supercheesegirl: (books - Matisse reading lady)
Sneaking in one last book post for 2009--I finished it on Wednesday but just hadn't posted it yet, so it counts for 2009, I swear! F bought this book because he heard it was really good and really sexy, and I saw it on his shelf and stole it before he could read it. Read more... )
supercheesegirl: (sandman - delirium)
My mom gave me a copy of Blueberry Girl for Christmas. It's not really the kind of book one can buy for oneself. It's really beautifully illustrated and sweet.
supercheesegirl: (poetry - it's crazy!)
I've been working on this issue of Sentence FOREVER it seems like. But now I have read the whole thing except for the long feature essay in the middle about the prose poem in Italy. I am still getting to know the prose poem in the US, yo.

The specifics )

Overall, I liked the last issue of Sentence that I read (#4) better than this one. But it's still worthwhile reading.
supercheesegirl: (books - hero and the crown)
I was so excited to find an Ursula Le Guin book at the library that I hadn't read. This novel was... I can't decide. Very compelling, but very dark. I feel like I had more questions after finishing the book than I did before. Read more... )

Not my favorite of Le Guin's, but I'm glad I read it. Worth tracking down for the hardcore fan.
supercheesegirl: (books - reading addict)
Last book in the trilogy! I have to say, I really enjoyed this series. Stirling can go off sometimes on the battles and swordfights, or even just the lovely countryside of Oregon, but I just skim through that stuff. As annoying as some of the characters are, I still found their annoying little habits endearing. I was sad to see one major character die at the end of this book, but it did seem like something Stirling's been building up to over the course of the series.

It looks like Rudi's going to grow up into his very own trilogy and be the male Mary Sue character that Mike Havel was in this trilogy. I think that's okay, because I really kind of like Rudi. I don't know when or if I'll go on to the next trilogy, but I am interested in seeing what Rudi finds out in Nantucket, so maybe.
supercheesegirl: (poetry - it's crazy!)
This book is really amazing. It's really sad, because Gilbert wrote it after the death of his wife, and since there are few things I worry about more than F's untimely death, it was a difficult book for me to read. But the poems are incredibly beautiful and incredibly moving. Highly, highly recommended.

Here's one of my favorites. )
supercheesegirl: (princess jasmine)
F and I watched the movie of Howl's Moving Castle not long ago, and F had never read the book, so I made him read it, and then I wanted to read it again. I was surprised at how much of the story in the book I hadn't remembered. I think this time around I was able to detach from the movie a little more and appreciate the story for itself.

I still think Diana Wynne Jones ends her books five pages too soon. I would have liked to see Sophie get more than five minutes of happiness at the end. I finish a Wynne Jones book and have to sit there for a while imagining all the nice things that undoubtedly happen next.

I think it would be a really neat exercise for a teacher to do this book with middle schoolers or high schoolers and then do the movie. In some ways they're the same story, but in other ways they're completely different.
supercheesegirl: (sandman - delirium)
This was fun. I haven't read that many Discworld novels, but I picked this one up because of the obvious ancient Egypt connection. It was really entertaining, and I enjoy Pratchett's sense of humor. Still, though, I found myself rushing through some parts to find out what happened. Not that it was slow moving, but still. I don't know that I'll be declaring my Pratchett fandom any time soon, although he's nice on occasion.
supercheesegirl: (indy - rare antiquities)
I really enjoyed this sharp little biography of Augustine. I've read more than the average person about Augustine's life, and have read the biography by Peter Brown (a renowned Augustine researcher), but I think it was really valuable to read an account by someone who is specifically a writer, not a historian or philosopher or religious scholar.

Wills does a good job of evoking life in late antiquity and gearing his approach towards the layman rather than the academic--Peter Brown's biography of Augustine is much more in-depth, but a bit harder to read, as Brown delves more closely into religious theory. The strength of Wills's work is that it's written clearly and gives the reader a good understanding of what Augustine was all about in under 200 pages. The book is an excellent introduction to Augustine's life and works; Wills discusses the works themselves but also strives to put those works in the context of Augustine's life, his place in the world, and the world events (like the fall of Rome) that influenced them.

I definitely feel that I have a clearer picture of Augustine as a man. Also, Wills has given me a wealth of useless little details about northern Africa, as well as possibilities about the life of Augustine's concubine. Wills really tries to imagine her life and gives Augustine's work a close reading to look for hidden details about her, which is really interesting and useful to me. I have a better window into her world now.
supercheesegirl: (yoga - cute lotus sunburst)
I decided that for the purposes of this blog reading Yoga Journal counts as reading a book. (It actually took me longer to read this issue than it does to read some books!) I bought this issue of Yoga Journal at the co-op after eyeing it for a few days. It was really great to do some good yoga reading, really got me excited about yoga and about making progress towards my goals. I think I want to subscribe for next year (in which case ten issues will count towards ten books for the year, but as mentioned, I'm okay with that.)

My favorite article was the one about yoga books. My goodreads list and my amazon wishlist are now exploding with yummy yoganess!
supercheesegirl: (books - narnia lucy)
This book was a surprise--I wasn't expecting it to be so captivating. Ren is a 12-year-old orphan at St. Anthony's, longing to have a real home and family. One day a mysterious man comes to the orphanage and claims Ren is his long-lost brother. But is Benjamin who he says he is, and can Ren trust him?

Although the protagonist is young, I'm not sure I would consider this a YA novel--there's a lot of really dark stuff that goes on here. Theft, murder, grave robbing, dissection, dismemberment, all kind of things. Maybe that's part of why it's such a captivating book--Ren lived such a sheltered life (not an easy life, but a sheltered one), and then he's thrown into the big dark world. How he navigates it and learns who he is makes for a great story.
supercheesegirl: (y tu mama - beach)
I first discovered Freya Stark in the travel writing class Heather and I took a few years ago--our professor photocopied a couple chapters of one of her books, and I remember being more intrigued with her than with anyone else we'd read--possibly because there were so few other women on the syllabus, but largely because of her poise, charm, humor, and sense of adventure. In this book, Stark didn't let me down.

In the early 1930s, Stark, a single British woman, traveled through southern Arabia alone, visiting country that few other Europeans had seen, particularly few women. This might sound incredibly dangerous, and it probably was, but Stark was helped along by her passion for Arabic history and her genuine interest in the people she met (as well as near fluency in Arabic, as far as I can tell). She befriends bedouins and sheiks alike, as well as their women (with the women she tends to rely on a natural love of fashion, which endears her to just about every harem she encounters, and she often comes away with gifts of beautiful clothes). Unfortunately, Stark's travels are beset by illness: she comes down with the measles, and though she recovers, she's later struck with heart troubles and has to be rescued by the R.A.F. Her biggest concern is the fact that she won't be the first European to explore the ruined city she wants to get to. She has more fortitude than many travel writers I've read (but she still travels with face cream!).

Some quotes... )

I should admit that this was a difficult book to get through, and it took me a few weeks. I think this is because the language is so rich, and because it is true travel writing: not just the story of one person's journey, but a real picture of a place and a time and the people who lived there and how they lived. It's all the richer for that. I highly, highly recommend Freya Stark, and I'm looking forward to finding more of her work soon.
supercheesegirl: (books - hero and the crown)
I liked this one less than the first one. It was still a good adventure with interesting plot twists and funny lines, but I absolutely hated the way Bink's wife Chameleon got dropped out of the story. She was portrayed as smart and interesting (well, at least some of the time) in the first book, and now because she's married and pregnant she suddenly becomes an obstacle to be avoided. Bink wasn't even there for the birth of their child, he just wanted to get away, and he ends up kissing some nymph (under a love potion, so it's not *really* like cheating, right?) while his wife is miserable and pregnant with a child she didn't even want. I am officially annoyed.

And the description on the back of book 3 sounds awful. It sounds like Bink's son grows to be 12 years old and starts using magic to get some tail.* OK, I think I'm done with the Piers Anthony experiment.


*Which I mean euphemistically, not literally, because hey, the way I phrased this originally could mean he was trying to grow an actual tail. That I wouldn't have minded.
supercheesegirl: (books - hero and the crown)
I've never read any Piers Anthony before, surprisingly, but Mike from the Art Department dropped off a boxed set of the first three Xanth books, so I thought I'd give it a shot. This book was kind of silly, really fun, and actually a pretty solid fantasy novel. Yes, it was published in 1977, and it shows, particularly in the hero's treatment of and thoughts about women (that a woman can't be both pretty and smart, and he doesn't trust any women who are), but even so, there are still interesting and creatively-written female characters. I'm planning to start the next one today. It seems like this is a pretty long-running series with a lot of books, so I'm interested to see if Anthony will eventually introduce a female heroine and what he'll do with her.
supercheesegirl: (poetry - it's crazy!)
Inspired by last night's orchestra concert, I immediately pulled out my copy of Browning's Sonnets from the Portuguese as soon as I got home. I have a really odd little illustrated hardback copy of this, but it's really lovely. I had not read these through in a long time. Browning's sonnets are just wonderful. They feel so real and so vivid to me.
supercheesegirl: (book - medieval)
This is just a tiny little volume, but I've been working on it off and on for a few weeks now. I'm returning to my St. Augustine poetry project, thanks to some inspiration from F, and this has been on my shelf waiting to be read as research for quite a few years now. Only a few passages were pertinent to what I'm doing, and much of that I'd read before (in the Confessions), but it was still really interesting to see Augustine's take on these issues, and consider how times have changed since 400 AD, and where I agreed with him and where I didn't. Augustine's opinions here basically constitute the foundation of the Catholic church's position on marriage, and having had that imposed on me for 12 years of Catholic school, I was really intrigued to see where that came from, and what Augustine was arguing against when he came up with these positions.

In his writings, Augustine looks back to biblical times and notes that people like Abraham had a different tradition and thought of marriage in one way, but by Augustine's day times had changed and people thought of marriage in a different way. I found myself wondering what Augustine would have thought of our modern world and how he would judge us. Stuff that might well end up in a poem at some point, so, nice.
supercheesegirl: (poetry - it's crazy!)
I would give this book three and a half stars, I think. The poems are lovely, and many of them really touched me, but as a whole collection I didn't completely fall in love with it. Which, I mean, this book won the Pulitzer, so maybe I should have tried harder. But I did really love many of the poems. "Old Dogs", "What Goes On", Optimism", Androgyne", Simpler Times", "Our Parents", "Empathy"--OK, I haven't even flipped halfway through the book and already I have tons to list, so apparently I really did love the poems.

Here's one I really liked: Read more... )
supercheesegirl: (books - cute reading)
This might qualify as my favorite Alice Hoffman novel. It's full of sadness and grief and struggle, but it's also a really beautiful story and includes the possibility of redemption for at least some of the characters. It also goes really fast: I meant to read only the first few pages but suddenly I was halfway through and not really sure how it happened. Very captivating, very beautiful.
supercheesegirl: (muppet *headpiano*)
I can't for the life of me remember why this book was on my list or where I heard about it. Sadly, it was kind of a crappy book. Read more... )
supercheesegirl: (books - cute reading)
Inspired by reading Mrs. Pollifax, Innocent Tourist (and pretty much couch-bound for a couple of days), I decided to reread the book that started it all! The Unexpected Mrs. P is by far my favorite in the series, the book where Mrs. Pollifax first follows through on her lifelong ambition to become a spy, surprising herself with her courage and fortitude and resourcefulness. The other books are good, of course, and Mrs. P is often surprised by the events and people she encounters in her travels, but the first book is really the only book where she's surprised by herself. This was a good book to reread.

(It's also a good being-sick book: Mrs. Pollifax can make anyone feel stronger!)

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