I finally had some time to catch up on my reading! Here’s the list of books I’ve read in the last two months.

1. The Gone Away World by Nick Harkaway: By far, The Gone Away World was my favorite summer read. It is full of wonderful randomness and lots of new words. This is one of the rare books I will read again!

2. Good Omens by Neil Gaiman: I think I’m in a British phase, but I enjoyed the humor immensely.

3.  A Conspiracy of Kings by Megan Whalen Turner: This is the latest book in The Queen’s Thief series. See Liz’ review of this series.

4. The Millenium Trilogy by Stieg Larsson: I usually avoid mystery novels and New York Time’s Best Sellers, but I admit I enjoyed all three. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo DVD was released this week. I will most likely watch it just to see how they portrayed  Lisbeth Salander on-screen.


Jennifer Crusie

Verdejez put the first romance novel into my hands, Charlie All Night, during a Very Bad Year in the life of my graduate student career. And damn! It wasn’t even Crusie’s best effort. Kind of like if you are sending a friend to their very first opera, it should be La Boheme or Die Zauberflote, if you are sending a friend on their first romance, Crusie is a safe place to start. She writes the sex and happy endings, but also includes decent plotting, characterization and dialogue (I happen to know that a certain male roommate of mine snuck into my room and secretly read through my selection). Read the rest of this entry »

ej’s random 2009 top books

December 29, 2009

not in any particular order, just how i remembered them:

1.  American Gods by Neil Gaiman (his books are all great if you like a little sci-fi)

2.  Grave Sight by Charlaine Harris (this is a series, i think i read 2 others in the series as well)

3.  The Green Rider by Kristen Britain

4.  A History of Genetics by A. H. Sturtevant (nerdy, i know, but i enjoyed it!)

5.  Genome by Matt Ridley (really fun, written for the general public)

6.  The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley

7.  Banana by Dan Koeppel (if you like bananas, it’s worth the read)

8.  Anansi Boys by Neil Gaiman

9.  On the Road by Jack Kerouac

10.  The Princess Bride by William Goldman

clearly these are not actually books from 2009, in fact, none of them were released in 2009.  i’ve also read a lot of cookbooks, but they are all old as well.

If they have NAMES and characters, then you will be sorry to lose them, otherwise not. See also COMPANIONS.”

~Diana Wynne Jones, The Tough Guide to Fantasyland

Shortly after happening upon The Tough Guide to Fantasyland in the Dewey stacks of my local library, I saw it referenced somewhere, as you see a thing everywhere once you’ve become aware of its existence. It was mentioned as being brilliant but hard to find. I found it, I swear, shelved in the travel section. Or maybe just near the travel section, which isn’t far from poetry in the Magnolia stacks. Were I a librarian I would misshelve it to have my little joke, but I suppose that would be breaking the librarian code of honor.  I do not mean to slander the Magnolia librarians. I’m sure they shelved it correctly. Once a book goes to the non-fiction stacks it is simply not likely to be seen again. The Guide is structured as a mock encyclopedia of all the elements found in your average fantasy adventure novel, pitched as if to a noob embarking on a Tour. Jones, herself an author of numerous fantasies for kids including the wonderful Howl’s Moving Castle, knows whereof she writes. Entries are alphabetical for easy reference, e.g.: Read the rest of this entry »

Roundabout book review

December 22, 2009

While climbing near Las Vegas, the other B and I happened upon a lovely used bookstore. Of course, since it was Vegas the bookstore was in a strip mall next to Dottie’s Spirits and Gaming. But, whatever. I was impressed to find an independent bookstore in the land of Humvees and Beamers.

I walked into the bookstore with the hope that the dusty shelves would hold our October read (see RevDrLiz’s post here). Although it was not to be, the kind (yet rusty) book peddler was happy to assist me in my search.

It went a little something like this:

“Do you guys happen to have The Arsonist’s Guide to Writers Homes in New England?”

“Arsonist’s Guide? Hmm…” He looked around, scratched his balding head. Then, his eyes lit. “You know, I think we have that. Yep, it’s in home repairs.”

I was touched by his seemingly authentic desire to help, and vaguely intrigued by the assumption that a guide to arson would be in the home repairs section.

“Um…Actually, it’s a novel.”

“Oh.” I sensed chagrin. Obviously, a novel about arson was far less exciting than the prospect of a diminutive arsonist getting her start in his shop. “Well all right then, let’s take a look, shall we?”

While the other B baked in the car, the owner and I waded through piles of Mary Higgins Clark, looked beneath filthy paperbacks (the smutty cover wasn’t the filthy part) and ran our fingers over the ‘new’ fiction section that showcased novels printed when I was prenatal.

It was like a treasure hunt. The Arsonist’s Guide, although only a few years old, could have been in his shop, and the possibility filled him with energy and me with amusement. Sadly, even our combined forces couldn’t find the book in question.

Rather than leave empty-handed, I picked up a different book: A Confederacy of Dunces. I bought it, got a wink and an eye twinkle from the peddler, and left happy. Read the rest of this entry »

Our bests

December 21, 2009

Happy Holidays book club friends!

Soooo…end-of-the-year/ end-of-the-decade “best of” lists are everywhere. I’m feeling inspired. I think we should weigh in with our important “best of” opinions too. But, rather than selection by voting or some method democratic and tedious, or editorial dictatorship (by me), I am thinking free-for-all, post-what-you like anarchy would work best for us. Please, pretty please, consider considering the following question in a book-club blog post (or two):

What writings are your “best of” 2009 and (or) the aughts?

You may interpret that as broadly or narrowly as you like. For example. Your post could be titled: “Best nature writing of 2000-2009”, “Best gothic steampunk air-balloon romance of 2009”, “Best (10) books evar“, “Most delicious culinary literature of 200x”, “Most alluring cover art of the year”, or “Only novel I had time to read in 2009, fucking school”. Top 10 vampire novels? (I’m looking at you, verdejez). Short stories, graphic novels, non-fiction, and magazine articles are all eligible. My only stipulation is that the number of items on your list be between 1 and 10. If you need help starting a new post, lemme know (special to Mel: we need to invest you with blog authorship powers). Your post need not be as long and wordy as mine; don’t be intimidated by my shining brilliance. OK?

login here!

Cheers! I love you.


Gorham sexy

December 19, 2009

Continuing my explorations into the digital holdings of the Seattle Public Library, I borrowed The Edge of Impropriety, by Pam Rosenthal, and gulped it down over the course of one late night (a terrible, terrible habit). The Adobe pdf version of the print copy sadly has no cover art (how is this possible? It’s digital! It could sparkle and dance if the publisher put the slightest effort in) and does not re-paginate itself to fit my screen, but it does have a functional table of contents, unlike some of the other pdf ebooks I have sampled, and clean, distinct text. Unlike your average pdf file, ebook pdf’s restrict any copying, making quoting from the digital text as tedious as print. Le sigh.

The Edge of Impropriety is a romance without a typically lurid romance cover, going instead for the zoomed-in nineteenth century portraiture with cut-off head look. The marketing department may have targeted more of a mass-market fiction than romance audience; readers who like light romantic fiction but don’t shop the romance aisles. The design reminds me of Lauren Willig’s The Secret History of the Pink Carnation, which I usually see shelved in “Fiction”. The prose of Edge flows smoothly and elegantly, developing the characters without recourse to fits of descriptive detail, backstory dumpage, or excessive reliance on stereotyped romance tropes. And the sexxoring, when they get down to it (chapter 7), is HOT. Hawt even. Which I do not find to be typical. Did I hold the story to higher standards because the aforementioned elements were good? Perhaps, for the plot bored me, though in summary, it does not appear more boring than the average historical romance. Read the rest of this entry »