Saturday, October 25, 2008


The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins.

Amazing. Just... amazing.

Go. Read.

I'll have a more coherent review later.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Nonfiction books

Huh. I just realized that I've read three four nonfiction books so far, and I'm in the midst of reading two more! Will wonders never cease? Will I actually read five six nonfiction books this year?

In an incorrect order...

Looking for Trouble: One Woman, Six Wars, and a Revolution by Leslie Cockburn
The Pirate Queen: In Search of Grace O'Malley and Other Legendary Women of the Sea by Barbara Sjoholm
The Floating Brothel: The Extraordinary True Story of an Eighteenth-Century Ship and Its Cargo of Female Convicts by Sian Rees
The Zookeeper's Wife: A War Story by Diane Ackerman
Excellent. I finished two books a few days ago and look, I'm here posting in the same week. Awesome sign, totally evidence that I'm gong to do better....

Except NaNoWriMo starts in nine days and I won't have any time to read. Hmm, this might be a problem.

The Floating Brothel by Siam Rees was really interesting, if not what I thought it was going to be. In the beginning of the book, the author mentions how some of the female convicts who were sent to Sydney's Cove (Australia) became founding women of the colony there and I thought that I'd learn more about that. That didn't really happen; we do learn how some of the women end up, if they married someone there or found a way to return to England, but most of the book was from the memoirs of the ship's agent, who had been "married" to one of the women on board and who fathered a child on her. He'd always planned to go back for her, but he actually never made it and she married someone else. Like I said, interesting book with a lot of great detail. Got a bit dry sometimes, but I liked the subject material.

Coraline by Neil Gaiman was a very quick, very exciting read. I'm glad I finally picked it up; I'd started it a couple of years ago, and then for some reason never finished it. Carl's R.I.P. challenge was just the motivation I needed though to pick it up again. It's about Coraline, a young girl who moves with her family to an old house in the country. The house has been turned into a couple of flats, with two sisters, both retired actresses, living on the ground floor with their terriers, and an old man, who trains mice to play musical instruments, living upstairs. There is also a cat.

Exploring the inside of her new home, Coraline realizes that there's a door that leads to nowhere, bricked over as it is. Unable to leave it alone though, Coraline goes back and unlocks it one day when her parents are out and finds the bricks gone. Exploring (yes, that is a theme for Coraline), she goes through the doorway and finds herself in her other-apartment, with her other-parents (with creepy black button eyes), and her other-neighbors. There is also the cat.

Coraline's other-mother desperately wants Coraline to stay with her/them, but when Coraline refuses, she lets her return to her family...only for Coraline to find them missing. With no other choice, Coraline has to go back through the door and rescue her parents, facing down her other-mother at the same time.

It's the perfect blend of creepy and exciting, with great little details, that make it such an excellent book. I've said it before: I don't like Gaiman's "adult" books, but I love the ones he writes for kids. I wish my niece was old enough to read this, but she's only six and I think it'd give her nightmares. It's that awesome. You know that Coraline is going to be OK, but at the same time there's a good chance that the nightmare will get her and that is what makes it awesome, in my opinion.

I've just started One Bullet Away by Nathaniel Fick and it's really interesting. I don't usually like memoirs, but this one came highly recommended.

Thursday, October 16, 2008


Oh, I was going to do better this time about writing and reading and, oh, I don't know, posting, and yet...

At least I've been reading. Currently it's The Floating Brothel by Sian Rees, a nonfiction account of 18th century women prisoners who were shipped off to Australia in an attempt to a) help colonize the country and b) reduce the nation's expenses. I'm about half way through it and I'm in turns fascinated by these women's lives and completely horrified by what was considered "normal" by the sailors--and other men--who were in charge of these women's lives. Seriously, the hypocrisy is enough to make me want to slap someone, but of course they're all long dead.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Still with the non-reading

I don't understand why, but every now and then I just don't feel like reading. I don't know if it's the stress of life, the overwhelming stack of books I have piled everywhere, or just a slump that happens every now and then, but when it happens I don't read. At all. No magazine, no newspapers, no flyers posted on the walls, and definitely no books.

It makes me sad just thinking about it, but at least I have the satisfaction of knowing the slump is over (for now). I've torn through two books in as many days, liking one and being kind of meh about the other. I'm lucky that one of these totally counts as a R.I.P. read; way behind on that challenge as well.

The Night Villa by Carol Goodman was the meh book. I know I've written about her before and I'm a big fan of her earlier books, the ones set somewhere in upstate New York. They've got a lyrical quality to them, in my mind, and I love the say she describes things. Sadly, I've not gotten that feeling from her later books and I think it might time for me to back off reading her for a bit. The Night Villa is set in Austin, TX, briefly, before moving to Naples, Italy, and the island of Capri. Professor Sophie Chase is chasing (not an intentional pun, I promise) too many things; her past-involving her ex who turned into a cult-worshiping freak, her ex lover-a fellow professor and the head of the expedition, and her thesis-involving the life of a female slave that Sophie feels very close to. There are the usual complications-mysterious bosses, whispered conversations, sly looks-, a gorgeous setting, and of course the main plot, which is discovering what secrets survived the volcanic explosion centuries ago that covered the island in layers of ash.

Maybe it was the fact that it read like her past books that turned me off, or maybe it was that because it read like her past books and I could see what was going to happen before it did that turned me off, but I think this might be my last Goodman for a while.

The other book was Faefever by Karen Marie Moning, the third book in her latest series. Mac, a sidhe-seer, is trying to survive the ever-encroaching darkness that the Unseelie fae are spreading while juggling both her boss/mentor/enemy Jericho Barrons and V'lane, the death-by-sex Seelie Prince that is her mentor/enemy/friend. She's in way over her head, being lied (Barrons, V'lane) to and betrayed (Rowena, head of the other sidhe-seers) by pretty much everyone she comes into contact with, and nothing she does seems to matter when the Lord Master--who seems to be both Fae and human and who also seduced and killed Mac's older sister--decides that he's going to bring down the walls the separate Earth from the Fae realms. It's on Halloween night, Samhain, when Mac finally figures out part of what's going on; it's too late at that point though to try and save anyone and the most she can do is try and save herself.

I liked the first two books in this series more that this one; Mac seemed way to slow-mentally-this time. There were several obvious clues that she should have picked up on, or at least mentioned, but she's spending so much time trying to juggle Barrons and V'lane that she seems to forget. She's also way to dependent on other people; not necessarily her fault though, as no one will tell her anything, or it's doled out in such tiny pieces that it doesn't do much good. It also didn't help that this time, Mac kept "breaking into" the story to tell us stuff, like this is important, or I'm really embarrassed by this bid. Those breaks kept throwing me out of the story; I really hope book four and five have less of those Mac-moments.

Now to go outside and celebrate the changing season for a bit; I love Fall.