lunamysticmirror: ([lotr] Middle Earth Bestseller)
[personal profile] lunamysticmirror

1) The Amber Spyglass, by Philip Pullman. Huh. The first Big Controversial Thing was rather anti-climactic. In the context of the story, the second Big Controversial Thing didn't bother me quite as much as I thought it would. I liked the book -- the parts in the land of the dead were especially evocative, I thought -- but it felt a bit all over the place. Also, there should be more Iorek. Always.

2) The Partly Cloudy Patriot, by Sarah Vowell. I wish I had discovered Vowell when I was working in public affairs. Hers is the voice that might have kept me from feeling so jaded about the political process. In this collection of essays, her personal anecdotes are funny and thought-provoking, but it's her take on history, government and patriotism I find most intriguing. I loved 'The Nerd Voice' in particular, and her suggestion that Gore, one type of nerd, would have been more successful if he had campaigned as a nerd like Willow on Buffy. Because it's true.

3) Plum Lucky, by Janet Evanovich. Abrupt ending aside, this book is typical hilarious Stephanie Plum and a quick and entertaining read. Just don't look for redeeming social or intellectual value.

4) Dime Store Magic, by Kelley Armstrong. This book, centered around Paige, doesn't have the intensity of the first two in the series. Maybe I simply prefer werewolves to witches, but I like Elena as narrator better. Or maybe it's because Paige spends the first half of the book walking into really obvious traps. It gets better.

5) Interred with Their Bones, by Jennifer Lee Carrell. A Shakespearean expert receives a clue that points to one of Shakespeare's missing plays and hints at aspects of his life, including his oft contested identity. Meanwhile, someone is staging Shakespeare's most elaborate, brutal murders in the race to stop her from discovering the truth. Think The Da Vinci Code with better writing, better research, more interesting characters and a well-executed plot. Mostly. The end is a bit handwavey, but on the whole, I liked it.

6) The Sweet Far Thing, by Libba Bray. Good, but not nearly as good, to me, as Rebel Angels. It's the rare trilogy in which the second book is the standout. I felt there were some pacing (it's 819 pages) and plot (there's a decent one, but it's scattered) issues. And it took me until after the big finale to remember why I like Gemma; the ending almost makes up for a lingering sense of disappointment. I continue to love Bray's way with language, for passages like this: "We create the illusions we need to go on. And one day, when they no longer dazzle or comfort, we tear them down, brick by glittering brick, until we are left with nothing but the bright light of honesty. The light is liberating." Oh, is that ever true.

7) Shakespeare: The World as Stage, by Bill Bryson. Part of the Eminent Lives series, this is a straightforward look at Shakespeare's life, his time, his plays and, briefly, the people who attribute these things to someone other than the man from Stratford. Very little is known about Shakespeare the man, an important point in and of itself, so it's a comparatively short account. I would have liked a longer chapter on the claimants; Bryson does a good job of divorcing sentimentality from the issue, logically pointing out the flaws in the Oxfordian argument.

8) The Game, by Diana Wynne Jones. I'm with [ profile] bookelfe: it's far too short. The concept and characters are incredibly nifty, and I'm left wanting more story and more background. The ending is far too abrupt. There's so much to play with here! (And part of me went all shiny-eyed at the thought of a Mythosphere RPG. Hush.)

9) Furies of Calderon, by Jim Butcher. Why does it always have to be giant spiders? Seriously, people. Spiders aside, I really enjoyed this book. It has a LOTR feel, specifically the Helms Deep like battle at the end, and I like Tavi's ordinariness (for a given value of ordinary). In fact, I heartily approve of both the world and characters. Also: HA HA HA, Kitai.

10) Industrial Magic, by Kelley Armstrong. I liked Paige so much more this time around. The plot here is good and fast-paced. Familiar characters reappear and have an important role in the mystery (someone is killing off Cabal kids), which is far more effective at establishing the dynamics of a 'realistic' supernatural community than prior mentions of the interracial council. Also, the inside look at the Mafia-like Cabals is neat.

11) Atonement, by Ian McEwan. There's something so wonderfully human about this novel. It's full of flawed characters dealing with not only the repercussions of their own actions, but in some cases, simply the actions of others. The breaks in narrative can seem jarring and unsatisfying, but ultimately makes sense. As does the treatment of Cecilia, about whose thoughts, motivations and choices I wanted to know a great deal more. That said, it's his descriptions of war-torn France, Dunkirk and the hospital in London that really stick with me. The movie (which I immediately watched), incidentally, is a surprisingly faithful adaptation.

12) Academ's Fury, by Jim Butcher. Really, really good. I enjoyed the first Codex Alera book quite a lot, but this one was hard to put down. Butcher's world-building is solid and interesting, and his characters tend to be compellingly imperfect; they're believable. While Tavi occasionally seems to have too much time for introspection in the midst of chaos, I like the way Butcher builds suspense when he writes battles. I don't get bored.

13) Practical Magic, by Alice Hoffman. Wow, did the movie ever get that wrong. The script writers completely excised the middle of the book, and only lightly borrowed from the beginning and end. The book is much darker than I expected, given my prior exposure to the "story," but the characters are beautifully fleshed out. All of them. It's really a story about generations, and love, and discovering that you're not as different from the people you love as you might feel.

14) The Daughter of Time, by Josephine Tey. Who killed the Princes in the Tower? Was Richard Plantagenet really the sort of man who could have done such a thing to his own nephews? While on bed rest with a broken leg, Inspector Alan Grant decides to find out, and so begins a thoroughly satisfying tale that is equal parts murder mystery and history lesson. And, ultimately, a lesson that the history we're taught should be taken with a grain of salt.

15) The Time Traveler's Wife, by Audrey Niffenegger. What a beautiful story. I could have happily read about Henry, in all his messiness, for another five hundred pages. Clare just makes me sad. I thought the premise was going to hurt my poor chronology loving brain, but it's handled in such an accessible way that it quickly ceases to be confusing.

16) Homes and Other Black Holes, by Dave Barry. [ profile] bookwench31 thought I needed a little real estate humor. She was right. I'm not sure I'll follow Barry's advice to set all my possessions on fire and walk away ("It's easier"), but it's good to know that when dealing with real estate ads, "charming" can mean "toilets that flush up." He's not wrong. Oh, the joys of searching for a house.

17) Small Favor, by Jim Butcher. I enjoyed it (Harry!), but at times it reads like he was rushing to meet a deadline. The beginning is a little thick on action and light on plot. Although I like the ending and the questions it raises, I can understand why it might be frustrating for a lot of fans. I hope we see more of the Eldest Gruff and the "janitor."

18) Sorcery & Cecelia or The Enchanted Chocolate Pot, by Patricia C. Wrede & Caroline Stevermer. This is SUCH a cute book. Set in a version of England after the Napoleonic Wars, it introduces two engaging heroines who reveal in a series of letters how they each become entangled in sorcery, society and relationships with infuriating (but eligible) men. Magic is interwoven beautifully in the story, but the true focus is on Cecy and Kate. I love, for example, how they address dangerous spells in one line and then turn around and ask after a length of ribbon. It's seamless and highly entertaining.

19) The Book Thief, by Markus Zusak. I don't really know what to say about this book, except that I loved it. Describing it as a story of a young girl growing up in Nazi Germany and her relationships with her foster parents, the boy next door, stolen books and the Jewish man hiding in her basement, doesn't do it justice. It's a story about the power of words -- the politics, love, hope and hatred of language. Death is the narrator, wading his way through humanity and all its contradictions, and what results is sure to stay with you for a long time.

20) Charmed Life, by Diana Wynne Jones. Cute, but I don't care as much about Cat as I'm probably meant to. His lack of backbone frustrates me. I don't see why anyone would put up with Gwendolen the way he does, especially once the truth about her becomes clear. I do like the world, however, and love Jones, so I will definitely keep reading.

21) Cursor's Fury, by Jim Butcher. I love Tavi. LOVE HIM. I felt as if I was watching Gladiator at times, but his cleverness and bravery really shine through in this novel, and while certain aspects of the story have been predictable from the beginning, what matters is how the characters get there. I started this book thinking it would read just like the second; Butcher surprised me.

22) Pyramids, by Terry Pratchett. It's ridiculous, not surprisingly, yet entertaining. There are several laugh out loud moments, mostly in reference to mummies. I can't say it's Pratchett at his best, but it's worth a read. Now I only have three Discworld books left. Sad!

23) The Lives of Christopher Chant, by Diana Wynne Jones. Again, I wish the main character wasn't so oblivious to what's clearly going on right before his eyes; or not for quite so long, at least. Otherwise, Lives is perfectly enjoyable, especially the tie-ins to the first Chrestomanci story.

24) Size 12 Is Not Fat, by Meg Cabot. Sheer brain candy, but the very best kind. Ex-popstar Heather Wells, dumped by her Backstreet Boy boyfriend and financially cheated by her mother, takes her life into her own hands and gets a day job working in a college residence hall. Things get interesting when students start dying, and she tries her hand at some amateur sleuthing. I really liked how the focus of the story was on Heather and all her funny foibles, not will she or won't she end up with her hunky landlord/PI? She's relatable, and it amuses me to no end that her best friend's name is Patty.

25) Size 14 Is Not Fat Either, by Meg Cabot. Hee Hee Hee. Ahem. Look, I've been in dire need of fluffy reading material. This follow-up to #24 is complete and utter crack. Though the mystery itself is over the top, the events that surround Heather's attempts to solve it are often hilarious. See: Jordan skiing down Fifth Avenue. But someone should really tell Meg Cabot to stop trying to write song lyrics; they're painful. (Yeah, I'll be reading the third.)

26) Haunted, by Kelley Armstrong. Eh. The main character is a ghost -- half witch, half demon. In a supernatural ghost world, she struggles to protect the daughter she left behind and reconnect with the father, a dead sorcerer. The Fates call in a favor, setting Eve on the path of a homicidal demon. While this take on the afterlife is interesting and the characters familiar, it might be a little out there, even for me. Especially the several chapters devoted to a serial killer hell, which were extremely disturbing. Even Lizzie Borden makes an appearance.

27) Starcross, by Philip Reeve. Better than Larklight, in my opinion. Oh, steampunk. I laughed a good deal. Myrtle is even more prim and proper, if possible, and lines like this are why I love her so: "...which began to glow deepest cherry red and give off a dry heat which might have made me perspire, were I not so well brought-up." Huzzah!

28) My Big Fat Supernatural Honeymoon, edited by P.N. Elrod. Jim Butcher, Kelley Armstrong and Marjorie Liu's stories are the only reason to pick up this collection. The rest are forgettable and reminiscent of bad romance novels. It does, however, serve as decent light reading if you can't sleep.

29) Eric, by Terry Pratchett. A short, humorous Discworld take on Faust. I liked the politics of Hell (hostile corporate takeover and mind numbing policies as new brands of evil) and the fall of Tsort. Faust Eric himself was forgettable.

30) Fearless Fourteen, by Janet Evanovich. Evanovich seems to be laboring under the impression that if she doesn't keep Stephanie's personal life fairly stagnant, people won't want to read. As a result, her plots get increasingly far-fetched, and the torn between two men thing is feeling painfully formulaic where it didn't before. It's obvious what's going to happen eventually, so why not go there and have fun with it? Personally, I think a Plum wedding would be hysterical -- Lula and Grandma Mazur as bridesmaids? Sign me up -- and it would allow the characters to grow. Don't get me wrong; her latest has its moments. Tank and 'Minionfire' are brilliant. But I'm bored of the personal storylines, and that's not good.

31) Captain's Fury, by Jim Butcher. The Codex Alera books keep getting better and better. I didn't want to finish this one. The characters, even minor ones, are developing in ways that only make me love them more. Or loathe them more, as the case may be. December suddenly feels eons away.

32) Sourcery, by Terry Pratchett. Eh. There's a reason this is one of the last Discworld books I wanted to read. The wizards -- even Rincewind -- are so different than they are in later books, and consequently not nearly as funny. It has its moments, but I doubt it'll be a reread.

33) Stop in the Name of Pants! by Louise Rennison. This might be my favorite title yet, but the book itself has many of the same problems as the last one. And as the Stephanie Plum book! I'm sensing a trend. Georgia, while completely oblivious half the time, does manage to mature slightly. And a rather heavy, emotional moment took me by complete surprise in the middle -- in a good way. Dave the Laugh continues to win everything, and I feel really good about the next book. Hopefully Rennison will, too.

34) Territory, by Emma Bull. Tombstone, Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday as you've never experienced them. This book wasn't at all what I expected; the fantasy element was actually quite subtle. What shines are the characterizations and depictions of life in the famous town. The plot borders on iffy, but I was enjoying the rest of it well enough to not be overly bothered by that fact.

35) The Field Guide, by Tony DiTerlizzi and Holly Black. Book one of The Spiderwick Chronicles. It came with the DVD, so how could I pass it up? I've heard really good things about these books, and I wasn't disappointed. I'll probably read the rest eventually, for completion's sake, but I was perfectly satisfied with reading this and then watching the movie. Blasphemy, I know.

36) Small Gods, by Terry Pratchett. I'm glad I saved this Discworld novel for last. It provided much-needed laughs and distraction during packing and moving in Georgia. The Turtle Moves! (And the tortoise steals the book.)

37) Big Boned, by Meg Cabot. Well, that series fizzled out. I had to force myself to finish my fluffy augh-moving-is-hell reading! That's a bad sign, surely. I'm glad of the ending, however, provided it really IS one and she's done with Heather Wells.

38) Broken, by Kelley Armstrong. Elena is still my favorite of Armstrong's heroines. I was happy to have her narrating again and breezed through the book, but it felt like something was missing. Perhaps that's just my disappointment at Armstrong's approach to the Jack the Ripper mystery. I had such high hopes. Alas. Still, I love the Pack.

39) Breaking Dawn, by Stephenie Meyer. WHAT. No, WHAT? Seriously? That was bad in more ways than I care to share. Imagine every bad fanfic you've ever encountered, cobbled together with extra sparkle. Yeah. Hold me. I feel dirty.

40) Victory of Eagles, by Naomi Novik. Thank goodness some of Eagles is told from Temeraire's perspective, because everything about Laurence here made me sad and want to cuddle him -- not unlike his dragon, actually. Napoleon in England didn't have quite the impact I expected, and there was something of the over long DH camping trip about parts of the story. Still, it's Temeraire, and I love Novik's imaginative writing.

41) The Grand Tour, by Patricia C. Wrede & Caroline Stevermer. Kate and Cecy remain delightful, but The Grand Tour lacked some of the humor and adventure of the first, which is odd given the nature of the plot. I missed the letter format, too, because Cecy's account was perforce a bit stilted.

42) Take the Cannoli, by Sarah Vowell. For every selection on Frank Sinatra that left me a little "eh," there's a hilarious anecdote about learning to drive or a moving piece on the Trail of Tears. It's more personal than her other works, I think, and is very evocative of the late '90s; it was a little like memory lane. The last anecdote might be my favorite: she decides, on a whim, to try her hand at Goth culture.

43) The Graveyard Book, by Neil Gaiman. Nobody Owens is an orphan taken in and protected by a graveyard of ghosts who become more real to him than the living. Gaiman effortlessly sees him through a series of adventures and, in the truest sense of the phrase, life lessons, shaping an intriguing mythology along the way. I found this book bittersweet, hopeful and beautiful, and while I'd love to read more about Bod, I'm just as happy letting my imagination fill in what happens next. That way, there are no limits.

44) No Humans Allowed, by Kelley Armstrong. Fantastic vacation reading. I am unexpectedly fond of Jaime/Jeremy, and the blurb on the book cover doesn't do the plot justice. I love that Jaime is sick and tired of getting rescued by more powerful supernaturals all the time and is determined to learn how to look after herself; she's realistic about it, using what she has, playing to her strengths. It's a fun book.

45) Backup, by Jim Butcher. Thomas gets his own story! Now if only it was longer and offered more insight into Thomas. We do get a better sense of how Thomas feeds (ouch, Justine) and what Harry is like through his eyes, but the rest fell a bit flat, or felt rushed. I do, however, like the idea that Thomas is involved in a war that he can never tell Harry about. The war itself is also a neat concept for the Dresden-verse -- shades of American Gods. Basically, I think the concept is good, Thomas is a fascinating character and Butcher could have done more with both.

46) The Historian, by Elizabeth Kostova. I loved this book. Eerie and captivating, it explores the history and myths behind Dracula, deftly reaching as far back as the fifteenth century while simultaneously providing the reader with a glimpse of Cold War Europe. There are several different storylines to keep track of, which I initially found annoying, but Kostova hits her stride a quarter of the way in and I didn't want to put down the book. Best of all, her vampires are the sort to keep you up at night because they make your blood run cold, not because they sparkle.

47) A Short History of Nearly Everything, by Bill Bryson. Science for the lay person. Bryson is at his best highlighting the eccentricities of scientists -- and science itself, really -- and the ways in which their work fits into the larger picture of us. How scientific thought has developed over the years from discipline to discipline is an enlightening and surprisingly entertaining tale. He does a good job of pulling it all together and making sense of even the most daunting of topics. I now know why Yellowstone will kill us all. Also, who knew feuding Victorian scientists could be so hilarious?

48) The Tales of Beedle the Bard, by J.K. Rowling. Quick. Cute (except for the third, which is kind of disturbing). Not particularly memorable. I expected more from the tales, but Dumbledore's commentaries were certainly enjoyable.

Date: 2008-01-13 10:19 pm (UTC)
skygiants: Princess Tutu, facing darkness with a green light in the distance (toph says yay!)
From: [personal profile] skygiants
Oh yay, you're doing this again. :D

Date: 2008-01-14 02:22 am (UTC)
lunamystic: (Reading)
From: [personal profile] lunamystic
I am! *beams at you* Though I am off to a slow start. Friday Night Lights and Rome are very distracting.

Date: 2008-01-14 02:58 am (UTC)
skygiants: Princess Tutu, facing darkness with a green light in the distance (land beyond dreams)
From: [personal profile] skygiants
They are extremely worthwhile distractions, though, from what I hear! I've been meaning to watch Rome for ages - maybe now the writers are on strike I actually will.

Date: 2008-01-14 06:53 pm (UTC)
lunamystic: (Lest we forget the past)
From: [personal profile] lunamystic
They really are. I'm not at all surprised I like Rome (history + James Purefoy = win), but given my recent peripheral football overload, I'm surprised I like Friday Night Lights as much as I do. I highly recommend.

(I finished pulling suggestions from your book list. I wasn't aware that anyone else had actually read The Third Witch. I adore that book.)

Date: 2008-01-15 05:49 am (UTC)
skygiants: Princess Tutu, facing darkness with a green light in the distance (rose oops?)
From: [personal profile] skygiants
I keep hearing that about Friday Night Lights, and that it's more than a football show etc., and yet I am having trouble overcoming my ingrained prejudices against Sports Centered Drama. I know! I am ashamed.

(OH me too! It is my favorite Macbeth retelling.

. . . and yes, I've totally read more than one, even, shut up. And I am looking forward to seeing what you think of the ones off mine!)


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January 2015


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