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: (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.
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: (alien reading)
Finally! A genuine post instead of a bunch of tweets!

First, the best book I've read in the past month is The Magicians and Mrs. Quent by Galen Beckett - it's a really original fantasy. My Amazon.com review is here and as ever, I'd appreciate it if you read the review, voted Yes for it, and commented on it if you have the time and willingness to do so.*

Then, books that I tweeted, but haven't mentioned in more detail:
Salvation in Death - JD Robb, latest in her Eve Dallas series, not bad, has to do with a televangelist who suddenly goes honest.
Bones and Obsession - Jonathan Kellerman, latest in his Alex Delaware series; Alex and Milo sound more alike than ever, both of them frequently leaving any personal pronouns off the beginnings of sentences; the new sidekick that Milo acquires in Obsession shows some promise as a character.
The Best of Michael Swanwick - anthology of short stories, some of which I had already read when they appeared in SF magazines; perhaps the most famous is "The Feast of St. Janis."
A graphic novel of Thor based on the comic books of the same name; the book uses up quite a bit of space on the set-up of why Thor is coming back, and a lot of it is pretentious panels that show almost nothing. Thor establishes a new Asgard - hovering over a farm in Oklahoma. There are some good bits in here, such as when someone from the town wants to deliver an invitation to the residents of Asgard to attend a town hall meeting, and has to first install a mailbox under Asgard, so he has something to deliver it to. Also the scene where the gods come to the town meeting - that's where the quote "What unfortunate day's events are not made gladder by cake?" comes from.
Manga Shakespeare Julius Caesar - worst in the series so far; the artwork is so ugly it makes it nearly impossible to tell the characters apart. And having the characters wearing togae in one scene, and then put on zoomy helmets and hop on motorcycles, is so wrong. I can't see where anyone would ever be drawn to a deeper understanding of Shakespeare or toward reading more of his plays, from this presentation; if anything, it'll drive new readers away.
Cretaceous Dawn by L. and M. Graziano - sorta like Jurassic Park, except it involves the scientists actually being dumped back in time. A couple of characters seem real; others are cardboard, but overall it's readable. Manages to involve a turf war between OSHA and ONR (Office of Naval Research) and a couple of crooked physicists, to give more interest to the modern end of things. The entomologist gets the girl.
A Very Private Enterprise by Elizabeth Ironsides - from the cover illustration, and even the back cover blurb, I thought this was going to be a historical mystery, but it turned out to be modern, far too British for me to understand what was going on, and it had a totally implausible ending where after everything is over and one person is left packing up, the real killer just wanders in and confesses.

And a few I hadn't mentioned at all yet:
Stat-Spotting by Joel Best - lightweight, but good summaries. Perhaps his best chapter is the idea of knowing benchmarks - there are about 300m americans, 4m babies born each year in US, 2.4m die each year and a few other general ones - so that you can recognize totally bogus stats (like one claim I heard, from a relative, that there are 150 million abortions a year in the US - oh yes, 50% of every man, woman, and child in the country had an abortion last year? Really?)

Free-Range Knitter by Stephanie Pearl-McPhee - a lot about her daughters. No sense anyone who doesn't knit or haunt yarn shops reading it. It's humorous, but only for yarn addicts.

Ageless Memory - Harry Lorayne - a reminder of the old trick of putting absurd images to things you need to remember. I used to do that and then didn't and now Lorayne has reminded me that it works.

A Just Determination - John Hemry (not Henry) - well-written and fascinating, and at the same time way too much detail of every sentence needed to launch a ship or start a court-martial. He's best known for a particular mil-fic series, which I haven't read and which this isn't in. This one has a touch of Young Adult coming-of-age stuff in it, but it isn't juvenile. I liked it. Our boy is a newly minted lawyer (well, that's not what they call it, but that's what it is) on a battleship on a supposedly peaceful mission. Which of course goes awry. Warning: unless you're already deeply into Navy stuff, you'll spend a while getting straight about the difference between Captains and Commanders and whatnot, and the exact chain of command, and who isn't on the usual chain, and more of that nature.

Gaaah, and there's still a short stack of books here - I'll include the 4 remaining in a second post, before this one gets big enough to invade a small nation.

At last

Jan. 10th, 2009 12:11 am
bunrab: (alien reading)
OK, people, finally the review at Amazon.com of Odysseus on the Rhine is up. Pretty please go read the review, and comment on it... thanks.
bunrab: (alien reading)
some of which must return to library Thursday. So I'd better mention 'em now.

American Nerd by Benjamin Nugent - amusic, sometimes superficial. He makes an interesting case, in his chapter about the SCA, for the way the SCA manages to create nerd jocks, unlike most nerdy groups.

Recovery Man by Kristine Kathryn Rusch - latest in her Retrieval Artist (Miles Flint) series; all the books in this series are seriously good crime fic/mystery fic as well as quite acceptable science fiction - a far more serious blend of SF elements than, say, J.D. Robb. I like the way she does really alien aliens. And I like the dry sense of humor that sneaks in occasionally. This volume has far more to do with Miles' past history/personal life than any of the previous ones. One of the things I like best is how realistic the characters are - even the nasty-guy Recovery Man has some sophisticated thoughts and thinks about what he's doing, not an all-evil-all-the-time-just-because villain.

Travels With Charley by John Steinbeck. Well, of course, RVs/motor homes/campers are a lot more common now than they were in 1960, and the interstate highway system is a lot more complete (even in some of its deteriorating-infrastructure state), so some of the book is a bit dated. But it's still interesting, especially the postscript about the Kennedy inauguration - coming up as we are on the Obama inauguration, which, you will recall, is more or less a local event where I am; yes, traffic and security and whatnot for DC does stretch all the way to our area.

I had briefly mentioned Odysseus on the Rhine but didn't say anything about it, and I should. It's a sequel to The Odyssey and before you go "ewwww" please listen when I say it's quite nicely done. I've added a review to Amazon.com, which should be posted within a few hours. (And if you read it and like it, besides the Yes button, could you possibly add a comment? I'm a glutton for comments, and they keep Amazon from thinking that it's the same few fans all the time. Thanks!)
bunrab: (Default)
Okay, some Amazon.com reviews - read 'em, click the little Yes button, you know the drill:
This Might Not Be Pretty (a Stone Soup comic strip collection) by Jan Eliot
Grease Monkey by Tim Eldred - already mentioned this one; it's on my "favorite books this year" list.

Briefly in tweets I quoted from A Short History of Rudeness by Mark Caldwell. It was written about 10 years ago, so the chapter on the internet is overwrought and out of date. And the chapter on Martha Stewart is just plain weird, has nothing to do with the rest of the book. But nonetheless there's some interesting reading in some of the chapters, particularly about how the rise in mobility (more and more individual transportation) contributed to the world being ruder.

From Doon With Death by Ruth Rendell - a re-release of the first Inspector Wexford novel. From 1964. I've never gotten around to reading any Rendell before. Eh. I could see the plot twist coming a mile away. And I find the whole thing too British for me. In order to read the story smoothly, one has to be familiar with the British school system, and with the whole "this neighborhood in London automatically conveys such-and-such a social and economic class" thing, which is not information I've ever cared to internalize. I know a lot of people don't mind it; it's a personal thing to prefer novels set in places where I know the milieu.

The Fortune Cookie Chronicles by Jennifer 8. Lee (yes, that's an 8.) Adventures in the World of Chinese Food. Very, very funny book. Especially the chapter on why Chinese food is "the chosen food of the Chosen People, or, The Great Kosher Duck Scandal of 1989." The history of General Tso's Chicken, the greatest Chinese restaurant in the world, and a comparison of the McDonalds model as Windows and the Chinese restaurant model as Linux. I bet almost everyone on my flist would find something to enjoy in this one.

Michael Chabon's The Final Solution - a short book that, although it never mentions the name, is clearly meant to be a sort of alternate-history "Sherlock Holmes lives to a ripe old age in rural England." A quick read, nice enough, and the parrot is a nice character.

Welcome to Tranquility by Gail Simone and Neil Googe - another graphic novel, this one a very loving send-up of old-fashioned comic books, the kind from the 1940's through 1960's, with a touch of how counterculture and Goths and Postmodernism took over from those. The plot is set in the town of Tranquility, where all the retired maxi-heroes (someone must have a copyright on "super-heroes") live. And the young African-American female sheriff who gets to try to keep the whole town calm. Probably MORE fun reading for someone my age, who read all those '60's comics books at the time, than for younger people who don't have that whole context.

Oh, and of course The Eight by Katherine Neville, already mentioned that it was in progress. Finished it. A bit silly and complicated in many spots - requires a willing suspension of disbelief for the fantasy element that sneaks in, as with any magical/religious object that exerts mysterious powers over people, even though otherwise set in the "real world." And quite a bit of the whole Freemasons/Rosicrucians/gigantic historical conspiracy wingnut stuff as part of it. Good fun, though, and I liked many of the side digressions, such as the tale the 18th-century chess player tells of meeting J.S. Bach. On the whole, a bit non-sequitur-ish, as the mystical power of the chess set at the end has nothing to do with how it was introduced at the beginning, but nonetheless a good adventure thriller, sort of "what if Indiana Jones were a woman working for a big-8 accounting firm in the 1970's?" with a whole bunch of French Revolution and other international travel thrown in.

Okay. Gotta go change clothes for yet another band Christmas concert tonight. Whee. "Sleigh Ride" till our lips fall off.
bunrab: (alien reading)
A review at Amazon.com of Ash Wednesday by Ralph McInerny - I gave it three stars though that's actually overrating it a bit, but people don't like to read two-star reviews, I've noticed. Anyway, check it out if you would be so kind.

My email client is causing our network connection to go wonky. Weirdness that even [livejournal.com profile] squirrel_magnet cannot untangle. So forgive me if I'm a bit slow on email; checking it on the web is a pain. Going to try and get a professional geek to look at it sometime soon.

Colbert xmas special - well, about what we expected. I liked the Willy Nelson bit, as well as the angel singing hold messages.
bunrab: (alien reading)
A Mankind Witch - Dave Freer - alt history and fantasy, part of a shared universe but doesn't have to be read in order. Going to look for earlier volumes.

Snoop - Sam Gosling. How to be a sociological researcher by looking at other people's bedrooms and offices. Turns out traits of openness and extraversion can be accurately judged by people's rooms, but room contents are not really any help at all in judging agreeableness or neuroticism.

Swine Not? - Jimmy Buffet. A lightweight, amusing anthropomorphized animal story. If you like those, you'll like this; if not, not. Pet potbellied pig in Central Park.

This Land is Their Land - Barbara Ehrenreich, one of my favorite ranting liberals, the

Recently reviewed on Amazon.com, a couple of crafts books:
Beyond-the-Square Crochet Motifs
Knit on Down
bunrab: (alien reading)
Some people haven't been able to access the latest books I reviewed on Amazon.com using the links I provided a couple of posts ago; here are different links to get you to those books.
Saturn's Children
Life Sucks
1001 Books for Every Mood

Read my reviews, friends! It's your little bit for my ego.
bunrab: (alien reading)
I have been sick for the last few days, with something vaguely flu-like and an overlay of ragweed pollen allergy (hay fever) to add to the fun. So I haven't done much, and I am once again behind on reading my flist. Sorry! And, the pile of books on the desk has just been stacking up, without me doing much about it. So here's some bookblogging to try and catch up:

Does this Clutter Make My Butt Look Fat? by Peter Walsh - his premise is that being a packrat and being overweight are psychologically related, and some of his already published books about getting rid of clutter can also be used to help you lose weight. Interesting premise, some food for thought (pardon the pun), but of course, no one's going to de-clutter OR lose weight just by reading a book.
Saturn's Children by Charles Stross - a fast-moving space opera, read my amazon.com review here.
Life Sucks by Jessica Abel , Gabe Soria, and Warren Pleece - a graphic novel about vampires, read my amazon.com review here.
Dark Watcher by Lilith Saintcrow - fantasy involving witches, not a whole heck of a lot of plot and the characters are somewhat cardboard; it's there mostly for the romance, which itself is pretty lightweight. An easy read, but not something I'd drive out of my way to find.
1001 Books for Every Mood by Hallie Ephron - an interesting annotated list, read my amazon.com review here.

Thanks for checking out those Amazon.com reviews, friends! Keep the Yes buttons clicking!
bunrab: (alien reading)
First, stuff:
[livejournal.com profile] fadethecat, did you already know that the Maker Faire will be Oct. 10-12 at the Travis County Expo Center? Now you know. I suspect you will want to attend.

Then, some books:
I Love Knitting - Amazon.com review here though this was short enough to hardly count as reading.
Judge by Karen Traviss - Amazon.com review here - sixth and final in her Wess'har series. It's OK but not great science fiction; those of you in places outside the US and UK, you won't be unduly deprived of any great literature if the series never makes it to your distant shores.
I think I already mentioned Kluge, right? That was fun.
Take the Cannoli by Sarah Vowell - musings by a public radio commentator on modern American life. Eh. Some were amusing - the essay about what she learned from being in high school marching band, for instance; others, including the title essay, struck me as self-absorbed and shallow.

I have most of the mugs hung up in the kitchen! I have some pictures hung on the walls! I can see more floor space than I could a week ago! I still have a bunch more curtains to make, though, to replace what was here, most of which is definitely not to my taste. I've gotta take some pictures of the living room, now that it looks halfway like it should.

More about travel:
Found a bunch of my receipts and stuff from trip to Europe. The place where we ate the last night in Vienna was Cafe Bierbeisl Einstein, which I found the take-out service card from, which does have its own website: http://www.einstein.at . They have phone-in take-out, though I doubt you can get delivery here. And a souvenir picture of [livejournal.com profile] squirrel_magnet from Postojna Caves - once we get the new scanner/copier/printer plugged in, I'll scan it for your viewing pleasure. And postcards from Schonbrunn Castle. And hotel receipts, and my receipt from the internet cafe in Pula, Croatia, and some scribbled notes that I need to match up to their proper photographs.

Stuff: our old copier died - well, it was over 10 years old and a cheap one to begin with, and had done excellent duty for something so small and cheap (I used to pick it up by its little handle and drag it to quilting classes with me, which made me a very popular attendee). We could have waited for a while to buy something new, as the old scanner still works, sort of, and the old printer still works, though slowly, but this was on way-marked-down, instant-rebate, net price $50 for the whole thing. Even if it turns out to be junk that breaks in a year, that's about the price per year we'd be willing to pay for such a unit. So when that gets plugged in, a whole bunch o' old-fashioned printed photos are gonna get scanned!
bunrab: (alien reading)
Crime fiction:
Holy Moly by Ben Rehder - Read my Amazon.com review here. (And clicky the helpful Yes button, plz.) Latest in his Game Warden John Marlin series, set in Texas.
Cockatiels at Seven by Donna Andrews - Read my Amazon.com review here. Latest in her Meg Lanslow series, and not as funny as the previous ones.

Science Fiction and Fantasy:
Sky Horizon by David Brin - Read my Amazon.com review here. Ick - young adult, full of teenage angst, highly improbable alien attitude.
From Dead to Worse by Charlaine Harris - latest in her Sookie Stackhouse series. I didn't review it on Amazon.com because 152 people had already done so. I actually liked it better than many of the reviewers did, though - I liked that it had numerous different plot threads, and a lot of ongoing issues were resolved, though by no means all of them - things were neatened up considerably, so that we can start in on some new plots next volume. Spoiler: Bob the cat finally gets turned back into a human.
bunrab: (alien reading)
Besides the Manga Shakespeare, I picked up another graphic thingy from the library - Opera Adaptations, Vol. 2 by P. Craig Russell. A mixed bag - I hated the way he interpreted "Parsifal" - he made it all about the rejections instead of the quest. The Mahler songs were depressing in any event, and graphics made them no less so. I am not familiar with "Ariane and Bluebeard" so it made no sense to me. "Pagliacci" was the last thing in the book - and it was done quite well! All the sly nastiness, all the misunderstandings that each character encourages among the others, were brought out. The characters looked just right to me.

Funny Ladies: The New Yorker's Greatest Women Cartoonists And Their Cartoons by Liza Donnelly. Reviewed on Amazon.com and as ever, please click the little Yes button.

How to Talk About Books You Haven't Read by Pierre Bayard. I took this off the library's new-books shelf, and only later noticed that the author was a ::shudder:: French intellectual. I decided after that, that it would be best if I read it as though the author intended it to be an elaborate academic joke, done deadpan. Bayard mentions near the beginning Paul Valéry's contention that knowledge of the author is of no importance in understanding the text (a standard Deconstructionist claim) and at first Bayard seems to dismiss Valéry's claim, but then he turns around and goes further, saying, in effect, that knowledge of the text is of no importance in understanding the text! This seems to be based on two premises, neither of which seems that closely related to me, and neither of which I agree with: (1) What is important about a book is not its text, but only its relationship to all other books in the universe; as long as you know what that relationship is, you don't need to actually read the book (but if no one actually reads any of them, how the hell would we know its relationship?) and (2) As long as someone, somewhere, has read the book and found meaning in it, that's all the meaning you need to know (but if you don't read the book, how the hell would you understand whatever meaning someone else found in it?) Anyway. I'm glad I decided to read it as a joke, because otherwise this would have me starting another screeching rant about Deconstructionism.
bunrab: (Default)
Since we are staying at Jerry & Kathy's rather than out in Oak Hill, we can use Jerry's computer when he's not using it - thank you!! So I have access to a regular desktop on occasion instead of teeny laptop. Not that I have that much to say, but hey.

Anyway. So far so good on estate sale. I haven't been much help - I think I've been asleep more than I've been awake the last few days, and by the end of the day we haven't felt up to going out and eating dinner with friends, so if you (any-you) are wondering why we haven't called you, that's why. Today is the last day of the estate sale, and [livejournal.com profile] squirrel_magnet is out there now, helping do things like load people's purchases onto their pickup trucks. A lot of the furniture got sold yesterday - doesn't look like there will be too much large stuff left that we will have to have hauled off.

Brief bit of book: I have added a review of The Surgeons at Amazon.com - that's The Surgeons: Life and Death in a Top Heart Center by Charles R. Morris. It's essentially the same review I already did on my other blog, but now it's on amazon and it needs your little clickies on the "yes" button.

Reading while I'm down here in Texas: Magic Bites by Ilona Andrews - already has 81 reviews on amazon so it doesn't need me there. It's a new fantasy series, a few novel ideas in it and occasional touches of humor. If Harry Dresden were female and lived in Atlanta, this might be how he turned out. In fact, there's a character in the book who reminds me a bit of a cross between Harry and his friend Michael. The main supernatural series are shapeshifters and -not vampires, but people who control vampires; the vampires themselves are pretty much dumb bodies that get manipulated by necromancers of sorts - remote control bloodsuckers. It's not superb fiction, but good enough that I'll go ahead and read the next one in the series, which I think just came out.
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Read A. Lee Martinez' newest, The Automatic Detective - the review should be up at Amazon.com within a couple hours. Funny book.

Added a review at Amazon.com of A Guinea Pig's History of Biology, which I mentioned here a couple days ago.

As always, much appreciated if you go look at the reviews and click the little "Yes" buttons.
bunrab: (alien reading)
Bedlam, Bath and Beyond by J.D. Warren - reviewed on Amazon.com here. Not nearly as silly as the title might lead you to believe. More urban fantasy than romance.
Cravings - anthology of 4 novellas in the supernatural romance vein, a couple years old but somehow I missed it when it came out. The Laurell Hamilton is an Anita Blake of the worst sort - gee, should I have sex with Nthaniel? Maybe with Micah and Nathaniel at the same time? Oh, and Damien too? And fantasize about Richard while it's going on? Ick. Completely lacking in any semblence of a plot, and for that matter, completely lacking in any romance. The MaryJanice Davidson story is good - it's a peripheral addition to the Betsy the Vampire Queen series, taking place in between Undead and Unwed and Undead and Unemployed. Now that we have later books in the series, it's sort of eerie to briefly meet Marjorie the Librarian. We also get a peek at the Fiends while they're still living with Sinclair and Betsy:
" 'They're like puppies... they roll in everything.'
'Sure,' Andrea said, humoring the woman. Puppies. Undeniably evil puppies with foul dispositions and the appetites of rabid, starving tigers. All righty. "

Eileen Wilks' "Originally Human" had its amusing moments, and our witch heroine seems like an interesting character. It's always nice to run into an author who can think of an FBI agent being a member of a coven, and a lawyer-sorcerer who is only incidentally a werewolf. The Rebecca York story, "Burning Moon," was different - very much a murder mystery first, supernatural romance second. Werewolf hero, blind psychic heroine. I've already gone ahead and purchased one of the novels in the series that this story is part of - stay tuned.

And a couple Regency romances and knitting books - no surprises there.

We are, incidentally, back home in Balto. Still tons of mail and stuff to catch up on. Trying to see where all my lists are at. Have only read the last couple of days worth of my flist posts, because trying to catch up on a few weeks would be impossible - I'd fall further behind faster. [livejournal.com profile] squirrel_magnet made it down to Arlington for the last two days of the Army Band Tuba-Euphonium Conference - and came home Saturday night with a new tuba. Our house is a bit small to have two tubas on the living room floor along with several saxophones... it's a very nice tuba; perhaps he will even write his very own post about it.

Our approximate schedule: home in Balto. for all of February; back to Austin for the first week in March, then Balto. for the rest of March and the first two weeks of April; Austin for the last two weeks of April, back to Balto. by April 30 or earlier. Possibly one more trip to Austin after that. The estate sale will be the third or fourth weekend in April; after that, W's house will get listed and sold, and that may require us to be in Austin for the closing. Don't know yet. Anyway, so for February I will attempt to keep current on everything. Ha!

Oh - CRS, The Deep arrived! Thank you, thank you! Googly-eyed glass squid!

Now to go pay some bills.
bunrab: (Vlad)
Knit Kimono by Vicki Squares - yes, this is a book to read, not just knitting patterns. Reviewed at Amazon here.

A Year Without "Made in China" by Sara Bongiorni. Subtitled "one family's true life adventure in the global economy." Amusing. They didn't quite manage to actually get through the year without buying anything made in China, both because Chinese stuff sneaks into other products in insidious ways, and because they have young children.

A Wrongful Death by Kate Wilhelm - latest in her Barbara Holloway series. In the previous volume, I had gotten impatient with Barbara for her endless dithering/whining about her relationships and her career; apparently, the author did too, because in this book Barbara sees a shrink and gets some stuff straightened out. Meanwhile, the mystery plot is good, and it's on the timely topic of medical prostheses.

We got the Christmas tree undecorated and folded up and boxed, but didn't manage to get it back to the storage unit, so the living room floor is a bit crowded at the moment. For some reason, we have the antique button accordion in its case, which Squirrel Magnet has been carrying around from house to house for years, in the living room, as well. And his City of Austin departmental fire warden's cap is on the sofa. I'm not sure how this stuff manages to get into our everyday space so easily. Library books, I understand.

Yesterday we went to the American Visionary Art Museum, for Cindy's birthday. My impression of "visionary art" for a while now has been "stuff made by people who hear voices" and nothing we saw there contradicted that impression. You know, pictures that god told them to draw and to write all over. Some people seemed to be channeling George Washington, King George III, and Jesus simultaneously. Many who had OCD. Fascinating stuff, but - people who hear voices in their heads.

We will be headed back to Texas on Wednesday. We'll be checking email while we're there. We'll be coming back Thursday the 31st. The pet sitter is already looking forward to it - she loves giving the chinchillas their dust bath! And Cindy will be dropping in as well, to play with little Vlad. (That's him in my icon.)

When we get back, I *promise*, pictures of Vlad, and of my latest completed knitting and crochet projects.


Jan. 17th, 2008 01:13 am
bunrab: (alien reading)
A couple of knitting books. (One reviewed at Amazon.com here.)

A Larry-Niven-and-somebody collaboration that was supposed to fill in some of the gaps in Known Space - "200 years before Ringworld!" - it was so full of clumsy retconning and had so many distortions of Nessus' personality, along with some improbable captive-bred humans, that I didn't finish it.

Charles Stross - Halting States. Um, cyberpunk murder mystery gamer fantasy spy thriller. A little heavy on the gamer stuff, but not unintelligibly so. [livejournal.com profile] fadethecat, you may want to give this one a peek. Our heroes are a Python programmer with a checkered past, a forensic accountant (female) with a serious sword habit, and a lesbian Detective Sargeant with a strong enough Scottish accent that I had some trouble interpreting at first.

Um, a bunch of back issues of Ellery Queen mystery magazine.

Oh, Falling Behind: How Rising Inequality Harms the Middle Class by Robert Frank. Liberal economist, those who like Juliet Schor should like Frank also; makes a case for a progressive consumption tax which he rounds up some conservative support for also. A book that gives one something to think about, without being so heavy or academic that you give up with a sneer about economists.


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