Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Less Blogging, More Reading.

The Book of Lost Things, by John Connolly. This book was pretty good. I've long been interested in fairy tales and their evolution over the last few centuries, especially this last one. This book used fairy stories, braided them together and built on them. What I though best about this book was how perfectly the author presented the main character's emotions in the wake of his mother's death. He wasn't just sad, like you would expect in a children's book: he felt guilty, relieved, irresponsible, and afraid. The author gently expressed very painful emotions; he named them, which was something I was unable to do for a long time. After the death of a loved one, no one mentions it's natural and ok to feel things other than sad. Dead and Loving It, by MaryJanice Davidson. This was a collection of short stories. Mostly they were smutty. One or two had the promise of a good plot that might make a good book, but they went undeveloped. Golden, by Cameron Dokey. As I mentioned, I like fairy tales. I've read many books (both fictional and nonfictional) that explain or give context to these short tradition tales, and they are often fun, as was this one. I did not expect it to follow the course it did; it was a pleasant change. I liked this line, written after describing the main character's mother, one of those blond, blue-eyed, five-foot-seven, silly skinny things: "Many women are beautiful, including those who don't resemble my mother in the slightest." Other authors have tried to steer young female readers away from the Teutonic ideals of beauty by giving "beautiful" people different characteristics; those, though, describe another kind of beauty that just as few girls will fit into as fit into the other ideal. This however, is perfect in its vagueness. Mort, by Terry Pratchett. This felt very familiar; I think I'd started it before. Funny, but with no especially memorable lines. Less about death and more about identity based on occupation, it asks the reader, is it true that you are what you do? (Jack Spratt Investigates) The Fourth Bear, by Jasper Fforde. I've not been a big a fan of these as I am of the Thursday Next, of which there is another coming out this summer-- thus sayeth the last page. Also about nursery rhymes, I did not realize I'd read so many until just now. This one was better than the first "Nursery Crime;" the characters are getting more depth. The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, Traitor to the Nation: Volume I, the Pox Party, by M.T. Anderson. While an interesting look at early science, it does a poor job of asking the reader specific questions about or giving a reliable depiction of slavery, which I believe is the author's point: the blurb on the inside front cover labels it a "deeply provocative novel." I did not find it so. I did deeply appreciate how true the author was to writing conventions of the time. It appears nearly perfect. Snow Flower and the Secret Fan, by Lisa See. This was a painfully, perfectly beautiful book. The relationships, the foot bindings, and the deaths were given in great detail and made amazingly real. I was sad to see that there are large sections of time glossed over, and that the main character showed little growth-- emotionally or personally-- since she was 5 through her 40s. The Artemis Fowl Files, by Eoin Colfer. These authorized guides to accompany big series are a pretty low way to cash in on the author's own fame. The two short stories it contained were good, but obviously didn't add much to the books. There were some dinky drawings of the cool technology the characters use, and a crossword and word find puzzle suitable for readers ten and under. The Beatrice Letter, by Lemony Snicket. See above, on cashing in. These letters seem to add nothing at all to the series. It is sad.

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