Sunday, April 23, 2006

Wow. Just, wow.

Well, I have good news and bad news.

The bad news; I'm feeling worse. My mild little cold has turned into a full fledged "disease", which currently is leaving me rather voiceless, sore, and with a general feeling of illness.

The good news; I made out like a bandit at the book sale this year. Picked up 79 books. 79. Honestly, I think that's a record. (Although to be perfectly honest...4 of them were books a friend asked me to look for and 3 of them will be birthday gifts for my niece Emily. But 72 is a respectable number, yes?)

The score:

11 picture books
22 young adult books
(including "The Little Prince"; because Colleen recommended it and "Speak"; because Leila did.)
19 classical books
(including "The Magnificent Ambersons"; because Dani recommended it and an absolutely beautiful translation of Dante's "Inferno". It's so shallow of me, I know.)
22 novels (literary would be the classification, I think)
and 6 others (a history, 2 books on other books, some social stuff)

(It's sad that I look at them and have no idea where to start.)

In other book news, I've finished several more from my library stack, including Neil Gaiman's "Smoke and Mirrors", which was excellent (as always). I'm a huge fan of his writings; I just think they're brilliant and descriptive and just a bit mind-twisting. For example, he rewrote "Snow White", but this time from the 'evil queen's' point of view, which gave it a whole different spin. In his version, Snow White is an evil little thing and the Queen is the one who's harmed while trying to protect herself and the kingdom. (He said in his author notes that he hoped that anyone who read this story would never be able to think of the "original" in the same way.)

"Rain", by Kristy Gunn was a novel that someone in my book club recommended we read (but they chose "The Buffalo Solider" instead). It's told from the point of view of Janey at an unknown age; she's flashing back to when she was a 12 year old girl responsible for her 5 year old brother, James. They spend all their time out on the lake, whether swimming or sitting in the family's boat, trying to avoid their parents (as well as everyone else). For the most part Janey is successful; she's made her whole life her brother and he loves her, but inevitably, they get sucked back into their mother's view, where she alternates between loving them, ignoring them, and treating them like they're toys to be showed off. Her husband is too busy trying to keep her happy to do anything about it. And as for the other adults, well. They're either egging her mother on, indifferent, or a whole other problem.

The author uses some incredibly detailed language,

Up in that part the water smelled rivery. We hadn't even passed the little bay at the end of the first beach but already the air was touched by the promise of our destination. All the trees were drowning. They reached their long skinny branches into the lake, leaning so far that their gnarled roots could barely hold the clay. You knew it was only time before whole bodies would be dislodged, allowed to drift, then sink. The water would seal over them again and that's how it would end: you would never know there had been trees there at all.

so much that I could picture the lake, the trees, the hidden paths in my head. I felt like I was there with Janey, watching their treks to the hidden places, jumping into the waves when the crashed towards shore. (However, the author kept using "lovers" to describe things, and as she was talking about children, that bugged me in the beginning.)

Unfortunately, there are just some things that Janey can't control and the end of the book is pretty much heart-braking.

I probably should have waited a bit before picking up "Siberia" by Ann Halam, because I was in tears during half of it. (I'd like to blame it on the cold, but I think I'd be doing the author a disservice.)

Sometime, somewhere, it seems that the human race has killed off most of the planet they live on, ending up in a "Siberian" place; it's almost always winter, people live in cities which are strictly controled, and the only animals left are "farm animal", which are used for clothing, and mutants. Rosita and her mother are sent to a camp for prisoners when she was 4; it seems her parents were scientist working with animal DNA and when the figured out what their government was actually doing, they attempted to steal the DNA samples (refered to as Lindquists), and destroy everything else. However, things go wrong, someone sells them out, and they end up trying to ekk out an existance in a miserable plot of land. Her mother is forced to make nails; there's a camera in everyone's "home", and Rosita is merely trying to understand. One day though, Nivvy appears on her doorstep and after that, everything changes for Rosita.

The story begins to move quickly from there, with Rosita's mother teaching her about the "magic" of the Lindquist, as well as their importance. However, she doesn't get to explain everything before Sloe (Rosita's name was changed as a pre-teen) is sent away to a special school. As she still doesn't understand that the government doesn't want anyone knowing anything about science, Sloe ends up selling out her mother and becoming a "permanent" at the school; no hope of leaving. From there on out, all she has is herself and the Lindquists.

(I doubt I've done a good job giving you any sort of description about this book; really, it's truely fantastic. There are twists, and bits of scientific knowledge, and such sadness. I loved it.)

Finally, the last book I finished recently was "Socerey & Cecelia or The Enchanted Chocolate Pot" by Patricia C. Wrede and Caroline Stevermer.

It's like a cross between Jane Austen and, and I don't know...someone who writes magic books, I'm blanking right now. It'll come to me after I post, no doubt.

Anyway. Kate and Cecelia are cousins in 1817 England; Kate is off with her sister Georgina having her first Season (with their harridan of an Aunt Caroline), while Cecelia is stuck at home in the country, with her father and her strict Aunt Elizabeth. (It's never explained what happened to the girls' mothers, which did kind of bug me.) Things start to get more interesting though, when Kate is nearly poisoned with chocolate by a witch who thinks that she's actually a wizard and Cecelia makes a new friend, who not only has every young man who sees her desperately in love with her, but she's got a stalker too.

The story is told in letters from one girl to the other, where they begin to piece together all the things that are happening to them, which turn out to be related. While figuring this out though, Kate has to deal with a fiance (not to mention her aunt), and Cecelia is battling a magician or two, while trying to teach herself magic on the sly. It's truly a great story, very entertaining, and I'm looking forward to the sequels.


Anonymous said...

Which one did you get for me?

Danielle said...

Do we get a complete run down of titles? I like The Magnificent Ambersons, though Georgie was quite annoying through much of the book!