Musings of a Quasi-Intellectual

Sunday, October 08, 2006

codine dreams

Well all, I welcome myself back to the blogsphere. It has been a bit of an absence, I know. I have finished a few books in the past weeks, put together a bunch of new furniture, and sat in the corner on the verge (and many times past the verge) of tears. Yes, I am having the dreaded root canal tomorrow, hence the codine dreams. However, I know it is the books we are all interested in.

The Bermudez Triangle - Maureen Johnson
This is one of the better young adult queer fictions I have read. Good grasp of the intricacies of young friendships and the confusion surrounding that first love. The synopsis is the three main characters have been inseperable for many years. One the points of the triangle goes away to a summer leadership camp and everything changes. The tales unfolds over the next year. I highly reccommend this.

Widdershins - Charles de Lint
Fairies in shopping malls?!?! This is de Lint's newest installment of the Newford books. It is also the first one I have read. I like fantasy, but have never been really big on fairies. I have to say that de Lint has made me a fan. His blending of urban realism and the fantastical is engaging. Most importantly, you can really tell that he loves his characters. They are very well developed and well rounded. I will probably go back and read the rest of them at some point.

Engaging the Enemy - Elizabeth Moon
The latest of the Kylara Vatta series. Hard sci-fi. Pretty good quick read.

The Hedge Knight - George R.R. Martin
A graphic representation of a short story from the Legends series. This tales takes place in the world of Martin's Song of Ice and Fire series (when, oh when will the next book come out??). Set a hundred years or so in the past, it tells the story of Ser Duncan the Tall, a knight who tries to uphold the ancient honor of knighthood. It is almost his undoing. Well drawn, good addition to your library, especially if you are a fan of Martin's work.

Well, those are the books I have finished. I am working on Umberto Eco's The Name of the Rose.

Monday, September 18, 2006

The Night Watch - Sarah Waters

I don't know how she does it, but I have yet to read a Sarah Waters novel that I have failed to enjoy. The Night Watch is set in London during and following World War II. It is a truly human story, filled with regret, bad choices, and pervaisive longing.

Centering on five main characters who are all interconnected in various ways, the story unfolds backwards, each section explaining the motivations and movements that caused what we just read. We first meet our protagonists in post war London. We then delve into the past to find out why these people are the way they are. What I find most interesting is that we meet all of the characters at a time in their lives when you can tell that things are about to change, that perhaps they are ready to move away from the demons of their past and the horrors of war, or perhaps not. What happens to them now? Who knows, but you have a group of characters who for various reasons don't have a concept of future. One couple's future together is unclear, one woman can never have a real future with her chosen partner, one young man feels that he doesn't deserve a future, and one woman doesn't care what the future holds.

I feel that Waters really captured the essence of what war can do to a populace. Even though Night Watch is set in the 40's, its comments on the consequences of war resonates strongly today.

Read it, I don't think you will be dissappointed. Also, if you haven't read any of Sarah Waters' books, what are you waiting for..pick up Fingersmith (still my fave) and get cracking.

Extra tidbit: The Night Watch was shortlisted for this year's Orange Prize for Fiction

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Not enthralled by the literati...unless you count the one on Yahoo! Games

I have kind of hit a slump. I have played more generic Scrabble (yahoo's Literati) than read in the past couple of weeks. Instead of using my half hour commute to get along in my book(s), I use it to catch up on sleep, which I am getting plenty of.


Never the less, I have a few books started: 1776 - David McCullough, Night Watch - Sarah Waters, Lipshitz Six, or Two Angry Blondes - T. Cooper, Clay Feet - Terry Pratchett.

1776. Wonderful book as of chapter 3. History is a relatively new genre for me, but as I get older, I feel a pull to learn the history of the world. I remember a few teachers and professors attempting to "school me right", but alas, it is all up to me now. I need to finish this one in the next few days, because I think I will make the kiddo read this one in a few weeks and need to make some lesson plans to go along with. If this is the case, why did I start another book today (Night Watch).

Lipshitz Six. Was digging this, and was almost finished when the book took a leap in time and tone and jarred me out my groove. I have to reapproach with care.

Night Watch. Who doesn't love Sarah Waters? We will see if this one stands up to Fingersmith, which I found to be terrific, perhaps one of my all time faves.

Clay Feet - Bathroom book, catching up on back reading in the Discworld series.

I hope the impending change in the weather will help with the general slumpiness of my reading life. The rest of my life is trucking right along - a clean house- some furniture buying is imminent, we are back on the homeschool track, work is going well, the city is beautiful, and we are settling into our new neighborhood well.

Until next time. A finished book, I promise.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Freakonomic Phantom

I have recently finished two books Phantom - Terry Goodkind and Freakonomics - Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dunbar. One disappointing and the other pleasantly refreshing.

Lets start of on the happy note - Freakonomics. I have waited many months to read this book, it was always checked out back in Austin and I was finally able to snag a copy in Manhattan. This book is still on the non-fiction bestseller list, with good reason. Levitt and Dunbar present a view of the world that is both enlightening and a tad bit unnerving. Levitt posits that most questions about the world can be answered by using economic theory. For instance, "If drug dealers make so much money, why do they still live with their mothers?"

Phantom. The newest installment in the Sword of Truth series. I am sorely dissappointed at the turn this series is taking. Not at the story itself, the plot is intricate and building nicely to the finale of the next (11th) and last book. My problem is two fold. Firstly, I feel that the rampant use of rape as a plot device is bordering on obscene (actually, it has jumped the border and is now kicking dirt in the border's face). I couldn't get more that two pages without some one getting raped, threatened with rape, waiting for the rape to happen, worrying about getting raped, remembering the time the whole town got raped. I get it! The empire is evil; they are bad people; bad things happen to good people. I felt it was just to much this time. After finishing the book, I needed a shower.

Secondly, it seems that very little movement happened in the novel. The characters would be faced with a dilemma, they would discuss all the angles of the problem down to the philosophical basis to the problem. Some very boring passages. I felt as if the author had given up trying to let his message seep through his characters' motives and actions, and started beating me about the head and shoulders with it. Of course, I will probably read the next book when it comes out because I have several years invested in this story already, but I not eagerly awaiting the publication. Now the next George R.R. Martin book is a different story. I can't even start the newest release because it is only half the book it was supposed to be, the rest published sometime in the future. I have decided to wait it out until I have the whole story.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Someone greased my saddle

Well, it has been a bit difficult to get back into the blogging saddle. The move was successful, we haven't unpacked much, but we have beds to sleep on, so Yay! Anyway, as y'all can tell, the internet is up and running along with the new Playstation bought for the express purpose of Dance Dance Revolution. Video games, exercise and annoying music. Heaven.

I am currently reading Phantom - Terry Goodkind. I am chugging away at it, but I have to say that I have been less than impressed with the last few books of this series. I will elaborate on this upon completion of the current installment. I know you wait with bated breathe. Until then.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Bad Blogger

Well, I will be the first to admit it, I am a bad blogger. It has been so long since I posted last.

Since my last post I have finished 2 books and was forced to take about 40 back to the library, overdue, of course. I finished Lamb by Christopher Moore and Eldest by Christopher Paolini. It was the week of Christophers; it is nice to have a theme.

Lamb was enjoyable, kind of kooky, but I found that I didn't like it as much as the other two I have read by the same author. See The Stupidest Angel - Christopher Moore and Dirty Job - Christopher Moore

Eldest was really good. It is the second of a trilogy entitled Inheritance. I keep wanting to find things that I don't like about the series, but when I find them and reevaluate they turn into strengths. Does that make sense? For instance, time moves at a pretty rapid pace in this story, as with the first. At first, I felt as if the nuances of the story and characters we getting glossed over, but upon completion, I felt as if everything worked pretty well. My only complaint, and it is minor, is that at times the characters and flow of the story border on stock. By stock, I mean a "been there, done that" sort of feeling. It is a flaw inherent in the genre (which is still a personal favorite), I feel.

Paolini is a New York Times Bestselling author 2 times over by the age of twenty, so, I look forward to his maturation and a lengthy career.

Besides cracking the books, I have been spending my time drawing and pondering the mullet. On the bus ride back into the city, after a morning assembling IKEA furniture, I actually saw a mullet that looked good on someone. I thought that was an impossibility, and the world may end any minute now, but it worked in an ironic sort of way. The mainstay of redneck fashion is the new style of the Asian hipster rocker guy. What can I say? Nothing, I'm out -- to weird.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Happy Book Freak

Well we secured an apartment!

You may all dance for joy, I know I have.

A beautiful 4, yes count them, 4 bdrm is now ours for a ridiculously low (kidding) price. Unfortunately, we will be paying greatly for our digs, but I may actually get my own space, perhaps even my own chair. Can't wait!

Reading has slowed down during our hunt for housing, I am currently working on The World is Flat, which, so far, is intriguing. I checked this one out from the express book collection. I wonder if this is a New York thing, I haven't run across this anywhere else, but they have many copies of new titles that you can check out for one week -- no renewals. I don't think I am going to get this one finished in time. I usually clear more than one book in a week, but life has gotten in the way, or maybe I don't like deadlines. I seemed to have a problem with them in college, I never could get the books read before the discussions, to busy reading for pleasure.

Anyway, I am working on the Friedman, closing in on the finish of Lamb, and stalled out on Anna Karenina. But I have managed to finish a good number of comics.

Before I forget, I am also happy because they recently release The Young Riders on DVD. I was obsessed with this show back in the day, watched it from the very first episode until the very end, and I am now going to torture my family. I love life!