January 14th, 2010

escape

Katherine by Anya Seton

Book Title: Katherine
Author: Anya Seton
Genre: Historical Fiction/Romance
My Grade: A+
# of Pages: 500


Summary: This classic novel tells the most romantic love story in British history - the true tale of Katherine Swynford and John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster, the ancestors of much of the British royal family. It is set in the vibrant 14th-century England of Chaucer, when magnificent pageantry was confronted by the Black Death, when knights went to battle in expensive foreign wars while peasants struggled to survive, and when the magnificent but despotic Plantagenets - Edward III, the Black Prince, and Richard II - ruled over a court rotten with intrigue. In this era of danger and passion, John of Gaunt, the king's son and the proudest of the Plantagenets, fought for power and fell desperately in love with the already married Katherine. Their well-documented romance persisted through decades of war, adultery, murder, loneliness, and redemption.

My Thoughts Here.



Next Book: The Cleft by Doris Lessing
[HSK] Saitou `` 決心

Interesting Crime Recs?

I'm not a fan of crime but unfortunately I have to study it as part of school. I've read The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, The Big Sleep, Casino Royale and And Then There Were None, the first three which I liked, the last not living up to expectations. I'm currently reading The Skull Beneath The Skin (which I do not like) and Hard-boiled Wonderland (which is going OK).

I don't know if you could call it "crime", but I really enjoyed the first story arc of Higurashi No Naku Koro Ni; if someone could reccomend a book similar in style, something thrilling and full of mindbending confusion, I will love you forever <3
han shot first

The Sheriff of Yrnameer by Michael Rubens

Yrnameer is the last of the “Your Name Heres”--planets that haven’t gotten corporate sponsors yet. It’s pretty rare, so rare it’s become a myth. Mentioning Yrnameer is a sure way to earn a laugh because it’s a well known probability that Yrnameer, if it exists, is in some remote location; even if you wanted to reach it, you couldn’t.

Lucky for Cole--space pirate extraordinaire--he’s just hijacked a spaceship on InvestCo3 with the coordinates for Yrnameer ready to program in and it’s his next destination. Unfortunately, Cole has a few problems on his hands: Kenneth wants to lay his eggs in Cole’s eye, his new crew wants to kill him, and bending space to reach Yrnameer won’t be easy on a broken ship.

Michael Rubens has written a hilarious satire from a studied understanding of how society uses and depends on advertising. Out of those depths comes a clever, witty, and uplifting story of survival and romance; action and hope; violence and zombie-turned corporate seminars. It’s a book where the impossible becomes possible; humans can love aliens, Kenneth can survive pretty much anything Cole can throw at him, and it may just be Cole--the least likely candidate--who rises to the occasion and saves the day.

( Read the rest! )

Book Review: Against the Day by Thomas Pynchon


First let me admit that I am huge Thomas Pynchon fan and have been since I stumbled upon a copy of Gravity's Rainbow in a used bookstore.  I purchased my copy of Against the Day on the first day it was available (despite Michiko Kakutani's horrible review published the same day), and although I had not finished the book until yesterday I feel as if I have finished Decline of the Roman Empire or something equally bulky (the book is almost 1100 pages and for a while I had my copy in storage).

The book is a huge, sprawling trip starting at the Chicago at the World's Colombian Exposition in 1893 and ending after World War I.   The cast of characters is extensive, with many sub-stories, but the major storyline is that of the Traverse Family.  Webb Traverse, the patriarch, is an anarchist who uses dynamite to protest the exploitation of mine workers in the American West.  Webb is killed by two men hired by the mine owners and his three sons, Frank, Reef and Kit, set out to avenge their father's death.  Webb's daughter Lake, marries one of her father's killers and is intimate with both.  This story is set against a huge Pynchonian canvas of obscure historical and mathematical references and erudite wordplay.  Several common Pynchonian themes are explored including the entropy of modern life and anarchism.

Reading the novel I was torn between a wish to read it quickly, to get the story, and a need to take it slowly and fully appreciate the deft word play on display (I am eternally grateful for the Pynchon ATD Wiki that explained a lot of things).  I did enjoy reading the book, but it is not Pynchon's best work and at times it seems as if he turned off his internal editor and just to see what a turgid mass of prose he could produce.  There are way too many characters and I was constantly having to go back and figure out who these people I was reading about were.  Yes it was a big, bloated literary trip, but it was worth it, for the scenery if nothing else.
dark shadows | angelique x barnabas

Review: Going Bovine



Title: Going Bovine
Author: Libba Bray
Genre: Young Adult/Humor/Fantasy
Pages: 480
First Line: "The best day of my life happened when I was five and almost died at Disney World."

Summary: Cameron Smith is in the habit of not caring. He's pretty much a social pariah at school; even his twin sister, Jenna, is embarrassed to be related to him. His parents are busy, his job's a pain, and Staci Johnson won't give him the time of day. Life sucks. And it sucks harder when Cameron discovers he has mad cow disease and will probably, most certainly be dead in a few months. Cameron has pretty much resigned himself to intense pain and suffering when he gets a message from a punk-rock angel named Dulcie, who says that he must embark on a mission through a fantastic, supernatural world to find the cure, fight enemies from parallel dimensions, and save the world.

(Read the review...)
Bee

Silent Spring: Rachel Carson



This is the book (as the front cover proclaims) that set off the big environmental movement. Published in 1962, non-fiction, 297 pages (with some very, very nice chapter illustrations alongside), by the marine biologist Rachel Carson.

This book is centered around the use of pesticides. The most notable one, of course, is DDT, but heptachlor, diedrin, 2,4-D, and others are mentioned and examined. This is not a book about how the pesticides work; instead, it examines how the pesticides interact with the world around us.

And it's scary. Very little is known about the effects of these chemicals, but if they have the capacity to kill insects, and along with them birds, mammals (domestic or otherwise) and marine life, it is almost guaranteed that they affect humans too. Moreover, since so little testing has been done on the chemicals in isolation, the mixing of pesticides in places like bodies of water and other places takes on a terrifying quality. It is also sobering to realize that despite the huge, heavy-handed methods of applying pesticides were very ineffectual--in addition to developing resistance in the insects, the pesticides would often kill off other insects that preyed on the pests, compounding the problem.

The title, in case you (like me) wondered, is about "spring" in the sense of a season: a spring where no birds sing. And while the book was noted for the way it explored how birds are impacted by pesticides like DDT, it in fact focuses on birds, insects, humans, and the environment at large.

At first, she uses some spectacular anecdotal evidence, but when I looked in the back of the book, there are literally dozens of pages citing references, all from reputable sources.

It does use more complex vocabulary (although the writing is not very technical). She begins to wax poetic in "Nature Fights Back"--I quite enjoyed that chapter--and overall is a good read, though I found that I was reading much slower than usual. This isn't a book to be read for enjoyment, but I found it very educational....and quite alarming. 8/10

The Once and Future King

So, I just got this book as a present, and I was wondering if anyone had read it and what they thought about it. My friend who gave it to me said that it was amazing, but I just wanted some feedback from other people. So if you have any opinions, let me know!
fuck the mcu

Review: Moab Is My Washpot

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Author: Stephen Fry
Rating: 4/5

One of the most enjoyable autobiographies I've read in a long time, Moab Is My Washpot is an account of the first twenty years of Fry's life straight from the man himself. He describes his years spent in prep school, boarding school and his many run-ins with the law during his teenage years, including the period during which he ran away from home and ended up in prison for credit card theft. It's remarkably candid and at times brutally honest; in fact at times you get the impression that writing this book must have been some sort of therapy for Fry (he in fact refers to it as such at one point, if I remember correctly) as he constantly berates and scolds himself light-heartedly for past sins and misdeeds. In my opinion this sums up who Stephen Fry as a whole; despite his intelligence, good fortune, fame and wealth, he remains this incredibly warm and humble person, absolutely free of any pretentiousness or snobbery whatsoever. I rarely gush over celebrities like this, but as an intellectual, writer and humanist, Fry is someone I really look up to and admire.

Moab is a more than an autobiography, however - during the midst of telling an anecdote or desribing some sort of prank or incident that happened in boarding school, Fry tends to drift off and expand on some other topic which said anecdote or incident happens to remind him of. This did get a little distracting and confusing at times but fortunately Fry is eloquent enough to make even the most trivial thing interesting - also, he's very funny and almost always on point. My favourite part of the book was his infatuation with a 13 year old boy at Uppingham boarding school called Matthew Osborne - Fry has always been very open about his sexuality, and his passages on growing up as a gay teenager and his disdain for homophobia are truly a joy to read. What a wonderful and loving human being <3

Strongly recommended!
mountain sky

The Calligrapher's Daughter

I'm fit to Bust!...and I don't mean a bra. So proud of my sister's achievement with her book "The Calligrapher's Daughter" which came out Aug. 2009!

Borders Announces 2009 Original Voices Award Winners
By: PR Newswire | 14 Jan 2010 | 12:46 PM ET

ANN ARBOR, Mich., Jan 14, 2010 /PRNewswire via COMTEX/ -- Borders today announced the winners of its 2009 Original Voices Awards. Borders created the Original Voices program 14 years ago to recognize original and compelling works by new authors in such categories as Fiction, Non-Fiction and Children/Young Adult. Each winner will receive $5,000 from Borders in recognition of their individual achievements in producing innovative works. In addition, the winning titles will be featured in the company's more than 500 Borders stores nationwide.

Fiction "The Calligrapher's Daughter," by Eugenia Kim and published by Henry Holt, takes top honors in the Original Voices Fiction Category. Inspired by the life of Kim's Korean mother, "The Calligrapher's Daughter" is a sweeping coming-of-age story of Najin Han, born in 1910 at the start of the Japanese occupation of Korea. The story follows her life first as a privileged daughter of a tradition-bound father, then as student, patriot and humanitarian in the midst of a then crumbling Korean culture. "It's a thought-provoking novel that will stick with you after reading it because of its atmosphere, life lessons and historical perspective," according to the Original Voices selection committee.
edge | times are hard for dreamers

My 2009 books (two weeks late, I know!)

I know pretty much everyone already posted their book lists a couple of weeks ago, but my Christmas was ridiculously busy and I only just got time to post.

Anyway, HERE is my 2009 book list.

Sorry if the text looks a little funky - not entirely sure what happened to it!! Also, I've only been a member of bookish for a short time, but I just want to say a huge THANK YOU!! to everyone who reviews and recommends books - I've found some really wonderful books, so thank you :)
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A Birthday

Gunnerkrigg Court

Portions of it have been printed in book form. . . .

Gunnerkrigg Court by Tom Siddell

"Within the first week of my attendance, I began noticing a number of strange occurrences. The most prevalent of these oddities being the fact that I seemed to have obtained a second shadow."

Gunnerkrigg Court
(here -- the story starts here) is a fantasy/SF cross-over webcomic, which involves a rather odd school and features the past of Antimony, our heroine, plus shadows, robots, birds, a class project involving Greek Mythology, robotic birds, things bigger inside than outside, stopping alien invasions, psychopomps, Coyote, and other stuff.

Usually when you do a fantasy/SF cross-over you have to segregate them, so the logics don't contaminate each other.  Or -- as Gunnerkrigg Court does, you can crank up all the tropes and make them run on being cool.

And it's an interesting sort of episodic.  You have stories, self-contained and well-plotted.  Except that sometimes they also are set-up for the future.  But you can't tell when they are stand-alone and when not.  Especially since the comic's still in progress so anything in the past that hasn't had an influence yet may yet.