30 May 2007

Reads & Listens, May 2007

Reads:

After School Nightmare: Volume One by Setona Mizushiro
Mashiro Ichijo is seems like an ordinary high school boy, but he is harboring a secret which could destroy him if others discover it (or so he believes, anyway). He is forced to participate in a special after-hours class in which his secret is revealed ... An interesting look at gender and conformity.

The Twelves Kingdoms: Volume One, Sea of Shadow by Fuyumi Ono
We've been watching Twelve Kingdoms a while ago and while it's been enjoyable we haven't watched it with enough consistency or pleasure for me to be eager to shell out twenty-odd dollars for the next disc. Yet I've liked it enough to buy the first book and, wow, it's much better than the anime. Oh, yes, there are stilted, hurried sections and redundant bits, but it is still pretty damned good. Good enough I'd like to read Volume 2: Sea of Wind right now.

Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson (read by Mandy Siegfried)
Brilliant. Read this book a couple years ago and it struck such a cord with me that I found myself thinking about it long after I had returned it to the YA collection. The audiobook, too, is very good but it rendered me a little too emotional, perhaps, for rush hour driving.

You Suck by Christopher Moore
Christmas present I'd been very slow to start, but quite enjoyed once I did. Of course, I did. I've liked everything else I've read by Moore. His books are a bit like "Terry Pratchett does San Francisco" with a bit of Robert Aspin sprinkled in, but better.

City of Pearl (Wess'har Wars, Book One) by Karen Traviss
An Eco-Vegan-Feminist-Pagan-Police adventure and a Philip K. Dick Award nominee -- what more could a girl want? Only Lin's pregnancy and Mesevy's conversion kept me from completely enjoying this book as I couldn't understand what those storylines had to do with anything.

Flora Segunda by Ysabeau S. Wilce
"Being the Magickal Mishaps of a Girl of Spirit, Her Glass-Gazing Sidekick, Two Ominous Butlers (One Blue), a House with Eleven Thousand Rooms, and a Red Dog." Fantastic.

Listens:

Valiant: A Modern Tale of Faerie by Holly Black (read by Renee Raudman)
I don't know if I liked this better than Tithe, because Valiant was read to me or because it seemed less a homage to De Lint than Tithe ever did, but this was fantastically good and I look forward to listening to Ironside: A Modern Faery's Tale whenever it comes to audio.

The Long Winter by Laura Ingalls Wilder (read by Cherry Jones)
By The Shores of Silver Lake by Laura Ingalls Wilder (read by Cherry Jones)
Farmer Boy by Laura Ingalls Wilder (read by Cherry Jones)
Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder (read by Cherry Jones)

I read these (and had them read to me) as a child, yet I find myself continually astonished by how much I had forgotten and by how well these books are suited to adults as well as children. All the railroad construction, house building, and farming factoids are utterly fascinating. And the food ... Farmer Boy left me starving.

01 May 2007

Booklust

There are books I covet because of their looks. Books I lust for because of their feel. Books I feel I must possess for no real rational reason at all. The Headline Review Jane Austens are one. The Penguin Steinbeck Centennial Editions are such another. There is something about the raggedy deckle-edged pages, French flaps, and textured-look covers with the cunning pen and ink sketches that make my hands itch and my mouth water.


Part of the attraction, I'm sure, is that I really like Steinbeck. Or did when I read him a decade or more ago. Of Mice and Men was my first Steinbeck -- read for a middle school English class. It didn't quite rock my world, but there were so many powerful images in that little book ... images which still stick with me today. I think, perhaps, this is how some people reacted to Catcher in the Rye?

After Of Mice and Men my class moved on to other Great American Works (The Great Gatsby *blurgh*) and Steinbeck was never brought up again. Being a sad and nerdy student, I went off looking for more Steinbeck and found The Acts of King Arthur and His Noble Knights. Boy, was that as far from Of Mice and Men as you could get, topically, yet I loved it. Carried it around for weeks. Read and re-read the same passages over and over again. Wanted more, but there was no more. Cast around and found Malory's Le Morte d'Arthur which led me to the Susan Cooper Dark is Rising series which (eventually) led me to Katharine Kerr's Deverry novels which led to flirting with this guy named Nevyn on some talker called Crazylands ...

Hrm. My marriage is all Steinbeck's fault.

28 April 2007

Reads & Listens, April 2007

Reads:

Higher Power of Lucky by Susan Patron
Yes, the terrible scrotum book. Turned out to be very sweet and with a fine message at the end.

Indiscretion by Jude Morgan
Highly entertaining, but it reads as if Morgan cobbled all of Austen's best bits together.

The Chronicle's of Faerie: The Hunter's Moon by O.R. Melling
It was a very interesting read, true, but neither the story for the characters seemed believable or complete. Like fairy glamor, it looks pretty but it rings hollow?

The Lost Colony, Book One: The Snodgrass Conspiracy by Grady Klein
Eh. Too much going on without enough (or any) reasons given and I had some difficulty figuring out which panel to read when.

Kampung Boy by Lat
Follows the early years of a Muslim Malaysian boy living in a village (kampung) where traditional life is on the verge of disappearing. Illustrative style is quite attractive and the story is compelling.

Chickenhare: House of Klaus by Chris Grine
Chickenhare (a rabbit with the feet and feathers of a chicken) and his Bearded Box Turtle friend, Abe, are held prisoner by Klaus, a very bad man who has a terrible habit of stuffing his pets so they will never leave him ... this is a rather gruesome little graphic novel with not a lot of development (characters or plot).

Billy Hazelnuts by Tony Millionaire
Bizarre. Grotesque. Oddly charming.

Listens:

Little Town on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder (read by Cherry Jones)
As a child, I adored the Little House books and, as an adult, I was thrilled to find them in audio format. Jones does an admirable job bringing the characters to life and her accent, which I first thought was too broad and Ozark-y, seemed perfectly suited to the content. Little Town was one of my favorite books in the series and this reading did nothing to change that. Can't wait to listen to Hard Winter.

The Last Battle by C.S. Lewis (read by Patrick Stewart)
One of my favorite Narnia books and handled so well by Stewart. I'm still not very keen on his Aslan, but he did everyone else so well. I particularly liked his use of regional accents.

A Great and Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray (read by Josephine Bailey)
This is one of my favorite books and Bailey does such a good job with it. I also really enjoyed listening to Bray discuss the writing on this novel in the bonus portion of the last CD. I can't wait to listen to Rebel Angels.

The Worst Christmas Pageant Ever by Barbara Robinson (read by Elaine Stritch)
Extremely amusing.