RebeccaAnn's Reading: Part Deux

Discussão75 Books Challenge for 2009

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RebeccaAnn's Reading: Part Deux

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Ago 2, 2009, 1:18 pm

Well, I think it's finally time for a new thread, so here it is. For those interested, here is part one of my challenge.

Happy reading!

Ago 2, 2009, 1:43 pm

got you stared!

Ago 2, 2009, 2:23 pm

Hey, got the new one starred as well!

Ago 2, 2009, 3:22 pm

Just getting you onto my 'your posts' page.

Ago 2, 2009, 7:27 pm

I've got you starred again. I don't comment much but a lurk a lot!

Ago 4, 2009, 12:08 am

Found you!

Editado: Ago 5, 2009, 11:23 pm


Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
Rating: 5/5

Wow. I can't even begin to explain how good this book was. But I'll try :P

For those who don't know the basic story, Pip is an orphan raised by his sister and her husband. One day at the age of seven, as he discovers the graves of his dead parents and siblings, he is threatened by a convict into stealing some food and a file to feed and free the man. Pip, frightened half to death, does as he is told.

Much later in life, he becomes suddenly wealthy at the hands of his benefactor, a person who's name he his not allowed to know. Assuming it to be Miss Havisham, the crazy old lady he's been visiting lately, as a scheme to make him a gentleman for her adopted daughter Estella, he leaves his old life, and the only people who have ever cared for him, thoughtlessly behind in pursuit of the old lady's beautiful daughter.

What a beautifully told story. Dickens's prose is near magical and, though definitely not modern, extremely easy to follow. I loved Pip, despite his horrid faults. He's arrogant and selfish, but that's the point. Dickens wrote about the tragedies he saw every day: people desiring material wealth at the expense of those around them, heartless people wanting only to hurt others, the taking for granted of beautiful friendships, the judgement of good people based on looks or wealth alone (hmm, this kind of sounds like today). Though Pip is the main character and the one who we are supposed to identify with the most, he embodies most of these traits. He is a truly flawed character that reminds me of most people I know. Through him, we make the same mistakes he does but we also learn as he learns. To judge Pip's character is to judge your own.

When Pip comes into his inheritance, he officially rises to a position higher than Joe, his sister's husband and the only one who loved him through most of his childhood. Pip becomes wealthy and educated, he starts to look down upon Joe's simple, blacksmith ways. He disregards Joe's feelings, hurting him terribly, because Joe does not fit into his new society. Joe embarrasses Pip so Pip will not stand his company. How many teenagers/young adults does this remind you of? Though most people treat it as a normal symptom of growing up (and I'll admit to being guilty of it myself), it's a real eye-opener to truly see the effects of one's thoughtless behavior. That's what this entire book is about: thoughtlessness. It is my belief that Dickens wanted people to think about others and to realize what is really important, and that's the people you share your life with. It's nice to have money, but money comes and goes. Your parents, siblings, children, aunts and uncles only have so much time before they're gone, so treasure them.

I admit that I'm a very materialistic person. It's gotten me into a lot of trouble financially and I'm not proud of my situation at the moment. I think it's fantastic that I found this book, focusing so much on moving away from materialistic wealth and towards true riches, at a second hand store for only $.10. Normally, when I finish a book, I put it back on the shelf. This one, however, I'm leaving out on my desk where I will see it everyday. Great Expectations will act as a reminder for me as to what kind of life I want to start living.

I don't think this review did this book justice, but I don't care. At the moment it's late and after finishing this book, I feel I need to have a long heart to heart with my mom.

Ago 6, 2009, 5:39 am

Just wanted to comment on your great exercise analogy in >252 of your last thread - which made SO much sense to me! Although I'm doing way too much in the category of "walking to the fridge to get another beer exercise" both in reading and IRL... shame it's not a review of anything as I'd love to give it a thumbs-up :)

Ago 7, 2009, 2:38 pm

>8 FlossieT::Hoo-boy do I understand not exercising! I've been working on making my life healthier for the past month or so (i.e. eating healthier, exercising, and getting down to a healthy weight) and I've come to learn that by nature, I am a lazy person. I really do not like getting up and moving around. I'm much more comfortable of the couch, immersed in a good book or one of my few TV shows. But I have a dog and I've been making myself walk her lately. Better for me and for my her :P

By the way, I just wanted to shoot a quick thank you to all of you who gave my review of Great Expectations a thumbs up and got me into the Hot Reviews section! It means a lot!

Ago 7, 2009, 3:05 pm

Congrat's Rebecca, it was an excellent review and I have added Great Expectations to me wish list.

I've been on a exercise/eat better kick lately too. I wonder if the summer has anything to do with it.
I vegetate during the winter and by April I know I've got to begin walking outside again. Good luck to all!

Ago 7, 2009, 4:30 pm

I am starting P90X this week. I am ready to die!

Ago 7, 2009, 5:05 pm

>9 RebeccaAnn: I've been working on the 'healthy weight' thing since the beginning of June and have had to accept that I am now definitely of the age where it is much, much harder to lose weight than it ever used to be :-( Having to be incredibly disciplined and the weight is taking sooooooo long to come off.

My mum laughed very hard when I said I thought I was naturally a lazy person and pointed out how busy I was - but I think there's a difference between what you're forced to do by circumstance and what your natural inclinations are. Given the choice, I'd rather flop in the garden with a book than join a game of football, for example.

My husband had a bright idea last week - suggested that if I spent as much time exercising as I do reading I would rapidly become super-fit... Since I'm not prepared to cut down my reading time at all, though, it would have to be step machines, stationary bikes, or other forms of exercise that you can do while reading - and I am just not cut out to be a gym bunny. Still, it was a great thought.

>10 Carmenere: Carmenere, the danger time of year for me is the transition from winter to spring: the weather heats up and I need fewer calories just to stay warm, but the regulation of my food intake to levels more appropriate for this always seems to lag behind, so I can easily put on quite a lot of pounds before I've sorted the situation.

Editado: Ago 7, 2009, 5:11 pm

>11 Huge_Horror_Fan:: I've never heard of P90X so I had to Google it and all I can say is: better you than me :P

Although I'll be interested to hear how it worked out (if you survive, that is :P ). I'm not at all in shape myself so I think I'll start off small (like just walking for an hour or so). I do Biggest Loser Cardio when the weather's bad and wow, what a butt-kicker. When I have money, I plan on purchasing Jillian Michael's 30 Day Shred. It looks perfect for those days when, for no explainable reason, you're just so full of energy you can't even read for more than a few minutes at a stretch ;-)

Ago 7, 2009, 5:18 pm

>12 FlossieT:: I abhor the gym. There's nothing worse than walking on a treadmill for an hour and going nowhere. This works in the summer. On the days I manage to get off my lazy butt, I can go for a walk or a bike ride with my dog to the dog park. Time flies and I don't realize I've worked out for an hour or two. Winter is horrible! There's only the gym or workout videos and when I do them, all I do is sit there, staring at the clock thinking 'Only forty more minutes to go!' 'Only thirty more minutes to go!' I rarely exercise in the winter becasue it's just so booooooriiiiing.

This means I tend to gain weight in the winter. For me, exercise is sort of a natural appetite suppresor so when I work out, I don't eat as much. Perfect for weight loss! On the other hand, when I don't work out, hello munchies! For the past five years (due to college, stress, and poor eating habits), I've gained a lot. My mom's been doing Weight Watchers and has lost nearly 50 pounds and kept it off for a few years now, so I thought I give it a try. It's a gradual program, which is nice since I have a lot more than 50 pounds to lose, and it doesn't cut out specific foods, just focuses mostly on portion control and integrating exercise into your daily life. It's been working for me so far and I've lost about 10 pounds. It's a great feeling and I just hope I can keep it up.

Ago 7, 2009, 5:31 pm

Actually, I'd rather use the treadmill. It's a good solid 45 minutes or an hour of reading for me while I walk! If I ran, it might be tougher to read, though.

Ago 7, 2009, 5:46 pm

I have a hard time reading while I walk. The treadmill's moving and I'm moving and the words are shaking and getting blurred. Not very productive.

That and I can't go very fast or I end up walking half on the strip of the treadmill that's moving and half on the frame which sends me flying off the darn thing. I have started listening to audiobooks and podcasts for when I go walking outside, though. It usually takes me about a week or two to finish an audiobook, so that's a good way for me to "read" books.

Ago 7, 2009, 6:29 pm

try getting an audio book and play it on your tape player, or CD player, or MP3, whatever while you walk. I finally figured out how to download books from my PC to my MP3 (thanks tutu) and I whipped through with no problem, I vacuumed, I worked in the kitchen , I did a lot more activity than I used to because I didn't want to stop reading and now I didn't have to. Audiobooks are great.

I think I might even get a dog just so I can walk it and read at the same time.

Ago 7, 2009, 8:18 pm

#12 Rachael said: My husband had a bright idea last week - suggested that if I spent as much time exercising as I do reading I would rapidly become super-fit...

But Rachael, you have a super-fit mind! That's important too.

#14 RebeccaAnn, you are so funny! lol. I ditto that.

Ago 8, 2009, 11:27 pm


The Dark Is Rising by Susan Cooper
Rating: 4/5

On Will Stanton's eleventh birthday, he receives one hell of a present. While most boys his age are getting toys and the occasional book, Will receives the ancient magic of the Old Ones. Now, he must fight against the Dark, for it is rising and Will is the Light's last hope.

I really enjoyed this book. It was fast-paced and exciting and the scenes with the Rider were just downright creepy. Cooper also did a fantastic job with the interactions between the siblings. Many of the scenes featuring the Stanton children had me cracking up and laughing out loud.

The only thing I didn't like about this book was the lack of character development. On of my favorite parts of fantasy novels is the growth of the main character from a floundering nobody to a fierce warrior and in this book, that was missing. Just by being the seventh son of a seventh son and reading a magic book, he learns and understands all there is to know about his powers. Since the Old Ones work outside of Time, this literally took less than a second to accomplish. There was no struggle or journey of any kind. It just kind of happened.

To be fair, though, I still really liked the book and didn't find it too hard to overlook this flaw, which is a credit to Cooper's skill as a writer. If you're a fan of fantasy, I'd definitely recommend reading this book.

Ago 8, 2009, 11:31 pm

>17 cyderry:: I actually have a subscription to which automatically puts my audiobooks into iTunes and therefore by iPod, so I already have my audiobooks with me when I walk. I really enjoy this. It makes exercise so much more enjoyable. I work in a library, so it's also nice to listen to my books when I'm shelving library books, dusting, or some other menial job. I also get through many more books this way. It's a win-win!

>18 Carmenere:: *blushes* I'm glad you think I'm funny! I always try to be humorous but most of the time, I just end up receiving very odd looks...

Ago 9, 2009, 10:17 am

Our library contracts with a company so we can download certain books directly into an MP3 player. They take the audio out of your account after your 2 weeks is up, but once it's on the player, you're on your honor to delete it when you've finished it. Then I listen at my leisure (usually during routine tasks at work). The more I hear/see, the more I appreciate what a fabulous library system we have in our county. I should send them some money...

Ago 13, 2009, 12:14 pm

13: Well RebeccaAnn, I am on the fourth day of the P90X program, I have to say that the program is extreme. I am the kind of person that does push ups and sit ups about 5 days a week for 40min with 20min cardio of some kind. It has been nothing to what this program has put me through so far. I would recommend starting off slow, before going into it, but if you want results, this program is a good bet.

The last three days have worked my body where I never thought possible. My muscles are so sore that any movement hurts. And I mean, ANY movement. It is a good pain though, because I know that it is working correctly. I am finding the program has very good timing on recovery by targeting different muscle groups each day. Even in the pain that I am I can still bring the best to each session, but it requires the correct mindset.

First day was chest, back and abs (mostly consisted of alternating between variation of pushups and chin ups, with some work with dumbbells)

Second day was Plyometrics, which completely destroyed me. No weights, but a lot of jumping, movement and squats. You don’t stop for 60min. It shredded my legs to a pulp.

Third day was shoulders, arms and abs. Main focus was mostly on variety of dumbbell exercises. It hurt good.

Today I have Yoga for about 1.5hrs. Tommorrow is legs, back and abs. Saturday is Kenpo. Sunday is a rest day, or you can do their stretching DVD. The same routine is going to continue for the first three weeks, out of the thirteen before it changes.

I am ready to scream for my mommy now, but I am ready to stick to it…;o)

Ago 13, 2009, 6:44 pm

>21 tloeffler:: That sounds fantastic! The only audiobooks my library has are those Rosetta ones you use to learn a different language. Boo...

>22 Huge_Horror_Fan:: Wow, that sounds...painful. But it seems like you're already in fairly good shape. Still, don't kill yourself! It would be lonely over on the horror threads without you!

Ago 13, 2009, 6:47 pm

My birthday's in five days and my lovely roommate bought be the Fagle's translation of Homer's The Iliad and The Odyssey! I have the book I'm reading right now, two biographies checked out from the library, and then I have to read The Hunchback of Notre Dame by Victor Hugo (because I borrowed it from said roommate and need to give it back at some point) before I can dig in, but it's definitely the best b-day present I've gotten in a long time!

If only I could get my parents to feed my book addiction...

Ago 14, 2009, 1:23 am

Congratulations - and happy birthday!

Ago 14, 2009, 1:19 pm

Happy birthday! (A little early...) I haven't read the Fagle's translation of The Iliad and The Odyssey, but I read his translation of The Aeneid and loved it... have to see if I can get my hands on those eventually!

Ago 14, 2009, 1:41 pm

Happy birthday in advance RebeccaAnn - enjoy your Homer!

Ago 14, 2009, 3:49 pm

Happy B-day from me as well RebeccaAnn! Why is it so difficult for people near and dear to us to buy us books or gift cards? IMO one book from my wish list is better than 10 things I don't want nor need. Your roommate must be a booklover too and understands.

Ago 14, 2009, 4:25 pm

Thanks for the birthday cheer!

>26 allthesedarnbooks:: I have have that in my wishlist and hopefully, come payday, I can purchase my own copy. I don't know if there is a Fagles translation of Herodotus's The Histories, but if there is, I hope to purchase that as well.

>28 Carmenere:: My roommate loves books, though not to the extent I do (I frequently get criticized for the size of my personal library - my theory is the only reason she doesn't own more books is because she knows she always free to borrow mine and besides my fascination with Stephen King, we have similar reading tastes). She, like my second roommate, are much more TV people than I am. I don't watch many shows because, for me, I have a hard keeping interest in something I can only watch for one hour a week. I have a Netflix subscription so I'll sometimes order seasons of shows which works out much better for me. Otherwise, I'll just a watch a movie or two a week. I don't even have cable.

Editado: Ago 14, 2009, 8:50 pm


Les Liaisons Dangereuses by Pierre Choderlos de Laclos
Rating: 5/5

What a delightful, intriguing, naughty little book. This story tells the tale of the Vicomte de Valmont and the Marquis de Merteuil, two bored aristocrats who decide to amuse themselves through seduction and deceit. As printed on the back of the Oxford World's Classics edition: "In the ensuing vicious battle there can be no victors, an the innocent will suffer with the guilty."

A bit of a warning, this book is not for those uncomfortable with sexual acts. Laclos's novel has been called, perhaps a bit rightly, a manual in seduction. There are so many affairs going on and people going around behind other people's back that sometimes, a character chart would have been helpful. To give you just a taste of what I'm talking about, here are the main storylines:

The Vicomte de Valmont is a notorious womanizer. He has now set his eyes on a judge's wife, Madame de Tourvel, a very pious woman. While attempting to seduce her, he takes as his ward fifteen year old Cecile Volanges. She's young, pretty, and totally naive after having been raised in a convent. She's also in love with Chevalier Danceny, a twenty year old poet and musician, and he's in love with her. It's a very innocent sort of romance.

The Marquis de Merteuil, one of Valmont's old flames, hates the Comte de Gercourt. Merteuil, who goes around with men as much as Valmont does with women, is angry at Gercourt for basically dumping her. Gercourt is engaged to Cecile. In order to get revenge on Gercourt, Merteuil tries to convince Valmont to seduce her as well. Meanwhile, she starts to seduce Danceny.

Valmont initially doesn't want to, claiming it would be too easy. However, when Madame de Volanges, Cecile's mother, warns Tourvel of his reputation with the ladies (i.e. love 'em and leave 'em), Valmont decides to get revenge on the mother through the daughter.

This is pretty much how the entire book goes. I, for one, loved it. Laclos provides us with a view of the French aristocracy in the 1700s. This book is his protest against the corruption he was witness to. He also addresses some serious issues, such as women's rights. There is one slightly disturbing rape scene in the book where the one who's doing the raping convinces his female victim that she is helpless. He's in her room at night. Were anyone to spot them, her reputation would be ruined and he would get a slap on the wrist. Laclos's skill as a writer is evident as he manages to show the reader these very serious issues through the letters flippant and artificial tone.

All in all, I'd definitely recommend this book. If you're not sure, perhaps try watching the movie Cruel Intentions. It was based off of Les Liaisons Dangereuses.

Ago 16, 2009, 11:40 am

I recently begun this too, but have got waylaid before I even started - maybe train ride back from Edinburgh...

...but what I was going to say is that, as well as Cruel Intentions, there is a slightly older adaptation Dangerous Liaisons starring John Malkovich and Glenn Close who are both fantastic (particularly the latter) also Keanu Reeves (usual plank-like self) and Uma Therman (unusually bad). That sounds like a bad advert, but actually, in my opinion, it's an incredibly good film. I was in floods of tears by the time the film ended (not wanting to give any plot away, there's a scene in front of a mirror right at the end...). Highly recommended...

Ago 16, 2009, 4:08 pm

Thanks for the info! I've since added Dangerous Liasons to my Netflix queue. However, due to a lack of finances at the moment, I've put my account on hold. Once I have money again (i.e. once I get paid), I'll start my account again and that'll be the first movie I watch!

Ago 17, 2009, 10:14 pm

58. Second in Command: A Biography of Captain Francis Crozier by May Fluhmann
Rating: 3/5

I was very excited to find this biography of one of my favorite men in history: Captain Francis Crozier, second in command of the Franklin expedition. This biography is the earliest of only two biographies on Crozier, so I thought I would read it first. Sadly, it did not live up to expectations.

Fluhmann doesn't go into nearly enough detail on anything. She claims to have found Crozier's letters, yet there was nearly nothing in the book on his early life prior to his adventures at sea, which was a little disappointing. I was hoping with her access to his private letters, there would have been more information available. There was not. Even on his earlier expeditions, which should have been recorded with greater detail, were only glossed over. The only information unique to this biography were a few Eskimo accounts of the Franklin expedition at the back of the book. There were only two or three so even that wasn't terribly interesting.

Honestly, unless you're very interested in the Franklin expedition and the man who commanded most of it, Crozier, I wouldn't recommend this book. It's told in a slightly boring manner and nearly everything in here could also be found in Ice Blink by Scott Cookman or Frozen in Time by Owen Beattie and both of those books are much more interesting reads.

Ago 18, 2009, 2:40 am

#33: OK, skipping that one!

Ago 18, 2009, 1:33 pm

>34 alcottacre:: I just started Captain Francis Crozier: Last Man Standing? by Michael Smith which is the other biography of Crozier. So far, it looks to be much more promising but then again, I'm approximately only 15 pages into it so there's plenty of time for the book to get worse. I'll let you know how it turns out though!

Ago 18, 2009, 1:54 pm

ditto what Stasia said. But, Ice Blink and Frozen in Time sound great.

Ago 18, 2009, 2:44 pm

Happy Birthday, Rebecca!

Ago 18, 2009, 3:12 pm

Thank you tloeffler (and everyone who gave me early b-day wishes)! It's much appreciated!

Ago 19, 2009, 1:19 pm

#32 Hope you enjoy it as much as I did!

I should add the proviso that I saw the film before reading the book (still ongoing), which is always the best way round, if you mind about misrepresentation in films. That said, I'm about 3/5 through the book at the moment and (from memory - last saw the film about 3 years ago), I've not spotted any truly glaring alterations yet. Also loving the book!

Ago 20, 2009, 5:02 pm

I loved Dangerous Liaisons too - I'm so glad we decided to read it as a group! The discussion has been quite interesting.

Ago 20, 2009, 9:56 pm

>40 Cait86:: I agree! I've definitely gotten more out of the book because of discussion than I ever would have if I'd just read it by myself. I love talking about books with people, though. I don't have any friends who read seriously like I do so the group reads done here at LT are a god-send for me.

Ago 20, 2009, 10:15 pm


Captain Francis Crozier: Last Man Standing? by Michael Smith
Rating: 5/5

Now this was a biography! Of all the books I've read this year on polar exploration and the Arctic/Antarctic, I would say this was the best. It definitely tops Fluhmann's Second in Command: A Biography of Captain Francis Crozier by a long shot. Written in a very readable style, this book tells up of Crozier's life.

The main difference between this book and Fluhmann's book was the amount of information given to the reader about Crozier's life before the Franklin Expedition. I was, quite frankly, amazed at how much this man accomplished and how little credit he was given. And Smith writes in such as manner as to make this work of nonfiction exciting! It was a page-turner and I didn't want to put it down. He doesn't bore you with extra facts, attempting to show you how much research he did to write this either. You get the facts you need to understand what happened and every once in a while, an interesting little fact (did you know there's a crater on the moon named after Crozier?).

If you want a comprehensive look at one of the most accomplished and least acknowledged explorers, I would definitely look into this book. It will definitely be one of my in the near future.

Ago 21, 2009, 12:24 pm

#42: OK, that one is going on the PBS wishlist. Thanks for the recommendation!

Ago 21, 2009, 12:29 pm

PBS? I'm afraid I don't know what that is...

Ago 21, 2009, 1:27 pm

Belated Happy Birthday

I hope it was a special day for you!

Ago 21, 2009, 4:02 pm

>45 Whisper1:: It was great fun! Took a trip to Sioux City, IA, to go to Olive Garden and ate waaaaaaaaaaay to much food, but still fun!

Ago 21, 2009, 5:36 pm

#44: PBS = Paperback Swap

Ago 22, 2009, 1:49 pm

>47 alcottacre:: Ah, I see. I'm a BookMooch girl myself. I always thought it would be too confusing to involved with another book swapping site. Do let me know if you find it in paperback, though. While I haven't searched in detail for it yet, I've only seen it in hardcover, despite the fact that it's been out for a couple years.

Ago 23, 2009, 1:23 am

#48: The name Paperback Swap is somewhat misleading because hardcovers are traded, too. When I did a search on the site all that came up was the hardcover edition, so the book may never have been issued in paperback.

Ago 24, 2009, 6:05 pm

I was fascinated by Crozier as a character in The Terror and will be looking for this one. Thanks.

Set 1, 2009, 11:01 pm

Just a bit of an update on my reading: I'm currently in the middle of reading The Hunchback of Notre Dame by Victor Hugo and have yet to start The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro and Greenwitch by Susan Cooper for my two group reads. Unfortunately, school has started again and my classes are very much reading focused, so those books might take a little bit longer than planned to finish. I have to read approximately 15 books for my classes this year and I also have a couple books that I'm going to have to read for papers so my postings on LT might be a bit sporadic. I am still reading though and will eventually post reviews to all my books if I don't get around to it right away.

Set 1, 2009, 11:03 pm

>50 Prop2gether:: I hope you enjoy it! I think it was my favorite nonfiction book this year (so far, anyways :P )

Set 10, 2009, 11:21 pm

I finished Greenwitch for the group read finally, but it's late and I've been doing music analysis for the last two hours so my brain is a bit fried at the moment. I will be posting a review, probably tomorrow.

Set 12, 2009, 10:45 pm


Greenwitch by Susan Cooper
Rating: 4/5

When the grail the Drew children found is stolen by the Dark, Simon, Jane, and Barney team up with their Uncle Merry and Will Stanton to get it back. But what is this mysterious Greenwitch ceremony and the magical creature, smelling of hawthorne and the sea, that begins to haunt Jane's dreams?

This is by far my favorite book of the series so far. I'm not a huge fan of Will Stanton but I love the Drew children and in this book, the interaction between Will and the Drews made Will's character very bearable for me. I think he's a much better character when he's not the sole focus of the narrative. Cooper also did a marvelous job of making him both an Old One and a young boy. There were instances when he was just charming and fun to read about and of course, the sibling interactions between Simon, Jane and Barney are never dull. Cooper's ability to develop relationships between her characters is really astounding in these books.

My only real beef with the series in general is that in so many scenes, there could have been much more description, and many could have been extended. However, one must remember that she was in fact writing this for the young adult audience and, though some may disagree with me, young teenagers and older tweens do tend to have shorter attention spans. I enjoy these books for what they are: good juvenile escapist fiction.

Highly recommended.

Editado: Set 12, 2009, 11:05 pm


The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro
Rating: 5/5

At the end of his three decades of service at Darlington Hall, Mr Stevens embarks on a country drive, during which he looks back over his career to reassure himself that he has served humanity by serving "a great gentleman." But lurking in his memory are doubts about the true nature of Lord Darlington's "greatness" and graver doubts still about his own faith in the man he served.

What an absolute treasure of a book. Here is one piece of literature that will make you revaluate your life. Have you ever looked back and wondered "what if" or "was that really the right thing to do" or "did I do the best I could"? This story is one man searching for those answers as he looks back on his life. Mr Stevens, throughout the course of this short novel, comes to terms with his inability to have any sort of relationship outside of the professional kind, his utterly blind faith in a man who was not a great as Stevens believed, and the real definition of "dignity". Dignity is not knowing your place. Is it not serving your employer well. Dignity is knowing you made a mistake and being able to own up to it. It is knowing that no, your life may not have turned out how you wanted it to, but still making the best of it. Stevens, a man unable to allow himself any sort of pleasure without somehow relating it to his job as a butler, realizes that his life is a lonely one and the man he served, once assuring himself that he was helping a great man change the world for the better in the only way he could, was in fact a supporter of the Nazis who was one of the biggest players in allowing Hitler to come into as much power as he eventually did.

This book is astounding and heartbreaking. I honestly don't know what else to say in this review because I feel nothing can really come close to the amount of pure, raw emotion found in these pages. Suppressed it may be, as that is what was required of Stevens to be a good butler, you can feel it flowing through every word like and electric current. The antics between Mr Stevens and Miss Kenton had me laughing. The inability of Mr Stevens and his father to express their love for one another had me crying. This is a book I will reread at least once a year. It is a reminder to everyone that mistakes in life are unavoidable but we should never stop living and if we found that somehow we have, it is never too late to begin again.

Set 13, 2009, 5:05 am

#54/55: Very nice reviews, RebeccaAnn!

Set 13, 2009, 7:39 am

I'm so happy you enjoyed this book. I just bought it at a used booksale and thought it a good find. I look forward to reading it, especially after your encouraging comments.

Set 13, 2009, 9:21 am

Great review of the Ishiguro book. Thumbs up!

Set 14, 2009, 12:27 pm

Very nice review of Remains of the Day. I'm adding it to the TBR pile.

Set 14, 2009, 3:28 pm

Thanks for all the delightful comments on my reviews! It's a great pick-me-up to come on LT and read them!

Set 15, 2009, 11:24 pm


The Crying of Lot 49 by Thomas Pynchon
Rating: 5/5

Spoilers ahead.

Oedipa Maas returns home from a Tupperware party one afternoon and discovers she has been the executor, or is it executrix, of her former lover, Pierce Inverarity's will. While sorting through his many properties (he owns everything in San Narcisso), she repeatedly comes across the same symbol: a muted horn. As her knowledge of what this muted horn might mean - as well as the organization it stands for, Trystero - grows, so does her paranoia. Is Trystero real? Is this Inverarity's idea of a joke? Or is she going insane?

While I'm sure I missed the majority of the puns and humor in this book, I still found plenty of passages that made me snicker, a few that evoked sympathy, and even a some frightening passages. When Oedipa compares Trystero to a stripper, revealing bit by bit what it's all about to her, she wonders if she'll like what she finds out in the end. Will it be satisfying to know everything or will it, like the stripper, "the dance ended, come back down the runway, its luminous stare locked to Oedipa's, smile gone malign and pitiless; bend to her alone among the desolate row of seats and begin to speak words she never wanted to hear?" Terrifying, evocative, and utterly beautiful. This was my favorite passage of the entire book.

Pynchon's prose is artwork in and of itself. Located somewhere around surreal and stream of consciousness, it reads like your own thoughts. Some passages are very focused and straightforward while others meander about, touching on multiple topics and at the end, you have to trace your way backwards to figure how to you got to where you ended. Some paragraphs are only a few words long, some take a few pages to get through. It's not consistent, but it works.

I know a lot of people I've talked to don't like the ending. True, it's not what you'd expect a book. Lot 49 has a lot of components you expect from detective fiction. There's a death, a "detective", an investigation, but Lot 49 is missing the big reveal at the end. But look back through the book. What is there in Lot 49 that you actually expect? The world is similar to that of hard-boiled detective fiction, but rather than being given a strong detective to solve the case, we're given Oedipa. She's weak, she rarely says no to anyone. In fact, she rarely speaks up at all and she cries all the time. She's not the expected heroine. And who on earth ever expected the culprit to be an underground postal system? It's a strange thing to base a conspiracy on. But the conspiracy is what makes the ending work, in my opinion. The most intriguing aspect of every conspiracy is usually the inability to find the answer. Who really killed JFK? Did Paul McCartney really die in a car accident and has a look-alike been impersonating him since 1966? It's more fun without the answers and there are certainly no answers in Lot 49. Neither the reader nor Oedipa even knows if the facts are true, which is the most terrifying aspect of the book. Reality is a projection of fantasy and we can never escape that fantasy.

No, Pynchon is not an easy read, but he is definitely a worthwhile one. Lot 49 is only 150 pages long and I recommend you at least give it a try. It's a great introduction into postmodernism and Pynchon in general.

Set 16, 2009, 12:00 am

Your review for Remains of the Day is incredible. I gave it a thumbs up and discovered I'm number eight. Seven before me thought the same! Kudos to you.

Set 16, 2009, 5:48 am

The word postmodernism seems to be popping up quiet a lot. I'll look for Lot 49 at the library.
Good review Rebecca!

Set 16, 2009, 8:15 am

>62 Whisper1:: Thanks Whisper!

>63 Carmenere:: Well, technically, the teacher forced me to read it. I just really enjoyed it ;-) But I'm in a postmodern class so expected a lot more pomo to be showing up on my thread in the next 15 weeks or so.

Set 16, 2009, 8:46 am

I look forward to it, rebecca.

Set 25, 2009, 5:43 am

So glad you loved Greenwitch and the Ishiguro, and a wonderful review of that too. Pynchon... well. I haven't read your review since you mentioned "spoilers"... although I'm not sure I'll ever get around to reading him. Feel a bit daunted by his reputation and may well just start with Inherent Vice, since most reviews seem to agree it's one of his most "accessible".

Set 25, 2009, 9:07 am

From what I've heard, The Crying of Lot 49 is also one of his most accessible, most straightforward books (and on the plus side, it's only ~150 pages long). I found the beginning to be much harder to follow than the end. The end was very straightforward. The beginning was just weird. Or maybe I just wasn't in the Pynchon frame of mind yet.

If you do try it, I hope you'll let me know what you think!

Set 26, 2009, 11:23 am

I have to admit that I gave up on V. and banned it from my library. I may still try Gravity's Rainbow someday.

Set 26, 2009, 4:58 pm

I think V. and Gravity's Rainbow are supposed to be the most dense and the hardest to get through. Good ones to start with are Lot 49, Vineland, or, apparently, his new one, Inherent Vice. Although, those aren't supposed to be easy either, just the least difficult to approach.

Set 27, 2009, 9:22 am

For me, the reason to quit is that I had absolutely no connection, and actually a bit of distaste, for the characters. While I sometimes forge ahead in such cases, this one just didn't seem to be my cup of tea.

Set 30, 2009, 5:03 pm


The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova
Rating: 3/5

The Historian plays off of the possibility that Bram Stoker's Dracula actually existed. As I've been reading more vampire fiction lately, I thought why not, I'll give it a try.

Ugh. There were parts that were absolutely delightful to read but most parts dragged on...and on...and on... The story is more or less a story within a story within a story. The daughter is the character we're with through the entire story (though I can't even remember if we learn her name). However, the majority of what you actually read is the story of her father meeting her mother on a search for Dracula, which she is reading through letters and therefore learning at the same time. But the intertextuality doesn't stop there. Sometimes, the father inside the story is telling a story which then the daughter relates to us, and sometimes he tells a story of his professor telling a story which the daughter tells to us. And since I listened to this on audiobook, it was even harder to follow.

On top of that, these people travel a lot. Therefore, you get lots of description of scenery. While the description is beautiful, it gets old after awhile. It also drags the book out too much, in my opinion, making it a bore when less description would have made it a much more interesting read.

And, perhaps as a tribute to Stoker himself, it takes all of two sentences to slay Dracula. What a letdown.

I'm glad I finished this book. It's good if you have a lot of time to kill because it takes so long to get through (it took me two months) but I will most definitely not be reading, or listening, to this again.

Set 30, 2009, 5:48 pm

I hope your next read is much more enjoyable. I tried to read tThe Historian but it did not grab my interest and I thought it was one of the those books that was praised to the hilt, yet did not match my thoughts regarding its merit.

Set 30, 2009, 6:54 pm

That was more or less my reaction. The only reason I even finished it was because it was an audiobook so I would just play it while I was doing some mindless task like walking my dog or doing chores. If I had tried to read the book, I don't think I would have made it very far though my roommate is reading the book and she says she likes it. But then again, she's been working her way through it for about three months now, though that could be because she's just not a big reader in general :P

Set 30, 2009, 6:59 pm

I didn't like The Historian at all, although I did finish it, at least, which is more than most books I don't care for. I thought it was dull, dull, dull, and about 300 pages too long.

Set 30, 2009, 7:09 pm

In defense of The Historian, I have to say I rather enjoyed Kostova's travelogue style of writing. It was indeed a bit tedious at times but my Romanian blood line urged me on till the somewhat unsatisfying conculsion. Hope your next read will be a better one.

Set 30, 2009, 7:25 pm

I just finished Paul Auster's City of Glass and it was excellent! I have to think about, though, before I write a review. It's another postmodern book and those always require a bit of thought when finished ;)

Set 30, 2009, 8:14 pm

I'll look forward to reading your review of this latest book!

Out 1, 2009, 3:07 pm

Me too. My pencil is posed to add it to my wish list.

Editado: Out 11, 2009, 10:46 pm


City of Glass: Book One of the New York Trilogy by Paul Auster
Rating: 4/5

Spoilers ahead.

Daniel Quinn writes mysteries under the pseudonym William Wilson. An unknown voice on the telephone is now begging for his help, drawing him into a world and a mystery far stranger than any he ever created in print.

Honestly, I find this book difficult to review because it goes against everything a mystery novel is. The detective, Daniel Quinn, isn't a detective. He's a writer of detective fiction. He is hired to protect Peter Stillman from his father, but the father isn't after Stillman. Stillman doesn't need protecting. There isn't a mystery. There isn't a conspiracy, but Quinn acts as if there should be. He spends days and months trailing Stillman Sr, who spends his days walking around New York City and picking up various broken things. That's it. He's not out to hurt his son. He's just an insane old man. But Quinn continues to trail him and when he can't because Stillman Sr seems to have disappeared, he camps out in front of Peter Stillman's house, rarely sleeping and eating very little in order to maintain constant surveillance. He keeps expecting Virginia Stillman, Peter's wife, to become the infamous femme fatale, which she doesn't because this isn't a standard work of detective fiction.

And if that doesn't defy your expectations enough, there's the issue of identity in this book. Daniel Quinn is an empty character. He doesn't have much motivation or thoughts. He writes one or two mystery novels a year, under the name of William Wilson, and that's about it. However, when he is asked to take on the Stillman case, he decides to emulate Max Work, his idol, and also the fictional detective in his novels. In a sense, Quinn becomes a false detective both in name and occupation since he's not really a detective and he's not really on a case.

It's an odd book and a hard one to review. Looking back on my own review, I don't think I make it look very desirable to read, but I do encourage you pick it up and give it a try. It's fairly short and reads quickly. Even if you don't try to read too much into it, the surface story is fairly interesting as well.

Out 5, 2009, 12:56 pm

Esta mensagem foi removida pelo seu autor.

Out 6, 2009, 10:02 am

I found it hard to review too. Wait 'till you read the next two! ;)

Out 6, 2009, 7:38 pm

>81 flissp:: I'm excited to start them! Unfortunately, I'm so bogged down with schoolwork and trying to keep up with my group reads (I haven't even started The Grey King) that it might be awhile :(

Out 9, 2009, 4:17 pm

>79 RebeccaAnn: I LOVE LOVE LOVE the New York Trilogy. Think Paul Auster is fab - although the new one sounds possibly a bit strong for my stomach... we'll see.

Out 9, 2009, 7:27 pm

>83 FlossieT:: Are you talking about The Brooklyn Follies? I just bought it recently and was hoping to start it once I finished the New York Trilogy. I'm curious now. How was it strong? Was it disturbing or gory (I obviously haven't read much Auster - City of Glass being it - but he didn't seem like the gory/disturbing type of author...)?

Out 10, 2009, 5:35 pm

>84 RebeccaAnn: the new one I was meaning was Invisible - out this month, I think, in both US and UK. There are Early Reviewer copies listed this month in the UK, actually (I didn't notice if US copies were listed too), but I haven't applied for one as I have a delinquent unfiled review (ironically, for the last Paul Auster, Man in the Dark!) so suspect I haven't a hope of getting it as I am too late to satisfy The Algorithm. Sigh.

The Brooklyn Follies is a really good one, although it does contain one section that nearly made me hyperventilate with fear... won't spoil it for you! Not gory or anything, rather worst-nightmare sort of scary.

Out 10, 2009, 10:21 pm

>85 FlossieT:: Ah, I see. I guess I just assumed that since The Brooklyn Follies was the only Auster book in the campus bookstore (which shouldn't be surprising considering the section for just pleasure reading consists of only three bookshelves - most of it bestsellers) that it must have been the newest one. I'll have to check out Invisible. I just finished Ghosts and am trying to figure out how to write a review for it so as soon as I do that and finish The Locked Room, I'll look into his other books. He's quickly becoming one of my favorite authors!

Thanks for the recommendation!

Editado: Out 10, 2009, 10:54 pm


The Hunchback of Notre Dame by Victor Hugo
Rating: 4/5

The infamous story of the disfigured bell ringer and his guardian, the priest, who both fall in love with a beautiful, young gypsy. When Quasimodo tries to save Esmerelda from the gallows, the story ends in tragedy. Disney immortalized these characters and their lives, but Disney got it wrong. There isn't just one bad guy and bunch of good people. Here, no one's innocent and no one gets a happy ending.

The name of the book is a bit misleading, I think. Having seen the Disney movie, I figured the protagonist would be Quasimodo. As odd as it is, though, the book doesn't really have a protagonist. Hugo kind of flits you from character to character in what seems an almost random pattern, often leaving one character at a vital point of the story to go visit the King and his clerk as they discuss how much everything costs. It can be very odd at times and honestly, it wasn't really a style of writing I wholly enjoyed. But then again, I was well aware of Hugo's tendency to go off on tangents before I started the book so it didn't come as a shocker and for the most part, it didn't detract too much from the story.

One thing I wasn't expecting going into the book, however, was an approximate 100 page discription of Paris about a third of the way into the book. Hugo's prose is delightful, but even so I had a hard time getting through this section. However, I could see the relevence before I'd even finished the book. Paris is described as a huge city, branching out from a central location with random buildings connected to other random buildings of little to no similarity. Hugo jumps from one building to another to another, and in the end, he sums the entire description up nice and tidy in about a page. This is the same relationship as the characters. All the characters, who seem to have no relation to the others for the most part, are all connected and each character affects the fate of the others. They all interlock, even though they don't see it themselves. It's very impressive when you sit back and view the grand scope of the story.

All in all, I heartily enjoyed this book and will be purchasing it for myself at some point in the near future. I recommend reading it, but don't expect to walk away feeling happy. The end is tragic (and a few scenes - namely one particular death scene - are very disturbing), no one gets their perfect, Disney ending, and the gargoyles, sadly, do not sing and dance ;-)

Out 11, 2009, 11:30 pm


Ghosts: Book Two of the New York Trilogy by Paul Auster
Rating: 4/5

In Ghosts, Auster bares the basics of detective fiction to this concept: one person (the detective) watching another (the Other). He does this to the point that the characters don't even have names. The protagonists is Blue and his job is to watch Black. He was hired by White and trained by Brown. He envies the determination of Gold in his quest to find the murderer of a small boy. You get my point.

The book was good, though I didn't enjoy it quite as much as City of Glass. There's some staple elements of postmodernism such as paranoia, detachment, and the entire story was a bit pastiche. The ending, like the main story, did not follow the norm of detective fiction (nor did it wholly resolve) but it didn't take away from this story at all.

I would definitely recommend this to anyone who wants to begin treading the waters of postmodernism. The New York Trilogy on the whole is very accessible as well as enjoyable.

Editado: Out 12, 2009, 12:02 am


Dead as a Doornail by Charlaine Harris
Rating: 3/5

Sookie Stackhouse is back, this time with a whole new set of problems. It seems there's a sniper out there, and he's aiming for the shifters in the area. With her brother's new predicament, naturally, Sookie is worried and when her boss Sam is shot, she takes it upon herself to find out what's happening.

Like the other Southern Vampire mysteries, Dead as a Doornail is a fantastic work of mind candy. I enjoy the characters, though there were a few characters I thought were a bit OOC from the previous books (namely Alcide). The pace was fast and it kept me interested the whole time.

I did not, however, like the scene with Quinn. I've read the summaries for upcoming books and know they become an item so I understand there seems to be some kind of sexual tension between them now, but that tension occurred at the worst time in this book. Sookie had just been attacked. She's physically hurt and she's is literally watching Alcide's father battle another werewolf in a gladiator type fight (but in wolf form) to determine who would be the next pack leader. She'd barely spoken to Quinn, had previously been too preoccupied with the fight to even notice him, and he'd never shown up in any books before this. He was there to referee the fight. It was just weird and out of place and the entire thing just made me uncomfortable. It seemed as if Harris put it in there for the express purpose of having the two become a couple later on rather than making it a natural part of the story and it dropped the whole thing one entire rating for me.

Otherwise, the book was pretty much on par with the rest of the series.

Out 12, 2009, 1:33 pm

#66 I'm with you - I enjoyed all of The New York Trilogy very much, but for me, Ghosts was the least enjoyable of the three. Funnily enough though, it grows of me in retrospect...

#85 Rachel, I put my name down for that one, but like you, I have an outstanding review (Vilnius Poker) - so probably not a hope of getting it either... Ho hum. Must read that book...

Have either of you read Travels in the Scriptorium? This was my introduction to Paul Auster and I loved it...

Out 12, 2009, 2:06 pm

>90 flissp: actually, that's one I haven't read - though it's one I'd really like to. Also have a copy of The Music of Chance, acquired from ReadItSwapIt, waiting for me.

One of my favourite Austers is still a book he edited rather than wrote - True Tales of American Life. Just wonderful. One of those books I tend to keep a spare in of so I can force it enthusiastically on the unwary visitor ;-)

Out 12, 2009, 2:37 pm

>90 flissp:: Sadly, I haven't read Travels in the Scriptorim. The New York Trilogy is my intro to Auster, so it's really all I've read. I'm really enjoying it though and, because I'm a bit anal and love to make lists
(though it seems I rarely stick to them), I've already started a list of authors I really want to focus on trying to read their complete works of in 2010. Auster is on that list.

Out 12, 2009, 2:37 pm


I really like True Tales of American Life as well. Its the book that was kept in the car for ages as it was handy to pick up and put down whilst waiting for people etc.

Out 13, 2009, 6:10 am

#91 & 93 Oooh, I can see I'm going to have to look True Tales of American Life out at some point!

#92 Always good to meet a fellow lister ;) (although I've a suspcion LT has more than it's fair share, being in the very nature of the site!).

Out 21, 2009, 12:11 am


The Grey King by Susan Cooper
Rating: 4/5

There is a Welsh legend about a harp of gold, hidden within a certain hill, that will be found by a boy and a white dog with silver eyes -- a dog that can see the wind. Will Stanton knew nothing of this when he came to Wales to recover from a severe illness. But when he met Bran, the strange boy who owned a white dog, he began to remember. For Will is the last-born of the Old Ones, immortals dedicated to saving the world from the forces of evil, the Dark. And it is Will's task to wake -- with the golden harp -- the six who must be roused from their long slumber in the Welsh hills to prepare for the last battle between the Dark and the Light.

This is to date my favorite book of the Dark is Rising Sequence. It was so nice to see Will struggle with something for a change. It made him human, it made him relatable, it made him the child that he is, and it made him lovable. Rather than dreading a book focused solely on Will, I found myself eagerly turning page after page. There was also much more emotion in this book. At one particular part, after experiencing a character death, I swear I lost the ability to breathe for a couple seconds. And Bran's family history, when discovered, leaves me anxious to pick up the fifth book.

However, true to Cooper's style, I felt the book lacked a bit in the explanation area. I would have liked to know what was so powerful about the six riders and why they had the power to stop the Grey King. I would have also liked to know more about other two robed figures Will and Bran met in the cave (for lack of a better, more grand term).

I still liked the book, though, and I can't wait to read the fifth one!

Out 21, 2009, 2:34 pm

I cannot wait to read it either - November 8th?

Out 21, 2009, 3:26 pm

As far as I know :)

Out 23, 2009, 4:51 pm

I discovered Auster in a big way this year too, and am looking forward to reading a lot more of him.

I'm wondering if I Thought My Father Was God:And Other Tales From NPR's National Story Project is the same as True Tales of American Life? If nor, I have another one of his to track down (I Thought My Father Was God is excellent btw).

Out 23, 2009, 5:49 pm

I'm wondering too now! If it isn't, maybe a sequel?? True Tales... is definitely based on an NPR show.

Editado: Out 29, 2009, 11:03 pm


Neuromancer by William Gibson
Rating: 3/5

Summary on back of book:

"Case was the sharpest data thief in the Matrix, until an ex-employer crippled his nervous system. Now a new employer has recruited him for a last-chance run against an unthinkably powerful artificial intelligence. With a mirror-eyed girl street-samurai riding shotgun, he's ready for the silicon-quick, bleakly prophetic adventure that upped the ante on an entire genre of fiction."

I was required to read this book for a class and by and large, it was hardest slog of a read I've had to do for a class in a long, long time. I'm normally a big fan of science fiction and was excited when I found out I'd finally have a chance to read the book that created cyberpunk. But this one was hard. The prose jumped around so much between characters and scenes, and Case "flipped" in and out of reality and the Matrix that most of the time, I wasn't sure where I even was. There was the detachment that I've come to associate with postmodernism and while usually, I quite enjoy it and find it humorous, for me it didn't work here. The book didn't have that ironic feel I've received from other pomo works of fiction so instead of being ironic and funny, it was just boring.

Besides that, I have really no idea what happened at the end or what part Neuromancer really even played. I'm not sure why Wintermute was after Case and company. Indeterminacy can be effective, but this was too much for me.

Honestly, I can tell the book is actually very good, so me not liking it is probably more of a difference in personal taste than the book being bad. I'm going to hang on to my copy and in the future, when I'm much more acquainted with postmodernism and cyberpunk, I plan on rereading this. I think I'll get much more out of it then than I did this time around.

Out 30, 2009, 5:47 am

Paul Auster, Paul Auster, Paul Auster. I must remember this name for I've become very interested in what Postmodernism has to offer. Thanks for the recommendation. Paul Auster, Paul Auster, Paul Auster.......

Editado: Out 30, 2009, 1:27 pm

I was going to start the last book of the New York Trilogy last night after finishing Neuromancer, but my copy seems to have disappeared :( In the mess that is my apartment, the book is nowhere to be found. Hopefully, when I'm doing a thorough cleaning this weekend, I'll find it :P

I also seem to be missing my copy fof The Crying of Lot 49. Maybe they're hiding out together...

Out 30, 2009, 2:08 pm

...mating, so you can have even more books...yayyy

Out 30, 2009, 5:36 pm

Oh man! I already have an overwhelming TBR pile. I don't know what I'm going to do if they start breeding on me :P

Out 30, 2009, 7:46 pm

I think mine are already breeding on me. There's no way I could have bought that many books.

Out 30, 2009, 7:50 pm

I started LT with about 400 books and I think I'm about to break 700 soon. I've been on LT for about eight months, so we'll average that in a year, it'll probably end up being about 500 books I've purchased/mooched. Math's not my forte, so to speak, but I think if I keep buying books at that rate, I'll have a lot of books really quick.

Out 31, 2009, 10:05 am

Sorry to hear Neuromancer wasn't that great. I've got a copy, and have had it on the shelf for a couple of years... guess it may stay there a while longer...

Out 31, 2009, 10:58 pm

I have tried to read Neuromancer and never made it. I am not sure I am ever going to give that one another shot.

Nov 1, 2009, 11:48 am

>108 alcottacre:: If it hadn't been for the fact that a good portion of my grade depends on knowing the details of these books, I would have given up on the book early on. Actually, I did attempt to read it once during the summer and never made it past page 30ish. It's a book that I think I would like to reread in the future when I'm more acquainted with cyberpunk and postmodernism, but it was just a bit too much for me now ;-)

Nov 1, 2009, 11:24 pm

#109: I know absolutely nothing about cyberpunk and postmodernism, so I do not think a repeated attempt is in my future, lol.

Nov 24, 2009, 9:29 am


White Noise by Don DeLillo
Rating: 3/5

I actually finished this about a week ago and I'm still not quite sure if I liked it or not. Yes, the book was funny as hell in a lot of places. DeLillo's nothing if not a master of very dark humor. But still, at the end, all I found myself wondering was "What was the point?"

White Noise doesn't seem to even have a plot until the last of three sections. Surprisingly, it was the plotless sections I enjoyed the most. They were funnier and had some fantastic one liners. The third section, honestly, I'm not quite sure about. It had a plot, but it was kind of a stupid, over the top one that didn't make sense (to me) when taking the first two sections into consideration. The end of the book I read quickly just because I wanted to be done with it, and that's the worst reason to finish a book.

I'm giving the book a three for now. It's a neutral rating. In a couple years I plan to reread this book and hopefully, I'll have a better take on the book then.

Editado: Nov 29, 2009, 5:45 pm


Flight to Canada by Ishamel Reed
Rating: 2/5

This book, a satiric take on black slavery, had a few funny moments. And maybe I'm just too dumb to get it, but I didn't find myself enjoying it quite as much as I thought I would. I think most of it has to do with the fact that I'm not as familiar with the Civil War era history as I wish I were and therefore, some of the funnier quips just didn't register. It had some interesting notions of identity based on cultural heritage, but not much else (in my opinion). Perhaps everything just went over my head or perhaps it just wasn't there to begin with. Either way, this book was a quick read so I might try it again some day when I'm more familiar with both postmodernism and the Civil War but for now, I'm just going to put it to the side and let smarter people enjoy it :)

Editado: Dez 9, 2009, 9:26 am

I just noticed none of my reviews are coming out. I typed up a review for both White Noise and Flight to Canada, but for some reason you can't see them and I can't figure out how to fix it. For those who are interested, I posted the reviews below.

Review for White Noise:

I actually finished this about a week ago and I'm still not quite sure if I liked it or not. Yes, the book was funny as hell in a lot of places. DeLillo's nothing if not a master of very dark humor. But still, at the end, all I found myself wondering was "What was the point?"

White Noise doesn't seem to even have a plot until the last of three sections. Surprisingly, it was the plotless sections I enjoyed the most. They were funnier and had some fantastic one liners. The third section, honestly, I'm not quite sure about. It had a plot, but it was kind of a stupid, over the top one that didn't make sense (to me) when taking the first two sections into consideration. The end of the book I read quickly just because I wanted to be done with it, and that's the worst reason to finish a book.

I'm giving the book a three for now. It's a neutral rating. In a couple years I plan to reread this book and hopefully, I'll have a better take on the book then.

Review for Flight to Canada:

This book, a satiric take on black slavery, had a few funny moments. And maybe I'm just too dumb to get it, but I didn't find myself enjoying it quite as much as I thought I would. I think most of it has to do with the fact that I'm not as familiar with the Civil War era history as I wish I were and therefore, some of the funnier quips just didn't register. It had some interesting notions of identity based on cultural heritage, but not much else (in my opinion). Perhaps everything just went over my head or perhaps it just wasn't there to begin with. Either way, this book was a quick read so I might try it again some day when I'm more familiar with both postmodernism and the Civil War but for now, I'm just going to put it to the side and let smarter people enjoy it :)

Nov 29, 2009, 5:49 pm

>113 RebeccaAnn:: The same thing happened to all my previous reviews above. Does anyone know why this is happening and how I could fix this?

Nov 30, 2009, 1:04 am

I think I will skip both White Noise and Flight to Canada. I hope your next read is better for you!

Sorry, I have no idea what is happening or how to fix it.

Nov 30, 2009, 9:42 pm

Wow! Your reviews really are gone. LT changed some things in the way HTML is handled in Talk and certain other areas of the site to counteract increasing spam. There are a couple of threads about bugs caused by the changes. There might be an answer in one of them on how to restore your reviews. Hope you get them back.

Dez 1, 2009, 9:10 am

>116 VisibleGhost:: Thanks! I'll check them out!

If there's no answer, it's really not a huge deal. The reviews come out fine as I long as I don't put a picture of the book up too. It's just the covers are so purrrrrrdy :)

Dez 3, 2009, 9:19 am

>115 alcottacre:: I don't really blame you. I don't think I would have finished either one of them if they hadn't been required for a class.

Editado: Dez 9, 2009, 9:25 am

72. The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood
Rating: 5/5

"In the world of the near future, who will control women's bodies?

Offred is a Handmaid in the Republic of Gilead. She may leave the home of the Commander and his wife once a day to walk to food markets whose signs are now pictures instead of words because women are no longer allowed to read. She must lie on her back once a month and pray that the Commander makes her pregnant, because in an age of declining births, Offred and the other Handmaids are only valued if their ovaries are viable.

Offred can remember the days before, when she lived and made love with her husband Luke; when she played with and protected her daughter; when she had a job, money of her own, and access to knowledge. But all of that is gone now...."

I find it extremely disturbing that I finished reading this book on the 25th anniversary of Bhopal. The messages and warnings found in this book sync up perfectly with that catastrophe: chemicals that leaked into the atmosphere making the environment around it poisonous, increased sterility, mass death...all that horrible stuff you read about but it never happens to you. This books shows you what might happen if it happened to us all.

This book follows Offred, a Handmaid. She must deal with being nothing more than a "womb on two legs". It sounds horrible, and it is. Whereas we live in a very liberal time now, this book is very conservative. The Bible is the focal point of their society, but it has been twisted by the rulers, allowing them to manipulate the very creed they claim to obey. Those who don't follow this new "religion" are killed. The human population is dying off and those who stand in the way of renewing the population must be eliminated.

There were a lot of horrible things that happened in this book. Some parts actually gave me the symptoms one experiences when one is afraid (high heart rate, fast breathing, etc). But I think the scariest part is the end.

Spoiler Ahead

It worked. Using the Handmaids renewed the population, taking the human race out of dark age featured in The Handmaid's Tale and bringing it back to a society like present times. The ending makes you question your views about the entire novel. Was it okay, then? After all, it was a severe situation. In this particular case, do the ends justify the means?

End Spoiler

There was also "freedom from". As one person points out in the novel, they used to have the freedom to work and be independent. Now they have the freedom from work, sexual assault, poverty. "In the days of anarchy, it was freedom to. Now you are being given freedom from. Don't underrate it." It's frightening how in some passages like this, I almost found myself agreeing with what was taking place. It makes me wonder how easy it would be for something like this to happen. Could we really allow ourselves to be brainwashed like this?

I would recommend this book to anyone. It's one of those books that just makes you sit back and think hard about your entire belief system. And on top of that, it's not a horrible story :)

Dez 4, 2009, 4:36 am

I read The Handmaid's Tale for the first time this year, and thought it was very good to. I wasn't so keen on the epilogue, which I thought a little unnecessary - the Republic of Gilead would have been more terrifying if it hadn't been later described as an historical aberration.

Dez 4, 2009, 4:46 am

I eventually want to read The Handmaid's Tale again as it's my favorite Atwood along with Cat's Eye.

Dez 4, 2009, 5:46 pm

>120 iansales:: Really? I actually thought the opposite. There's the spiel about how we need to understand what they did was actually "for the good of mankind" bit, which just seemed like an attempt to justify the horrors that went on throughout the novel. It would be like trying to justify black slavery by saying "If we hadn't had slaves, America wouldn't have been as powerful a nation because the slaves provided our food and and that allowed us to create a large population". Things like slavery and what happened in the Republic of Gilead can't really be justified. Nothing gives people the right to control others and make them "walking wombs" or ship them off to the Colonies if they're sterile, where they're "productive" by cleaning up the radiation but will be dead within years because of exposure.

There were other little hints thrown in as well that made me wonder how the Republic of Gilead affected society as a whole: the professor of Caucasian Anthropology and the "Frailroad" are all I can remember off the top of my head. The Caucasian Anthropology seemed to suggest that there was still racial division. If I remember correctly, the Republic of Gilead seemed to be attempting a utopia, but it was a white utopia. There were no other races mentioned except in secret, underground clubs or as tourists. I think Cora may have been of a difference race - she sometimes spoke with what seemed to be a dialect - but she was a servant, not a leader. The Frailroad seems to suggest that society is still patriarchal and men see women as weaker.

On a whole, the epilogue just creeped me out.

Dez 4, 2009, 10:01 pm

The film is pretty good too - one of those rare occasions in which it doesn't totally and utterly destroy your faith in the film industry, although it is noticeably a different creature from the book.

Editado: Dez 4, 2009, 10:22 pm

>123 FlossieT:: I'll have to check it out. I looked on Netflix and it's only available as a save option so it'll be awhile, but it's on top of my TBW (to be watched :P ) pile!

Dez 4, 2009, 10:31 pm

I've a funny feeling it was scripted by Harold Pinter, so they were laying on the quality nice and thick! Have vague idea that the epilogue was really well done and kind of made sense in context (it's rather a lot of years since I saw it last...)

Editado: Dez 9, 2009, 9:25 am

73. Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston
Rating: 4/5

I knew before starting this book that it was definitive work in terms of black literature and feminist literature. I didn't know anything other than that though and to be honest, it's nothing like what I expected it to be. On the surface, it's just a tragic love story but underneath, it questions identity, power, love, and race.

The rural Florida dialect was exquisite. I'm very glad I listened to this on audiobook rather than read it. I'm a little worried that on paper, I might have given up because of that dialect. Ruby Dee was an excellent narrator though. Her pronunciation and the emotions she emitted made the story come to life in so many ways that part of me wonders if I would have even liked this book if I had read it.

I love the question of race in this book. It was interesting to the racism within the black community, not against white people, but against lighter or darker skinned black people. Janie's relationship with Tea Cake questions independence and power.

Overall, a very good book which I would encourage anyone to read, or listen, to!

Dez 7, 2009, 12:42 am

#126: I have had that one in the BlackHole for at least 5 years. I have really got to get it read!

Dez 7, 2009, 6:21 am

Reading about this really takes me back to being a teenager: I had a long patch of reading African-American women writers: Alice Walker, Toni Morrison, and then backwards to Zora Neale Hurston, Mildred D. Taylor... some really powerful writing, and haunting stories. I ended up writing one of my uni dissertations on Toni Morrison.

Dez 7, 2009, 9:55 am

>128 FlossieT:: Two of the other books I'm currently reading are Beloved by Toni Morrison and Black Like Me by John Howard Griffin. Beloved's required for a class (and it's miserably late - I was supposed to have it done about a month ago but I don't think I'll finish it before the class is over) and I found the other two on Audible. They just seemed interesting and I had extra credits, so I nabbed them :) I've never been particularly interested in African-American literature, but it's something I'll definitely be looking into in the upcoming years - maybe not 2010 since it wouldn't fit into any of my 1010 categories but maybe 2011 :)

Dez 7, 2009, 11:21 am

It's a very long time since I read A Handmaid's Tale, but I do remember being very struck by it at the time (my first Margaret Atwood book) and also that I found the Epilogue very disturbing. Maybe it's time for a re-read...

Dez 7, 2009, 12:30 pm

Anothercouple of suggestion on race related literature: Go Tell it on the Mountain and Native Son

Dez 7, 2009, 12:41 pm

I was so close to getting a copy of Go Tell it on the Mountain from BM, but the owner of the book mysteriously disappeared after I placed my request :(

Thanks for the recommendations, though! They've both been placed on my wishlist and hopefully I can attain a copy soon!

Editado: Dez 9, 2009, 9:24 am

74. Silver on the Tree by Susan Cooper
Rating: 4/5

Well, I'm not behind on finishing this book at all :P

Spoilers ahead:

I found this be a mostly satisfying conclusion to this series, even if it was a bit sad. The action was exciting the whole tone of the bookw as much darker than previous ones (with possibly the exception of the fourth book - The Grey King). Some parts of the book I found almost theatrical in nature. The scene where Will and Bran are in the maze of mirrors and all the glass shatters musically left me breathless.

I do the ending was just a little disappointing, and perhaps this is because I'm not very familiar with Welsh mythology, but I didn't understand how the winner in the battle between the Light and the Dark could be decided by who slices through a bush of mistletoe on one special tree. It seemed a little...anticlimatic.

The very end was also just a little bit sad. I mourned for Will because neither Bran nor the Drew children would remember any of their adventures or how much they helped the Light. I think the ending was supposed to be happy, but that's not how I saw it. Still, it was a very good book and I greatly enjoyed the series as a whole. It's a keeper and one that, at some point in the future, I hope to reread.

Dez 9, 2009, 1:49 am

#126: I picked up the audiobook of Their Eyes Were Watching God from the library Tuesday and am 3 CDs in. You were so right about Ruby Dee's narration - terrific!

Editado: Dez 11, 2009, 9:47 am

75. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J.K. Rowling
Rating: 5/5

Notorious mass murderer Sirius Black has escaped from the most heavily guarded wizarding prison, Azkaban. Known to be a strong supporter of You-Know-Who, he's on his way to Hogwarts to get rid of the Boy-Who-Lived once and for all. But never mind Black, Harry's got his own problems just dealing with the dementors who are the appointed school "guardians" until Black has been caught. And why does Malfoy keep showing up, taunting Harry about Black and revenge?

This is, hands down, my favorite book of the entire series. I think this is really when the series starts to take a turn for the more mature audience. I think we start to see a much darker side to many characters, Harry included - from his childish, petty desire to leaving Neville waiting for him in the library while he snuck out of the castle to the deep, burning desire to kill he begins to feel when he learns the lesser known story of Sirius Black's betrayal.

Now that I'm reading this as an adult, I begin to see some of the moral themes Rowling has skillfully put into these books. Prominent in PoA is the theme of hate. She uses Draco Malfoy and Severus Snape to get her point across. Malfoy has a hatred of Harry, driven primarily by his upbringing and jealousy, and he hurts Harry in the worst way possible, through his friends. After an "attack" by Hagrid's hippogriff, Malfoy has his father declare the animal put down. Having my own pet, this would be a devastating announcement. Malfoy knows that the hippogriff didn't do anything dangerous, but he knows taking the life of this animal who means so much to Hagrid will hurt Harry.


Severus Snape, an old school mate of Sirius Black, hates Black. He wants him to receive the worse punishment possible, regardless of the fact there is strong evidence Sirius is innocent. He refuses to even consider the possibility of there being another side to the story.

End Spoilers:

I think both Malfoy and Snape's hatred make them the most despicable characters in the entire book. Rowling makes both of them look utterly foolish in the moments they are consumed by their hatred, and she shows how much you can hurt someone and how lives can be ruined through hatred.

The ending, of course, is a tragedy. Everyone wants Harry to get away from the Dursleys and he comes so close in this book that you can see the hope in his eyes. About ten years later, I still get slightly teary-eyed at the end of this book.

I strongly encourage anyone who has not read these books and has any sort of fondness towards youth fiction to read this series. The story telling is delightful and the adventure will leave you breathless.

EDIT: Another user pointed this out to me and I thought it was such a great point that I had to amend my review to put it in. Snape's hate of Sirius does come from somewhere. While at school, Sirius, James Potter, and two of their friends were horrible to Snape (and this is shown in much greater detail in later books). One particular prank almost resulted in Snape losing his life. Though Sirius, James, and Snape were just kids, these incidents left their marks. It left Snape so scarred inside that he abuses his position as teacher in order to make Harry, James's son, as miserable as possible, placing the sins of the father upon the shoulders of the son.

In addition to that, Malfoy is a product of his environment, same as everyone else. He's been brought up in a world where money can get him everything and because of that, he can get away with anything, including murder. This would be primarily the fault of his own father. But then again, wouldn't Lucius's behavior be the result of how he was raised? The chain could continue in this fashion and in the end, everyone would be innocent because everyone was just raised wrong. Malfoy is only thirteen in this book. It's hard to say whether he's old enough to be held accountable for his actions or whether he's still too young to know how much he's hurting other people.

I think this book forces us to look at the way we treat other people (as mentioned above, even Harry becomes petty in his treatment of Neville), but it also asks us to take a look at ourselves. We start as the product of our environment, but at some point we have to start taking responsibilities for our own actions. Snape had a horrible childhood, but he has to also step outside of that and grow up. He's not a child, but the grudge he's held all these years make him act like one. It's another reason I love this book: it makes us question the dividing line between innocent childhood and the responsibility of becoming an adult. Where does one end and the other begin?

Dez 10, 2009, 10:01 pm

>134 alcottacre:: I'm so glad you're enjoying it! I think her narration made the story so much better than what it would have been had I read it in print. I think the dialect is so important in this book. It's kind of like Shakespeare. If it's not pronounced correctly, you miss half the puns. They just don't have the same effect in print :)

Dez 11, 2009, 12:46 am

ah hah... found you and starred you. *waves hello*

Dez 12, 2009, 3:41 am

Congratulations on your Hot Review!

Dez 12, 2009, 10:20 am

Thank you! I hadn't noticed it came back :)

Editado: Dez 13, 2009, 12:53 pm

76. Maus I: A Survivor's Tale: My Father Bleeds History by Art Spiegelman
Rating: 4/5

Like any recount of the Holocaust, this story was both horrifying and heart-wrenching. There are two stories that occur simultaneously here. The first is Artie wrenching the story from his father, Vladek, over an unknown span of time. The second story, of course, is Vladek's life during the Holocaust. The story is told a bit differently, though. This a low brow graphic novel, not some artsy film or memoir. Spiegelman shows us the things his father experienced in a raw, gritty manner. The Jews are portrayed as mice and the Germans, their predators, are cats. I found this interesting. He stripped away the humanity and made the Jews, as thought of by Hitler, literally vermin. To the German cat, there was the American dog and the Polish pig. I think there are many meanings one can take from the nationalities being portrayed as animals. Is it just human nature to constantly torture each other? Were we just being our instinctual, animalistic selves? Or is this just a way to bring the Holocaust to a younger generation? Did Spiegelman just want to appeal to a younger audience and make the Holocaust easier for them to understand?

The story itself isn't new. Most people are familiar with what went on and I don't feel like retelling it here. This graphic novel shows how the horrors that went on then affect us now. It shows how Vladek was affected because of the war, both his physical and his mental health. He suffers physically because of the torture he endured, but he also became a miser. He had nothing for so long that, it's almost become physically painful for him to throw anything away.

It's an interesting take on a familiar subject. It's also a quick, powerful read that I highly recommend for everyone.

Dez 12, 2009, 10:17 pm

#140: It's also a quick, powerful read that I highly recommend for everyone.

I agree - and would recommend Maus II as well. They are both on my 'memorable reads' list for the year.

Dez 12, 2009, 10:22 pm

>141 alcottacre:: I'm reading that next, as soon as my finish my $^#$% paper that's due soon :|

Dez 12, 2009, 10:23 pm

#142: Well, good luck with the paper! Then you can move on to bigger and better things like reading!

Dez 12, 2009, 10:28 pm

Thank you! Though, my paper would probably go faster if just got of LT altogether. I keep getting distracted, but in a good way :P

Dez 12, 2009, 11:22 pm

I completely understand that problem, lol.

Editado: Dez 13, 2009, 1:03 pm

77. Alanna: The First Adventure by Tamora Pierce
Rating: 4/5

Since the semester is almost over, I thought nothing sounded better than reading some youth fiction. It's fun and doesn't require me to read with a dictionary sitting next to me, as did some of the harder stuff I read this year. When browsing the stacks at the library, I came across this series and couldn't resist grabbing the quartet. These were a favorite of mine when I was younger and the urge to reread them in an effort to procrastinate in writing my paper was irresistible!

Alanna of Trebond isn't what one would call an ordinary girl. She's more of a tomboy than a lady and wants nothing more than to be a knight. Of course, this isn't allowed. But mischievous and crafty as she is, she decides to switch places with her twin brother. She'll go to the palace, disguised a boy, to become a knight. He'll go to the convent, the place where all young men who dream of becoming a sorcerer must go to begin their studies.

Alanna's a strong female character, even if she is a bit foolish and headstrong at time. She's incredibly witty and fun to read about and several parts of this book had me laughing. I also think, apart from just being a great read, the book also has a lesson in identity. Alanna at first dislikes her femininity, thinking it a weakness. But as she grows stronger and stronger, surpassing many of the other male pages, and as more of her friends realize her secret and accept her anyways, she comes to accept herself. The book is very heart-warming in this regard and I look forward to continuing Alanna's adventures.

Unfortunately, I've procrastinated as much as I really can on my paper so Alanna and co. will have to wait for a couple days :(

Dez 13, 2009, 7:46 pm

#146: I have never read that series, although I think Catey owns it, so I may have to borrow it!

Dez 13, 2009, 8:06 pm

I really enjoy them, but I am a bit biased. I loved them as a kid. If I remember correctly, Alanna does get a little Mary Sueish in the later books and I recall being annoyed by a love triangle even when I was younger (though it never deterred me from the books :P). I haven't read any of Pierce's other books so I think, after I've finished the Song of the Lioness quartet, I might check those out.

Of course, I also have about 40 youth books checked out from the library to read first :)

Dez 13, 2009, 8:10 pm

Ah, I think Catey owns the Song of the Lioness quartet, not the Alanna series. I am definitely going to have to check.

Hey, I am 47 and still reading kid's books, so 40 out of the library does not surprise me!

Editado: Dez 13, 2009, 9:45 pm

I actually just found out the other library in town has all of Tamora Pierce's books so tomorrow, after one of my finals, I'm making a trip over there with a couple of totes to pick up the ones I couldn't find at my university library (so I need all but three - I think it's eighteenish total). They're quick reads (Alanna only took me a couple hours to finish) so I doubt I'll even have to renew them :)

The other library also has a ton of Diana Wynne Jones books. I listened to one on audiobook this year, but I didn't pay much attention so I really want to give her another shot.

Kid's books are amazing. Never underestimate them.

Dez 13, 2009, 11:06 pm

#150: Kid's books are amazing. Never underestimate them.

I have rediscovered juvenile and young adult literature since joining LT and for the most part have enjoyed every single minute of that reading!

Editado: Dez 14, 2009, 10:23 am

I completely agree - there (and always have been) are some fantastic children's books and I will never understand why some people dismiss them...

I do hope you enjoy Diana Wynne Jones - she's been one of my favourite authors since I was about 7 (mostly comfort reading now ;)) Which was the audiobook you listened to? ...and may I recommend Fire and Hemlock, Archer's Goon, The Magicians of Caprona, Howl's Moving Castle, The Time of the Ghost, The Spellcoats... (better stop...)

I like the sound of Alanna - I shall have to investigate, and I've had Maus on my TBR pile for over a year now - must get round to it...

Edited to remove a shameful apostrophe

Dez 14, 2009, 7:31 am

Definitely move Maus up on the TBR pile, flissp!

Editado: Dez 14, 2009, 8:23 am

Loved your review of PoA. I read it several years ago but will soon reread with my son as soon as he's finished with CoS. I will remember the points you made as I reread.

Dez 14, 2009, 8:58 am

#153 Okey dokey!

Dez 14, 2009, 10:04 am

>152 flissp:: The one I listened to was Howl's Moving Castle. I love the movie to death so I checked out the audiobook from my library. It was my first time listening to an audiobook and I'm fairly certain I zoned out a lot. I know I listened to it a couple of times before bed so I was half asleep and not paying attention and I listened to it over the period of two or three months (it's only an eight hour audiobook) so I'm sure I forgot things. I've since gotten used to audiobooks and I know the places where it's not good for me to listen because I don't pay attention, but I'd really like to revisit HMC and her others. I just have a gut feeling that I'll love her if I give her another chance :)

>154 Carmenere:: Thank you! I felt so strongly about PoA because it is my favorite book and I think it make some of the best points. I hope your son enjoys it (and the rest of the series!).

Dez 14, 2009, 10:27 am

Ah, well the film adaptation of Howl's Moving Castle is very different to the book (although I did enjoy it - particularly the Witch of the Waste), so it's definitely worth giving another go. I like the sequels less, but, while some of her books are definitely better than others, I've never disliked one (that may be rose tinted glasses to some extent of course...)

I know what you mean about audiobooks - I'm not very good at listening to them either - unless I'm on a long car journey where someone else is driving!

Dez 14, 2009, 2:08 pm

Well, you KNOW I'm a big DWJ fan. Don't forget one of her more recent books, Dark Lord of Derkholm, which I love for its characters and its look at fantasy tropes.

I really like Tamora Pierce's work, but her first quartet, while essential to the progression of all the books that follow, is one of her earliest writings and is not as strong as some of the later books. I love her world-building, though, and especially like the Trickster books, her last in that world. I also enjoy her Circle of Magicseries.

Dez 14, 2009, 3:39 pm

>158 ronincats:: It's kind of reassuring to hear the Song of the Lioness Quartet is weaker than later books. If I like them, hopefully I'll love the rest!

The Trickster series were the only ones I couldn't find on my library trip this morning. I'll just have to ILL them when I get closer to that series.

I checked out several DWJ books (I think I nabbed all the ones our library had which wasn't many, maybe six or seven total). I'll be reading those soon too!

Editado: Dez 15, 2009, 4:19 pm

78. In the Hand of the Goddess by Tamora Pierce
Rating: 4/5

Alanna is now a squire, serving Prince Jonathan himself, and soon she'll be facing her own Ordeal to gain her knighthood. First, though, it seems someone has it out for Alanna. Attempts are being made on her life, she's been sent out to fight her first battle, and there's still Duke Roger to worry about. On top of that, both George and Jon have expressed the desire to court her.

This book had much more action than the first and even though I'm a dog person, I still love Faithful the cat. The love triangle between Jon, Alanna, and George is no where near as bad as I remembered (it must been one of those things that annoyed me because last time I read these books, boys still had cooties). The events in the book mature as the characters do and they're faced with realistic situations. Alanna must kill soldiers from an army attempting to take over Tortall. She's growing up and begins an affair with Jon and learns of intimacy. I think Pierce does a good job of discussing such adult themes in a YA book. She doesn't portray killing as fun, glorious, or honorable. Rather, it's very much the opposite. Alanna does have sex for the first time, but Pierce emphasizes that she is wearing an amulet to prevent pregnancy and there is absolutely no explicit detail. All in all, I think it was very well done.

I'm excited to continue my adventures in Alanna's world!

Dez 15, 2009, 4:23 pm

>157 flissp:: that may be rose tinted glasses to some extent of course...

I kind of feel that's how I'm reading the Tamora Pierce books. They were such of favorite of mine when I was little that now, even when I see Alanna is a bit of a Mary Sue at times, I have a hard time caring. I still think they're wonderful reads and I'm enjoying them immensely regardless of their flaws, which is more important I think.

Dez 16, 2009, 1:50 am

Aw, the Alanna books! Those were my absolute favorites in middle school. I may have to reread them soon myself!

Dez 16, 2009, 5:21 am

#161 Ah, I have many books like that - something you were fond of when you were littler can never be bad really, can it?

Which DWJ books did you nab? So jealous of you discovering her for the first time - just hope they live up to ronincats and my high praise for you! ;) There's a new one (Enchanted Glass) out early next year - can't wait...

Dez 16, 2009, 9:55 am

>162 allthesedarnbooks:: So nice to meet another Alanna fan! Have you read her other series too? I haven't yet, but I plan to. I've checked them all out from the library so hopefully I'll get them read soon :)

>163 flissp:: I checked out:

Deep Secret
The Merlin Conspiracy
Aunt Maria
The Power of Three
Stopping for a Spell
A Charmed Life
The Magic of Caprona
The Lives of Christopher Chant
Mixed Magics
The Spellcoats

I have a few incomplete series here so I ordered from ILL (though they haven't come in yet):

Witch Week
Stealer of Souls
Conrad's Fate
Mixed Magics
The Pinhoe Egg
The Drowned Ammet
Cart and Cwidder
Crown of Dalemark

I think the librarians hate me right now. I've checked out so many books and then ILLed these ones...

But I can't wait to start reading!

Dez 16, 2009, 10:27 am

Ooh that's loads - I do hope you enjoy them now!!

The ones you've already got out contain a lot of my favourites...

Just in case you weren't aware (which you probably are, but...), you should really read Deep Secret before The Merlin Conspiracy although, only a couple of characters are carried forwards.

Also, strictly speaking, The Lives of Christopher Chant is chronologically before Conrad's Fate, then Charmed Life, then, The Magicians of Caprona, Witch Week and The Pinhoe Egg (which can't be pinned down in the timeline particularly, but were written in that order). That said, I read them as they were published (Charmed Life, The Magicians of Caprona, Witch Week, The Lives of Christopher Chant, Conrad's Fate then The Pinhoe Egg and that worked too!

If you do enjoy them, you should look out for Archer's Goon, Fire and Hemlock, Homeward Bounders and The Time of the Ghost too and maybe Dogsbody - all of which are stand alones and all great (also, all set more in the real world than the rest, so they feel different, even if there is magic involved...)

The librarians can't hate you for requesting books! Surely that's their raison d'être! ;)

Dez 16, 2009, 10:54 am

>165 flissp:: "Just in case you weren't aware (which you probably are, but...), you should really read Deep Secret before The Merlin Conspiracy although, only a couple of characters are carried forwards.

Nope, not aware at all. Thanks for letting me know!

Wikipedia tells me this:

Charmed Life (1977)
The Lives of Christopher Chant (1988)
Conrad's Fate (2005)
Witch Week (1982)
The Magicians of Caprona (1980)
The short stories can be read in any order after that.

is DWJ suggested reading order so that's probably what I'll do. Author knows best!

Thank you for the suggestions on the other books. This is an author I really, really, really hope I like so I'm excited to start reading her. I'm going to finish the Song of the Lioness Quartet before I do, though that shouldn't take too long. I plan on starting Deep Secret within the week!

"The librarians can't hate you for requesting books! Surely that's their raison d'être! ;)"

But that extra work I put them through, reshelving and ordering books! I hope they don't mind but I still did feel kind of bad :P

Dez 16, 2009, 10:59 am

Just realized Stealer of Souls is one short story published in 2002, not a collection. The poor librarians couldn't find it anywhere so I went back to Wiki and sure enough, it says it's just one story.


Editado: Dez 16, 2009, 11:47 am

Ah, so she probably places Witch Week ahead in time of The Magicians of Caprona - interesting.

I think I probably agree with DWJ in reading Charmed Life ahead of all the other Chrestomanci stories, even if The Lives of Christopher Chant is about the young Chrestomanci - being the first written, it does just set the scene best.

Re Stealer of Souls, that's actually one of the 4 short stories in Mixed Magics, which is on your request list, so you won't miss out ;)

Actually, if you're interested in which short stories are in which collections (there's a lot of overlap), I've recently started to list these in the comments section of my library (only done DWJ & Neil Gaiman so far...) - you can take a look here (just DWJ books).

Dez 16, 2009, 3:26 pm

>168 flissp:: I clicked on your link but it just took me to a page with no books catalogued :(

Dez 16, 2009, 6:59 pm

>164 RebeccaAnn:, I've read her second series after the Alanna books, the Daine books, or the Immortals series, which are also excellent and take place in Tortall. And I have read most, if not all, of the Protector of the Small books, which are not quite as good, IMO. I've read Trickster's Choice which is about Alanna's daughter, but not it's sequel Trickster's Queen yet, although it's sitting on my shelf. I haven't read any of the Beka Cooper books or the Circle of Magic books.

Editado: Dez 17, 2009, 5:20 pm

79. The Woman Who Rides Like a Man by Tamora Pierce
Rating: 4/5

Alanna's finally a knight and, after the scandal that she cause when revealing her true gender, she decides it might be better to have a few adventures away from the castle for awhile. While traveling in the desert, she and Coram are attacked by hillmen and rescued by Bhazir. Soon, Alanna finds herself in the unwanted post of shaman of Bloody Hawk Bhazir tribe with three youngsters as her apprentices. Turmoil's happening in her personal life as well. There's the unwanted marriage proposal by Jonathan and the very much desired official adoption of Alanna by Sir Myles, who makes her his heir. And what's going on with Thom? He seems to be becoming more and more like Roger every day.

I think this is my favorite book of the series so far (though the first is still a strong contender). There's more action in this book, and more romance. I felt this was definitely more adult than the first two books, as there were many more references to sex (though none explicit). I don't remember these scenes from when I was younger so I'm not too worried about it being over the top. I don't think I would hesitate to give any of these books to a child.

George becomes a much more important character in this book which is great, because I love him. He's funny, witty, and definitely cares more about Alanna. That's one thing I do like about these books. With Jon's marriage proposal, Alanna doesn't just say yes. She thinks about and considers whether she's ready for the responsibility. I think it's a nice contrast to other books out there, like Twilight. There's a line, I think Myles says it, in response to Alanna taking time to consider the marriage: "It's easier to change a no into a yes than a yes into a no." I like that these books promote thinking before committing to some huge responsibility, and Pierce does it well without being preachy at all.

As for Thom's side story, I don't know what's going on with him but it doesn't seem to be anything good. This book seems to be a set up towards Thom becoming a major bad guy in the fourth book. I guess I'll just have to find out for myself! Off to read it now!

Dez 17, 2009, 6:29 am

#169 Sorry about that - how odd - it still works for me...

Hmmm. In that case, probably the best thing to do is to go to my profile page and just search "my library" for "Diana Wynne Jones" - should turn everything up...

Maybe it's a privacy thingy - I'll double check that I've not made my catalogue invisible or something...

Dez 17, 2009, 11:15 am

>172 flissp:: I see them! That's a neat (and useful) idea there. I'll probably be using your library for a reference when it comes to DWJ's books. Hope you don't mind :P

Dez 17, 2009, 11:46 am

Not at all! Chuffed actually ;) I'm missing a couple of the young children's ones, but I've got the vast majority of stuff she's written...

Dez 17, 2009, 2:20 pm


I'm way behind on the threads and spending a bit of time during late lunch to make an attempt to get a tad caught up.

I'm adding Maus I: A Survivor's Tale: My Father Bleeds History by Art Spiegelman.

Dez 17, 2009, 4:09 pm

80. Lioness Rampant by Tamora Pierce
Rating: 5/5

Usually, the last book of a series tends to let me down. You spend hours of your time reading the adventure and it just seems the ending can't hold up to it. Not so with the Song of the Lioness Quartet. If anything, there was even more adventure, more fights, and the emotional intensity left me almost in tears a couple times. The final fight was spectacular. I couldn't tear my eyes away from the pages.

In this book, Roger is back, having been resurrected by Thom. The corruption, though, is killing Alanna's brother. Not only that, the king and queen are dead and it's Jonathan's time to ascend to the throne. Though Roger claims his magic is gone, Alanna doesn't believe him. Attempts on Jon's life lead her to think he's after the throne one more time.

This is the best book of the series. I can honestly find no faults with it. I can't even say I'm reading this through "rose tinted glasses" (thanks flissp :P) because I honestly don't remember reading this book when I was younger. Maybe I didn't make it this far in the series or maybe I've just forgotten it, but I felt I was reading this book for the first time and it held up to standards most books meant for adults can't make. Pierce's writing is also loads better, and her fighting scenes much more suspenseful, than they were at the beginning of the series. Seeing such a drastic improvement in a such a short span of time, I can't wait to read the rest of her books. I know they'll be great!

Editado: Dez 17, 2009, 4:11 pm

>175 Whisper1:: That's how I feel every time I go onto your thread! There's always at least twenty posts for me to read (and usually there's more :P )

EDIT: I hope you like Maus I. I really have to get around to reading the second one. Gah! Too many books and nowhere near enough time to read them all!

Dez 17, 2009, 4:21 pm

I totally agree with you on Lioness Rampant. It is, IMHO, a perfect book. I also loved what you said in your review of The Woman Who Rides Like a Man:

"With Jon's marriage proposal, Alanna doesn't just say yes. She thinks about and considers whether she's ready for the responsibility. I think it's a nice contrast to other books out there, like Twilight. There's a line, I think Myles says it, in response to Alanna taking time to consider the marriage: "It's easier to change a no into a yes than a yes into a no." I like that these books promote thinking before commit to some huge responsibility, and Pierce does it well without being preachy at all."

This is EXACTLY one of my favorite things about this series! Alanna has a chance to marry the handsome prince, and she chooses not to. How unusual is that? It's hard enough to find fantasy stories with strong female characters; to find a heroine as independent and thoughtful as Alanna is next to impossible. I, too, love George; he treats her as an equal and a partner. This is the kind of fairy tale ending I can get behind!

Editado: Dez 17, 2009, 5:31 pm

>178 allthesedarnbooks:: Usually, I hate the pairings in a book. I think it's because most fantasy series portray love as there being one person in the whole world that you'll be perfect with. This series is more what I believe. There are several people a person can be with. It's important to follow heart, but you also need to use your head. There's no denying Alanna loves Jon, but she knows she wouldn't be happy unless she were free to go wandering about and being her adventurous self.

I think the series is also good at showing that, even in a "perfect" relationship, you have to work at keeping that relationship together. Both Alanna and George had to make compromises to be together but both of them knew about and were ready for those compromises. Alanna had been with other men, and I assume George with other women, so both knew what they needed from a relationship and knew they could get it from each other. Having had the experience myself of almost marrying someone I was in an unhealthy relationship with, I can say I understand the need to think about what you're getting into first. I don't believe in "sleeping around," but I do think it's wise to not settle on the first person that looks your way. I'll admit that sometimes you meet the right person right away, but most of the time I don't think that's how it works.

And thanks for using that quote! I just realized there's a grammar error in it that I needed to fix! :P

Now, off to read a couple DWJ books before continuing my adventures in Tortall!

Dez 20, 2009, 6:44 pm

81. Deep Secret by Diana Wynne jones
Rating: 4/5

When Rupert's mentor, Stan, dies, it is up to him, the junior Magid, to find a replacement. Lucky for him, Stan left a list. Not so lucky for him, interviewing each one separately could take forever. To make things easier, Rupert decides to join all their fatelines at a science fiction convention rather than hunting them down individually.

Rupert's got other problems, however. The Koryfonic empire is crumbling with the death of its emperor. It is also Rupert's job to hunt down the next ruler. This is proving problematic though. Timon IX was paranoid and has hidden his heirs away.

How is Rupert going to find the time to manage all this?

This book was great. At times it was serious, at time it was just absolutely silly, but always it was a pleasure to read. I found the whole concept of a fantasy novel taking place at a science fiction convention absolutely hilarious and very clever. I loved the characters, though at times they were a bit over the top. Both Rupert and Maree had their sarcastic sides, which is always a plus for me. I love witty characters and these ones had wit in spades.

Honestly, the only part I didn't like was the sudden change in romantic interest for Rupert. He hated Maree and then, the first time he sees her admiring another man, he realizes his hate is really just jealousy and he actually really likes her. It was just too quick and unbelievable for me.

I'm excited to read the next book and discover more about Magids. I found them fascinating and I hope to learn more about the workings of the Magids as there wasn't nearly as much detail as I would have liked in this book.

Dez 21, 2009, 12:41 am

#180: I am very jealous! My local library has exactly 4 of Diana Wynne Jones titles and of course, the one you mentioned is not among them. Still, into the BlackHole it goes, in the hope that one day, I may actually be able to get my hands on it!

Dez 21, 2009, 5:59 am

>180 RebeccaAnn: I've never even heard of that DWJ! It sounds very entertaining (and a hero called Rupert has got to be a winner :-)).

Dez 21, 2009, 10:42 am

#182 He's one of her good heroes too, in my opinion ;)

#180 I'm so glad you enjoyed that one - it's one of my favourites, although for some reason, I always feel a little embarrassed about that (maybe as it's one of only three marketed at adults, even though it feels like YA fiction). I also love that there are large chunks set in Bristol as, having been to University there, I have a very soft spot for it and can recognise everywhere she talks about... Oh, and both Newmarket and Sewards End are near to where I live now...

I also enjoyed the next one The Merlin Conspiracy, but was mildly disappointed that there's absolutely no mention of Maree or Rupert in it...

Dez 22, 2009, 9:20 pm

>181 alcottacre:: I hope you get around to reading it! I enjoyed it quite a bit! I think it's one of the most fun reads I got through this year.

>182 FlossieT:: Rupert doesn't even compare to Nick and Maree's real names. I already returned my books so I can't tell you what they are. Do you know flissp? I remember they were crazy and long ;-)

According to Wikipedia, Nick's full name is Nichothodes Koryfoides. I could have sworn that there were some middle names but I can't seem to find any online. At least you can kind of get the idea!

>183 flissp:: Is it really classified as adult? I really thought it was YA. That's even what I tagged it as. It feels YA. Although now that you mention it, I think I did find it in the adult fiction section of my library (though I found The Merlin Conspiracy in the YA section...). Who knows?

As for The Merlin Conspiracy, I'm a little over halfway done with it and I'm loving it so far. It's nice to learn more about Nick though I agree, it would have been great to see Rupert and Maree again!

Dez 22, 2009, 9:40 pm

82. Black Like Me by John Howard Griffin
Rating: 5/5

This is a fairly famous book so description wise, I don't think there's much to add. Griffin wanted to have first hand experience of black oppression so, with the aid of certain tanning drugs and skin dye, he darkens the pigment of his skin in order to pass in the African American society. This is the tale of his ordeal.

I found this book fascinating. I knew just from lessons in school how bad racism was in the late 50s, so that part didn't surprise me. What was surprising is the contrast Griffin observes between how white people acted around other whites and how they acted around blacks. When he is being verbally attacked by someone, he constantly tries to imagine them in their "other" life. He imagines them tucking their children in, helping a neighbor, hanging out with friends. It really showed how even a person who is ordinarily very kind can have such a dark side to them.

This book was also terrifying in the regards in that it shows how close America came to having our own era of mass genocide. Murders of blacks, as many know, were not heavily investigated (if they were looked into at all) and of course, there was the Ku Klux Klan. I did not, however, know that black men were being offered money to get themselves sterilized and stop "the taint". Though not as violent as say, the Nazi era (which Griffin compares this period of America to), it's still startling and frightening in it's own way. I also did not know about "Take Ten", a motto that became frequent among blacks when racism was at its worst. The black population, knowing the hatred of whites was growing to an all time high, began saying this motto to one another on the streets. America then had a population of ten whites to every one black. For every black man (or woman) killed, they reminded each other to kill ten whites to even the score. This truly chilled me to the bone.

It really is sad the Griffin did not live past the eighties. I think he would have been extremely proud of us now. We may not have racism totally conquered, but with Barack Obama being our first black present, I would say we've come far.

Dez 22, 2009, 9:58 pm

Great review, Rebecca. I gave you a thumbs up. I read this a while back and it had a profound effect on me. I think this is a book that more people should read, and perhaps it will help more understand that a person's skin color is just that ... a color, and that as hair or eye color don't make their owners better or smarter than others with different colored hair and eyes, so too is skin color irrelevant to a person's intellect, morals and character.

Dez 22, 2009, 10:04 pm

#185: I have not read that one yet, so on to the list for next year it goes. Thanks for the review and recommendation, RebeccaAnn.

Dez 23, 2009, 1:49 am

I've heard of Black Like Me but probably would have never considered reading it on my own. Now thanks to your review it's on my wishlist!

Dez 23, 2009, 7:08 am

#184 I remember there being more middle names for Maree and Nick too, but I can't remember them off the top of my head - I'll look them up for you tonight ;)

Re the YA vs adult thing, yes, The Merlin Conspiracy was back to being marketed at children again, so maybe someone somewhere realised that really, she's best at YA!

The funny thing about Deep Secret is that it made me realise that I might actually quite enjoy some of these fan conventions - up until that point, I'd always thought they sounded quite scarily obsessive...!

The other two books DWJ has written that were marketed to adults were A Sudden Wild Magic and Changeover - in my opinion, the former is on the cusp (there are a couple of more adult themes, but really, I'd say it's still a YA book - and not one of her best), but the latter (the first book she wrote and totally different from everything else) is more adult - I'd say it's the only one that is really...

Nothing wrong with YA fiction! ;)

Great review of Black Like Me - something to investigate.

Editado: Dez 23, 2009, 10:58 am

>186 cameling:: I completely agree. I'm glad more people think this way. I think our big issue now is homophobia. All the debate about making gay marriage legal drives me up the wall. It's worse in other places, though. I recently read an article in Minnesota's StarTribune that said in Uwanda, you'll be issued the death penalty for committing acts of homosexuality. It's supposed to be an effort to get rid of AIDS. If you have AIDS, you can get the death penalty. If you were raped by someone and got AIDS that way, you can get the death penalty. You can get around 15 years in prison if you find out someone has AIDS and don't report them. This includes family members. I find this terrifying and upsetting and I wish I could do something about it. This is way too much like killing someone because they're Jewish and it should not be happening.

>187 alcottacre:/188: I hope you both enjoy it! I listened to it on audiobook during the long drive from where I live to my parents house. It's narrated by Ray Childs and he did a fantastic job. The different voices for his characters were amazing. It's only seven hours long so if you like audiobooks, this would be a good way to "read" it.

>189 flissp:: I can't say she's best at YA as I've read a grand total of 2.5 of her books (although I do plan on rereading Howl's Moving Castle - I've already ordered it and am just waiting for it to come in), but I can say she's really really good at YA. I'll be focusing heavily on her and Tamora Pierce for the first part of 2010 in hopes of reading the vast majority, if not all, of their works!

And I will have to check out Changeover just to see what her more adult books are like :)

I hope you enjoy Black Like Me too!

Dez 23, 2009, 11:58 am

>190 RebeccaAnn:: Your comments about Uwanda are scary!

Dez 23, 2009, 3:36 pm

I went back to look at the article. It's Uganda, not Uwanda, which explains why I couldn't find it anywhere online. Here's an article about it. The more I read, the more I think it's a proposed bill and has yet to be passed, but I still think it's terrifying that something like this is even being considered.

Dez 23, 2009, 3:52 pm

83. The Merlin Conspiracy by Diana Wynne Jones
Rating: 4/5

Deep Secret set the bar high but luckily, this didn't disappoint. In this book, we follow Nick and two children from, Roddy and Grundo, as they try to discover what the new Merlin and Sybil, Grundo's mother, are planning to do. They may not be able to figure out the whole picture, but they know the two are up to no good. Now if they can just get someone to listen to them!

I loved this book. It was nice seeing things from Nick's perspective, though I did miss Rupert. He was hilarious and he didn't even earn a passing mention in this book. However, we did get to meet Romanov and I found myself loving him! The pace of this book was fast and exciting, and the ending was just intense! I never once felt like I was getting tired of the Magid story line, even though there wasn't much about Magids in here. That was another nice thing about The Merlin Conspiracy: I got to see how some other magic works. The more I read, the more I realize that the world building is very intricate and I really would love to know more.

The only thing I wasn't too pleased with is it felt like there were quite a few loose ends in this book. I want to know if Grundo and Roddy ever patched things up. I want to know if they do go on to be the next Merlin and the next Lady Governance, respectively. I want to know how much raising the land and turning the magic ninety degrees affected everything. I hoping these loose ends really just mean there will be a third book in the Magid series. I would love to continue my adventures in this universe(s).

Dez 24, 2009, 5:48 am

Me too!

But her next book (Enchanted Glass) seems to be another stand-alone (although I can't help wondering if it's an idea she had whilst writing Deep Secret - I don't know if you remember how frustrated Maree gets about how her uncle reacts to the wobbly glass in their house?)

Changeover is really the only proper adult book she's written and I'm not sure I'd recommend it particularly. I did enjoy it, but it really is a product of it's time and it just didn't feel as finished as most of her books. You can tell it's a first book...

Dez 24, 2009, 3:30 pm

190-192--Rachel Maddow on MSNBC news has been following this story pretty closely.

Dez 24, 2009, 6:58 pm

Merry Christmas to you! I've added many of your books to my tbr pile and I look forward to knowing about the books you read in 2010!

Dez 26, 2009, 1:29 pm

>196 Whisper1:: If I added half the number of books to your wishlist as you added to mine, I feel I have gotten my revenge ;-)

I hope everyone had a Merry Christmas!

Dez 28, 2009, 4:39 am

Just catching up on your thread before the New Year. What a great lot of books you've been enjoying lately. I'm also a fan of Paul Auster, my first one was The Book of Illusions and I'm a fan of Diana Wynne Jones too. I read everything of hers as quickly as I could when I discovered her books about 10 years ago.

Dez 28, 2009, 6:42 am

Just read the first Alanna book and enjoyed it very much - I'm off to request the next one through the library now! ;)

Belated Happy Christmas and early Happy New Year!

Dez 28, 2009, 8:57 pm

>198 avatiakh:: "I read everything of hers as quickly as I could when I discovered her books about 10 years ago."

This is what I''m doing with Tamora Pierce and DWJ right now :)

>199 flissp:: I'm so happy you enjoyed it! I want to go on to her next quartet, the Immortals, but I don't think I could finish it before the end of '09 and starting '10 in the middle of series really doesn't appeal to my OCD mind. Until then, I'll be reading some more DWJ standalones!

Dez 28, 2009, 9:21 pm

84. King Rat by China Mieville
Rating: 4/5

Saul's father has been murdered and he's been framed as the murderer. When he is sprung from jail by a mysterious stranger claiming to be both a rat and his uncle, the mystery increases. And when a stranger arrives playing a flute that can control anyone who hears it, that's when Saul knows he's in way over his head.

I really enjoyed this book. It was fascinating to read an urban fantasy take on the Pied Piper legend. This was dark and gritty with quite a few terrifying scenes and I never found the book short of action. I never wanted to put the book down, even when my eyes were drooping from exhaustion.

The only part I didn't like about the book was it quite easy to predict the ending. I figured out fairly early what the Piper was going to do to attempt to defeat Saul. This predictability was more than countered by the high energy and horribleness of the final battle. And the scene with the children (that's all I'm going to say to avoid spoilers) when the wall split open almost made me cry.

All in all, I highly recommend this book if you have a strong stomach ;-)

Dez 28, 2009, 11:02 pm

Sounds interesting and it's winged its way over to my wishlist. Thanks for the review

Editado: Dez 29, 2009, 3:39 pm

85. Stopping for a Spell by Diana Wynne Jones
Rating: 4/5

This is a collection of three delightful, magical tales. I adored each one and found myself laughing all the way through.

In the first story, "Chair Person", an old armchair gets turned into a human when liquid from a magic crystal ball is spilt on it. Unfortunately, this armchair has the ego of a sofa and it starts to rudely take over the lives of Simon and Marcia. The secret to getting rid of the chair must be in the conjurer's kit where they found the crystal ball, but can they figure it out in time?

The second story, "Four Grannies", was simply hilarious. Emily and Erg have four grannies because each of their parents were married once before they married each other. Now, their parents want to go away for a weekend and they need someone to watch the children. When all four grannies, all with distinct personalities, show up on the doorstop and Emily seems to have been turned into a large, yellow teddy bear, Erg knows he has his work cut out for him.

"Who Got Rid of Argus Flint?" was probably my favorite story of the bunch. Candida is dismayed when her father's old college friend decides to move in after his wife leaves him. Argus Flint is rude and has a nasty habit of picking up children by their hair. Plus, he insults the furniture. Will Candida, and her furniture, be able to get rid of Argus Flint or will they all be driven insane first?

This was a quick, but very fun read! I enjoyed every story in this book and as mentioned early, I found myself laughing out loud quite a bit. A very enjoyable book!

Next up: Aunt Maria, aka Black Maria. Not sure why this is. Seems like an odd and inconsequential thing to change. Anyone know why this is?

Dez 29, 2009, 4:25 pm

'Black Maria' was a piece of old British slang - referring, I think, to a police car. I guess it was changed for US publication??

Dez 29, 2009, 4:35 pm

I've been enjoying hearing about your DWJ and Tamora Pierce reads. Both are childhood favourites of mine, though I've only read a small percentage of DWJ's work. Stopping for a Spell is one of the ones that I haven't read, but I think I'll have to get to it sooner rather than later!

Dez 29, 2009, 5:45 pm

>204 FlossieT:: Interesting. I still don't understand why it was switched. They even reference Black Maria as a card game in the very beginning (a game in which getting the Queen of Spades means you lose). I mean, Aunt Maria makes sense too as it's the name of one of the main characters but still, it just doesn't seem like that important of a detail. It kind of reminds me of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone vs. Sorcerer's Stone. The American title makes sense but it just seems like one of those details that isn't horribly important. Both work so why change it? But then again, maybe it's just me :P

>205 _Zoe_:: I hope you enjoy it! It really was a fun read!

Dez 31, 2009, 1:04 pm

86. Aunt Maria by Diana Wynne Jones
Rating: 4/5

Mig and her brother Chris are forced to visit their old Aunt Maria in Cranbury during their Easter vacation. Aunt Maria is sickeningly sweet and very manipulative. But things are odd in Cranbury. Men are zombies and the women seem to control everything, with Aunt Maria being the "queen bee". At first, Mig doesn't really believe anything magical can really be going on. But when a ghost appears and Chris is turned into a wolf, she can't deny it any longer. Something bad is happening and it seems Aunt Maria is at the very center of it all. Can Mig stop her in time?

Despite the plot being less original than Deep Secret and The Merlin Conspiracy, I think this is actually my favorite DWJ book so far. There was just the right amount of paranoia, terror, sarcasm and silliness. It created a perfect mixture that I just couldn't get enough of. I loved Mig. Her secret thoughts the reader is privy to were hilarious most of the time. Chris was also a great character. His dark humor had me in stitches.

The plot was a bit predictable, though. It's the only downside to the book. People visit a small town that is not all it first appears to be. Eventually they learn all the dark stuff that's going on and set the town to right. It's a fairly common plot, but it's still entertaining and DWJ does it justice, so I'm not complaining. Much, anyways ;-)

This is definitely a book I'll be purchasing at some point. It is of reread quality. In fact, writing this review has actually made me want to go back and start reading the book all over again :)

Dez 31, 2009, 1:05 pm

And sadly, that's probably all the reading I'll get done for 2009. Can't wait to start of my '10 thread!

Dez 31, 2009, 9:40 pm

There's another appealing DWJ that I haven't yet read!

Happy New Year!

Jan 1, 2010, 4:42 am

Happy New Year, Rebecca!

Jan 12, 2010, 12:43 pm

Very belatedly arriving at the end of your last year's thread! So pleased your enjoying DWJ so much! It's a very long time since I read Black Maria and now I come to read your review, the initial setup reminds me a lot of Elizabeth Gaskell's Cranford - I wonder if that was deliberate?! I shall have to look it out again...

Am also looking forward to King Rat after that review (I picked it up in a charity shop last summer and it's been on the shelf ever since...)!