supercheesegirl: (books - bookworm)
Wow, I just realized tonight (while doing my yoga) that I never did an end-of-2006 reading post. And I like doing that. So here are my thoughts on what I read in 2006.

Read more... )
supercheesegirl: (books - bookworm)
I like Diana Wynne Jones, and this looked good when I saw it for cheap at Atlantic Book Warehouse, so I picked it up. What I didn't realize is that it's like book 5 in a series (the Chrestomanci books), so that was a little disappointing. It stood pretty well on its own, but I could tell I was missing a lot of stuff. I would consider reading the earlier books in the series, though, because it's an interesting universe. But the ending of this one was kind of bewildering, and I'm not sure if it was because of the series thing or just the way this book is. Oh well.

Apparently my flight to Denver is still on. I'll be arriving at the airport around 4:00, so we'll see what happens.
supercheesegirl: (books - bookworm)
This was okay. I read it on the train yesterday morning. I probably would have liked it a lot more when I was 12; it wasn't really the kind of YA fiction that is still excellent after you grow up. It was good, Jane Yolen is usually good, but nothing spectacular.
supercheesegirl: (fred - bibliophiliac)
Leave it to me to read a nice, cheery book about Vlad the Impaler on Christmas. This was actually a really neat novel--sort of DaVinci Code-like, in that our heroes have to search through centuries-old clues to track down the truth, and sort of like Bram Stoker's Dracula, in that a lot of the narrative is told through letters and correspondence. And of course it was left rather open-ended. It was a cool book, albeit a very large book, so I'm glad I was able to finish it today and not have to carry it on the train!

...and that makes 115 books for the year. Anything after this is just icing on the cake.
supercheesegirl: (books - reading girl)
My friend Jean at work lent me this. It was totally fun! It deals with the adventures of Thursday Next, literary detective, as she tries to find Jane Eyre, who has been kidnapped from her book. I liked the time travelly bits, and of course the fun bookish stuff. The bookworms were awesome. Unfortunately I read this book almost entirely on the train, so I couldn't look up the various literary and historical tidbits to see what was actually true and what was just true in the novel's universe. (Like, I got the Winston Churchill joke, but I don't know when King Harold died.) But it made me want to look things up, instead of just getting annoyed, so it gets points for that. I would totally read more of Fforde's books. Heather, tell me more!

PS. This is book #114 for the year! I'll be satisfied if I read one more book before New Year's to round things out, but I think I'm likely to read more than that. We'll see. I am a bit peeved though because almost everything in my current To Read pile is gigantic and hardback. No good for the train, but I'll have to make do. Ooh, but there will be Christmas books!! My To Read pile is going to be huge soon! Lots of options! Books are great!
supercheesegirl: (books - reading girl)
This book was excellent. I love GGK. Although I got really weirded out at the end: I was reading on the train, and the last chapter ends on a cliffhanger--one of two characters dies and you don't know which one--and I had gotten halfway through the epilogue, which at first leads you to believe that it's one character who died, and then my train arrived and so I walked all the way out to my car being sad for that guy and his lady, and then I got in the car and started reading again (two pages, yo, I had to finish) and discovered that it was in fact the other guy who had died! And I had gotten used to the fact that it was the one guy and not the other, and it was hard to adjust. ANYWAY, a really great book, based on the history of Spain and how it was occupied by the Muslims. GGK writes psuedo-historical fiction brilliantly. Maybe I should try that, since god knows I can't come up with an original plot all by myself.

I think it would be cool to live on a planet that has two moons.

David called me tonight. It was good to talk to him. He's doing really well. Unfortunately I have not yet finished writing out my Christmas cards because I spent 45 minutes on the phone with him. Argh.

Oh! Oh oh! I got a present in the mail from Chrysta today!! She sent me awesome Buffy stuff! Three buttons (I heart Buffy, Joss is Boss, and my favorite, the little female restroom sign girl holding a stake--I guess she'd be on the door of the little Slayers' room?), and an Angel Investigations magnet, and the Serenity comic! Chrysta is Teh Awesome. I totally wasn't expecting a present from her, and it absolutely made my day. Thank you, Chrysta!
supercheesegirl: (books - reading girl)
Finally! I've been lugging this around in hardback for over two weeks!

All "finallys" aside, this book was really excellent. Marquez is a master storyteller, and his own life story is no exception. Marquez writes himself so well that I totally want to make out with him--the 28-year-old version that's in the book or the current one who's in his 70s, I wouldn't really care. This book is supposedly the first in a trilogy, and I would definitely read the rest. He writes his own life like he writes his novels, and it's lovely.

He talks a lot about the friends of his youth and also about the politics of Colombia during that time, and he was the oldest of 11 children, and everyone has three or more names usually involving Jose or Maria in there somewhere, so I got confused a lot about who was doing what. Also some of the politicians he actually knew at the time and some he knew later and some were just big names that everyone knew, so that added to my confusion. This was a problem I had when I read that Teresa of Avila biography too, that all the names blended together for me so I didn't know who was who. But I think that's more my problem than Marquez's, because he's just so charming, and he really does try to specify repeatedly who people are. You can tell he just sticks it in when he randomly remembers to, too.

I like the rambly style of the book; I like his little asides to the present time, when he says things like "And she never knew about that, not until she read the draft of this book" or he goes on to describe the sordid futures of his siblings who in the narrative are still only three years old. I even like how he jumps back and forth in time--he starts the story when he's 23, talks about a journey with his mother, then goes back to his childhood and blends that into the journey, eventually bringing us from the childhood up to the time of the journey and past it, really seamlessly.

Overall, it's a beautiful book. It's not an easy book, but what Marquez book is? It's worth reading, and worth struggling through. And of course it makes me want to read more Marquez.
supercheesegirl: (books - petals)
Fritz mailed me this book as a surprise, which means he is MY ABSOLUTE FAVORITE. For at least a while, and it's highly possible he may win the My Absolute Favorite of 2006 award as well. He sent me books! Just because they were there and he loves me! (Well, also because he found them after packing all his other books, but he could have given them to a friend nearby or sold them to a used bookstore or something, but instead he put them in a box and shipped them to me, and that makes him awesome.)

Anyway, this book was so amazingly good and beautifully written. I think that Heather and Sarah Farbo and Grassy Amy and possibly Amy L and De should all read this book, but the rest of you are all encouraged to check it out as well. So gorgeous. The words just drip off the page like liquid love.

Although I have to admit I'm upset by the ending. Read more... )
supercheesegirl: (books - bookworm)
These stories can't be considered fantasy or sci fi, which makes them a little different from most of the Le Guin I've read. They take place in an imaginary country, but it's a country that's very much affected by what's going on around it, world events--a lot of the stories take place around World War II, and the stories set in the 1950s and 1960s always seem to have a dictator and a military presence in the country. It was originally published in 1976, so I guess all of that was still fresh in her mind as she wrote. Orsinia feels very eastern european to me, and so it's a much more political book than I think I've seen from Le Guin, or rather, political in a different way. That's not to say that these weren't good stories, or that I didn't enjoy them. The characters in this book are always struggling against poverty and oppression and just the weight of living where they live, but they hang on to hope and fall in love and keep trying anyway. Only one character reappeared in a second story--fifty years later, we see his grandson, and we find out how the grandfather died, and I keep remembering that, and thinking about the hope and joy that he had in his youth, and it bothers me to think about how he died later and what happened to his grandson too. In spite of the hope he had and the big plans he still met a bad end, and because he didn't escape like he'd wanted to, his grandson had to grow up a citizen of this country, and you could just tell at the end of the grandson's story that this family will keep going on the same way, they'll never get away. And that made me wonder what Le Guin had in mind for the rest of the characters--because you know she knows what happened to them, any good writer would, and I don't think many of them found real happy endings. I don't know, this was a hard book; it kept dragging the characters down into a really harsh reality. I don't come to Le Guin for reality. But the stories are fictional gems, honestly, every one of them just really good writing, and for that I have to recommend this book anyway, even though it's not my favorite of hers by far. She's just so amazingly *good*, she should write VCR instructions, seriously.
supercheesegirl: (books - bookworm)
Mitch Albom has once again succeeded in creating a schlocky but poignant story. I liked Tuesdays with Morrie and Five People You Meet In Heaven better, but this definitely wasn't bad. Which I can say without guilt, because I didn't choose to read this book; my mother asked me to read it. I would never, never read Mitch Albom unless it was at her request. Never. Really.

... Okay, fine, I kind of like Mitch Albom. With the same part of me that also kind of likes J Lo and stupid romantic comedies and hanging up Christmas decorations while listening to Bing Crosby. Albom doesn't pretend to be great literature, and his stories have a charming simplicity that I really enjoy. If teary emotional books must be read (and sometimes they must), I'd rather it be Albom than Nicholas Freakin' Sparks or Anita Goddamn Shreve. I hate them both intensely, because I feel like both Sparks and Shreve are milking their audience, wringing out all the emotion they possibly can, thinking to themselves as they write, "Now what could make this worse? Ah, Alzheimer's! I'm BRILLIANT!" And they make lots of money doing it, and good for them, but I think Albom is more worthwhile reading. Sparks and Shreve suck you dry, but Albom actually gives you something back. His books always have something heartwarming and nice that even while you're tearing up makes you glad to be alive and wanting to go find some rainbows and then hug your mom. Not enough books do that. I don't begrudge him the money he's made.
supercheesegirl: (books - narnia lucy)
I spotted this in hardback for $3.98 at Atlantic Book Warehouse on Friday and I had to buy it. Peter Beagle also wrote The Last Unicorn and Tamsin, two of my favorite books, so I was excited to see this. This book is completely unrelated to The Last Unicorn; it has entirely different unicorns in it. It also wasn't as good as the other two--I think that's possibly because it's written for a younger audience? The other two books are certainly YA, don't get me wrong, but this one could absolutely be appropriate for even younger kids. It's got some beautiful illustrations, and there's almost no violence in it. It's a less complicated story, kind of like The Wizard of Oz, only with unicorns instead of midgets and minus the witch. Overall, a beautiful and well-written book, and recommended to Beagle fans, but if you're new to Beagle's work I recommend The Last Unicorn or Tamsin first.
supercheesegirl: (books - petals)
Contrary to what you might think, this book was not about Dann Brown. It was about a different Dann, and his sister Mara. Kind of a neat book--it takes place several thousand years in the future, during the next Ice Age. I've heard of Doris Lessing for a long time but this is the first of her books that I've read, and I'm kind of surprised at what it was like and how much I liked it. Definitely a good book--it held my attention for a five-hour plane flight. I finished it just as we landed in Phoenix Friday night. I really liked the way it ended--Read more... )
supercheesegirl: (narnia - mermaid)
Okay, I love Alice Walker. I think she's absolutely phenomenal. This book is a collection of essays she wrote in the 1960s and 1970s, about being a woman, being black, being a black woman, being a daughter and a mother. She also wrote about various writers, most of them some combination of black or female. Reading Walker makes me want to read more Walker; reading her also makes me want to dig out my Zora Neale Hurston, and also makes me want to start writing again myself. I very much admire Alice Walker. It took me a while to work through this collection, but it was definitely worth reading.
supercheesegirl: (books - reading girl)
I've now read two Alice Hoffman books this year. This happened completely by accident and not by design at all. I found The Probable Future on my mom's shelf and thought it looked good. This one, The Ice Queen, I got on sale somewhere. It has a yellow sticker on the front, so presumably it was on clearance. I think I liked this one better than the other. When our narrator was eight years old, she wishes she would never see her mother again, and her mother has a car accident and dies. Our narrator carries this guilt around with her for the next 30 years, building a wall of ice around her feelings. The book is about the events that melt her. Recommended.
supercheesegirl: (books - petals)
I actually finished this a few days ago but hadn't posted it yet. It's Ann Patchett's first nonfiction book, about her friendship with Lucy Grealy. Grealy wrote Autobiography of a Face, which I read this summer and which was incredibly, incredibly beautiful. Lucy and Ann met in grad school at Iowa and were best friends for 20 years, until Lucy died. Lucy had a lot of problems, but the depth of their love for each other really comes through in the book. It's not a book about writers - it's a book about women and friendship and about how sometimes you really can't save someone. Lovely and sad.
supercheesegirl: (books - star paper)
Jorn lent me this over the weekend, and it was a quick enough read that I got through it yesterday morning before brunch. I had heard of this book from my book arts teacher a few years ago, who used it as an example of, well, book art, and nontraditional novels. The story is told through the letters and cards of the two title characters. Both of them are artists who drew/painted their own postcards, so the art of the book lends a significant dimension to the story. Each letter is removable from the book--the letters are neatly folded and inserted into envelopes, which are attached to the pages. I liked the book but the ending wasn't spectacular. Which is why, I suppose, there are two sequels.
supercheesegirl: (books - reading girl)
This was a really fun book. Nonfiction, about a girl who quit her crap job as an editorial assistant to become a private investigator in New York City. She talks about the crazy clients she had to investigate, the crazy other investigators in her office, and also about how this job affected her personal life. Her writing is sassy, and the book is as much about being a twenty-something woman as it is about being a spy. You can totally borrow it if you want.
supercheesegirl: (misty mad)
Goddamnit. It ended just like Pirates of the Carribean 2. Big stupid cliffhanger. Read more... )
supercheesegirl: (books - narnia lucy)
I originally read this a few years ago (well, it was before 2005, at least) and really liked it. My mom got me the sequel last year, and I tried to read it but couldn't get into it because I couldn't remember who any of the characters were, so I decided to reread the first one. It's about a girl whose dad has a special power: when he reads from a book out loud, he can bring things out from the book into our world, and send things from our world into the book. And of course, the first time this power manifests itself, he's reading about a terrible villain...

This was book #100 for the year. I think I'll try for 115.
supercheesegirl: (books - petals)
I've been meaning to read this for a long time. I first heard of Aphra Behn in college, while I was taking a class on Jane Austen, because my Austen professor was a passionate Behn scholar and encouraged me to read her as well. I found the book at Edward McKay's back when I lived in Greensboro, and I've been carrying it around ever since; luckily, it's a skinny little volume.

That's the back story. This book was actually very cool. Aphra Behn (born in 1640) was the first Englishwoman to support herself with a writing career; she was a novelist and playwright as well as a spy and was supposedly bisexual. (I just went and looked up these facts about her, since if I had known them before I would probably have read the book sooner.) ANYWAY, it's a book about slavery and the human condition; a book about an African prince who is betrayed and sold into slavery, and how gallant and noble and brave he is. Definitely worth reading, and I want to read more of Behn's work and more about her own life as well.

I feel like I'm always reading trash--though I adore Mrs. Pollifax, she's hardly high literature, and I read a lot of YA and fantasy novels, which are fun, but not exactly challenging. Maybe I feel bad because I have been reading mostly for fun and not challenging my brain, or maybe I feel bad because I feel like classics are more work than fun. I was an English major, I should be joyously and ravenously devouring Dickens, not just drinking his cider. I have whole boxes of books I haven't read that are classics, and hauling them around and not reading them makes me feel like a schmo. Especially the collected D.H. Lawrence, which I sincerely doubt I will ever crack open no matter how ambitious I get--it's just too large and intimidating. And we won't even get started on the poetry books. But in the past two months I have started on Virginia Woolf; I've read Aphra Behn, and I've been working my way through a collection of Alice Walker essays, all of which make me feel like I'm doing *something* with my brain besides just feeding it fantasy stories. Not that fantasies don't have their place in a well-rounded book-diet; it's more that my book intake was not at all balanced, and I am trying to get it to a good place.

PS. The next book I read will be #100. I better pick a good one!

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