chaiya: (books)
O my friends, many of whom are library geeks, I need advice. We have many YA books to add to the account. Do we file them in the overstuffed Kid Lit section of the library (in our guest room), or do we file them in the Adult Fiction section of the library? The shelves in the guest room have very little room (I'm actually pondering a cull, for the first time in a while). But the shelves in the entertainment room aren't much better, once the current set of books gets shelved. And when being visited by a 12-14 year old, will he or she want to curl up in the hammock in the Kid Lit section, knowing Nancy Drew, Winnie the Pooh, and board books are all in the same room?

Hm. There's simply no way we can fit all the Nancy Drew books anywhere else.

Okay, then, here's the real question: Do Nancy Drew, Holly Black, Cassandra Clare, and Madeleine L'Engle belong together? Is it okay to put them in the Kid Lit section, alongside Winnie the Pooh and board books?

These are the things my household ponders. ;)
chaiya: (eating brains)
As I've said before, I'm not a blood-and-guts kind of girl. I'm a bit squeamish. Sin City was too intense and graphic a movie for me, despite being cartoonish.

And Mira Grant (pseudonym of [ profile] seanan_mcguire) is writing one of my favorite series ever. About zombies, and life after the end of the world. I swear, this is the last thing I expected to happen when I cracked open that first book spine.

If Feed, the first title in this trilogy, was a first date, it was a roller coaster of action, adventure, tears, laughter, cynicism, and one heck of what I originally thought would be a one-night stand.

Deadline was preordered as soon as said one-night stand had concluded, because I was hungry -- no, desperate -- for more. It took forever to appear on my doorstep, but once the second book was in my hot little hands, I was swamped in the world of fights for one's life, the truth, and more zombies (and real character deaths) than I could safely count. This second date ravished me, and had me swooning to the music. I may have had an orgasm from some character developments. Just saying.

Feed is deservedly up for a Hugo this year. Deadline is no less worthy. I am scared about how much Blackout, once it's published, will rock my little world.

You should all read Mira Grant. This is the sort of infection we should spread.
chaiya: (huh?)
My review for this book was always going to start with "I read this book so that you don't have to."

Unfortunately, it's taken me two weeks of trying to admit that it's worse than that. I couldn't finish reading this book.

You would think that a steampunky alternate reality book about Sir Richard Francis Burton (who, among other things, published a famous translation of the Kama Sutra during the Victorian era, after which he was knighted by Queen Victoria!) ... you would think that such a book would be, in a word, AWESOME.

It is not. The writing simply fails.

This is the third paragraph of the book:

From where she stood on the threshold of the "robing room," hidden by its partially closed door, Isabel Arundell could see that her lover's normally dark and intense eyes were wide with shock, filled with a sudden vulnerability. His mouth moved spasmodically, as if he were struggling to chew and swallow something indigestible. She longed to rush to his side to comfort him and to ask what tidings had wounded him; to snatch up that note and read it; to find out who had killed himself; but such a display would be unseemly in front of the small gathering, not to mention embarrassing for Richard. He, among all men, stood on his own two feet, no matter how dire the situation. Isabel alone was aware of his sensitivity; and she would never cause it to be exposed to others.

Okay, so the initial narrator (who, by the way, never narrates again, at least as far as I read) describes Burton as someone who suffers in silence, despite having obvious signs from across the room that he's in distress (and she can somehow see his eyes fill with vulnerability from across said room... which surely means his pals can see it, too?). The author then spends the next several pages describing how publicly Burton displays his distress. My trust in the narrative of the story or the authenticity of the characters never recovered, although I read the next 66 pages.

I don't remember who recommended this book to me as something that might be Hugo nomination worthy, but I hope I didn't get any further recommendations from that person.
chaiya: (asl "c")
I was somewhat dubious when I heard that Seanan McGuire, newly-minted winner of the Campbell Award this summer (aka [ profile] seanan_mcguire), was also publishing a series of books under a different pseudonym. Whyonearthwouldyoudothat? I asked. But it turns out she put a lot of thought into the answer, and she wrote a handy LJ post about it, so if you're curious to read more than the pico-answer, go over to her longer explanation. The most salient point, for me, is genre separation, and the fact that Feed has, as the author herself acknowledges, "a high body count." I agree with her that the audience for Mira Grant books has overlap with the audience for Seanan McGuire books, but they're not entirely the same. Yay, Venn diagrams!

Those of you who have ever watched a movie with me know the term "Crystal-friendly Movie." It means a movie that won't have lots of graphic violence, basically. I walked out on Sin City in the theatre, and nearly broke up with [ profile] hakamadare over his choice of movie that night. So you might be particularly confused when I say that this novel, a dystopian future in which lots of people die, graphically, on camera was one that I loved. It made me weep. It wrenched my heart. But I loved it. It was well written. It was poignant and powerful. It made me think. I want to buy lots of copies and give them to my friends.

It's the first book on my list of Hugo nomination submissions. You should all go read it, whether or not you're already a fan of [ profile] seanan_mcguire. Particularly if you're a fan of zombies, but I'm not at all a zombie person, and I absolutely loved this book. Even when it broke my heart.

[ profile] moominmolly and her crowd, this is so written just for you!
chaiya: (books)
I am a compulsive reader and collector of children's books. I don't necessarily have good taste in children's books when they are beloved works from my own youth (the Mode Series by Anthony Piers being one example). But when not blinded by nostalgia, I like to think that I ditch the poor ones and only keep exemplary modern ones. This one is a keeper.

White Cat is the first in a new series by Holly Black, a YA novel that is more urban fantasy than anything else. Magic in this world is hereditary, perhaps 1% of the population has it, and its practitioners are known as "curse workers." There's a lot of interesting social commentary to be had in these pages, and I read it with interest. I did have some difficulty pegging what age I'd deem this book appropriate for -- there's minor character death on-screen, no sex but some sexual situations, no drugs but coercive situations, and discussion of some complex ethical situations. The cover says ages 14 and up, but I think I'd give it to a mature 12-year-old I know.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book. The main character, a boy around the age of 15, is a likable ruffian. The female characters were sassy, not cowed by the powerful men in their lives. There were only really two female characters we spent much time on, as opposed to five male ones, but those two were quirky and interesting and nonstandard in practically every way. The male characters were diverse and layered, and the narrator surprised and pleased me on multiple occasions. He had a voice of honesty, even while calling himself a con man. I grew fond of him while reading this book, and intend to continue reading the series as it comes out.
chaiya: (books)
Okay, I admit it. I'm a bit of a sucker for books, movies, and entertainment in general. I will watch terrible tv shows in the gym, get hooked on a story or character, and go look it up on Netflix the next time I have a free hour. I have only once purposefully walked out on a movie without finishing it, so far as I can recall. For God's sake, I watched Andromeda at least partway into season five before I finally killed it dead. (For those of you who cringe at this revelation, I will say that only seasons one and two remain on our shelves. I'm not that tasteless.)

Given that background information, then, when I say that I nearly quit Our Tragic Universe by Scarlett Thomas a couple of times before page 50, perhaps you can read my full meaning in those words.

The novel is a meta-novel, really, about a writer-turned-book-reviewer who wants to have an affair, whose friends cycle in and out of her thoughts and days, whose boyfriend is a jobless loser. I kept wondering how much the protagonist/narrator, Meg, was a stand-in for the author documenting her own writing crisis and relationship drama. It made for an unsettling read. I couldn't get rid of that voyeuristic feeling that the author was talking about an insufficiently fictionalized self, particularly as the narrator often discussed how often her (the narrator's) novel draft changed when she added and deleted details from her (the narrator's) life. A bit more commentary ... )

I won't reread this book. That said, my writing this review is an example of my stepping off a cliff, according to the narrator. It can't have been all bad.
chaiya: (storm troopers)
Now that Arisia 2011 work is mostly done, it's time to do a bit of Hugo nominating. In prep for this, I'm trying to read several books by the end of March.

If anyone has a copy of the following, please let me know?
Zendegi by Greg Egan
Quantum Theif by Hannu Rajaniemi
Red Plenty by Francis Spufford
Lightborn by Tricia Sullivan
Yarn by Jon Armstrong
State of Decay by James Knapp
The Habitation of the Blessed by Catherynne M. Valente

2010 books I've already obtained or gotten access to (yay, public library and helpful friends!):
Counterfeit Magic and The Reckoning by Kelley Armstrong
The Reapers are Angels by Aiden Bell
Song of Scarabaeus by Sara Creasy
The Strange Affair of the Spring Heeled Jack by Mark Hodder
Surface Detail by Iain Banks
Freak Magnet by Andrew Auseon
How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe by Charles Yu
An Artificial Night and A Local Habitation by Seanan McGuire
Feed by Mira Grant
Harmony by Project Itoh
C by Tom McCarthy
Our Tragic Universe by Scarlett Thomas
Aurorama by Jean-Christophe Valtat
White Cat by Holly Black
Blackout and All Clear by Connie Willis
Bleeding Violet by Dia Reeves
Dervish House by Ian McDonald
Zoo City by Lauren Beukes
Chill by Elizabeth Bear
Dream of Perpetual Motion by Dexter Palmer

How am I getting reading done? Either by sitting at home sick or reading while at the gym, on a machine. I get reading done, lately, in either situation.

I spent a lot of time before Arisia at the gym, too, but I was reading Octavia Butler and Ursula K LeGuin novels, mostly. And Connie Willis' To Say Nothing of the Dog, to lighten up a bit. I also started reading Lois McMaster Bujold last week, before more of the 2010 Hugo possibilities arrived. Book therapy is becoming rather costly, even if I buy used. ;)

Which reminds me. Anyone have any other books to add to this list? Want to throw some books my way? I'm mostly looking for science fiction/fantasy novels published for the first time in 2010, at least until the Hugo ballots are finished.
chaiya: (proud smile)
My friend Sheeri has just co-authored a very useful-looking book on MySQL called The MySQL Administrator's Bible. It is out as of today! Everybody cheer!

And those of you who are on my flist and geeky like this, please go ahead and order it! :)
chaiya: (books)
Discussion of race has been going around a lot, lately. I think it's partly related to Obama's election, and I think it's important to talk about. However, I rarely know what to say. I'm absorbing a lot, and I'm thinking a lot, and I'm hopefully using enough sources of information that no one mis-reading will lead me astray. Not that there's a clear path to travel, of course.

I just this week finished reading Dreams From My Father by Barack Obama. I had previously read (during the election cycle) his book The Audacity of Hope. I recommend both highly. Obama has an amazing voice, as a writer, and I feel like I learned a lot about him as a person through both books. I enjoyed reading Hope because it inspired me and made me think about politics in the US today. I loved reading Dreams because I felt like I understood at least a little of what Obama is like as a person, if that's not too audacious a claim, and because I heard from his perspective a lot about what his racial heritage means to him. Dreams was an actual page-turner, which rarely happens between me and non-fiction. (I am a somewhat slow reader, and took both books in chunks, but stayed up reading later than I should have, which is the definition of page-turner to me. Also, I cried at some points of both books.)

My Harvard Bookstore book of the month is The Book of Night Women by Marlon James. It's got great reviews. We'll see when the next time I have time to read a book is!

I will say this: I hope to have discussion of race, slavery, and culture at our Passover seder next month.
chaiya: (lol asl)
Working on my Hugo nominations (due in a couple of hours), I'm incredibly pleased to have come across this story. I have no idea if I can nominate it or not, but I'm going to try. Seriously, give it a read. (Warning, loads slowly.)
chaiya: (quizzical)
We have new shelving up in the front hallway of our house, and can put up a bit more. We have the ability to put sections of our library on said shelves. Which sections should be there, in the most accessible part of the house?

(Note that the cookbooks are not an option in this poll; they will go in the kitchen or as close as possible, since that's just where they make sense. It's also unlikely that the fiction or Children's sections will be moved to the downstairs, just given our household's layout. And of course, my anatomy and massage-related books stay up in the guest room, where I have my practice space.)

[ profile] regyt, I have no idea of this poll will help you or not. But thank you for inspiring me to write it! :)

[Poll #1350610]
chaiya: (hippie)
I was visiting with an old friend from NH this week, and felt like being productive. So while we talked for a few hours, I reorganized the children's collection (residing in the guest/massage room on the second floor). All those books are now entered into Library Thing, and they're on shelves instead of in bags stacked in the corner and in the closet.

The sad part is, I emptied a six foot bookshelf for this, and it's already full again. I need more shelving!

Thank you, [ profile] findyourfloor and [ profile] dimers. You have both helped make my life a lot more sane, with this whole organization thing. :)
chaiya: (right path)
These are the top 106 books most often marked as "unread" by LibraryThing‚Äôs users. As in, they sit on the shelf to make you look smart or well-rounded. Bold the ones you've read, and italicize the ones you own but have not read. I am either well-intentioned, or a poser, when it comes to reading. )

In other news, as [ profile] cthulhia suggested, best of luck to those celebrating May Day in the Jonathan Coulton way. ;)
chaiya: (set list)

Madeleine L'Engle, Children's Writer, Is Dead

Published: September 8, 2007Read more... )
chaiya: (thoughtful)
I devoured Howl's Moving Castle (much better than the movie). It was fantabulous, a sheer delight, and utter happiness to anyone who opens the covers. I moved a bit more slowly through The Castle in the Air, a retelling of Aladdin, mixing in Howl and Sophie and more creative plot at the end (sort of, maybe a sequel to Howl's Moving Castle). And I found that I automatically paced myself with Fire and Hemlock, of which I'm not sure yet that I understand the ending.

She's a great author. The new ideas she presents are fascinating, and intricate, and incredibly believable (except the ending of F&H, and bits of Castle where the retelling wore a bit thin). I've read over 1000 pages of her writing in the past week, and I'm an incredibly slow reader, myself.

Howl and Castle would be great for any child to read, say, over the age of 10. If they can handle Harry Potter (book 1 or 2, even), they can handle these.

Fire and Hemlock, though, I'd reserve for a kid 15 or older. It's more haunting, and makes less immediate sense. It's still magical, but not in the fairy-magic sort of way. And it has the potential for giving nightmares.

So that's what I've got to say about that. She's definitely a nifty writer, though. Thanks, [ profile] lyonesse, for the pointer. I'll be on the lookout for more of her stuff. :)
chaiya: (young and innocent)
Yes, someone important to me died this week. No, not the religious nutcase in the news.

Lloyd Alexander is was one of my favorite children's authors. I think I have 17 of the 39 books listed in the wikipedia article, after years of hunting them down in used book stores.

I must obtain the new book that's coming out this summer/fall, which I guess is now posthumous publishing. I had no idea he was still alive, much less still writing. But I love his stories, and will obsessively seek out the ones I don't have.

And now I know that the font has dried up. Which is sad. But he didn't outlive his beloved wife (of 61 years!) for more than a couple of weeks, which is not so sad. When I go, I don't want to have outlived my loved ones, nor do I want them to be sad without me for long. In an ideal world, we'd all go down together, like Billy Joel says. Or something. Not to be morbid or anything.
chaiya: (bashful youth)
As a 12-year-old (or younger?), I loved a series of 3 books that were sort of pre-young-adult, Christian, and about a girl named Crystal who moved someplace with horse ranches. She had all sorts of adventures/mysteries, including one that involved finding gold in an abandoned mine or something. I only owned the first three books -- no idea if there were more.

I have a morbid curiousity as to whether they were actually good books, or whether I was enjoying the last of my horse obsession/Christianity obsession.

Anyone know what books I'm talking about? Or is your google fu stronger than mine, perchance?
chaiya: (Default)
1. Grab the nearest book. (Don't you dare dig for that "cool" or "intellectual" book in your closet! I know you were thinking about it! Just pick up whatever is closest.)
2. Open the book to page 123.
3. Find the fifth sentence.
4. Post the text of the next 3 sentences on your blog along with these instructions.

"He says I mustn't -- not yet -- see his face or know his name. I'm forbidden to bring any light into his -- our -- chamber."

Then she looked up, and as our eyes met for a moment I saw in hers unspeakable joy.

This is from one of my all-time favorite books, Till We Have Faces by CS Lewis. It's a retelling of the Psyche-Eros myth, from the evil stepsister's perspective. It breaks my heart every time, and I love it well. Steve and I recently started reading it aloud to one another.

This book, like much of Lewis' writing, lives and breathes for me. Unlike Narnia, however, it has none of that pesky Xtian moralizing and theme. If anything, it's a pagan-oriented book. Not as good for children, though, as Narnia.


chaiya: (Default)

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