Thursday, January 12, 2017

By the sea shore

The corpse with the diamond hand by Cathy Ace.  Murder mystery by a British-born Canadian author, good for a box on the list.  One down, 69 to go.


This is an ARC I picked up last time I was at PNBA.  Looking for things I could take on vacation and ditch when I was done (obviating the need to pack it home), I rediscovered this on my shelf.  The setting is an inter-island Hawaiian cruise, so appropriate for Maui beach-side reading.

This story was too incredible, as in "impossible to believe."  The main character is a criminal psychologist with a photographic memory who is married to a retired police detective.  Among the possible suspects, every single one had both motive and opportunity.  In order to finally ferret out the guilty party, the main character gathers everyone together to explain all the known facts and watch the bad guy overreact.  This is a series installment, but easy to jump in to: it's obvious that the other books all follow a similar story arch, so if this is your preferred type of book candy, good news.

I met the author at PNBA and she was lovely and personable.  She was keen to talk with book groups, if yours likes this kind of novel.

Bonus review: we are currently waiting to fly out of Kahului on Hawiian Airlines.  Today's check-in and airline service experience has been truly abysmal.  We had to walk back and forth across the airport twice because of inadequate signage.  
The self-check-in machine would not let us pay for our checked bag.  A staff member eventually deigned to help us check out bag, but would not help us with our seat selection.  Skipping over the difficulty and unpleasantness of TSA in OGG (no space, poor signage, etc.), we walked directly to our gate.  I went to ask a question about our seating assignment.  After waiting in line for 10 minutes, I was informed there had been a(n unannounced) gate change.  The staff at the first gate could not help me.  After finding our new gate and again waiting an excessive amount of time considering the number of staff standing around, I was tersely informed that the airline has no guarantee to actually reserve the seats I booked online.  Hawaiian Airlines: not recommended under any circumstances.  The next 5 and a half hours should be fun.

in transit

Black mirror, created by Charlie Brooker, 2/3rds of season 1.  Netflix has suggested this to me before.  I looked at it and thought it was too weird. More recently, a coworker suggested it to me, so I looked again. Parts where available for Netflix's new (?) download-to-device feature, so I saved them to my device for the airplane ride. 


This is too weird for me.  It's pretty out there. There are some interesting ideas; it might be more enjoyable when watched with someone else, for purposes of discussion, but alone I found them... haunting.  Not recommended. 

Law and disorder by Heather Graham.  There are some serious flaws here.  Within the first few dozen pages, the author can't decide what to focus on: the main character's history, the location's history, the location's description, and, oh yeah, the plot all get fairly equal page time. The dialogue is clunky and wooden, a better example of how not to write engaging prose. 
The pre-pub ebook's formatting isn't doing any favors.  The text is in several different sizes within each page, which is difficult on the reader. The lines are in no paragraph form-- they run a full line across the page, a half line across, a full line across and so on. It makes it hard to sort out the dialogue.  There isn't anything in the story that makes it worth it to fight through the formatting. 

Bound with love by Megan Mulry.  I saw this title mentioned quite a few times, in different places; it was positively commented on.

As a work of fiction, it wasn't great.  There were some jarring, out-of-place (more modern) phrases that clashed with the time period.  The main characters were supposed to be older women, but they acted like teenagers.  The story felt truncated, more like a novella in length-- we finished up with a minor problem and I thought we were ready to get into the meaty part of the novel, but, oh, it's the also-by-the-author page.  

The last chapter set up the next book, so readers who enjoyed the fluffy nature can look forward to more. 

As a work of not-mainstream romance, it was tasteful.  The romantic pair were portrayed without stereotypes--just the lack of dimension necessitated by a book of this length.  There were few specific, detailed scenes, none lurid.  The second book promises to take on a different type of relationship.

Tuesday, January 03, 2017

Unmentionable not mentioned

How could I have forgotten Unmentionable!  I added it to a post a few weeks ago, but it failed to save, and I said to myself, "that's ok, I'll remember to add it on the next post."  But I forgot!  I have updated the table to reflect one additional nonfiction-print-by-female-author.

Unmentionable: The Victorian lady's guide to sex, marriage, and manners by Therese Oneill.  I was going to link to the original review I read, which I cannot now seem to locate.  The reviewer referred to the narrator as something like a barmaid-type personage familiar with all levels of Victoria society.  The narrator character's omniscience was actually a down point for me: she knew everything about both this historical and present day periods, becoming instantly not believable.  The narration was also rather repetitive in places, at the expense of exploring more topics with more depth. 

Still, a good, informative, funny book, certainly 4 out of 5 stars.

Now, for 2017:

Red Dwarf, series XI, with Chris Barrie and Craig Charles.  We watched this all the way through on New Year's Day, and we will continue to watch it one or two episodes at a time until, like all the other series, we can recite it forwards, backwards, and sideways.  We're mostly done with a second run-through by now, and are picking up on asides and such which were missed the first time through.

The consensus among the household is that series XI is very good, funny, witty, but not quite as good as series X.  All of the episodes include one or more outside characters.  While characters beyond the core four aren't bad as such, the story lines and writing are at their best when it's four people trying to survive in space, trying to devise more ingenious ways of wasting time and maybe trying to get home sometimes.  Episodes-- and seasons-- that are carried by the characters and their personalities are stronger.  Looking forward to XII.

NPR laughter therapy: A comedy collection for the chronically serious by NPR.  (NF, but a duplicate number.)  I guess NPR just isn't really my thing.  I've listened a few times on the radio.  Does this mean I'm not cerebral, or just not pretentious? 

Some of the comedians interviewed were funny, but none of them are people I seek out.  Just something to listen to at the Y, I guess.

Sunday, January 01, 2017

Review

oo, look: I made a table:

The Books Started number does not include books flipped through at work for program purposes.  I'm pretty impressed with my finishing percentage.  Good job to me; gold star.

My 2015 reading challenge was to complete a 48-hour book challenge.  I later added the additional goal of  making greater strides in my nonfiction survey. At some point, I also determined I wanted clean up the messy, non-standardized capitalization when entering titles. 

I get another gold star for these.  I organized my 48-hour reading challenge in July, and loved it, despite the rain.  I was hoping to squeeze in another one in early December-- the spouse and I tentatively planned a cabin-camping weekend, but both boys were horribly sick the day before and day of and it didn't materialize.  The 48-hour reading challenge is not to be missed.  A 2017 edition is not going down as an actual resolution, per se, but it will certainly stay as a personal goal.

Before counting this year's reads, I felt I did really poorly on the nonfiction front.  I didn't realize how many I'd read.  Many turned out to duplicate numbers I've already covered, but I was able to add a small handful of new numbers.  

Finally, I embraced the APA and only capitalized first words, first words after colons, and proper nouns when reporting book titles.  It matches up with some of the special cataloging stuff I do at work, so the conformity makes me calm and happy.
I spent a few weeks letting 2017's challenge percolate.  It seems like many readers like to-do-type lists.  These from Popsugar, Bustle, and this Read the World Challenge all had elements that appealed to me.  Removing the duplicates and the self-help entries, I have a very nice list of 70 suggestions.


This is a good list for me: much of what I'm likely to read without any prompting will check off many of the boxes.  The rest of the to-dos will be a nice stretch, to make me remember there's more out there than my five fave genres/authors/story formats.  Rules for myself: one book can only count for one box.

Happy 2017.  Now get reading.

Saturday, December 31, 2016

Yule Book Flood!

Vampires in the lemon grove by Karen Russell.  I was describing last year's Yule Book Flood fun, in which I received A land more kind than home, to a coworker, and she suggested we do it at work.  So we set up a Secret-Santa-esque round among a dozen interested coworkers.  This is what I received from my Yule Book Elf-- along with a bar of Gingerbread Spice Theo Chocolate, which I cannot recommend highly enough.  It sounds maybe odd, but is divine.

This book was from the same coworker who previously suggested Sleep donation, which I liked.  This book is even better!  I know this was popular after its release a few years ago; every time I had to reorder it, I read the descriptions or reviews and tried to figure out what the heck it was about.  I added it to my TBR list and took it off more than a handful of times.

The author's literary awards are impressive, so it's interesting to read sci-fi- and fantasy-tinged fiction in this style.  There aren't any of the usual tropes common to the genre.  Most of the stories are intriguing because no other author has approached quite that topic in quite that way.  (For a few of the stories, there's a good reason no one has taken quite that tactic.  They're a little too far out there, but still interesting as a collection of exploratory literary science fiction.)

Everyone should celebrate Yule Book Flood.  Here are the rules we use:
1.  Organize book givers and receivers.  For small families/groups, straight exchanges work.  For larger groups, a giving-in-the-round (person A gives to B who gives to C, around until the last person gives to A) is good.  It doesn't have to be a secret-- a conversation to make sure the recipient has not yet read the book, likes the genre, etc., will ensure a better gift. For a party group, a white elephant set up (but with desirable titles) could also be fun.
2.  Deliver a new or gently-used book, along with a chocolate bar or other treat of choice, to your Yule Book recipient by 12/23.
3.  Save your book and treat until December 24th-- no peeking!
4.  Take your treat and book and go to bed early on 12/24.  The best way to start the holidays!

These are not official rules, and a little bit of research indicates that the image that started me off last year might be less than factual.  It doesn't matter, it's a wonderful thing to do, super fun, and worth becoming a tradition if it isn't already.

And now, things slightly less special, although still great.

World of trouble by Ben H. Winters.  The story took an unexpected turn: the plot did not fall out as one might anticipate.  It was a little jarring, although not inappropriate.
The ending is wonderful--strong and emotional, and maybe just a tiny bit hopeful.

Bitch planet: Book one: Extraordinary machine by Kelly Sue Deconnick, Valentine De Landro, and others.  Definitely not appropriate for all readers, but I love how information about the future society wasn't laid out; at the end of this book, there are still alot of things not explained.  Looking forward to book 2.  

The Santa Clause with Tim Allen.  Our family watched this before Christmas; I had seen it bunches of time ages ago, but not in the last 15 years.  It's cute and funny, but the sexist jokes and fat-shaming in family movies from the 1990s is surprising.  It's like watching Looney Tunes.

13 things that don't make sense: The most baffling scientific mysteries of our time, by Michael Brooks; read by James Adams.  (500)  I admit I didn't look closely at the description before checking this out; the first half is all about astrophysics and advanced space stuff, which was hard for me to follow.  That was probably exacerbated by conditions at the Y: TVs in every corner, cocky 20-year-olds cussing and throwing down heavy weights in the back of the room... I was able to follow the second part, mostly about biological processes, much better.  The reader was very easy to listen to.

Woodsong by Gary Paulsen; read by the author.  (796.5092)  The boy and I had a long drive for a wrestling tournament yesterday, so I grabbed a couple of things available on OverDrive.  I paused this after the first chapter, which was more graphic than I anticipated, but it didn't phase the 3rd grader in the backseat. He was enthralled, even stayed awake the whole way home to finish it. 

I was rather disappointed narration; the diction was sloppy and almost completely lacking in emotion.  A professional reader could have done a better job.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

audios

I did a preliminary end-of-year count, so I'm feeling pretty motivated right now.  (Thus all the posts clustered together.)  My numbers won't be off the charts, but they are respectable.

I have a bunch of audios, because I've traded in my 35-minute runs for high-intensity half-hours on the elliptical machine at the Y (at least until it warms up outside!).  I don't need my music on the machine, so, hello audio time!

Thank you, Jeeves by P.G. Wodehouse; performed by L.A. Theatre Works.  A repeat, somehow, in some combination, from other compilations or from the TV series, but still enjoyable.  I like the dramatic adaptions for a radio cast.

The code of the Woosters by P.G. Wodehouse; performed by L.A. Theatre Works.  I've seen/heard this one before, too, but it's one I don't like as much.  Skipped.

My man, Jeeves by P.G. Wodehouse; narrated by Simon Prebble.  Check.

Very good, Jeeves by P.G. Wodehouse; narrated by Jonathan Cecil. Check-check.

Also, have you seen OverDrive's new app, Libby?  It's in beta, but there's no restrictions on who can use it-- just search it in the app or play store.  In some ways, it is smooth, but there are a few things I couldn't find.  Send your feedback to them!

Impressions, follow-up (tardy)

I looked at dozens of books for the program I mentioned, which was on 12/3, but I was in such a rush I wasn't able to write them down.  I also ended up going a different direction than usual, matching coffees to books set in, or written by authors from, the same countries as the beans.  Here is the final list presented:


Circling the sun by Paula McLain.  I quick-read this one and presented it.  It was pretty good.  The landscapes were beautifully-described, and the main character was strong.  The secondary characters were a bit fuzzy, but I'll ascribe that to my hurried reading.  A few people present at the program had read the autobiography by the real-life individual the main character is based on; they unanimously said the autobiography was wonderful.

No one writes to the Colonel: And other stories by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. I didn't retain much from my quick glance at this, except to remember that the Nobel-prize winning author considered this his own best work.
Say her name by Francisco Goldman.  I wish I could realistically put this on my TBR pile.  Autobiographical-novel; the volunteer reader was impressed by the powerful writing.
Saving the world by Julia Alvarez.  Frame story, one historical fiction.  Wish I could add to my TBR.
Prayers for the lost by Jennifer Clement and Mosquito coast by Paul Theroux.  Chosen to fit the theme and well-reviewed; I don't remember much at this point.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Winter notes

Slow cooker revolution: One test kitchen, 30 slow cookers, 200 amazing recipes by America's Test Kitchen.  I didn't realize America's test kitchen was the author group when I placed my hold: I just placed holds on half a dozen weeknight-menu-type cookbooks.  This was, then, a pleasant surprise; I love ATK!  Some of their stuff can be fancy but they have a pretty good idea of what's actually realistic in a normal kitchen. 
... Unlike the next author.

Things I love: most of the recipes use normal ingredients I can actually find.  They are for meals that are not crazy-fancy or weird flavor combinations, and my family will actually eat them. They state very clearly the time it will take in the crockpot, with options for either high or low setting.  There is no down side to America's Test Kitchen cookbooks.  Thinking about buying this for home.

The Pioneer Woman cooks dinnertime: Comfort classics, freezer food, 16-minute meals, and other delicious ways to solve supper!  by Ree Drummond.  This is not a good or realistic cookbook for most people.  I guess the author is kind of a celebrity?  She spent an inordinate amount of time trying to convince the reader that she's "just like us!"  Really, most of the recipes are too fiddly, have too many long or complicated steps, or are otherwise not useful for week nights for working families. Even the "16-minute meals" weren't useful-- they relied heavily on canned ingredients, which I can't eat (crazy, uncommon, stupid allergy) and also had a tendency toward weird combinations.  Not recommended. 

Countdown city by Ben H. Winters.  Excellent.  I'm kind of surprised I like these, because the writing style is a little outside of proper conventions-- there are a fair number of fragments for emphasis, or use of a comma when it should be a semicolon, and some sentence repetition, but the author totally pulls it off: it comes off as artistic and adds emphasis rather than seeming like lazy editing.

Saturday, November 12, 2016

quick impressions

Once again gearing up for a book-review program and trying to find a few things to fit.  These programs are a fair bit of work but get great attendance and everyone loves them.  I'm happy to share my templates with staff from other systems!

The descriptors I'm trying to match:
1. savory; language, mouth-feel; complex; sweet.  The book you stop and read sentences aloud just to hear them.
2. bright; a little nutty; clear-- shine; full body
3. composed; balanced; big, layered; welcoming
4. dark, darker; full body; bittersweet
5. smooth; brilliant; stands out; gently spiced; crisp
6. Not yet defined.

All the Birds in the Sky by Charlie Jane Anders.  Heavy on the narration, which seems to be a common element among books that, after the program, circulate and continue to circulate well, but this requires a big leap on the part of the reader, to just jump straight into magical realism without an introduction to the world.

Relativity by Antonia Hayes.  Strong first page, but the second chapter has quite a bit of dialogue from the child character, which doesn't seem very realistic.  Even suspending disbelief because the synopsis makes clear he's an incredible child, it doesn't sound right, doesn't strike true.  Skipping ahead, much of the narration seems jerky.

The Good Liar by Nicholas Searle.  Grabbing, engrossing; after skimming 10 pages, I'm in.  I'll read more over the weekend.

Dear Fang, with Love by Rufi Thorpe.  Definitely enthralling for some, but not likely to appeal to 45 out of 50 people.  It has a little bite, a little purposefully-chosen crassness to swing away from what otherwise is engrossing language.  Why be jarring on purpose?

Thursday, November 03, 2016

The triumph of seeds and others

The triumph of seeds: How grains, nuts, kernels, pulses, and pips conquered the plant kingdom and shaped human history by Thor Hanson.  I must've started this 18 months ago, shortly after I got back from PNBA.  I wanted to like it: the author was personable and a good speaker. I did like it, or at least, I have the impression that it is a good book and I should like it. But I am unable to finish it.  I can't really specify what is missing.  I passed it on to a coworker who enjoys plant-centric nonfiction. It is a great match for a smaller group of readers. 


The good liar by Nicholas Searle.  I was ready for this to be a bit more, genre-mixing-wise, than it turned out to be.  I was probably seeing what I wanted to see in a few early sentence choices, so I was a little disappointed when they didn't turn out to be any time travel or paranormal business. 

This was overall a mostly enjoyable story. The storytelling format kept me interested and did a good job of releasing just enough information at a time.  I was a little disappointed with the end, the last chapter or two, but definitely a book I can recommend to most readers.

The gene: An intimate history by Siddhartha Mukherjee.  I unfortunately didn't get very far in this, but I can say the first two chapters are great. I am interested in picking it up again when I have time for a 400-page tome that requires a bit more mental involvement than most of my choices. 

The invoice by Jonas Karlsson.  I vaguely remember a review or two, and I had a semi-formed, and, as it turns out, incorrect impression about what this book was about. Although different from what I was expecting, this is a wonderful book.  It is different than what I usually read in the way it focuses on the character; it is somehow different from the other character-driven novels I claim are my preference. I'd like to try more of this type.

The last policeman by Ben H. Winters.  Crikey.  Another 5-star book.  I was sort of aware of this book, and would have recognized the title and author if prompted. I think I may have written it down a few times, although I don't think I ever checked it out. I was in the stacks the other day and a patron suggested it to me after asking if I knew (off the top of my head, of course) what the most recent book in the series is titled. She went on for a bit about how much she enjoyed it, enough to tip me over the edge and check it out.

I started this Sunday afternoon and the only reason I didn't finish it late, late Sunday night or early Monday morning  was my need to be able to think and form sentences at work today. It's done and I have the second in hand. I need to sleep but I'll get a few chapters in, more likely. 

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Guh, I've been working on this post forever!

The blessing way by Tony Hillerman.  I couldn't get into this, largely because of the language.  I read for a while, wavering between "it's artistic\experimental" and "this author never talks to real people."  In the end, it doesn't matter, does it?  Not-natural language is not-natural language.


Ordinary grace by William Kent Krueger.  This was suggested to me by a coworker, and I can see both why he liked it and why he suggested it to me.  Unfortunately, I was confused about a few identity details in the first couple pages and couldn't get it all sorted out in my mind in time to become invested.  Worth another try somewhere down the line, but I put it down this time.

Hell's gate by Bill Schutt and J.R. Finch.  I remember that I saw stars and great reviews associated with this.  I read fully half of it, and the book has no idea what it is trying to be.  I cannot, off the top of my head, think of a book that tries to mix 3 or more genre elements and is successful in doing so.  This is part historical fictioin, part alternative history, part mystery, part paranormal, part conspiracy story.  There are good elements-- the feel is very WWII-era fiction, the main character is a man's man appropriate for the era-- but it's not a smooth read.

The chronicles of Narnia: The voyage of the Dawn Treader with Georgie Henley and Skandar Keynes.  I am pretty sure I saw this before, but in a my-husband-watched-it-and-I-napped-in-the-same-room sort of way, because it was familiar, but I know I haven't read the book (started it but only got a few chapters in and set it down).

The actor who plays Eustace does a fantastic job!  That role, done poorly, could really have broken the movie.  I cannot comment obviously on the adaptation, but as a movie it's a good one-- I enjoyed the effects without feeling they were overdone, the characters were believable, the action was good.

Nurse Jackie, seasons 1 and 2, with Edie Falco.  Netflix suggested this for me, and there are definitely similarities to some other things I've watched, but I'm not going to continue past season 2.  It is a good suggestion for people who like Orange is the new black-- graphic, dark, unapologetic-- and also House-- a self-destructive medical professional who is great at the job but a crappy human.

I'm not going to continue because the main character is so purposefully self-destructive.  I've watched a couple other things in which the main character is a destructive, unlikable, unredemable person, but the secondary characters are so interesting and well-drawn they make it worth continuing.  That is not the case here.

The librarians, season 2, with Rebecca Romijn.  Hmm, it ha been a while since I binged this one weekend.  I continue to be a little in love with Christian Kane's character-- I know I said it before, but such a good fit for him!  The advent of season 3 this fall makes me almost wish I had TV.

Something new: Tales from a makeshift bride by Lucy Knisley.  I wish this had existed-- and I had read it-- before our wedding.  We didn't know anyone who had gotten married, hadn't attended any weddings since the one I was a flower-girl in when I was 5.  Despite our best intentions, our celebration ended up being a little more commercialized, a little more cookie-cutter than I wanted, but I didn't really know how to avoid it.  It was years and years before I knew anyone who incorporated anything hand-made into their reception.

Track of the cat and A superior death by Nevada Barr.  This continues to be a popular series I'm regularly replacing, so I thought I would give it a try.  After two installments, I'm nearly disgusted with... I'm not sure.  Myself because it is so full of errors and problems but I still want to read the next one?  The publisher for continuing such a long series when each volume needs a great deal more editing?  Readers in general with low standards?

The main character is great, and she carries these books.  She, along with the well-incorporated natrual setting, is the only reason to continue reading.  In the first book, problem include:
-character makes major oversight in trying to solve the murder.  You call yourself law enforcement?
-secondary characters lack depth and are little more than sterotypes.
-messy resolution and no follow-up.
Problems from the second book:
-bipolar secondary characters: you tied him up and left him to work his way out when he threatened to kill you; you run into each other the next day and he helps you fix your boat?
-other secondary characters were indistinct from each other and too numerous.
-the what-happened-after-she-cornered-the-bad-guy was better,  but this time wrapped up perhaps a little too neatly, like the author checked off boxes for each character to close up the last chapter.

Adulthood is a myth: A "Sarah's scribbles" collection by Sarah Andersen.  This is not a volume necessary to the library collection-- it is most likely to catch the eye of people familiar with the artist from seeing her online, but people who have seen a few of her things online are likely to have already seen everything contained in this volume.  I didn't see anything new.

The dragon round by Stephen S. Power.  I didn't get very far in this-- I had read a really good review, but I wasn't super confident after reading the first couple pages, then time ran out and I had to return it for someone else's hold.  

Sunday, September 04, 2016

killing time this morning

We are on the Little Peninsula* to attend an event this afternoon but I am sitting at me in-laws' house waiting for everyone to get back-- my husband woke me up at 8:32 and said "Can you be ready for church at 9?"  No, I can't be presentable in 25 minutes when 4 or more people are competing for one bathroom.  On the plus side, I've gotten to enjoy several cups of coffee in quietness.  First, though, I picked up my book.  I was excited to crack the next one in Jodi Taylor's series.  I had looked at it a bit dubiously when I checked it out yesterday: having read the title list a few times, I thought the title I had in hand came farther down the list.  But, 1) I ordered the titles in order on successive ordering carts, so trusted that they would arrive in order, and 2) the back of the book shows the cover images of the first three books, which encouraged my belief that this was #4 in hand.  After reading a few pages, I was surprised that some obviously big life events had apparently happened between books.  After a few other catching-the-reader-up-to-speed info-bombs, I determined this was not, in fact, book 4.  In actuality, it is book 7.
*not its real name.

Brave with Kelly Macdonald.  I've watched this once (maaaaybe twice) before, but I don't think I wrote it down.  This is a fun movie and I like the music.  It keeps the silliness to a minimum, but unlike Inside Out, it is definitely a kids' movie (although, in the way of most Disney/Pixar, still fun for grown-ups).  Not one I feel driven to own, but I'll probably watch it again sometime.

Orange is the new black, season 4, with Taylor Schilling.  I apprecciate how little we actually had to see Piper in most of these episodes (although the whineyness is starting to dissipate).  I like the depth we get with Joe.  This series certainly isn't for everyone, but fans will not be disapointed in this season.  (I'm probably late to the party-- I'm sure most big fans binge-watched it in a week, so this is old news.)

Up with Ed Asner.  This was a super deep, complicated, awesome story... until the bird part.  Then it got crazy and stupid-silly.  There were still a few touching moments, but my husband and I both independently described it as parts of two different movies, written by different people and scotch-taped together.  The kid parts are kid parts, and the grown-up parts are grown-up; they are not woven together smoothly.

Men in black 3 with Will Smith.  This is the best of the three-- less silliness-for-the-sake-of-silliness, fewer outrageous special effects inserted only to say "look at our budget!"  The story was simpler and there was more reason to care about the characters.  I was extremely impressed with the actor for Young K.  He is amazing.  How long did he have to practice to get the voice down?  He did a wonderful job.

Life Story with David Attenborough.  Another David Attenborough documentary?  Yes, please.  Some fun new facts and cool shots, and I didn't notice any shots borrowed from previous Attenborough series, as I have in a few previous documentaries.  I also really liked the short "behind the scenes" mini-documentaries appended.  It was really cool to see the conditions and work that went in to the episodes, and having them separated kept the animal episodes clean.

Martin Clunes: Man to manta with (predictably) Martin Clunes.  Netflix suggested this documentary.  Based on the variety of characters he plays (really well), I expected the actor to be a pretty cool person.  This gives the very strong impression of someone who is a bit too self-centered and not super deep.

He spends a significant amount of time talking about himself, his history, his feelings; is he that much of a celebrity in Great Britain that those are topics of interest?  I will be skipping all his other documentaries Netflix suggested.

First bite: How we learn to eat by Bee Wilson.  (641.013)  Super recommend!  This is a very good read, although it has a significantly different feel and style than her first book.  Readers invested in essentially a repeat preformance (the same writing on a similar topic) won't find it, but it is still a wonderful book with oodles of great information.  A good suggestion for Mary Roach fans.

Thor: The Goddess of Thunder by Jason Aaron, Russell Dauterman, and Jorge Molina.  I read a glowing review which left me with the impression that I could jump in here even without having a deep background inside the universe.  Nope.  I read somewhere between a quarter and half, and I have no good idea of what's going on.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

August afternoons

Giant days, vol. I, by John Allison, Lissa Treiman, Whitney Cogar, and assorted others who are not listed on the front cover, only the title page.  What... is this?  Why is this "critically acclaimed?"  The art is nice enough, and the characters are distinct and likeable, but it doesn't really do anything.  It is mostly a random assortment of non-connected events in the lives of a small group of college friends.  The book refers so heavily to events that took place before the start of this GN that I kept eyeing the "volume one" notation dubiously.  The events the girls experience are run-of-the-mill sorts of things, and the ones that have the potential to be life-changing or character-building aren't examined in enough detail or given quite that much weight.  Why bother with the story?  It adds nothing to my life as a reader.

Lost! On a mountain in Maine by Donn Fendler; read by Amon Purinton.  (974.125)  The cover image specifies "by Donn Fendler, as told to Joseph B. Egan," and I'm not sure what that means.  The Wikipedia article makes it sound like a co-author, like for a celebrity or something.

I downloaded a couple of  audiobooks for a long drive, just the boy and I, were taking today and this was the first one I played on the way out of town.  I had picked it out of what showed up among OverDrive's currently-available Juvenile audiobooks because the boy has been somewhat fixated on survival stories this summer, since he got into Gordon Korman's "Island" survival series-- he picked the first one as his SRP prize, and gobbled up the others.  The "Everest" books were also well-liked.  (I have been trying to get him into survival books in general, as they were a particular favorite of mine when I was young, for the last year or more, and Gordon Korman in particular over the last six months.  This cannot be pointed out, because the idea that Mom, a librarian and avid reader, could be right on this matter is blasphemous.)

I enjoyed this on the drive, and my son *loves* it.  He wanted to leave the beach earlier than anticipated in order to get back into the car to listen to it, and we are all now listening to it, sitting in the living room.  A second read-- it's true love.

The writing is approachable for kids, but has a nice older style-- simple enough sentence structure, frequent use of things like "fellow" and "queer" and "fool," and regional terms, too-- sounding like an old neighbor or uncle's storytelling style.  I was pretty impressed with the young reader; he's a natural.  The overlay of sound effects underneath the narration is a very nice touch, especially, I think, for the intended age group (grades 4-8); it is used not too frequently so it's a nice addition instead of being a constant.

The boy's opinion is that it is "great."  His favorite part was the leeches, or, for a direct quote, "when the bloodsuckers suck him."  The news that there is a graphic novel adaptation created quite a stir.

I would have like to know some more information to round out the story, like how far he went while he was lost, or more specifically when and where everything happened instead of "generic northeastern woods," but, with only general prompting, the boy states nothing was lacking from story.

Tuesday, August 09, 2016

an assortment of H labels

Inside out with Amy Poehler.  I had heard this was excellent, but I hear a lot of good things about a lot of movies and books and, on those occassions I read/watch, I usually wonder what the reviewer was on.  But this movie demanded to be watched recently: someone used a scene as an example in conversation and included a recommendation.  Later that same day, I was shelving and this appeared in my hand, so I checked it out and took it home.  Within 48 hours, before I could watch it (because of busy outdoor summer plans), my brother-in-law, who goes through movies the way I go through books, said he watched it for the first time recently and said it was excellent.  And this is a guy who usually likes silent '50s Italian films.  So I finally watched it.

It is excellent.  I laughed.  I cried.  I recommend it.

I do wonder what it signifies that Sadness is in charge of the mom's console, and that all the emotions inside the dad have Anger's body shape.

All the things we never knew by Sheila Hamilton.  I read this in preparation for an author visit which was unfortunately cancelled due to family illness.  I saw this author at the PNBA last year and I'm excited to host her whenever she can make it out to the Peninsula.

The book is approachable and understandable.  Relatable.  The author writes about her family experience, and between each chapter is a short section-- a page or two, three at the very most-- that is more researchy: it has statistics or support group resources or some other information.  The format works very well, because it allows her to tell her story without trying to weave in facts which she wants to include but didn't know at the time.

This book can be highly recommended to just about everyone.

Rosalie Lightning: A graphic memoir by Tom Hart.  This is why lists are dangerous.  "20 best graphic novels you need to read."  OK!  I'll place my hold!  Maybe more like "20 highly reviewed graphic novels which get your right in the feels."  This kind of thing is also where my typical pull-stuff-off-the-shelves based on its cover or the author name or other completely random reason *without knowing a blasted thing about it* turns out to be a bad policy.

This is dramatic and moving and sad.  There were a few problems with the flow of the story-- it alternates between a before-time and the after-time, but it isn't always clearly labelled, which can be confusing.  It is hard to recommend, since that means suggesting one thinks the prospective reader might enjoy spending an hour choked up and clutching a tissue, but it is a very good book.

Hot dog taste test by Lisa Hanawalt.  What is this?  What am I looking at?  What fully-functional adult is so obsessed with toilet activities?

I have no idea what this is.  People with bird heads and half-dressed people as food.  If the author is trying to make some statement, I am not receiving.  The drawings aren't pleasant or funny or insightful.  Pass.

Stiff upper lip, Jeeves, with Michael Hordern and Richard Briers, from BBC Radio 4.  These radio dramatizations are generally fun to listen to, but this one in particular substituted quite a bit of the narration with sound effect and such, so I felt like I missed out a bit.  There were also a few problems where characters talked over each other, or over other sound effects, and it was not possible to hear what everyone was saying.  Still, quick and good for when I have to drive across the Peninsula alone.

When a child is born by Jodi Taylor.  This is labelled "a seasonal short story;" short is right.  I should probably say it's my fault for not checking the item's metadata before purchasing; I'm used to between-the-numbers installments being in the novella, 50-75 page range.  This is 19, four of which are cover page, also-by, etc., leaving 15 pages of story.  15.  Without exaggeration, it took me longer to input my new bank card into my Nook than it took me to read this.  I have heap big buyer's remorse.

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Camp-tastic

I read these on our family camp trip earlier this week (before the 48 Hour Reading Challenge) and wanted to post about them on their own.  Let's see what I can remember from that long ago.

Time thief by Katie MacAlister.  I had completely forgotten but I have absolutely read this one before, although I do not have a note to that effect anywhere in the blog as best as I can tell.  It didn't seem familiar but as soon as I cracked the cover the first night, rolled up in my sleeping bag, there was definite deja vu.  I read a few pages, skipped ahead, didn't recognize the new part, skipped back, became more convinced, skipped farther ahead, and finally said out loud, "I'm pretty sure I've read this before."  My husband helpfully responded, "yeah, you did; I recognized the cover."

As I remember, the main female character is annoyingly chipper, the main male character is annoyingly secretive and dark, and the story wasn't great-- it didn't feel like these two were fated or destined, or even a particularly good fit.

Having refreshed my memory about this, I'm happy to delete the sequel from my TBR list.

Flight of the sparrow by Amy Belding Brown.  I came across this while making a read-alike list for a patron and it caught my eye.  I actually would have most likely put it down within the first few pages-- there were a few things that annoyed me just enough-- but I was waiting for a doctor's appointment and had nothing else with me.  By the time I was out, I was kind of hooked on the character.

Annoyances:  present tense (gah).  The inclusion of details/ history was not seamless and had some repetitiveness.  The story could have gone deeper, and I'm not sure how completely historically accurate the main character's ideas and reactions are (or if she was made more modern so the reader would be able to identify with her more).  Most of the supporting characters were pretty thin, including the main character's husband.  Depth from his character would have added quite a bit to the story.

The family camping trip, by the way, was at the Dosewalips State Park outside Brinnon.  I highly recommend this park.