Sunday, November 06, 2011

more archeology

I am having fun digging through this old stuff.

Book: Brave New World
Author: Aldous Huxley
For my classes: possibly
Comment: It would probably be fine for high school level and I'm sure it was revolutionary for its time, but as far as more modern distopias go, this didn't say too much by comparison.  It took a while to really say anything.
I enjoyed the author's writing style, and the plot progression was reasonable.

Book: A Breath of Snow and Ashes

Author: Diana Gabaldon

For my classes: No.

Comment: I like the stories.  If the plots and characters weren't so good, I would have stopped reading these a long time ago.  I couldn't say what it is, however, about the story that I like so much.  I can name many aspects I dislike.  I really don't like how the characters seem about 30 years younger than they are-- except for that, they are very good.  I also dislike how she opens up sub-plot options, but won't use of fulfill them for hundreds of pages or even several books.  I pay attention to detail, and this bothers me.

Book: Broken
Author: Kelley Armstrong
For my classes: no.

Comment: This, the last book of the series, was perhaps the best: the author finally hit her stride.  The writing style was the same, and it was pretty good throughout.  The difference, I believe, lies with the characters.  Previous main characters seemed a little weak or helpless, given the plots they were up against.  These characters were more what was expected and required.

Book: Calculating God

Author: Robert J. Sawyer

For my classes: no

Comment: Although dealing with rather controversial subjects, this book gives the reader some things to think on.
This book was different in writing style than the other 3 I have read by this author (The Neanderthal Parlax): it was more like a journal or biography of the main character.  It had a definite feeling of casualness that I personally don't enjoy.  I dislike feeling like I am being directly addressed.
Similar to the author Noah Gordon, this author, I have found, knows 3 things well: Toronto, archeology, and impossible sciences (time travel, extra terrestrials, and parallel universe theories, so far).

Book: Calling on Dragons

Author: Patricia C. Wrede

For my classes: No

Comment: This is the only book out of the three so far to leave off with a real cliff-hanger kind of ending. The others had a rather happily-ever-after quality to the endings that didn't necessitate the reading of the next book.  I like that, because then the choice to read on is purely my own, without any outside influences.
But that's nothing against the book, it's still very good.  Morwen's cats, who are much more involved in this book, are especially comical.  Good stuff.

Book: The Carnivorous Carnival (A Series of Unfortunate Events)

Author: Lemony Snicket
For my classes: I hope so

Comment: These are getting more sad and depressing, and also more thought-provoking, as we go on.  I am intrigued, yet concerned.

Book: Carpe Jugulum
Author: Terry Pratchett

For my classes: No

Comment: I always enjoy Pratchett's Ramtops books.  This one was more brutal than he tends to be though-- rather more cruel in the characters, and Death was less humorous.  It was a truer, meaner satire.  I think this author can be useful.
Incidentally, I think I've worked out something of an order (which I can't find posted) for the Witches series, which is actually a sub-series of The Discworld series.  See:
Wyrd Sisters
Witches Abroad
Lords and Laides
Carpe Jugulum
The Wee Free Men
Hat Full of Sky
Wintersmith (eta: May 2005)
I Shall Wear Midnight (eta: ? 06?)

Book: The Changeover

Author: Margeret Mahy

For my classes: Needs further evaluation

Comment: I enjoyed this book.  There are several things that make me balk to hand it to my classes, though.  The biggest issue is the casualness with which various issues of sexuality are addressed.
I don't feel any religious barriers to this book: it isn't trying to convert anyone or anything.  It brought forth ideas of family, of loss, of love (though not too well), of gender, of finding oneself, and of giving of that self.
Certainly it is to be considered seriously.
(I don't remember this book at all.)

Book: A Child Called "It"

Author: David Pelzer

For my classes: ?

Comment: Although this is a matter that needs to be discussed, I, personally, could not bring this book into a classroom.  I think kid should read it, but I could not teach it, it's way too emotional.
It was good writing, very evoking, but issues of truth, "truth," artistic license, and embellishment make me question the author a bit, so that I would put it in a category of "based on reality" rather than "realism."

Book: The Chocolate War
Author: Robert Cormier

For my classes: If they want
Comment: I did not enjoy this book (I guess it would be a "boy book"), but I don't have any real criticisms of it.  I did not identify with the characters at all, but that is not the fault of the author.  He did a fine job with the writing.  It is only I am the wrong audience.

Book: A Christmas Carol

Author: Charles Dickens

For my classes: under consideration

Comment:  This book was a fairly quick read and easy to understand.  It was also mass cool because of all the political and religious sentiments Dickens expressed.  I could definitely use this in  classroom.
("mass cool?"  Is this how I talked in 2004?)

Book: The Claiming of Sleeping Beauty

Author: Anne Rice, as A. N. Roquelaure

For my classes: not for anyone under 25

Comment: This book is just wrong on so many levels, yet does give the reader a few things to think about.  I would never use this book in a classroom, but I'd like to see what Social Science Ph.D. students would have to say about it.
The plot was weak, the sentence structure was poor, and the characters were sick.  I don't know if this story is supposed to be some kind of commentary, or if it is merely the product of a sick mind.  There's a reason it's banned.

Book: The City of Ember

Author: Jeanne DuPrau
For my classes: No

Comment: This was aimed at early readers, so wasn't challenging in any way at all, but it was good for its age group.  Good sentence structure and language.  Good character development.

Book: The Clan of the Cave Bear

Author: Jean Auel

For my classes: No

Comment: Although written from an evolutionary standpoint about a polytheist culture, the book was intriguing and even enjoyable.  Not too brainy, not too simple, good amount of description, this is the story of a woman who we all feel like at times.  I put off homework just for this book.  I laughed, I cried-- literally I did.  Emotionally moving with a twist of adventure, this book has the faint flavor of a Robinsonade (is that even a word?).  There wasn't even anything to be morally or ethically opposed to, as long as you remember it's about another culture; actually, about one that never existed.  It's a good story.  Not too thought-provoking, but who wants that?
(Was I drunk?!)

Book: Club Dead

Author: Charlaine Harris

For my classes: No

Comment:The human characters were likable from the beginning of the series, but other characters have taken a while to warm up.  I think that was the point and it was well done; good stuff.
(heh heh, "warm up.")

Book: The Cobra Event
Author: Richard Preston
For my classes: No
Comment: Although a good mystery in most ways, this book had a lot of coldly graphic scientific information.  These scenes were presented very well, however, I'm certainly not one for blood, but I was able to read it.  I read another book by this author as much as 8 years ago (The Hot Zone), and they seem to my poor memory to be very similar in writing style and presentation.
I can't say that I am eager to read more by this author; I tend to prefer a little less reality in my fiction.  However, I recommend him highly.

Book: Code Talkers
Author: Joseph Bruchac
For my classes: No
Comment: This book was very juvenile-- too young for its intended YA audience.  The writing was too easy.  The information was too nonexistent.  A 6-year-old could read and understand this.

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