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.
Thursday, January 12, 2017
at 4:36 PM
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.
at 11:02 AM
Tuesday, January 03, 2017
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.
at 8:47 PM
Sunday, January 01, 2017
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.
at 8:19 PM
Saturday, December 31, 2016
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.
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.
at 9:08 PM
Tuesday, December 27, 2016
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.
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!
at 1:05 PM
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:
at 1:03 PM
Wednesday, November 30, 2016
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.
at 4:41 PM
Saturday, November 12, 2016
at 10:34 AM
Thursday, November 03, 2016
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.
at 12:44 PM
Sunday, October 16, 2016
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.
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.
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 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.
at 3:00 PM
Sunday, September 04, 2016
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.
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.
at 10:05 AM
Sunday, August 14, 2016
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.
at 9:32 PM
Tuesday, August 09, 2016
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.
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.
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.
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.
at 7:08 PM
Saturday, July 30, 2016
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.
at 8:24 PM