. "If we stay together, one of two terrible outcomes must result. Oh no! Whatever shall we do?" Helpful friend: "Oh, don't you know about the magic whistle? You just need to find the magic whistle. Then the situation will resolve itself so neither bad thing will happen." "Yay! We're so glad we found out about the magic whistle! Now everything's okay!" Small detail - no one ever finds the damned magic whistle. This isn't what actually happens, it's just a metaphor. But it really seems like Shinn wrote herself into a corner, and then, rather than writing herself out of it, just did a Custom Ex Machina that made it all okay, without even really following through. It annoyed me.

But, I like the way she writes lovestories, and the Twelve Houses ones are especially good. It seems like the next one will be the last one, or second-to-last - everybody in the circle of friends is now paired off, except for one, plus the overarching plot seems to be coming to a head. Three stars, and I went back and re-read the lovey bits. I recommend the series, if you haven't tried it. High fantasy enthusiasts will like it, as well as Shinn fans.
snugglekitty: (Default)
Tex and Molly in the Afterlife by Richard Grant was a book I never saw coming. It was recommended to me by Novelist, since I am a Charles de Lint fan. The basic plotline is, two middleaged hippies get really stoned, fall down a well, and die. They now must try to figure out how to save the forest without bodies, even though the street theater collective is collapsing.
I'm not making this up, I swear. It was a little slow, but very funny in places. My favorite part was a bit comparing drugs to old gods - "As with drugs, so with the Ancient Ones - it was the dabblers who got themselves into the most trouble." Not an exact quote, since the book already went back to the library. Three stars.

Also somewhat silly, although in a different way, was California Demon, sequel to Carpe Demon: Adventures of a Demon-Hunting Soccer Mom by Julie Kenner. Kate Conner is still at it - trying to fight demons, assist her husband in his political career, and keep all her playdate commitments. Not as good as the first, but that could just be the novelty. Three stars again.

[livejournal.com profile] desiringsubject was kind enough to loan me someone else's copy of the Lost Girls trilogy. I'm not going to go into a lot of depth about this book, but I didn't expect it to feature as much incest and pedophilia in it as it did. I'm sure that Moore was just trying to stir people up and start controversies, but I found it offputting. The art was beautiful, but I feel I can only give it two stars, because I think I wish I hadn't read it.
snugglekitty: (genius)
I read The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield because it was on the monthly list of books recommended by booksense.com. If you don't read this list, I suggest you do. It's more interesting than a bestseller list, and leaves a good taste in your mouth, since it's all about buying locally. I use it to find interesting new books that I wouldn't be likely to read otherwise - stuff that isn't genre and that my friends are unlikely to read.

This book was fascinating. It was deep and lyrical. "Everyone has a secret," it claims, and delivers on its own promises. Nor did I see the twist at the end. It's dark, smokey, and sensual. The author's love of books comes through strongly. It is full of obsession, usually that of one person for another. Three and a half stars.

The One Minute Manager by Kenneth Blanchard and Spencer Johnson was among some books I have been reading to learn to be a better manager. It was a business classic of the eighties, apparently. It's written in a narrative style, which I found a bit childish, and it's pretty basic. In general, I agree with the philosophy, but I'll write more about that in another post. Three stars.

Letter to a Christian Nation by Sam Harris is getting returned to the library. I read the introduction and part of the first chapter, but I found it to be too hostile and confrontational. If the author is, in fact, using the book to communicate with Christians, I think he's going about it all wrong. I'm not a Christian myself, but it's not a leap to say that anyone who says that believing in the Bible is delusional, is not exactly aiming for a rational exchange of ideas. He basically thinks that Christianity is wrong, and he wants to prove it by, imo, taking Bible quotes out of context. This wasn't the book I was looking for. I'm somewhat anti-Christian but this book was just too bitter for me. Two stars. I'm going to try [livejournal.com profile] hanseth's recommendation, Why the Christian Right is Wrong, instead.
snugglekitty: (fairies)
Melanie Rawn fans over the globe have made this observation, but I am getting in line to make it as well. Spellbinder is not The Captal's Tower. What am I talking about? ) Unfortunately, though, that's not the worst of it. In Spellbinder, Rawn has abandoned the field of fantasy for the genre of sexy-women-and-pentacles. I don't know what happened. Did her publisher push for her to write something like Laurell K. Hamilton and make a lot of money? Did she get lazy? Was it ghost-written? I have no idea. But the sad fact of the matter is that Spellbinder just isn't that good, even for what it is.

WARNING: CLICHES AHEAD! The witch who's also a famous writer falls for an Irish cop from a dysfunctional, alcoholic family. She can't keep from confessing her secret to him. The next thing we know, they're up against an evil Satanist mastermind who wants to do a ritual so he can become a god. Stay tuned for premonitions of doom, a case of mistaken identity, desperate messages in code, and harebrained plans that only serve to get the main characters into even more hot water. But possibly the thing that bugged me about it the most? Near the beginning of the book, a character who is only somewhat evil puts a curse on the main characters. The curse, in theory, is responsible for their mishaps, mistakes, and suspicion of each other. THEY NEVER BREAK THE CURSE. They never even find out about it, but they still manage to live happily ever after. Just, presumably, bickering and losing their keys for fun and variety. Now that's a plothole you can drive a truck through. Unless of course Rawn is planning a sequel, where the curse is discovered, but please, Goddess, protect us from that fate. Two measly little stars. Rawn is capable of so much better.

I followed this book with The Price of Blood and Honor, third in Elizabeth Willey's fantasy trilogy, which began with The Well-Favored Man: The Tale of the Sorcerer's Nephew. I feel I should warn you, these books are a little tough. The language is very formal - lots of thous and privilys. You have to concentrate to know what's going on. If you can get past that, though, they're very funny in places, and moving in others. Here's an example, from the last book.
There are few choices open to a person believed dead... )

If it makes you laugh, then read the book. If it makes you yawn, skip it. Three stars - it was fairly engrossing once I got into it, and I appreciated the way the characters developed.

My other book this week was Bobbi Brown's Beauty. I recommend this book to anyone who's interested in getting better at doing makeup. I will talk more about it on the femme filter. Four stars.
snugglekitty: (hermione)
I ordered this book from the library because it was recommended by Novelist as being something like Lois McMaster Bujold. It was like Bujold's Vorkosigan series - main character has serious physical limitations and others think he's a freak, lots of intrigue and plot twists, some romance. But it wasn't like her in the ways I wanted it to be - it wasn't funny, it was easy to put down, and there wasn't a whole lot of action. Two stars - there was nothing really wrong with it, but nothing stood out, either.

I read parts of Single No More by Ellen Kreidman out of curiosity. Obviously, I'm not single and haven't been for a long time. It's very straight and marriage-focused. I found much of it to be basic, but it was interesting to think about. I think it's a little more complicated for those of us with freaky sexualities, than for the author's target audience. Sure, you can ask your hairdresser if she knows someone who'd be perfect for you, but what are the chances they like being making love in sausage factories? Or whatever. I don't know - maybe sex isn't as important to most people as it is to me and my sweeties, but it struck me as a potential failing.
snugglekitty: (genius)
I stumbled across Elizabeth Bear's first fantasy novel, Blood and Iron, quite unexpectedly. I had no idea that she had branched out from hard sci fi. Sarah Monette reviewed the book, noting that Bear "takes everything you think you know about Faerie and twists it until it bleeds." She's not wrong. I loved this book. It starts out like standard fantasy, and just when you think you've got everything figured out, the curveballs start coming - and they don't stop. She plays on the reader's assumptions in delightful ways. This one is a genre-changer. I hope that the sequel, due early in 2007, will be as good. Five stars.

The unexceptional book is Invisible Lives by Anajali Bannerjee. This is a romatic comedy, supposed to be Sex and the City meets Bollywood. It didn't live up to that promise. We have the standard premise - does the main character marry the rich Indian man her family has chosen for her, or the sexy American chauffeur? This book would have been a lot more interesting if there was anything likeable about the Indian guy. He interrupted her sentences, didn't like her cats, didn't want her to drive... the list goes on. It was obvious that he would have made her miserable, she would have been an idiot to marry him, so there was no real conflict. It would have been more believable and interesting if he'd had some appealing qualities, or if the chauffeur had had some flaws. Sorry if this spoils the book for anyone, but honestly, the book spoils itself. The lush language was the only thing I liked about it. Two stars.
snugglekitty: (hermione)
Last week, I read [livejournal.com profile] chienne_folle's suggestion, The Unexpected Mrs. Pollifax. I liked it a lot. My only complaint is that it was too short. Well, and there are some things that I found hard to believe that a senior who wasn't physically active would be capable of, but then, we do often surprise ourselves. Four stars, and I was laughing aloud while reading it.

This week, I read Moon's Web by CT Adams and Cathy Clamp, sequel to Hunter's Moon. I liked the first one better, but still pretty good. The revealing of the villain towards the end was... disappointing. I had better plots dreamed up in my head by that point. Still, it was engaging and enjoyable. I'm glad they were able to make it good for a second book. We'll have to see how the third turns out. Three and half stars.

I'm returning to the library Firmin: Adventures of a Metropolitan Lowlife. I started out thinking, "How charming! It's about a rat that lives in a used bookstore and loves to read!" But it was very bleak and dragged on a lot and I decided not to finish it. It wasn't charming after all.

I'm also returning to the library Back from the Dead: One Woman's Search for the Men Who Walked Off America's Death Row, for much the same reasons. I thought it would be heartwarming, or at least hopeful, but it was bleak bleak bleak.

Currently in progress: Blood and Iron by Elizabeth Bear - an unusual read from the prolific author of the Hammered series, as well as The Price of Blood and Honor by Elizabeth Wiley, which I'm having a hard time getting into.
snugglekitty: (hermione)
Over the weekend, despite the fact that I had a big pile of new library books, I just wanted to re-read comfort books. I re-read my favorite parts of Oathbound and Oathbreakers by Mercedes Lackey, and By the Sword in its entirety. I don't know what it is about these books that I love so much. The writing isn't that good, but maybe they just appeal to me emotionally. Or maybe it's because I've known them for so long and loved them when we first met. Like an old friend you used to date.

Then I dove into Throne of Jade, second in Naomi Novik's Temeraire trilogy. The second book didn't thrill me as much as the first, but there was nothing really wrong with it, despite a few plotholes. I'm not sure that the whole "Dragons are people too!" plotline is working for me, either.

Finally, I read Salon Fantastique, the new anthology by Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling. I was expecting great things, given their recent triumphs with The Green Man and The Faery Reel. Sadly, I was doomed to disappointment. The change in quality confuses me - don't they still do their own editing? The few stories I liked are as follows: "La Fee Verte" by Delia Sherman, "The Night Whiskey" by Jeffrey Ford, "Chandail" by Peter S Beagle, and "Femaville 29" by Paul Di Filippo. In general, the stories were very bleak, not super-well written, and not by my favorite authors. I'm sad about this. I can only give the book two stars. However, I'm still looking forward to their next anthology, The Coyote Road, which is a book of trickster tales.

I am returning one book to the library unread, Melusine by Sarah Monette. I read the first 30 pages, and then thought, "How much longer is this character going to keep getting himself into worse trouble?" I leafed ahead, which is something that I NEVER used to do, and discovered that he would be digging himself deeper for another 160 pages. I decided that it just wasn't worth it to me. I read the ending, because I'm no longer the literary purist I once was, and called it a day.
snugglekitty: (hermione)
Also this week, I've finished Murder on Marble Row and Kitty Goes to Washington. Two quick and fluffy reads.

Murder on Marble Row is another in Victoria Thompson's Gaslight Mysteries series. I don't know how she continues to keep these from being predictable. Despite the number of them I've read already, I'm still unable to figure out whodunit with any accuracy. She really drags things out between the main characters, though - it's driving me crazy. Not just in a Mulder and Sculley way, although that's certainly a factor. But other aspects of their lives move on at a snail's pace, too. She keeps me reading, although not without a certain frustration. Three and a half stars.

Kitty Goes to Washington is the new sequel to Carrie Vaughn's Kitty and the Midnight Hour. I enjoyed it almost as much as the first book, which happens but rarely. Kitty is a very sympathetic character, and the troubles she gets into are quite believable. This book, even more than the first book, has her wondering who to trust. I look forward to the next installment, Kitty Takes a Holiday which is promised in 2007. ETA: On waking up, I remembered that this book had some editing problems and at least one significant plothole. Oh, well. I doubt it's Miss Vaughn's fault.
snugglekitty: (evilbook)
Fearless by Francis Pascal was a short YA book that I found deeply unsatisfying. It was too gimmicky. It had too much bolding, and each chapter was excerpted on its title page. How annoying. It also was too short and had a cliffhanger ending.
This book brought up for me the idea of, what does it mean to be fearless? But not really in a good way. The main character says that she doesn't have the fear gene. But she does have an adrenaline response to dangerous situations. It's like what's missing is the idea that she should treat danger with caution. To me, that's not fear, it's common sense. Two stars.

The Dream-Maker's Magic by Sharon Shinn was the third in a trilogy which started with The Safe-Keeper's Secret. I enjoyed this book just as much as the other two. I think my favorite thing about it was that the plot didn't revolve around romantic love the way it did in the previous books. Also, one of the characters was gender variant, which came as a big surprise, but made me happy. Four stars.

Past the Size of Dreaming by Nina Kiriki Hoffman was the sequel to A Red Heart of Memories. I preferred the first book, but the second one was okay. The themes of family, dangerous urges, not belonging, and manipulation that are common to Hoffman's work were found here, too. I'm planning to track down the short stories featuring Matt Black that fill in some of the gaps in these books. In general, Hoffman reminds me of deLint. If you like his books, you should give her a try. Three stars.

Monster Blood Tattoo:Foundling by DM Cornish didn't really work for me. It was a loan from [livejournal.com profile] 7j, and her YA tastes overlap with mine about 90%. What didn't I like about it? Much of it offended my sense of fairness. When, in fiction, a main character gets in trouble due to no fault of his or her own, and subsequently is blamed for that trouble, it bothers me a lot. Yup, I'm totally aware that that happens all the time in real life. Part of the reason I like fiction so much is that it isn't real life. I'm not sorry I finished it, but I won't read the sequels. Two stars.
snugglekitty: (Default)
This week I finished two books featuring young ladies of quality in very hot water.

The Spirit Ring, In Fury Born )
snugglekitty: (fairies)
This week, I read Wintertide by Linnea Sinclair and Miss Melville Regrets by Evelyn Smith.

Linnea Sinclair is the author of Accidental Goddess, which is as close as anyone has come to the Liaden books (at least, that I've encountered so far). So, I figured I'd try out this fantasy offering of hers. Wintertide was... well... it felt like a first novel, whether it was one or not. The heroine seemed only too happy to tell everyone exactly what she was up to, except for the people who could actually help her. Willfully stupid? Just really pigheadedly stubborn? I don't know. But I don't feel like her character's motivations were well-established, and I felt the plot had a lot of problems. Okay as a fantasy romance, but there are a lot out there that are a lot better. Her faithful cat and horse and her magic sword I could have easily lived without, which is why I'm labelling this one as "too sweet." Two and a half stars.

I rejected as too bitter One for the Money by Janet Evanovich. I had tried it on the recommendation of Novelist, which thought it was like Lawrence Block. The main character seemed to have my life, though, and it seemed a bit bleak. I stopped after two chapters.

Another Block-alike, Miss Melville Regrets, came through for me splendidly. Imagine Miss Marple's evil twin, a retired art teacher of genteel upbringing who supplements her pension by killing scoundrels for money. I could swear that [livejournal.com profile] chienne_folle recommended this book to me, but if so, I can't find the comment. This book was hysterical. Miss Melville is extremely believable, as are the circumstances that lead her into her life of crime. It's cute without being cloying, sweet without being precious. Love love love. Five stars for book #123.
snugglekitty: (evilbook)
While going to and from an out-of-state event, [livejournal.com profile] mrpet, [livejournal.com profile] 7j and I decided we would listen to a book on CD. [livejournal.com profile] 7j and I went to a bookstore together and came up with a few ideas. Then we asked [livejournal.com profile] mrpet to choose between those ideas for our final pick. We came up with Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs: A Low Culture Manifesto by Chuck Klosterman, read by the author.

This book was wacky and fun. It was a great choice for a car ride with people who don't all have tons in common. Klosterman discusses topics of great social and political import, such as the Celtics/Lakers rivalry, Pamela Anderson, the Left Behind series, and the Sims. He also spends a lot of time on TV shows like The Real World and Saved by the Bell.

Our favorite portion was about the 23 questions that, when answered honestly, purportedly tell the author everything he needs to know about the person answering them. We each answered each of the questions (or scoffed at it appropriately).

The next time you need something for a long car ride, consider Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs. It runs about six hours long. Four stars for the strange fascination.

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