snugglekitty: (genius)
2005-12-31 02:30 pm
Entry tags:

books 100 and 101

I finished Arch, by Andy Goldsworthy and David Craig, which I had out from the library. I think that Andy Goldsworthy is an amazing artist with some profound things to say about our relationship with nature. (I love his work, which I recently found out more about through the movie, Rivers and Tides, about the use of time in his art. It was loaned to me by [ profile] 7j.) Arch was a short book with text and pictures, and an interesting premise, which was one arch erected and taken down in a number of places in Cumbria. I liked it, and it made me interested in sheepfolds, which had never really crossed my mind much before. I'd give it three stars, mainly for the pictures and the part of the text written by David Craig, which I liked. I have Goldsworthy's book Wood out of the library, and plan to continue exploring his work. I'd love to see it in person some time. Probably most possible at Storm King Art Center in New York, where he has a permanent installation.

I also finished Tribe of Tiger, a loan from [ profile] an_gadhar which he has been incredibly patient about getting back. I loved this book. The parts about how life has changed for big cats and native people in Africa made me very sad. It never ceases to amaze me how humans fuck up the world that we live in, and a lot of it seems so far away and outside of my power to change. I mean, gosh. I think about things I do to make the world a better place, but how to help big cats... I wouldn't even know where to start. Probably my favorite parts were observations of the author's cats and their behavior, and observations of Ruby, a (relatively) tame puma rescued as a orphaned kitten. I loved how this book helped me to understand the behavior of my own cats differentely. Four stars - I'll definitely want to read this again, and I'd love to read other books like it about different animals, like wolves and dolphins. The author has two books on dogs, also, but I'm not really into dogs.
snugglekitty: (book)
2005-12-31 10:24 am
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two books I didn't understand, and two more

The History of Love by Alison Krauss, book 96, a recommendation from [ profile] ascikitty, I think. I liked it, even though I didn't understand it. The format was a little hard to follow. The ending was... good, but very confusing. I give it three stars.

The Last Hot Time by John M. Ford, book 97. Bordertown meets Mob Chicago. Wow, that was fun. :) I loved the hat-tipping to the folks who created Bordertown in the first place. This one, I suspect I'll have a hope of understanding better the second time I read it, and there will definitely be a second time. Four stars. I hope he writes more!

Necessary Evil by Sharon Lee and Steve Miller, book 98. Their most recent holiday chapbook, with two stories. I liked the first all right, and the title story bunches and bunches. Four stars.

Hydrophibian by Michael Manning, book 99. I didn't not understand it, it was just... a little silly. I loved the artwork though. I'd like to read the first book, Spider Garden, I think that would be... more to my taste.

Books I have in progress right now:

Arch by David Craig and Andy Goldsworthy
Tribe of Tiger by Elizabeth Marshall Thomas
Beauty's Punishment by Anne Rice writing as...
A Place of my Own by Michael Pollan
Mothering the New Mother by Sally Placksin

I'd like to finish the first two today, just 'cause. The others are going more slowly.
snugglekitty: (genius)
2005-12-26 08:50 am
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The Claiming of Sleeping Beauty by Anne Rice, book 95

I had actually never read this book completely before. I had read an excerpt in an anthology, but not the whole thing. I found it sexy. The plot was a little lacking, and some parts of it were a bit unlikely, but hey. Erotica doesn't have to satisfy all the requirements for good literature, at least not in my book. I give it four stars, because it was quite sexy and also is a landmark book that is famous among kinky people. I am planning to read the rest of the trilogy as well.

Coming up soon: The History of Love, Tribe of Tiger (I've been halfway through that one for a while), and The Book on the Bookshelf.
snugglekitty: (book)
2005-12-26 08:38 am
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much YA reading - #s 92, 93, and 94

Danny, the Champion of the World by Roald Dahl
The Changeover by Margaret Mahy
Clan Apis by Jay Hosler

Read more... )

I have some more YA books out of the library, which I will review as I go along.
snugglekitty: (hermione)
2005-12-18 05:25 pm
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best books of all time, and 2005

This list was recently published by Time magazine - it's supposed to be the 100 best English-language books since 1923. I've read many of them, and many are pretty good. It was good to see William Gibson on the list.

Now, I'm going to include a list of every book that I gave a five-star review to in 2005. They weren't all published in 2005, though. You'll be able to get to the full reviews, if you want to, by clicking on the "books 2005" tag at the bottom of this page. And yes, it's possible that I may read another five-star book (though probably not two) before the year is over. If that happens, I'll come back and edit the entry. I promise. For those who have just tuned in, I give five stars to a book that I feel is excellently written and has profoundly changed the way I think in some way.

My Husband Betty by Helen Boyd
Fledgling by Octavia Butler
The Curse of Chalion by Lois McMaster Bujold
Lucid Dreaming by Stephen LaBerge
Outwitting History by Aaron Lansky
The Impossible Takes a Little While edited by Paul Rogat Loeb
Earth Logic by Laurie J. Marks
The Merro Tree by Katie Waitman

That's eight books out of ninety-one. (Kind of a low total for me this year. Not sure why, but it might have to do with all of my crafty time. Also, I stopped including books that I had read before.)
snugglekitty: (hermione)
2005-12-17 09:19 am
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YA fiction

I like YA fiction a lot, and read two books yesterday that fell into that category.

One was Vampire High by Doug Rees. This was a loan from [ profile] teratomarty, who had it out of the library. Okay, the title is cheesy. The book could've been horrifyingly cliched, but it wasn't. It was cute, and not predictable, and very funny in places. Four stars, since I had to go back and immediately re-read the ending.

The other was Are All the Giants Dead? by Mary Norton. This was one of the only books listed for [ profile] starkeymonster in LibraryThing in both the categories Fantasy and YA fiction that I hadn't read, so I read it. It was amusing but not super-special. Three stars.

It's probably clear that I've read a lot more than 50 books this year. I might keep track next year in the subject line - it's a little hard to count them, going back.
snugglekitty: (hermione)
2005-12-14 09:32 pm
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two wildly different books

This morning, I finished A Sorcerer and a Gentleman, prequel to Elizabeth Willey's brilliant debut The Well-Favored Man. And this afternoon, I read the entirety of Garlic and Sapphires by Ruth Reichl.

Read more... )

Hey, does someone want to make, or suggest, a new reading icon for 2006? I think I could use one. At the very least, an updated Hermione would be fun. I now have Photoshop, so I'd be happy to make it myself if I found the right inspiration.
snugglekitty: (Default)
2005-12-10 07:31 am
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The Will of the Empress by Tamora Pierce

This is the conclusion to the Mages' Circle books. You know, there were four, and then there were four more, and they were all a hundred pages long or so?
Well, this is the last book, and it was more than five hundred pages long.

At first I thought this was a sequel to Trickster's Queen, because those are the only hardcovers I had seen her do before. But perhaps this is the beginning of an overall trend, her writing longer books. If so, I'm glad. The world deserves more, and longer, YA fantasy. So I liked the format. You could almost see the four books that it would have been, if she'd kept following her usual pattern, but I liked having them all together. It made things feel a bit less formulaic, since the previous eight were definitely all-of-a-kind. Unfortunately...

There comes a time in the life of every fantasy author when she stops being edited scrupulously. Mercedes Lackey passed that point with the Magewinds series, but happily, she's recovered since then. We have yet to see whether Ms. Pierce will do that. As in the Trickster books, there were a few plot points that were just not that probable, where people are acting out of character. I also thought that the beginning and the end were rushed.

Pierce seems, recently, to have a fascination with Imperial courts. That's okay. She's also getting more into intrigue and betrayal types of plots - where not everything is at it seems on the surface. I like that too.

Overall, I'd give it three stars. I liked it, but probably won't read it again.
snugglekitty: (hermione)
2005-12-05 11:18 am
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Sword of Orion by Sharon Lee and Steve Miller

Sadly, I only feel I can give this book three stars.

I liked it. I did. But I didn't think that it was the best of my favorite writing duo. It didn't have that addictive "omg, can't put it down" quality. It wasn't especially funny. It didn't have fabulous dialogue In other words, it has now replaced Carpe Diem as my least favorite Lee and Miller book.

Spoilers )
snugglekitty: (hermione)
2005-12-02 02:41 pm
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assorted bookishness

This week I read The Number of the Beast by RA Heinlein. I read one new Heinlein a year. Generally I wish to re-read other favorite Heinleins after finishing one, and this is no exception. It made me want to re-read Time Enough for Love at a minimum, as well as re-read the ending of To Sail Beyond the Sunset. This despite it not being his best work. It was a little frivolous. Yes, you went to Oz. With infinite universes, all things are possible. We get it, thanks. I would only give it two stars, but I'm glad that I read it, as usual. I did like the "captain by election, sometimes the best man for the job isn't a man..." etc stuff. It was amusing. As usual, however, Heinlein trying to write girltalk, and it being all about how you should always let men think they've won, and not hurt their pride, really irritated me.

Earlier in the week I also read Endless Knot: A Spiritual Journey by Mathew Stryanka. I liked it, I would give it three stars. I'm reviewing it for, so I'm not going to review it here. Take a look in a month if you're interested.

Over the weekend, I plan to read A Place of My Own, loaned to me by [ profile] 7j, and Sword of Orion, which is the new book by my favorite husband and wife wonderteam, Sharon Lee and Steve Miller.
snugglekitty: (hermione)
2005-11-29 11:20 am
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New Orleans Requiem by DJ Donaldson

This is the second book that I read based on a pamphlet I picked up at Medford Public Library, "Dead Men Do Tell Tales," which was a topical booklist on forensic science.

I liked this better than the fabulously named A World the Color of Salt, which was by a different author and more of a cop book than a forensic one, in my opinion. I liked the relationships between the characters and their uncertainties about how to proceed versus the confident front they show the public and even each other. I liked the detail-oriented setting and character descriptions, although some details seemed lacking. One of the main characters has a dog, which is mentioned many times in the book, but we never find out what kind of dog it is or even what it looks like, except that it's "little." Little like a terrier? Little like a chihuahua? Little like a miniature mop mutt? It makes me think the author has never owned a pet personally.

Read more... )

Edit: I just found the motherload of forensic fiction. Check it out at
snugglekitty: (hermione)
2005-11-24 05:15 pm
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Fledgling by Octavia Butler

Until recently, I thought I had seen it all when it came to vampire fiction. Worse - I thought it had all been done before. That everything about people who drink other people's blood (or fed on their energy) that could be said, had been said. That the genre was, to a certain extent, played out. There could be entertaining repetitions, even clever parodies, but nothing truly original.

Fledging has proved me wrong. Wow. When I first heard the premise, I thought, "Gods - why didn't Butler write vampires before?" It was an incredibly natural pairing, because of Butler's fascination with the Other and the loss of humanity. I hope she writes more on this topic, although it doesn't seem that likely, sorry to say - she's not much for serials.

This was even better than Sunshine. I don't want to say much about the plot, since it went in some directions I really didn't expect and I would hate to spoil that for other people, but it dealt with issues of bigotry, jealousy, belonging, and interdependence. I loved it. Five stars. Not because it changed my life, but because I think it has the potential to change the genre.
snugglekitty: (cradletree)
2005-11-23 05:17 pm
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book notes

First, is everyone aware that we can now request AV materials through the Minuteman library system again? It's very exciting. :)

Next, a few book reviews.

The Well-Favored Man and Flights )
snugglekitty: (hermione)
2005-11-18 12:50 pm
Entry tags:

book reviews

I've been wondering for a few days what to post. When in doubt, review books!

The Happiest Baby on the Block by Harvey Karp, MD was the first book that I've read on infant care. It was recommended by essentially everyone on my doulas mailing list. It was written for new parents who don't know much about babies. It uses a casual, engaging style that may seem simplistic to some. The techniques Karp espouses seem sound, however, and the pictures were very funny. Four stars. If you're having a baby, you should read this book.

The Mercy of Thin Air by Ronlyn Domingue was somewhere in between The Lovely Bones and The Time-Traveler's Wife. It was a ghost story about love, and I like those. I enjoyed it very much. I liked the theme of activisim running through the book, as well as the multiple storylines. The idea of "what if?" was also fairly central. I was flabbergasted by the surprise ending, but felt I should have seen it coming all along - the best kind. One is left with the reminder that life is precious. Hug your sweetie today! Four stars. Especially recommended to fans of magical realism - it's fairly close to that genre.

Coming up next, I'm reading Mothering the New Mother, about what the new mother needs in the postpartum period. I'm still slowly making my way through Flights and have just started The Well-Favored Man, both of which are very enjoyable.
snugglekitty: (hermione)
2005-11-12 06:25 am
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Wizard of London by Mercedes Lackey

The latest in her Elemental Masters series. Book five, I believe.

I was able to see immediately that this was partly adapted from a short story of Lackey's I read in Murder by Magic earlier this year - "Gray Eminence." I winced when I realized that, because I didn't particularly like the short story. However, the book was okay.

Read more... )

Then I needed to re-read Local Custom, because I couldn't get a part of it out of my mind. That book leaves one with less of a warm, fuzzy feeling than most Liaden books. I like it better when the characters are standing back-to-back, fighting off the Bad Guys, then when their own errors set them against each other. That's just how I am, I find the latter kind of book a bit distressing. But still, it's Korval, and thus delicious. Lee and Miller's new book Crystal Dragon is coming out in a few weeks - huzzah huzzah.

I'm still in the midst of an embarassing number of books. I'd like to drop the number this weekend and finally finish some of them, especially since I have six more to pick up at the library on Monday.
snugglekitty: (hermione)
2005-11-01 01:05 pm
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Urban Shaman and Eldest

This week's new fantasy by up-and-coming authors...

Read more... )
snugglekitty: (hermione)
2005-10-21 05:14 am
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three books

Last week I read Ill Met by Moonlight by Mercedes Lackey and Roberta Gellis. It was a lot like The Scepter'd Isle. A trashy Faerie book, with some court-of-England stuff. Why do fantasy authors love Henry Fitzroy so much? I've never understood that. Well, anyway - I liked the child Elizabeth as a character - she had some spunk.

I also find it interesting the way Lackey's ideas about leadership turn up in a lot of books. If you have the ability to lead, and you don't lead, then you are a Bad Person. Wanting to pursue your passions rather than leading is irresponsible. I bet she doesn't belong to Lions Club, though. Anyway, three stars.

Also, on the ten-years-later re-read, Dune was just as good as I remembered. Four and a half stars.

Finally - I tried to read Female Chauvinist Pigs by Ariel Levy.

Read more... )

I think that this book is trying to be in a category with The Beauty Myth, Fast Girls, etc, but it really can't compete. Pop-journalism without any deeper themes. Two stars. (I only give a book one star if I wanted to throw it across the room.)
snugglekitty: (hermione)
2005-09-28 12:43 pm
Entry tags:

YA goodness

This week I read A Great and Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray and Birth of the Firebringer by Meredith Ann Pierce. The latter was lent me by [ profile] ceelove, the former was recommended, I believe, by [ profile] ascikitty.

A Great and Terrible Beauty reminded me a lot of The Serpent's Shadow by Mercedes Lackey, with the dual climates of India and Britain and magic. However, it also incorporates some of that boarding-school stuff that many of us love to hate. It had some interesting stuff about power, and the proper uses of power. I liked it. Three stars.

Birth of the Firebringer is a book I resisted reading for a while. I generally stay away from stuff about unicorns. But I'm glad I made an exception when [ profile] ceelove recommended it to me, because I really liked it. It had some interesting stuff about belief and perspective. Following the law versus following your heart... I liked it a lot. Four stars.

I've started Anansi Boys but took a break because I was feeling sorry for the main character. I'm also working through Dreaming Down Under.
snugglekitty: (Default)
2005-09-28 12:39 pm
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musings on Mercedes Lackey

I just finished reading Brightly Burning for the second time, and wanted to write about it.

I feel like this book is, in some ways, a reaction to her earlier work, Magic's Price. The central question, from my perspective, is, "What kind of person gives their life for their country?" Accordingly, both books end with the deaths of the main characters. (I'm not giving much away, here. And if you haven't read the Last Herald-Mage trilogy, either you don't read fantasy or you've been living under a bush for the last twenty years, and I have no sympathy.) However, the way that these deaths are treated is incredibly different.

Some spoiling )

I think it's interesting to see how Lackey has grown as a writer in the ten-plus years in between these books. I also think that it's awesome that she is writing well again, after the nadir of the Magewinds books.
snugglekitty: (Default)
2005-09-22 11:43 am
Entry tags:

one book, one movie

In a day, I read The Ice Queen by Alice Hoffman. She's one of my favorite non-genre fiction writers, as I mentioned yesterday. She does a certain level of magical realism, which I like a lot. The Ice Queen centered around two themes - lightning strikes, and fairy tales. I knew a little bit about the former because of having read A Match to the Heart by Greta Ehrlich, and the latter has been a lifelong interest of mine.
I liked the story a lot, it had some interesting ideas and visuals. Here's my favorite quote:
"Isn't that the center of every story? The search for the truth. The need to know. Tear off the sealskin, the donkeyskin, the feathers, the shackles. In the moonlight, starlight, lamplight, bluelight. Wasn't that what everyone wanted: to see and hear. Take the veil from my eyes. The stones from within my ears. Turn me around twice. Tell me. No matter the consequence. No matter the price. At least until it has to be paid. At least until the price blinds you, deafens you, burns you alive." p108
Three stars. Very solid.

Yesterday I also saw Just Like Heaven with [ profile] redjo. It was a sweet movie. As always, Reese Witherspoon delivered a good performance. Nothing wrong with it, but nothing really special either IMO. Still, nice to see a sweet movie on a date.