bunrab: (me)


Recent reading, at least as told on my Goodreads account:

Afterparty

4 of 5 stars
Afterparty by Daryl Gregory
First person unreliable is a difficult voice for an author to pull off, but Gregory not only manages to do it well, he makes it seem as though that's the only possible way this story could have properly been told. The insertions by "G.I....


Neptune's Brood

4 of 5 stars
Neptune's Brood by Charles Stross
Warning: even a one-sentence summary of this book is a spoiler if you have any idea what I'm talking about in the first place. So let me preface that spoiler sentence with this: if you find the financial industries (roughly, banking, in...


Dragon Blood





goodreads.com



Share book reviews and ratings with Kelly, and even join a book club on Goodreads.


bunrab: (me)

First off, a couple of books I didn't like, but they were part of my "quest" - I made it a goal of my own to try and read some things that aren't the kind of stuff I always read. So we have a couple of books that are by authors I've never heard of before.
1. A Kindle book, cheap. Witch for Hire (A Witch's Path Book 1) by N. E. Conneely The premise sounded amusing - a witch who works for several police departments in Georgia, as a consultant, when supernatural things cause problems. In execution, however, the book was weak - it read more like a YA than anything else, even though our protagonist isn't a teenager. There's absolutely no sense of how a real work day goes, or what real jobs are like. The family secret is revealed, with reasons for keeping it that sound incoherent, and the resolution of it goes far too smoothly and quickly for what it is. New magical beings spring out of nowhere, as needed, just to give our heroine something to do. The dinner table conversation at the boarding house she lives in is there just so that there are other characters for Michelle to bounce off of - and it's difficult to tell one kind of supernatural humanoid character from another. And the love interest is barely even there at all - and really, Elron? An elf named Elron? Reeeeally? No convincing reasons why said elf should be attracted to Michelle, and even fewer to explain why she should be interested in a middle-aged elf; their repeated interactions seem to be a series of non-sequiters. The ending is ambiguous enough to pretty much guarantee that the author intends a sequel; I don't intend to read it.
2. From the library, allegedly first in a new series: Pile of Bones (A Novel of the Parallel Parks) by Bailey Cunningham  - I'm providing a link to Amazon, because that's easier that linking to a library site most of you won't be signed in on. " In one world, they’re ordinary university students. In another world, they are a company of heroes in a place of magic and myth called Anfractus" RPGers playing a game in a park in Regina, Saskatchewan. The university students are allegedly grad students, and honestly, the grad students I know don't have time for this much game playing. And /everybody/ needs more sleep than any of these characters get - even medical interns on call get more time to sleep between shifts than these guys seem to get between playing their game all night and TA-ing all day. Anyway, the magical world inside the park.seems to be vaguely based on ancient Rome, with lots of Latin words and place names and professions. Why a magical interface from a park made over a Cree area full of buffalo bones should be European rather than Native American/First People/Indian, I haven't figured out. And after chapter 3 or so, I stopped trying, and started skimming, because it became obvious that this book is written for gamers, and is just a novelization of a game, albeit a game the author invented. And I think you'd have to be a serious live-action RPG-er to care what these characters are doing, or to follow their reasoning, even when they're in the real world. You'd also have to be more familiar with Regina than I am, and I don't care to have to familiarize myself with the streets and neighborhoods of an unfamiliar small Canadian city just in order to be able to follow a fantasy novel. In short - not at all interesting to someone who isn't fascinated by novelizations of someone's D&D games from college.

Now on to one I did like:
3. Dragon Bones (The Hurog Duology, Book 1) by Patricia Briggs - I've read her entire Mercy Thompson series, but had never gotten around to any others of hers, so I grabbed this one from the library. And I like it. I like Briggs' writing style. It isn't exactly humorous - well, the Mercy Thompson books have plenty of humor, but that's not their main raison - but it is wry. Most of the characters have a good sense of the fact that so much of what they have to do is ridiculous, and that life is an awful lot of trouble, and that other people are usually inexplicable. Our hero, accompanied by the family ghost, gives up his fortress/leadership of the clan because he can clearly see that no physical castle is worth as much as saving the lives of his people. There are plenty of plot twists that I'm not going to give away. I'll just say, I found the premise - the last set of bones of an extinct race of dragons is buried under the keep of the Hurog - to be carried out well, and I really liked the characters. Ward does what he has to, to make sure his father doesn't kill him, and then has to figure out a way to get out of the hole he's dug for himself after his father dies. He has siblings, and cousins, and faithful followers, and not-so-faithful members of his band of misfits, and he has the aforementioned family ghost. Keep an eye on the ghost. Some particular things I liked about this book, as specifically pertains to fantasy: first, there's not /that/ much magic in it - there's a lot going on that's people interacting, not magical things happening. And the magic seems to follow a reasonable set of rules; there aren't new magical things popping up every few pages just to solve problems or just to give our hero something to kill, as happens in far too many fantasies. There are the dragons, and there are mages, some with more magical abilities than others, and that's about it. The rest of it's real people, doing what real people in feudal societies do, and frankly, when magic comes messing with their lives, they aren't all that enthused about it - it's usually more trouble to people than it is a help. And yes, that has some parallels to Game of Thrones, such as the line that the series is named after. In fact, if you liked Game of Thrones but would prefer to read something with far fewer gory deaths and far fewer pages, you could do far worse than this. It's got the hardworking people of the north, and the king in the south who maybe shouldn't be king, and some other similarities, but all in a normal-sized volume and with not one single toilet disemboweling. I plan on reading the sequel, and on finding more of Patricia Briggs, because I like her voice.

I think that completes
for this year; I probably won't have time for another quest, as there is real stuff I should be doing. Maybe next year.
bunrab: (me)

So when we last met, I had mentioned that I was going to attempt to read one of the volumes in Daniel Abraham's current series; two chapters of that disabused me of the notion. It's definitely complicated enough that one would have to start at the beginning. And given the size of each volume - fatter than the volumes of Game of Thrones, for comparison - it would be far more than I want to take on at this time. So back it went to the library, unfinished.

lengthy book stuff )

Now under way: another Patricia Briggs, but this time a series I haven't read before, or even noticed existed before, which appears to include dragons, maybe - at the moment, at the beginning of the book, the dragons appear to be extinct. So that will be the next one I report on.

Also read a graphic novel that sort of counts as fantasy: Beasts of Burden Volume: Animal Rites - cute, not terribly deep, but the dog characters and the cat are sort of cool.

Other things: took the euphonium to a Browningsville rehearsal and played it for about half the time, and there were moments when I didn't make a fool of myself. And saw "A Million Ways to Die in the West" with Larry, speaking of the West, and Seth MacFarlane's West is probably almost as fantastical as the books above, and from the first couple of measures of the score during the opening credits I was laughing, and I think I enjoyed it so much because so much of the humor was audio in one way or another, which is what I was paying attention to rather than the gross and tasteless poop jokes. From the snippets of Copland in the score, to "Mila Kunis" by way of "People die at the fair" and not forgetting the uncredited cameo by Bill Maher, I laughed a lot. I'll probably buy the soundtrack album.
bunrab: (me)


As I described in the previous post, trying to read 5 fantasy books by June 21. Well, I don't really have to try hard; I read enough that I'll have far more than 5 by then. The part that's a challenge for me is remembering to blog about them, and then writing a post that actually says something more than "I read this."

So today's book is Brazen by Kelley Armstrong. It's the newest entry in a werewolf-and-vampire series, a minor entry in several senses of the word, and a disappointing one. Its purpose is apparently to convince us that there's more to a particular minor character than there appears to be, and I didn't find it convincing.

First off, it's barely novelette length - there's not much story here, not even for the short length of the book. What brings the price of the book up to that of others in the series is supposed to be the illustrations - a whopping three of them, on glossy page inserts, none of them necessary and none of them at all useful in furthering the story nor in clarifying anything from the text. So, if you were to pay the list price of the hardcover (I got it from the library; I don't buy hardcovers any more), you'd be paying for a longish short story in which nothing gets resolved, with three glossy black-white-and-red illustrations with no action in them.

Spoiler alert )

If you're following Armstrong's series, there's no real need to read this, I don't guess, and if it doesn't make it to your library, you can nonetheless read the next one without having lost any major threads in the series arc.
Other recent reading )

Now tackling a much more substantial volume: Daniel Abrahams. It's apparently the third in a series - new on the library shelves; I often start series in the middle and then decide whether it's worth going back and reading from the beginning. I liked Abrahams' Long Price Quartet, mostly, so this has promise. Stay tuned.
bunrab: (me)

I just found out about this from [livejournal.com profile] avanta7, and though it started March 21, I believe I can read 5 fantasy books and blog about them by June 21. Um, I'm sure I can read them. It's the remembering to blog that's a challenge. So,


And here's the first book, which I happen to have just finished:
Moon Called (Mercy Thompson #1)
by Patricia Briggs
The start of a werewolf-and-vampire series I hadn't read before, by an author I hadn't read before. I read 2 of the series by accident last week, out of order, and decided they were good enough to go start the series from the beginning. Although I refer to it as a werewolf-and-vampire series, one of the things that makes it different is that our protagonist is a shapeshifter coyote, as far as she knows the only remaining one of her kind, which means that for supernatural company she's reduced to hanging out with werewolves. The story is told in first person singular, normally not my favorite voice, but Mercy's (short for Mercedes) voice is quite good, natural sounding, and has lots of humor, so that it works.
In reading this one, I see the first roots being laid down for the plot in the later ones I read out of order, and when I reread them in order, they'll have more depth because I will have the background.

I know, I know, werewolves, what a cliche by now, right? Does it help any if I remind everybody that I've been reading vampire fantasy since long before the current fad? That I started reading Chelsea Quinn Yarbro's St. Germain series when she first started writing it, in the 70's? That I read Tanya Huff's Henry Fitzroy books long before anybody made them into a wretched TV series? (And speaking of TV series, I've never seen True Blood, so I have no idea of how much worse than the Sookie Stackhouse books it might be.)

Nonetheless, cliche or not, and the fact that I've been reading vampire stuff for 4 decades now or not, there was enough in this series that isn't common to all the books in the genre, that I am finding it well worth my time.

Stay tuned for book 2!
bunrab: (me)
The local library seems to have gotten a big shipment all at once from Prometheus, publishers of assorted skeptical stuff and also way-out-there stuff occasionally - people who are skeptical of the real world to the point of massive conspiracy theories, etc. The quality of books from them varies. Sometimes it's straightforward "my doctoral dissertation turned into a book" stuff, sometimes it's stranger than that. Anyway, I grabbed a few of them to look at.

First up: Radical Distortion: How Emotions Warp What We Hear - John Reich. First the totally obvious: people with extreme views on a subject don't like to hear contrary opinions. Then the slightly less obvious, with several studies: people with extreme views on a subject are more likely to rate neutral statements as being negative/against them/contrary, rather than neutral - holding extreme views makes one incapable of perceiving neutral ground. Many of the studies cited are actually from the 50s and 60s, not from current issues that are polarized, showing that this aspect of extreme views has been around for a while.
For example )
Next up: Second That Emotion: How Decisions, Trends, and Movements are Shaped - Jeremy Holden. This turns out to be mostly stories about how to use social media to spread propaganda - not as interesting as the title, and not even that informative - it's anecdotes, and no real studies showing whether what the author thinks made the "movement" in each anecdote work, is actually what fueled or spread it. It's just stories, no analysis. Waste of time.

Last from this batch: The Big Disconnect: The Story of Technology and Loneliness - Giles Slade. It's the Kindle's fault that people don't talk to each other any more and are rude when they do. No, it's Amazon.com's fault even before the Kindle. No, it's the Internet's fault!! The author's thesis is that since we buy more stuff online now, we have fewer daily interactions that consist of saying "thank you" and "Have a nice day" with store clerks, and that's making us lonelier and ruder. My opinion: Um, no. For one thing, for most products, the percentage of people who buy them online is still vanishingly small - almost everyone still buys their groceries in a grocery store, and even if they order them online, they talk to the delivery guy. Likewise restaurant meals, haircuts, dentists, all that other stuff that CAN'T be done on the Internet - still far, far outweighs the commerce that is done on the Internet. I wound up chatting about this book with the guy next to me at a restaurant - the only seats left at the place across the street before a concert were at the bar, so we were squished together, and he had an e-reader, and we had a nice long chat about reading books (news flash: people who have e-readers still buy lots of hardcopy books too! The more you read, the more you buy!) and whether having a tablet to read on alienated you from other readers. Conclusion: no, if anything, e-readers seem to spark more conversations than carrying around a dead-tree book, if anything. So our joint conclusion was that The Big Disconnect is full of crap.

I also grabbed The Pickwick Papers in my quest to read a few more classics, but discovered that my tolerance for that particular type of humor is quite limited, and after 4 chapters I was too tired of those characters to continue. Oh well, I'll try a different classic soon.
bunrab: (me)
A Christmas Garland - Anne Perry. Novelette, Christmas-themes, annual, features one of her regular characters at a much earlier point in his life. Good mystery.
The Member of the Wedding - Carson McCullers. I sorta resolved at New Years to try and read a few "classics" this year, and since this was on the "classics" display at the library, I grabbed it. I have no idea why it's a classic. I am reminded once again, even in this relatively short novel, of everything I don't like about the style of "Southern" writers and of the whole southern-gothic-sort-of genre. Stories of family scandals based on ignorance, disease, and discrimination, will just never be my cup of tea, I guess. And our protagonist is actually too young for this to be coming of age, nor does she particularly come of any pieces of wisdom from the incidents. I guess it's a good description of the intense but scattered emotions and lack of logic typical of a girl on the brink of adolescence, but so what? Not that interesting.

Tried a bit of chick lit, since it involved a bookstore; I thought that might make it interesting. It didn't, and I didn't finish The Book Lover by Maryann McFadden. I stopped at about the second point where I was mentally shouting at someone, "Why the hell do you people keep lying to each other on the spur of the moment for no logical reason???" Life's too short.

Now reading: Rage is Back - Adam Mansbach. Very, very funny. It's told in the first person, and some of it in New York City dialect, if that's the right word - our protagonist is the teenage son of an absent father who was a famous graffiti-writer in his day. Said son, unfortunately named Dondi, is quite intelligent, and has only recently been kicked out of what he refers to as the Whoopty Whoo Ivy League We's A Comin' Academy, which he was attending on a "What the Hell, Let's Give a Clever Young Colored Boy a Chance to Transcend His Race Scholarship."
Here's an excerpt from where I just reached, in which our narrator's reappeared father has described an alleged entheogenic serum from a talking tree, and our hero is deciding whether to listen to him:

I'm taking the time to acknowledge this out of respect for you, the reader, because I hate stories with fuzzy internal logic. Kids who've grown up on Harry Potter don't know any better, poor schmucks: the people in those books are constantly doing things that were impossible five minutes earlier. In a few years, you'll see. The Rowling generation's going to be the most fucked up yet. Whereas you could break into George Lucas's house right now, traipse into his study, and say, "Hey George, what exactly is a parsec?" and as soon as he finished taking his bong hit, he'd be able to explain. Probably before security arrived. Or take Tolkein: not only could J.R.R. have told you why they didn't just ride those giant fucking eagles straight into the heart of Mordor instead of walking, he'd have done so in High Elvish, or the Tongue of the Woodland Realm, your choice.

Yes!
bunrab: (Default)
The heart stuff first: yes, I did go to the doctor's the next morning, just to confirm that it was a real episode and what I felt was what I thought it was, and test the device just to make sure nothing's wonky with it. And indeed, yes to all of that. And they raised my dose of Coreg again, now all the way up to what it "should" be - I had previously been taking only half the full dose, for years, because it made me so tired and because nothing much was going wrong and the Coreg wasn't helping my blood pressure that much over and above all the other meds I take - the Diovan or enalapril, the diuretics, etc. And for years, that was fine. But now, it appears that I need it for the anti-arrhythmic effects as well as the antihypertensive effects, so full dose it is.


a couple more paragraphs of whine )

Now, books. Part of moving is, I have to de-acquisition a LOT of books.
whining about why I have to give up a few )
One of the things I'm doing is reciting a mantra that goes like this: "The library has this book. The library has this whole series. Every library in Maryland and the surrounding states has this whole series!!" That mantra is useful for a lot of the murder mysteries and some of the science fiction. Of course I am not giving up the Lois Bujolds - I want to be able to reread any Miles book on any spur of the moment! - but the mantra helped me get all the J.A. Jance out the door, because, really, libraries are very good about murder mystery series. And a bunch of Steve's vampire collection that I still had - since vampires have been more popular these last 10 years than they were when I first started reading them or when I turned Steve on to them, more libraries have them, more used book stores have them, and more of them are available as e-books. So I don't need to keep most of them. (The complete Yarbro St. Germain series stays. Don't try to talk me out of that one.)

Another way to get rid of books )
Some of the reading I've done this past 6 months has been new stuff, and there's thoughts on that.
Reading and rereading gets tiring )
So that's the process. I am trying to remember to record all the re-reads on Goodreads as I go along, and also the library books I have been reading interspersed because a body can't read 100% fantasy series 100% of the time. If there's still any of you who I haven't found or haven't found me there, well, I'm easy to find.
bunrab: (Default)
First, some tea reviews:
Ginger Bread Cookie from Teavana http://www.teareviewblog.com/?p=5282 Thanks, Chas! Yummy tea!
Smoky Earl Grey from Fortnum & Mason http://www.teareviewblog.com/?p=5276 Thanks, [livejournal.com profile] parelle! This is one intense tea! (Other one to be reviewed soon!)

And some of my other recent tea reviews:
http://www.teareviewblog.com/?p=5375 Pomegranate Oolong from Harney & Sons
http://www.teareviewblog.com/?p=5332 Ginger Peach Black Tea from Let’s Do Tea
http://www.teareviewblog.com/?p=5327 Starry Night from Liber-Teas

And some book reviews on Amazon.com:
The Enthusiast by Charlie Haas - read the review here: The Enthusiast
Monster by A. Lee Martinez - read the review here: Monster
As usual, you might have to scroll down through several reviews to find mine. And as usual, if you like the reviews, please click the little Yes button! Thank you.

Other recent reading:
A History of the World in Six Glasses by Tom Standage: there's a cute visual pun on the cover - in place of the word "the" in the title, there's an elaborate tea tin, looking like it's from an era when the French went in for Chinoiserie - and the French word for tea is thé. The book is a bit superficial, but fun, and let's hear it for beer, bringer of civilization!

Dead and Gone by Charlaine Harris - latest in the Sookie Stackhouse series, a bit too much blood, gore and torture - catering too much to the Anita Hamilton fans? Lots of action, but some of it totally unnecessary to the plot. If you are a reader of diverse and sundry fantasy and SF and have read Miller & Lee's Liad series, you can compare Sookie's accidental marriage to Eric with Miri accidentally marrying Val Con - both have knives. I didn't bother to do an Amazon review of this one because (a) there were already 493 reviews of it on there, and (b) my review would have been more negative than not, given the aforementioned blood and gore and torture, and the loyal fans don't want to see any negatives.

Coyote Horizon by Allen Steele - 4 connected novellas in his Coyote series, ties up some loose ends but creates others with its semi-cliffhanger ending.Won't make much sense if you haven't read the earlier books - but I do recommend them; it's good, straight-forward SF. Many people have compared Steele to earlier Heinlen (before the porn) - but Steele's politics are more nuanced and complex than Heinlein's rabid take-no-prisoners libertarianism.

Now the request: I can read Latin, more or less, as long as I don't have to get the tenses right, but I can't generate grammatically correct Latin. And there's two things I really want to make needlework samplers out of.
(1) Rust never sleeps.
(2) I know it's in here *somewhere*. (As in, someone asks whether we own such-and-such a book or object; our reply is that we do own it, but haven't the foggiest idea of where in the house or garage, packed or unpacked, it might be. This is pretty much our family motto, and has been, since the day we got married. So, I want Latin for something equivalent to "I know it's in here somewhere" although to sound euphonious, you might have to be a little elastic with the exact wording - I know that these objects are located within somewhere? Anyway. Something like that.)
bunrab: (bunearsword)
Reading: Liquid Jade (about tea); Beyond Red and Blue (about politics); Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell (interminably long fantasy, which I am about 1/3 of the way through after 2 weeks of hacking away at the underbrush.)

Music: Went to BSO concert last Friday, going to another one this Friday - that would be today! - last one of this season. Baltimore Symphonic Band played at Charlestown Retirement, here in Catonsville, on Tuesday. Bel Air Community Band will be playing at Shamrock Park in Bel Air on Sunday evening at 7. Next Montgomery Village concert is June 28.

Knitting:


Started June 1, finished June 12! No pattern, just two rectangles, with a V-neck worked into one of them. It's knitted, not crocheted. Has baby cables in it. Craft cotton in the big cheap skeins, one skein.

And before that, there was this one, in May, same deal except I hadn't figured out as much about the shaping yet:



That, and cleaning bunny litter boxes, and cleaning up the old house, packing a bit more at a time each day - almost completely empty now, and it's already being shown!
bunrab: (alien reading)
So, I read this book called How to Read Novels Like A Professor, which turned out to be great - imagine a course on literature, except instead of concentrating on all the boring stuff, he concentrates on bestsellers and genre fiction. And he's funny. He starts out by telling us how the first two sentences of the book can already reveal exactly how much effort and attention we'll have to put into reading it. Several chapters are spent on discussing the unusual narrative techniques of modern novels - as a contrast to Victorian novels, explaining too why those were written the way they were, and how much something can change from that and still be considered a novel. We have the usual discussion of POV, and what the limitations of first-person are, and so on. He uses a lot of examples, including Agatha Christie mysteries, and the aforesaid Dickens. Mostly, when he discusses Dickens, he talks about Great Expectations, which I didn't like and never finished; he doesn't mention my favorite, A Tale of Two Cities, at all. And he spends a lot of time trying to justify reading Joyce's Ulysses, leaving me totally unconvinced - I'm still never going to read it. On the other hand, some of the books he discussed were ones I had not previously considered, that he made sound downright interesting - see more on that below. Others, well, no - he spends a lot of time on Fowles' The Magus, which I read while I was in college in the 70's, and didn't like at all, and the very points that I didn't like are what he does like about it: how "clever" it is, where you have to *work* at figuring out what's going on. And when I read it, I kept thinking, this is an awful lot of effort for very little story; there's not enough plot under the cleverness, and if I want to do this much work while reading, I'll read a textbook and get a good grade for it, thank you very much. So, not everything he considers interesting is attractive. Nonetheless, an excellent book; the writers on my flist would probably enjoy it, too.

One of the books he used in illustrating POV was Kingsolver's The Poisonwood Bible which I had heretofore ignored. But his description of multiple third-person non-omniscient POVs sounded interesting. So I went and took that out of the library next, and wound up reading it through in only two sittings - it was that interesting. And going in knowing what to expect, the multiple POVs, some with limited information, were not too much work, and were quite enjoyable. Lots of story in there; it's not just character and cleverness.

I also finally got around to reading Koontz's Odd Thomas and one of its sequels, Brother Odd, books which illustrate yet another POV - the *unreliable* first-person narrator, as Odd himself describes himself, comparing it to the POV in The Murder of Roger Ackroyd. I don't think I would have focused as much on how the unreliable-first-person POV affects the story had I not recently read the How to Read.... Anyway, I liked the first one, didn't like Brother Odd as much, mainly because of the excess of "Forbidden Planet" woo-woo - I didn't like "Forbidden Planet," for that matter, and for that matter, I hate "The Tempest" - I think it's the stupidest play of Shakespeare's that I've ever read, character and plot-wise. (Great language, but stupid.) Despite the "things man was not meant to create" vibe, though, I enjoyed a lot of the book, especially the Russian character.

Now off to more crocheting and some herbal tea.
bunrab: (Default)
and now they go past yours via Twitter:


  • 22:55 @cathyr19355 the banana part is sorta strong, and not that great - but I make it weak and add a bit of sugar. Want some to try? #
  • 14:17 books returning to library: Naomi Novik's dragon series "His Majesty's Dragon" "Throne of Jade" & "Black Pwder War" #
  • 14:18 returning to library: graphic novel "Dead High" and Roy Blount's "Alphabet Juice." I liked the entry on sonnets. #
  • 17:43 dynamic sign on I-695 warns of accident on I-70 at US 29 - all lanes of Io70 closed. Glad I decided to take US 1 inst of 29 #
Automatically shipped by LoudTwitter
bunrab: (alien reading)
Firstly, Gray Apocalypse by James Murdoch - see my Amazon.com review of Gray Apocalypse. I didn't actually like the book, but it was surprisingly well written for a self-published first novel, and I can tell that people who like thrillers would like it better than I did (I was expecting science fiction). Disclosure: the author sent me a free review copy. If you read my review, please leave a comment with it, about whether I adequately expressed my ambivalence. Thanks!

Books I didn't even finish:
Zombies: A Field Guide to the Walking Dead by Dr. Bob Curran. I was hoping for a sort of humorous species guide and some references to literature and genre novels. Instead, it's a dead-serious (pun intended) discussion of practically all of the historical beliefs in various sorts of risen-from-the-grave beings in cultures from thousands of years ago to now. And the illustrations are pretty but don't match the tone of the text at all. It's difficult to make zombies boring, but this academic treatise does it. I mean, a serious discussion of whether the Witch of Endor's calling up Samuel (from the bible) counts as a zombie? Ew.

One Bite With A Stranger by Christine Warren - one of the recent crop of vampire romances, this one has an emphasis on the romance aspect of it, for values of romance that equal sexual activity and not much else. Completely chick-lit stuff, with too much discussion of getting drunk on good wine and going shopping. Not my cup of tea, or of blood either. I don't know why I keep trying these things - oh, wait, I keep trying them because vampire romance genre fiction was how I first discovered Chelsea Quinn Yarbro some thirty-odd years ago, and I keep hoping that I'll run into something surprising like that again. But this book wasn't it.

Book time

Apr. 2nd, 2009 03:22 pm
bunrab: (Default)
How to Live on Mars by Robert Zubrin - this isn't nonfiction, and it isn't a novel - it's a fictional piece written in the form of a nonfictional guide. Got that? Imagine one of Heinlein's libertarians carried away that one teeny step further into totally amoral greedhead, and then have that person volunteer to show you around Mars. Quite a bit of real science in it. Any fan of science fiction OR of popular science should like it. Single favorite bit: the "photo" on page 194 of "the founding of the Free Martian Republic." You'll recognize some of the faces right off, and be able to figure out others with just a bit of research.

Now to head for the library again!
bunrab: (alien reading)
I have this whole bunch of graphic/comic stuff I'm returning to the library, and I thought I'd tweet each of them, while we were in the car on the way. But it turns out I have more than 140 characters to say about each. So here I am, sitting at one of the library's computers, before returning the books.

Let"s see. The first two, Locke & Key and Johnny Bunko, have some tweets that"ll show up, so I don't need to say too much more about those. L&K is a good fantasy, lots of content, nice spooky premise. I actually look forward to the next volume of this one. JB is confused about who its audience might be - it claims to be a book of serious career advice, that happens to be done manga style, but it seems as though people reading manga want story, not advice. Luckily, the story is pretty funny - magic take-out chopsticks!

Para by Stuart Moore - I wanted to like this one, because it's got lots of text - some pages are illustrated text, rather than cartoons with words. And the starting premise is good - an alternate history where the Supercollider in TX turns into a big radioactive pit... and it's some 20 years later and researchers want to find out exactly what happened. The FBI is hampering their efforts. Unfortunately, for my tastes, it turns into paranormal bullshit, woo-woo pseudo-science. Despite that, though, I have to say I actually liked the UFO guy as a character - he has a nice sense of humor about his own endeavors. And the nasty FBI agent turns out to have her good spots. Drawing style: realistic tending toward dark, lots of grey-blue; aliens are stupid-looking. And the frogs never do get explained.

WE3 by Grant Morrison - reminded me a lot of Dean Koontz's Watchers. Three weaponized animals - a dog, cat, and rabbit - escape the termination of their project. I love how they have bits of speech; I was sad that the bunny was the one that died; I liked the ending. Style: colorful (the shell armor looks like a cross between pastel easter eggs and water lotuses, crossed with pillbugs).

The Book of Lost Souls by Straczynski and Doran. Fantasy, dark; not always sure who the good guys are. The episode with the battered woman- interesting. And the hired killer, who finally gets his - good. Still, though, sorta woo-woo in here about tortured savior and how people are "saved." But I like the Road.

Also read: Aya of Yop - couldn't get into it; teenage angst is teenage angst even if it's in Cote d'Ivoire - just as pointless as Ghost World, to me. Not enough story. And Megillat Esther, which I had seen reviews of - sort of a must-do, if one is of Jewish background. It does a nice job of pointing out some of the ridiculousness and some of the repetition-but-with-contradictions that occurs in many bible stories.

OK, now to take these over to the return desk.
bunrab: (alien reading)
All right, folks, here's my review of Gaslight Grimoire on Amazon.com - there are three others, so you'll have to scroll down to read mine. Any helpful Yes clicks always appreciated. The anthology includes some very funny Sherlock Holmes pastiches, as well as a story where Moriarty is the hero.

Graphic novel: The Five Fists of Science. Mark Twain and Nikola Tesla battle black magic and a yeti. Need I say more? Well, it is rather nice to read a graphic novel that involves neither teenage angst nor caped superheroes, and is an original story rather than a graphic version of an established classic. And anything with Mark Twain in it is going to have funny moments, yes.

Yesterday we went to the Eastern Trombone Workshop down at Fort Myer. The University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire Trombone Ensemble was excellent - about 20 undergrad music majors, and the performance included a couple of original arrangements by some of them. The trombones of the Atlanta Symphony, with a guest tubist. Some good hints from them about playing as an ensemble and matching tones - things that even community band players, and even people who play other instruments, could try and benefit from. The big evening concert was the Army Orchestra, doing four pieces, each with a different soloist. Charlie Vernon, bass trombonist for the Chicago Symphony, looks exactly like what you imagine someone who's been playing low brass for a major symphony for forty years or more would look like. Saturday morning he's giving a solo recital, which we may or may not get there in time for.

Tonight we have tickets for the Baltimore Symphony - they're doing Dvorak 7 - and tomorrow we are going to Ft Myer again for more trombone concerts, but returning to Baltimore in the evening because we have tickets to see the *Canadian Brass* (yes, you may all let out little jealous-sounding "oooh" noises). Then Sunday we will be driving up to the Philadelphia suburbs to see my niece Hanna in another school play - as a freshthing, she is already getting parts they normally reserve for juniors and seniors. I am working on finishing a quilt for Gregory - Hanna is my sister Steph's oldest; Gregory is Steph's youngest, all of 4 weeks old at this point; I believe I've mentioned he's my 38th niece-or-nephew. I will take a picture of the quilt as soon as it's done - it's all basted, so if I can do hand-tying/embroidery-floss quilting in the car tomorrow day, then I can finish the binding after we get home tomorrow night, and bring it with us Sunday.
bunrab: (alien reading)
Let's see. First, Gaslight Grimoire, an anthology of Sherlock Holmes fantasy stories (sort of) - which I've done an Amazon review of, but it's not posted yet; I'll provide a link as soon as that's posted.

Speaking of which, could some of you go read my reviews for The Magicians and Mrs. Quent and Grease Monkey and Life Sucks, click on the little Yes buttons for my reviews, and maybe even add comments to the reviews? Thanks!!

Speaking of graphic novels, which the last two mentioned above are, I continue my efforts to decide whether graphic novels count as real books for grown-ups, not just comic books with too much self-esteem. One of the funniest is Rex Libris: I, Librarian by James Turner, which is an intergalactic space opera featuring a librarian who will go to any lengths to recover an overdue book. First published as 32-page comic books, this book is a collection of 5 of those, which comprise a complete story arc. Great dialogue, good characters, fun light-science-fictiony plot. Don't miss out on meeting Rex's boss, Thoth! (Especially funny to me since I have recently been to see a bunch of Egyptian mummies at a museum.)

The source of the amigurumi lemur is a book called Tiny Yarn Animals by Tamie Snow. Of no interest to anyone who doesn't crochet, but if you do crochet, you gotta try a couple of these critters! The lemur is the cutest, of course, but the beaver is also tooo cute, and if you're a fan of Kitsune in Japanese stories, then you'd like the little red fox.

OK. Off to band rehearsal in Essex. Tomorrow: saxophone lesson. Note to self: must buy more La Voz reeds; Bill's here in Catonsville doesn't carry La Voz bari reeds, despite that it's a large store; the much smaller L&L in Gaithersburg has a much better selection of reeds, as well as a fantastic repair department. So tomorrow is Gaithersburg on the way to Montgomery Village rehearsal!
bunrab: (Default)
and now they go past yours via Twitter:


  • 21:45 @caviaporcell I,m so sorry to hear about Chico. Not unexpected, but still. He had a wonderful life with you. #
  • 21:48 @caviaporcell I miss Bob. I'm glad they'll be together. #
  • 21:54 Rigoletto in 6 words: Hunchback versus Duke; just add women. #
  • 21:58 I Pagliacci in 6 words: Evil clowns! Run for your lives! #
  • 22:57 New Yorker Style #
  • 22:58 New Yorker "Style" issue boring, except for Roz Chast cartoon. #
  • 23:26 Also in the New Yorker: article about the latest annotated edition of Bram Stoker's Dracula. Done almost completely without reference to... #
  • 23:28 ...the place of vampires in modern fantasy. Mentions only Twilight series (roamnce, really,not vampire) and The Sookie Stackhouse series. #
  • 01:32 At least no one's going to complain about your spelling if you limit yourself to TLAs. OMG! #
  • 02:49 @EmperorNorton That goes with the territory! You should see when pushy rabbits all pile in for some dried fruit! #
  • 15:49 books being returned to library: Virtual Evil and Madman's Dance - 2nd & 3rd Time Rovers. More about those later. #
  • 15:51 also Death of the New Gods - comic book blech. Almost no plot, just complications without a plot. Unsuccessfully "dark." Only good part... #
  • 15:53 ...was Superman. Most of dialog was "prepare to die!" and "Wait, it was you all along!" Nice drawing, though. #
  • 15:54 also being returned - several episodes of Twilight Zone done as graphic novels, which works Ok. And handful of usual murder mysteries. #
  • 15:56 OK, one doesn't see that many tractor_trailer cabs painted lilac. #
  • 16:11 ah, the WashPost as local paper for the Pentagon. Today, a full-page ad for the "combat-ready Super Hornet Block II" fighter plane. #
Automatically shipped by LoudTwitter

Profile

bunrab: (Default)
bunrab

April 2017

S M T W T F S
      1
2345678
91011 12131415
16171819202122
23242526272829
30      

Syndicate

RSS Atom

Most Popular Tags

Style Credit

Expand Cut Tags

No cut tags
Page generated Sep. 24th, 2017 10:45 pm
Powered by Dreamwidth Studios