Monday, October 15, 2012

perhaps an annotated list will do?

I have come to the reluctant conclusion that I am never going to catch up on my book reviews. So let's at least have a list, and maybe a few words, about the books I've read since... gulp... July? Really? Sigh. I have been reading, at least, sometimes re-reading, sometimes picking up things and dropping them, sometimes skimming through something so fast I'm not even going to bother putting it down here.

(On a personal note: since I've been away, smallfry has hit one year old and is now over six times her birth weight and everything is great. She loves reading, particularly anything with a rhythm. She also ate her first library book this week, full on chewing and swallowing the spine of a not-that-good counting book. I was so proud and also dismayed. At any rate, I'm also back to work, which I'd blame for the lack of blogging, except I've only been back a month. If anything, being back at work is getting me back to wanting to blog again.)

So, starting with the books I read shortly after Lakeland and moving forward to the one I've most recently finished:

Silver Phoenix and Fury of the Phoenix by Cindy Pon
Fun, Asian-inspired YA fantasy that I've been meaning to read for ages. Lightly romantic, very creative in most ways, and pulling on traditions I'm not as familiar with. Enjoyed, though they weren't as memorable as I might have hoped; good for a light, entertaining read but probably not a re-read.

The Story of Saiunkoku by Sai Yukino
Okay, this is not one book, but seven volumes of manga. And if you are a manga fan and haven't read this series, what on earth are you waiting for? Really, really wonderful, smart, funny, sweetly romantic, and beautifully well-drawn. Sometimes a bit predictable, but in a really good way, and sometimes unpredictable in a really good way too. Volume eight is out this month. I am purchasing it. I am actually purchasing the whole series, and I don't buy a lot of manga because it's so damn expensive to buy whole long-running series. It's that good. Have already re-read a couple of times and it hasn't lost its luster yet.

Tsubasa: Reservoir Chronicle by CLAMP
Unfortunately for this series it came after The Story of Saiunkoku. Still really enjoyable, but I haven't even finished it (I read from the beginning to volume 18) and I'm not in a big rush to get there. It's very involved, the art is great if occasionally a bit frenetic and stylized as to be expected from this group, the dynamics between the mains fantastic. I am a big Fai D. Flowright fangirl and would read several volumes of just him.

Sorcery and Cecelia and The Grand Tour by Patricia Wrede and Caroline Stevermer
Yes yes, I read Sorcery and Cecelia yet again. Still very fond. Finally made it through The Grand Tour and enjoyed that too, though it's really not anywhere near as good as the first one; I don't quite know why, because I can't pull out any major deficiencies. Will eventually make it to The Mislaid Magician and am hoping that it lands somewhere between the two as far as enjoyment.

Bird by Rita Murphy
I am really sorry I'm not going to write a full review of this, but I've got to get the slate cleaned. Really understated, a little deliciously creepy (but not too creepy for my faint heart) and just a fantastic all around read. Highly recommended for those looking for something short but well-written, should appeal to anyone from about grade three or four up. Consider it for a Hallowe'en read, even. It won't take you long.

Reaper Man by Sir Terry Pratchett
Okay, I am even more sad that I'm not going to write a full review of this, and so maybe that one I will get to, because it will be the first in my quest to read all the Discworld books that doesn't get the full review treatment. A surprisingly sweet, heartwarming story about everyone's favourite skeleton in a black robe. Also very funny. Also, Death of Rats. Enough said. For now.

Ill Wind by Rachel Caine (Book 1 of the Weather Wardens series)
Fast, highly entertaining and sexy read. I like Caine's world here, I like the comfortable paranormal plot, I love Joanne as the main character, and I liked the break-neck pace. I could see picking up the next book in the series, though I've got to be careful as this one kept me up well past my bedtime, when sleep is a very precious commodity around here. Felt a bit like eating a fast-food hamburger: not terribly good for you, but I couldn't regret it all the same.

Summers at Castle Auburn by Sharon Shinn
Reminded me why I like Sharon Shinn so much. Smart female protagonist who feels real, and makes stupid choices that make the adult me wince but would have made a lot of sense to the pre-teen me. Extremely realistic relationships and choices, and a plot that feels sensible while still being pure fantasy and has a lot to say about the way our world is. Writing very serviceable. Had a scene that was deliberately really troubling and it upset me a lot, but it was supposed to. May not be able to re-read because of that though.

Mystic and Rider by Sharon Shinn
After the above book, had to have more Shinn. This is also excellent: a very solid high adventure fantasy set in a very solid world. Again, characters feel really real, relationships make total sense, choices are not always correct but come from a reasonable place. This is the first in a series and I could totally see reading the rest of it, though I spoiled a bunch of it for myself by accident so that kind of sucks. Might try reading her newest book instead.

Howl's Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones
It troubles me that I've never reviewed this here either, but I love this book. Have for a long time. Gets better on each re-read and I have finally buckled and bought myself a copy out of fear because the two library systems I have access to have one really crappy old copy between them. Also find that the Studio Ghibli movie, which is only vaguely related to the book, actually makes me enjoy the book more (I love the movie too, but for very different reasons.) This is a smart, funny, clever fantasy that I have read since my middle school days and will happily read again and again as a comfort book.


And there! Maybe this will allow me to start up again in a rather more regular fashion? I have started reading for my book clubs again (though for the adult club this month we're reading Stephen King, and I have already chickened out) and I'm also reading for myself somewhat more. It goes up and down, and I have to keep it light and I have to keep the pressure off myself, but I'd like to start blogging more regularly again.

Next step: take a look at my Google Reader. For the first time in months. Consider it marked as read...


Aarti said...

I missed you!! So glad to see you back :-)

That is all, really. Except, don't feel bad for not reviewing Howl's Moving Castle! I feel there are ample reviews out there on that book :-)

Unknown said...

Ha! You are probably right, I don't imagine I need to add much to the DWJ love on the net. :)

I am glad to be back, too. Hoping I can make it stick this time!

Cecelia said...

So glad you're back!

I need to read more Sharon Shinn (so far I've just done her Angel series). Howl is wonderful and a reread for me, too. As for the Caine book, I too liked the first one, but the next few books got steadily worse (sort of like the Sookie Stackhouse books). *le sigh*

Good luck with the Reader - if it were me I'd just mark all as read!

Unknown said...

Cecelia, I think you'd really really like Mystic and Rider... actually, probably Auburn too. They're a little more conventional than the Angel books though.

I kind of got the same impression with the Caine books, and I probably won't pick them up any time soon. I've already got so. many. series. started... it's a disaster.

Ana S. said...

It's lovely to see you blogging again, and to hear that everything is going well with smallfry! You totally sold me on The Story of Saiunkoku - I'm ashamed to say I hadn't even heard of it before. I'm also glad to hear you loved Reaper Man and Howl's Moving Castle, as both are huge favourites of mine.

PS: I also wanted to tell you I just got my first library job, after a looong and frustrating year of nothing but rejections. I start as soon as the background check clears, which takes a couple of weeks. I'm so excited :D

Unknown said...

YAAAAY! Congratulations! I am so excited for you. You are going to be *brilliant*. I am looking forward to hearing about it! What sorts of things will you be doing?

RE: Story of Saiunkoku, I'd love to see what you think. It's a little over-the-top, but it's also really... charming. I heard about it at Manga Worth Reading and she does a much better job of reviewing it than I do!

Nan said...

I can't believe how much you have read!! With a baby AND a job. Whew.
Never read Howl's and keep thinking I should. There's a movie, too, which I haven't seen. I just went to my library's website and put the book in my book bag. Thanks for the reminder.
Any plans for putting up some baby pics? :<)
Heard from Joanne? Hope she's doing well.

Unknown said...

I know, I'm kind of impressed, too. Though as I said, it's none of it terribly dense or difficult reading.

The movie is pretty wildly different from the book, though clearly takes its inspiration from the book. I quite like both, and I'm not sure which to recommend first. I suspect that some people would find the movie disappointing after reading the book, but I just viewed them as entirely separate entities. I do like the movie's visuals, almost more than some of the descriptions in the book (the castle, for example, and Calcifer is SO PERFECT in the movie), so I tend to replace the written descriptions with the movie visuals, if that makes sense.

Re: baby pics... probably not. :S We've decided that at least for now, we're not putting photos of her online. Though I am sure I could put another foot photo up.

Re: Joanne, I haven't talked to her for quite a while! I have an email around somewhere that I should answer...

Nan said...

I get it about the baby pics. There is so much online now that we forget that there may be bad people looking at stuff. We may be lulled into oh, everyone is on facebook it's no big deal. but the fact remains, that one's whole name and often location are right there. If you live in say, NYC, it might not matter. I just think about these things sometimes. Maybe you could put up an elbow. :<)

Unknown said...

Her elbows are pretty cute. :)

It's not so much about being worried about people finding the photos; I think the chances of that are pretty small. (Not impossible, but probably negligeable.) What worries us more is that something posted on the internet is forever, and at least while we can, we want to be sure that she has control over her own online image. We don't want to make decisions about how her image is used online for her, when I know neither of us like it very much when someone posts photos of us without our consent (generally don't mind if people ask, though). It may sound kind of ridiculous (I mean, she's just a baby! It's not like employers are going to be all, "she had food all over her face when she was 11 months old!") but it's a habit we kind of wanted to get into right off the bat.

E Maki said...

I am coming to this discussion a bit late, but - for me it is more about deciding explicitly what is private and what is public. Being a very private person myself, I don't feel comfortable deciding that my daughters name, image, and life should be public (in the new and unfathomably broad "new public".)

Being able to live in the private (off Facebook, etc.) and sharing selectively what I want to share is important to me, and it feels right to preserve those choices for her.