snugglekitty: (Default)
Title: WWW: Wake
Author: Robert J Sawyer, who is apparently a famous sf author I've never read.
Series: WWW trilogy, book one
Genre: YA, science fiction.
Setting: Canada in the present day, world of blogs and net access.
Reason for Reading: I saw a positive review for the third book in the trilogy.
Finished In: Days
Pages: 368
Copyright Date: 2009
Cover: Both pretty and apropos. The face of a girl with her eyes closed seems to float in a sea of light.
First line: The very first line is a binary code which I was unable to transcribe correctly. Here's a link to the googlebook.
The first line in English is: "Not darkness, for that implies an understanding of light."
Epigraph: "What a blind person needs is not a teacher but another self." - Helen Keller
Themes: Blindness, the World Wide Web, Livejournal, primates, science, intelligence.
Best part: I loved the thread of science running through this book, talking about everything from types of blindness to interspecies communication to bicameralism.
Worst part: It doesn't have any that I noticed.
Imaginary Theme Song: "Naturally" by Selena Gomez and the Scene
Grade: A
Recommended for: I think everyone should read this fascinating, engrossing book but especially ceelove and serystarlight.
Related Reads: I am having difficulty thinking of anything comparable.

High school student Caitlin Decter has been blind from birth, and uses the Internet to connect to the world around her. Then a new chance comes - an operation that could give her vision. She knows it may fail but has to try. But something unanticipated happens - instead of seeing the world around her after the operation, Caitlin sees the World Wide Web. And she's not the only one who can see it...

This book is amazing. Read it.
snugglekitty: (living planet)
Title: Nonviolent Communication: A Language of Life
Author: Marshall Rosenberg
Series: There is not a series as such, but Rosenberg has written several books on this topic.
Genre: Self-help, nonfiction.
Reason for Reading: My friend Rock recommended the NVC process to me when I described to her some difficult interpersonal conflicts I had been having. When I started using this process I found it so amazingly helpful that I wanted to read the whole book.
Finished In: Months, because there is a LOT to think about here. I would read a few pages and need to stop and integrate.
Pages: 222, including a list of further NVC titles at the end.
Copyright Date: This is the second edition, copyright 2003. The first edition came out in 1999, although apparently Rosenberg developed the process in the 60's and 70's.
Cover: Lots of blue-greens featuring a daisy with a globe at its heart.
First line: "Nonviolent Communication (NVC) is a way of interacting that facilitates the flow of communication needed to exchange information and resolve differences peacefully." That's from the blurb just inside the front cover.
Themes: Compassion, communication, labeling, judging, feelings, needs.
Best part: The system is, in my opinion, totally revolutionary - particularly in terms of separating what you (and other people) feel, observe, and need from what you THINK.
Worst part: There are two, actually, in my opinion. The first is the chapter on anger, which I didn't agree with or find convincing. The second is the interspersed poems and songs, many of which were written by Rosenberg, and I did not like them at all. I felt they were trite.
Imaginary Theme Song: Anything by Ruth Bebermeyer, who is often quoted in the book and apparently is a friend of Rosenberg's.
Grade: A-. This book is a total life-changer for me but I have to admit that it has some flaws.
Recommended for: Anyone who has difficulty communicating with other humans, or feels their communication skills have room for improvement, and frankly, who doesn't?
Related Reads: The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman and Don't Shoot the Dog by Karen Pryor. They're not about exactly the same topic but both similarly changed the way I think about interacting with other people.

The best way I can think of to summarize the book is to explain and demonstrate the process in my own words. NVC has two parts - communicating honestly and receiving empathically. In both cases, we look for four parts.

Observation - What you or the other person is noticing, concrete and specific things that we can agree are objectively true.
Feelings - How you or the other person is feeling about these facts. There is an emphasis on owning your feelings, not making events or people responsible for them.
Needs - The underlying source of the feelings you, or the other person, is having.
Request - What you, or what they, are asking for to enrich life.

Here is my example of a piece of communication using the process:

I have observed that since I learned this process, the people I talk to thank me more often for listening to them.(O) I have also observed that we more often are able to keep our tempers during difficult conversations when I use this process. (O) When I think about this, I feel really grateful to Marshall Rosenberg for creating this process,(F) because I needed to learn some techniques that allow me to better express my understanding that other people are not responsible for my feelings.(N) I request that everyone who is reading this blog post seriously consider reading this book.(R) I also request that if this description of the process is helpful to you, or if you find the book helpful, that you leave a comment so I can know we're in this together.

When you are using this process, when you give a communication you are trying to make sure to use and differentiate all of those parts. When you receive a communication, you try to make sure you know what the other person is observing, feeling, needing, and requesting. You do not have to use those specific words or any words at all. You also reflect back to them what you believe they have said using the four components(and it is amazing to me how helpful this technique is, particularly in helping the original speaker understand more about their perspective).
snugglekitty: (Default)
Title: With the Lightnings
Author: David Drake
Series: Lieutenant Leary #1
Genre: Space opera, military sf
Setting: The imaginary planet of Kostroma, and surrounds.
Reason for Reading: This was a recommendation from my sweetie [livejournal.com profile] gentlescholar.
Finished In: Days. I hated to read the last chapter.
Pages: 416
Copyright Date: 1999
Cover: A man, a woman, a spaceship, a planet, and lots of purple.
First line: "Lieutenant Daniel Leary ambled through the streets of Kostroma City in the black-piped gray 2nd class uniform of the Republic of Cinnabar Navy."
Best part: As [livejournal.com profile] gentlescholar suggested, the character of Adele Mundy, more specifically described as Super Librarian.
Worst part: There was something that the plot led me to expect which didn't happen, and not in a good way - more like the author didn't think of it. I can't say more than that without giving things away but it was a weird feeling.
Imaginary Theme Song: "The Librarian Song" by Joe Uveges
Grade: A!
Recommended for: Fans of space operas and libraries.
Related Reads: The Tomorrow Log by Sharon Lee and Steve Miller. The Prince Roger series by David Weber and John Ringo.

Adele Mundy is an exile from her home planet. Her noble house was slaughtered and her last refuge is obscurity. But this dueling librarian has a few more tricks up her sleeve...

Lieutenant Danial Leary is another kind of exile. Estranged from his politically powerful father, shuffled into makework positions, he spends his nights drinking and wenching. It would take a true crisis to show his mettle...

The planet of Kostroma is caught between two noble houses within and two powerful galactic empires without. But no one could have expected the wild cards about to be played by an unlikely pair who refuse to accept defeat.

This book is really quite fantastic and you should all read it.
snugglekitty: (Default)
Title: Lord of the Changing Winds
Author: Rachel Neumeier
Series: The Griffin Mage Trilogy: Book One.
Genre: Fantasy.
Setting: The imaginary land of Feierabiand, where everyone has an affinity.
Reason for Reading: It was a loan and recommendation from my metamour.
Finished In: Days.
Pages: 387, including an interview with the author and a preview of the second book in the series.
Copyright Date: 2010
Cover: A raptor's eye, close up, shows the reflection of a woman's face. She looks back at the eye as though she may be frightened or resigned.
First line: "The griffins came to Feierabiand with the early summer warmth, riding the wind out of the heights down to the tender green pastures of the foothills."
Best part: Wow, this is an original fantasy. The ending was fantastic.
Worst part: At some points, I felt that some of the characters seemed to be acting out of character. "No, he wouldn't really do that!" I don't think this was the author's intention.
Imaginary Theme Song: "Honey" by Moby
Grade: A
Recommended for: Any fantasy enthusiasts that enjoy exploration of cross-species interaction.
Related Reads: Color of Distance by Amy Thompson, Carnival by Elizabeth Bear.

This book was so good that I am afraid to read the sequel, because what if it's not as good?

I think I mentioned in my user profile that I'm not really into dragons. Well, I'm not. But griffins - griffins to me are interesting. They are typically portrayed as being really majestic and noble and having inscrutable motives. I loved the griffins in this book, they did actually read as inhuman to me. I strongly recommend this title.

Another note - the related reads I mention are sf, not fantasy. I can't actually think of any other fantasies I've read that treated this cross-species stuff so seriously. If you can, mention it in the comments? Because maybe I've read something like this before and just can't remember that I did.
snugglekitty: (aliens against racism)
Title: Fool's War
Author: Sarah Zettel
Genre: Sci fi, toward the "hard" end of the scale.
Setting: A farflung spacegoing empire that has not been able to forget its old prejudices, even while it acquires new ones.
Reason for Reading: I found this in a used book store while [livejournal.com profile] mrpet and I were in Michigan.
Finished In: Weeks. It was very engrossing but also very dense.
Pages: 455
Copyright Date: 1997, though some of the cultural stuff reads like it was written after 9/11.
Cover: An androgynous figure juggles planets while floating in front of a spaceship hatch.
First line: "Curran watched the man whose life he required settle onto one of the faux leather couches scattered around the station's reception modules."
Best part: It made me think.
Worst part: At times there were too many characters to keep track of.
Imaginary Theme Song: "The Rodney King Song" by Fred Small
Grade: A-. Definitely a genre-changer.
Recommended for: Any fans of sci fi should give this one a look.
Related Reads: Galatea 2.2. by Richard Powers. The Remarkables by Robert Reed.

Every first-class spaceship needs two things - a great chef and a fool. Good food and humor help keep tempers from fraying on long voyages. But every fool has a secret. And the secret that Master Fool Evelyn Dobbs is holding could be fatal. For her and for everyone she holds dear.

I haven't read a lot of first-class books this year, but this was one. I particularly enjoyed the two female main characters, one of whom is Muslim. The portrayal of cultural intersections as humans expand into new worlds was amazing. Highly recommended.
snugglekitty: (Default)
Title: Darkborn
Author: Alison Sinclair
Series: Apparently it is first in an unnamed trilogy.
Genre: Fantasy.
Setting: The fantastic city of Minhorne, forever divided by light and dark.
Reason for Reading: I read a review of it in [livejournal.com profile] bookish that caught my eye.
Finished In: Days
Pages: 337, plus a sneak peak at the first chapter of the next book.
Copyright Date: 2009
Cover: A woman with blue eyes. She wears a blueish dress and long gloves. (This is probably the only dissonance in the book, because the whole society is blind, so how do they have colored anything?)
First line: "The knock on Balthasar's door came as the bell tolled sunrise."
Best part: I enjoyed this book so much it put me on a fantasy kick.
Worst part: I wish it were twice as long.
Imaginary Theme Song: "Blind Man" by Aerosmith
Grade: A-. it didn't change my life, but I mean, do you know how hard it is to really be original in fantasy these days? Seriously.
Recommended for: Any fan of Victorian-style fantasy should read this.
Related Reads: The Shadow of Albion by Rosemary Edghill and Soulless by Gail Carriger.

In the city of Minhorne, no one is neutral. The sightless Darkborn walk the city streets by night. They perceive the world through sonar and sound, and the touch of light can burn them to ash. They share the city with the mysterious Lightborn, whose strange society allows the use of magic and gives women freedom unimagined by the Darkborn, and who can dissolve in darkness. But it would take little to shatter the fragile peace that allows these two races to co-exist. Perhaps something as simple as the birth of two Darkborn children who can see.
snugglekitty: (dragon reading)
Title: Treason's Shore
Author: Sherwood Smith
Series: Inda, Book Four
Genre: Fantasy. Fantasy with pirates.
Setting: Chiefly, the mystical subcontinent of Halia. In general the setting is at a "swords and catapults" level of technology, with magic used for things like garbage disposal and sending messages over long distances.
Reason for Reading: So, so hooked on this series. Couldn't wait to find out how it turned out.
Finished In: One week. I rationed myself.
Pages: 691, including an appendix listing characters and ships.
Copyright Date: August 2009. I can hardly believe it took over three months to get this book from the library!
Cover: A figure at the prow of a boat. The prow itself is carved in the image of a snarling dragon. There is a castle in the background.
First line: "The arched window over Tdor's bed glowed with the faint blue of impending dawn."
Best part: The small moments - the intense conversation between characters, the birth scenes, the reunions.
Worst part: It ended. The ending was very well-written, but I just... didn't want it to stop.
Imaginary Theme Song: "It Ain't Over Till It's Over" by Lenny Kravitz
Grade: A-
Recommended for: Those who have read the previous installments won't be able to help reading this book. Those who haven't would be lost.
Related Reads: Inda, first book in the series, and Crown Duel by the same author.

This is a gorgeous book, one I highly recommend. A really satisfying conclusion to the epic, which I would like to eventually own all the books in.
snugglekitty: (fairies wear boots)
Title: Peter Pan
Author: J. M. Barrie
Genre: Children's fantasy
Setting: England and Neverland
Reason for Reading: I saw it on Project Gutenberg.
Finished In: Months. It was hard to read on-screen. I wound up getting it out of the library so I could finish it.
Pages: 140
Copyright Date: The introduction and "student guide" are copyright 2007. The book originally came out in 1911.
Cover: A fairy drinking from a teacup. A young boy in green looks on in horror, but is also holding the cup for her.
First line: "All children, except one, grow up."
Best part: This book is a classic for a reason. The language is gorgeous and it's funny and heartbreaking.
Worst part: I wanted it to have illustrations, but it seems an illustrated unabridged version is hard to find.
Imaginary Theme Song: Theme song to Finding Neverland.
Grade: A+
Recommended for: Everyone.
Related Reads: Half Magic by E. Eager.

This book was really beautiful. It's kind of amazing I've never read it before, especially since I've seen at least three movie versions of it.
snugglekitty: (Default)
Title: Lips Touch Three Times
Author: by Laini Taylor
Illustrator: Jim Di Bartolo
Genre: YA fantasy.
Setting: Modern-day America, colonial India, and a strange kingdom.
Reason for Reading: I saw this on several "best books of 2009" lists.
Pages: 265 and some notes.
Copyright Date: 2009
Cover: A lovely illustration of a woman's face above flames. Her hair is dark gray, her eyes are blue and her lips are red. Flames underlie the title.
First image: Each story is preceded by a series of beautiful illustrations in reds and sepias. The first illustration shows two girls peering out from behind a bush.
First line: "There is a certain kind of girl the goblins crave."
Best part: I loved the unusual sources the author drew from.
Worst part: I'm not convinced it's got one. The stories are fantastic, the prose is delicious, the illustrations are lovely. I do wonder a bit if the author has some family issues, as her characters all do.
Imaginary Theme Song: "Cantara" by Dead Can Dance.
Grade: A
Recommended for: All YA fans should read this one.
Related Reads: Tagging the Moon: Fairy Tales from LA. Green Man: Tales from the Mythic Forest edited by Datlow and Windling, and their other YA anthologies (The Faery Reel and Coyote Road).

Taylor writes three pieces about first kisses. One is based on Christina Rosetti's poem "Goblin Market," one on Indian folklore, and one on Zoroastrian mythology. Though a few themes repeat, the pieces are quite different. Di Bartolo's illustrations are magnificent. This is one to look for.
snugglekitty: (Default)
Title: Soulless: A Novel of Vampires, Werewolves, and Parasols
Author: Gail Carriger
Series: Parasol Protectorate/Alexia Tarabotti #1
Genre: Victorian fantasy
Setting: An alternate Victorian England.
Reason for Reading: How could I not read a book with that subtitle?
Pages: 373, including an interview with the author and a sneak peak at book # 2, Changeless
Copyright Date: 2009
Cover: A woman walks through a square. She is carrying a parasol with visible gears, and wears a fancy tophat, a magenta suit, and a surly expression.
First line: "Miss Alexia Tarabotti was not enjoying her evening."
Best part: This book is truly original.
Worst part: As so often happens, the bad guys make only a stupid token effort to get the heroine on their side. "We'd love you to help us but if you don't we're going to terrible things to us and you can't stop us!" is actually not such a great recruitment statement.
Imaginary Theme Song: The sass and attitude of "Don't Leave Me This Way" by Thelma Houston suits Alexia quite well.
Grade: A
Recommended for: Any fans of steampunk, the sexy pentacle tattoo genre, romantic fantasy, or the truly original.
Related Reads: The Marriage Spell by MaryJo Putney. Anno Dracula by Kim Newman. Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Jane Austen and Seth Greene.

Normally I don't use the cover summary, but this is too good to resist:

"Alex Tarabotti is laboring under a great many social tribulations.
First, she has no soul. Second, she's a spinster whose father is both Italian and dead. Third, she was rudely attacked by a vampire, breaking all standards of social etiquette.
Where to go from there? From bad to worse apparently, for Alexia accidentally kills the vampire - and then the appalling Lord Maccon (loud, messy, gorgeous, and werewolf) is sent by Queen Victoria to investigate.
With unexpected vampires appearing and expected vampires disappearing, everyone seems to believe Alexia is responsible. Can she figure out what is actually happening to London's high society? Will her soulless ability to negate supernatural powers prove useful or just plain embarassing? Finally, who is the real enemy, and do they have treacle tart?"

I LOVED this book. It might be the best I've read all year. It's got something for everyone. Give it a try.
snugglekitty: (books not bombs)
Title: Touchstone
Author: Laurie R. King
Genre: Mystery, speculative fiction.
Reason for Reading: Recommendation by [livejournal.com profile] trouble4hire, and I really like this author.
Pages: 548
Copyright Date: 2007
Cover: A hand opening an old book, against a black background.
Setting: The nineteen twenties, mostly England.
First line: "Small things: straws on camels' backs."
Best part: The interplay between the characters is deeply compelling.
Worst part: This is a difficult book to read. In places it's upsetting.
Imaginary Theme Song: "Don't Let It Bring You Down," Annie Lenox version
Grade: A
Recommended for: Fans of the period between the world wars. Those who like mystery with a touch of the fantastic.
Related Reads: Night Work by the same author, The Genius by Jesse Kellerman (I know, I've been mentioning that book a lot recently), Powers of Detection.

The rising star of Britain's labor party. The blueblooded woman who loves him and his cause. Their unappreciated secretary. The FBI agent who cannot escape his past. They will be brought together by two men - a predator and a victim. The challenge is in figuring out which is which.

This book is much more subtle than one might expect from an author of wildly popular Holmes pastiches. It's dark and serious and made me think. Its focus on the class struggle in Britain between the wars brought a new richness to my understanding of this time period, and its careful line-treading between mystery and fantasy is deeply intriguing.
snugglekitty: (Default)
Title: Skulduggery Pleasant
Author: Derek Landy
Series: Skullduggery Pleasant #1
Genre: YA fantasy
Reason for Reading: It was loaned and recommended to me by my roommate.
Pages: 392, plus an interview with the main character and a bonus short story.
Copyright Date: 2007
Cover: A skeleton wearing sunglasses, a festive raspberry scarf, and a fedora. A young girl is looking at him with a smile on her face.
First line: "Gordon Edgley's sudden death came as a shock to everyone - not least himself."
Best part: I really liked the characters.
Worst part: Does it have one? I'm not convinced.
Imaginary Theme Song: "You Can't Keep a Good Dog Down"
Grade: A-
Recommended for: Wow. Anyone between ten and fifteen, for sure, and adults that like YA.
Related Reads: Children of the Lamp: The Ahkenaten Adventure by PB Kerr, Harry Potter by JK Rowling, Changeling by Delia Sherman.

This book is a really fun ride. The worldbuilding is very interesting. But it's the characters that will stay with you.
snugglekitty: (Default)
Title: Graceling
Author: Kristin Cashore
Series: Graceling #1.
Genre: YA fantasy
Reason for Reading: Practically everyone I know has been forcibly detaining me in order to tell me that this book is awesome.
Pages: 472
Copyright Date: 2008
Cover: A fancy silver dagger. Some painted flowers in the background.
First line: "In these dungeons the darkness was complete, but Katsa had a map in her mind."
Best part: Extremely original.
Worst part: It doesn't have one.
Imaginary Theme Song: "Bitterblue" by Cat Stevens
Grade: A
Recommended for: Anyone who likes fantasy. Girls with anger management problems. Girls who like martial arts. Girls!
Related Reads: It's hard to compare this book to anything, but there is a companion book coming out in a few months called Fire. There are also faint similarities to Tamora Pierce's Keladry series.
snugglekitty: (Default)
Title: Pride and Prejudice and Zombies
Author: Jane Austen and Seth Grahame-Smith
Genre: Pastiche
Pages: 319
Copyright Date: 2009
Cover: A portrait of a zombie girl.
First line: "It is a truth universally acknowledged that a zombie in possession of brains must be in want of more brains."
Best part: So funny.
Worst part: Does it have one? I'm unconvinced.
Imaginary Theme Song: "Living Dead Girl" by White Zombie
Grade: A
Recommended for: People who have never read Austen because they thought she might be boring. People who love Austen. People who love zombies. People who are trying to get their teenagers to read Austen.
Related Reads: The Sword-Edged Blonde by Alex Bledsoe. Good Night, Mr. Holmes by Carole Nelson Douglas.

This book was even better than I thought it would be, and doesn't that tell you everything it needs to?
snugglekitty: (Default)
Title: The Big Sleep
Author: Raymond Chandler
Series: Philip Marlowe #1
Genre: Classic mystery, noir
Pages: 261
Copyright Date: 1939
Cover: Very simple. Dark blue, showing a streetlamp shining out a small pool of light.
First line: "It was about eleven o'clock in the morning, mid-October, with the sun not shining and a look of hard wet rain in the clearness of the foothills."
Best part: It lived up to the reviews, and the prose was awesome.
Worst part: He only wrote seven of these books before his death.
Imaginary Theme Song: "One for my Baby, and One for the Road"
Grade: A
Recommended for: Fans of the mystery genre. Fans of the famous movie.
Related Reads: The Thin Man by Dashiel Hammet, Strong Poison by Dorothy Sayers, The Genius by Jesse Kellerman.

Phillip Marlowe has a case - a big one - and it just keeps getting bigger. What begins as a simple, though well-paid blackmail investigation will soon involve poison, pornography, dangerous women, and folks who will stop at nothing to get their way.

I started laughing on page one, at "I was neat, clean, shaved, and sober, and I didn't care who knew it." I started being really impressed on page eight, with "The General spoke again, slowly, using his strength as carefully as an out-of-work showgirl uses her last pair of stockings." The prose in this book is amazing and it's easy to understand why it's a classic. Grade of A.
snugglekitty: (child of the goddess)
Title: Hero
Author: Perry Moore
Genre: Superheroes, GLBT, YA (As far as I know this is the first book to be written at the junction of all these genres.), fiction
Pages: 428
Copyright Date: 2007
Cover: A white background, with an empty black mask. The author's name shows in the eyeholes of the mask. The title is below the mask in bold multicolored font.
First line: "I never thought I'd have a story worth telling, at least not one about me."
Best part: The combination of superheroes, YA, and GLBT.
Worst part: This book doesn't have a worst part.
Grade: A
Recommended for: Anyone who saw Watchmen and wants to encounter the next awesome thing in the genre.
Related Reads: Soon I Will Be Invincible by Austin Grossman, Evil Genius by Catherine Jinks

Thom has it tough. Bad enough being a broke teenager working three jobs to get by. Worse being a closeted gay kid surrounded by homophobes. But the worst of it all is having a dad who's a washed-up superhero and a mom who disappeared. What the situation needs is a hero. Does Thom have it within him?

Love love love. LOVE. This book has a bit of a slow setup, but past the first few chapters it moves with the force and inevitability of a juggernaut (or perhaps The Juggernaut!). If like me, you grew up reading X-Men, or even if you just have a slight interest in the superhero/comic book genre, you HAVE to read this book. Everyone has a secret, many have secret identities, and you just don't know who the real "good guys" are. It is so good I am capitalizing my verbs, what else do you need to know? Buy a copy today.
snugglekitty: (reading is sexy)
Title: A Round-Heeled Woman: My Late-Life Adventures in Sex and Romance
Author: Jane Juska
Genre: Memoir, sexuality, books, nonfiction
Pages: 272, plus an unnumbered Reader's Guide
Copyright Date: 2003
Cover: Voluptuous red and pink background. In the center, there is a heart with newsprint inside. The newsprint reads: "Before I turn 67 - next March - I would like to have a lot of sex with a man I like. If you want to talk first, Trollope works for me."
First line: "'Do you think you're a nymphomaniac?' Bill wants to know."
Best part: Oh, it's hard to pick just one... but I love the juiciness of this book.
Worst part: The author sometimes jumps around chronologically when you least want her to.
Grade: A!
Recommended for: Anyone who thinks they're too old.
Related Reads: Fear of Flying by Erica Jong, Henry and June by Anais Nin, Aphrodite's Daughters by Jalaja Bonheim

At the tender age of 66, Juska placed a personal ad in the prestigious New York Review of Books. The text is included above, in the cover description. Why? What led up to that point? What was she hoping for, other than the obvious? Obviously, something happened to give her material for this book - but what?

I love the passionate enthusiasm that Juska shares with us. Everything is included - New York City, teaching teenagers, new teachers, and prison inmates, her home, her past. She describes her first encounter with sex after thirty years of celibacy with the same reverent joy she describes seeing a manuscript of her beloved Trollope for the first time in her life. Someone else that loves sex AND books, and wrote a whole book about that love! Delicious. Delightful. So good I felt like crying when I reached the last chapter - I didn't want it to end!
Buy it for an older person you'd describe as a character, or one you think could be if they really gave it a try. Buy it for yourself if you are worried about having a lonely, boring, and passionless old age. Buy two copies and lend one out to friends. It's really just that wonderful. An easy A.
snugglekitty: (sleuth)
Title: Strong Poison
Series: Lord Peter Wimsey
Author: Dorothy Sayers
Genre: Mystery, historical fiction
Pages: 261
Copyright Date: 1930
Cover: Mostly white with text, the author's name is prominent. A small picture towards the bottom shows a corpse lying in bed with a bottle apparently hovering over him. If the word "poison" in the title was not enough of a clue for you, the bottle has a skull and crossbones on it. To the right, a tiny courtroom scene in which the judge is banging his gavel. To the left, two men are enjoying either hashish or Black Caravan, based on the shape of the golden object in the center of the table.
First Line: "There were crimson roses on the bench; they looked like splashes of blood."
Best part: So very funny.
Worst part: There are many characters to keep track of. Wimsey's friends are numerous and all seem to have long, complicated histories with him.
Grade: A
Recommended for: Any fan of the mystery genre who has not read Sayers before.

This is a rare occurence for me - I started a mystery series in the middle. Yes, it's really true. I was reading an article about Sayers, and it mentioned the first book in her Lord Peter Wimsey series, and then said that if you found that one too pretentious, you might want to start the series at the point of Strong Poison, in which the female lead of following books, Harriet Vane, is introduced. I tried reading the first few pages of the really-first book at a used bookstore, and it made me want to throw the book. Of course, I did not do so, and would not have even if the book had belonged to me. Some things just aren't right.

Lord Peter Wimsey is watching a trial he finds fascinating. His friend and employee Miss Climpson is one of the jurors. The charge is murder by poisoning. The accused is a woman who was "living in sin" with the deceased, and left him angrily when he proposed marriage to her. Wimsey is certain that she didn't commit the murder, but who did?

A quote from the first fifty pages, in which LPW proposes marriage to someone he has just met. )

This book made me laugh out loud, a lot. I thought that Kate Ross was the last word in historical mysteries, although she only wrote three of her terrific Julian Kestral novels before she passed away. But I was wrong. Sayers has her beat cold. Great mystery read, and I will definitely be looking up the rest of these. This is easily the year's best read so far. Grade of A.
snugglekitty: (fairies wear boots)
Title: Rapunzel's Revenge
Author: Shannon and Dean Hale
Artist: Nathan Hale (no relation, according to the cover)
Genre: Fairy tale, graphic novel, children's, Western
Pages: 144
Copyright Date: 2008
Cover: A redhaired girl in a cowgirl outfit is using her hair as a lasso while she stands in a canyon. A boy is behind her riding a horse. On the back, there is a "Wanted" poster showing the two of them.
First Page:"Once upon a time there was a beautiful little girl. That's me there." (The accompanying picture shows a not-hugely-beautiful little girl clinging to a tree limb, then falling into a pond.)
Best part: It's pleasingly whimsical and not just a retelling.
Worst part: I'm not sure it had one.
Grade: A-
Recommended for: Anyone who likes fairy tale retellings or graphic novels. It is genre-blurring enough to please a wide audience.

I have mixed experiences of Shannon Hale. I've enjoyed a few of her short works but I didn't like The Princess Academy. Still, a graphic novel of Rapunzel kicking butt was more than I felt I could resist, so I got it out of the library. I was not disappointed.

Know the story of Rapunzel? Not like this, you don't. For those who have studied fairy tales seriously, modern versions are often considered "translations" or "retellings." A translation is the old familiar story in a new setting, like the big city or on a boat or in the 21st century. A retelling changes elements of the plot and characters - changes, in essence, the way the story works and what it teaches us. This book could be considered both a translation (happening as it does in the Wild West) and a retelling (no passive blond heroine here - Rapunzel gets herself out of her own damned tower, thank you very much!). She and her friend Jack roam the countryside, solving problems and always working towards their end goal of overcoming the tyrannical Mother Gothel.

I think this is a great one. It would be a good introduction to comics for kids, especially girls, and has plenty to recommend it to adults as well. If you feel like no one is really innovating with graphic novels anymore, pick it up today. A-.

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August 2011

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