alexiscartwheel: (Default)
Last year I divided the list into Fiction, Non-Fiction, and Graphic Novels thinking that would make me actually read more non-fiction. That... failed spectacularly. In general, I just didn't finish as many books as I would've liked last year, but it's not fair comparing to 2012, since that was when I got into Marvel and read a ton of trades. Still unaccounted for were (and are) single issue comics and the massive amount of fic I've been reading.

I did do a pretty good job writing reviews for everything, so I'm going to at least try to keep that going.

CLICK FOR THE LIST. OR ELSE? )
alexiscartwheel: (Default)
This year I'm trying something different, and instead of posting my full reading list at the end of the year, I'm going to try to add to it as I go along. (Normally the in progress list is a Word doc sitting on my desktop.) Hopefully this will prompt me to write at least brief reviews somewhat more often. Volume wise, I hope to at least mostly keep pace with last year. I'm already woefully behind schedule because of The Diviners, but I refuse to give up in January. I'm also going to try splitting the list into fiction, non-fiction, and graphic novels in the hope that I'll actually read some non-fiction.

Read more... )
alexiscartwheel: (reading)
Earlier today I finished reading Simon Pegg's autobiography Nerd Do Well, the first Kindle book I borrowed from the public library. (Sidebar: I was really impressed by the simplicity of downloading a library Kindle book—just a few clicks and the book appeared%mdash;especially when contrasted to my experience trying to borrow audiobooks last summer.) The book was nothing earth-shattering, but if you're both a) a nerd and b) familiar with Pegg's work (particularly Spaced and Shaun of the Dead) it's a light and amusing read. For me, the best bits were when he analyzes some of his favorite films, including the original Star Wars trilogy and numerous 1970s zombie classics.

What surprised me was that I put the book down really wanting to write something. I think what Pegg captures really well is that urge that nerdy folk have to go out and create things in the tradition of the things they love. His continued love of stories from his childhood and wonder at being able to participate in those (like meeting Spock while filming Star Trek) really shines through. Creating things isn't really something I've done much of late, and I feel like that's leaving a gap in my life. I guess this could be considered a resolution of sorts for the new year: I'd like to spend more time doing creative things, probably mostly writing, but drawing or music count too. It'll help me strengthen those skills that have been sadly neglected for some time, and hopefully give me some fulfillment outside of work, which, given the current state of things, is something I very badly need.
alexiscartwheel: (bsg - roslin)
In the summer of 2014, I virus wiped out thirty two percent of the worlds population was wiped out by a dangerous infection. Cures for cancer and the common cold joined forces, resulting in the mother of all side effects, reanimating the dead. Decades after the zombie apocalypse, life in the United States goes on, but things have changed. There's much more fear of being eaten, for one...

I know zombies are really trendy, but I've never been that interested. I've seen Shaun of the Dead (funny) and read Pride and Prejudice and Zombies (meh), but that's about it. But after three recs for Feed I realized I had to give it a try. Then I realized that Mira Grant is also Seanan McGuire, the author of the October Daye series, a.k.a. the author who actually made me like a book about fairies. (I know, I know, no zombies, no fairies, what kind of fantasy/scifi stories do you like? Well, I am partial to women with swords.) Luckily, even writing under a different name, she didn't disappoint. Feed really blew me away.

More review under the cut. But don't worry, it's not spoilery. )
alexiscartwheel: (dw - romana ii)
Super short review of The Tiger's Curse: it sucks.

No, seriously. It's an awful bunch of awfulness topped in awfulsauce. I liked it less than The Eternal Ones because at least it had unintentional hilarity and a sassy gay friend. The Tiger's Curse is bad and boring at the same time.

Here's the description on the back: "In this gripping YA fantasy, a sultry Indian prince is cursed to spend eternity as a tiger—until he meets the plucky American teenage girl destine to free him." Yeeeeah. )
alexiscartwheel: (bsg - roslin)
So I got this book from [livejournal.com profile] bookwench31 in a Christmas gift exchange. It's called The Eternal Ones and it looked like a terrible Twilight wannabe. My assignment was to read it and report back. Here is that report.

Don't keep reading if you're worried about spoilers. Don't worry about spoilers, because you don't want to read this book.

The special snowflake protagonist is Haven Moore. She has visions, because she's a 1920s New York heiress reincarnated. (She knows she's reincarnated, because why else would she know the name of every street in New York City even though she's never been there?) But she lives in Tennessee, under the guardianship of her incredibly strict, Christian grandmother, who convinces the whole town that Haven is possessed by a demon. Also, someone is maybe trying to kill her.

Using the money she and her sassy gay friend earned making prom dresses, Haven runs off to New York to find the famous playboy who she believes is her reincarnated boyfriend and to make contact with the Ouroboros Society, a special club for reincarnated people. Haven finds Ian on her very first day in New York and they are so in luuuuurve and they fly to Italy on his private jet (they don't even need passports because he is RICH) and it is AWESOME. Except Ian said he forgot his cell phone and it is a lie and maybe even though they've been in love for like 2000 years since past!Haven was married to some abusive guy in Crete and ran away with past!Ian, she doesn't really know this guy and shouldn't automatically trust him.

A bunch of stuff follows with the Ouroboros Society maybe being evil (or not!) and Ian maybe murdering a few people, possibly including past!Haven. Haven can't really figure out who she's supposed to trust, so she settles on trusting whoever she just talked to last, so she flip flops a lot. Turns out her past husband has been reincarnated too! And he's the devil! (Literally!) He can't stand that Haven and Ian are so in luuuurve throughout the centuries, so he just follows Haven around in each life, and if she doesn't renounce Ian and love him instead, he kills her, than stashes her bodies in a museum. Yeeeah.

But don't worry! Because it turns out Ian is good and loves Haven and they defeat the devil and get married and live in Italy where Haven sells designer clothes. Yay!

Also, for no particular reason, there are random snake handlers, and Haven visits their church, and Haven's dad died and car accident (caused by the devil's minion, the local minister) with a woman he wasn't having an affair with, but everybody thought he was. The devil is just randomly evil and stuff.

The writing, if you couldn't guess, is not good. At least two characters have green/emerald eyes, and one has violet eyes. The chapters are each about three pages long, but even though the book moves quickly from scene to scene, there are still long stretches where nothing actually happens. And of course, Haven and Ian are boring cardboard cutouts. I guess since they've been in love for 2000 years already, the development of their relationship doesn't have to be believable at all?

I am super excited that The Eternal Ones is first in a series. Can't wait to read them all!
alexiscartwheel: (reading)
Yesterday I finished Jasper Fforde's newest book Shades of Grey: The Road to High Saffron. I really enjoyed his previous books, especially the Thursday Next series, so I'd been looking forward to this one. It turned out to be quite different than I expected, but still really, really good.

Like Fforde's other books, Shades of Grey takes place in some sort of alternate UK, but instead of featuring zeppelins, Spec Ops, or living nursery rhymes it's set in a dystopian future where humanity is obsessed with color perception. Fforde's characteristic absurd humor is still there, but this is a much darker satire. The Collective reminded me a bit of Brave New World, which granted, I haven't read in a long time, but I remember all people were grouped into classes. In The Collective, the social hierarchy revolves around individuals perceptions of color, from lowly Reds up to the lordly Purples. Those who cannot see color, the Greys, are at the very bottom of the heap.

Eddie Russet, the protagonist, is a highly perceptive 20-year old Red sent to the village of East Carmine, part of the Outer Fringes, to conduct a chair census as punishment for a prank. For the most part Eddie tries to follow the complex rules of the Collective, although he'd like to improve queuing procedures, so he's surprised that the rules are applied somewhat more arbitrarily in East Carmine. There's also a bit of a mystery connected to Jane, a Grey with a retroussé nose who speaks her mind to anyone, despite the consequences. Eddie would like to figure out her secrets, but he's also just like to figure out how to ask her to tea without ending up swallowed by a carnivorous plant.

I sat and stared out at the countryside, mostly to avoid the baleful glare of the Green woman, who was no doubt trying to devise an errand for me. My mind, however, was full of quirky Grey girl who had threatened to break my jaw. She had, in a few short words, utterly defiled, defamed and defaced the finely tuned social order that was the bedrock of the Collective. But strangest was this: that anyone capable of such rudeness could have survived her youth. The disruptive were always flagged early by six-monthly reviews of merit tally and feedback. If the system was working, she would long ago have been spirited away to Reboot to learn some manners. The fact that she hadn't intrigued me, and her glaring antisocial defects made her no only interesting but curiously attractive.

I thought Shades of Grey was a standalone novel, but it turns out it's the first in a planned series, which I'm now eager to read. The ending of this volume was definitely one of a first installment—there are lots of questions still unanswered. The complex rules of The Collective made the book confusing at first, but I think it's confusing in a good way, if that makes sense. Gradually a clear picture of the fictional world takes shakes, which I think is ultimately more satisfying than an initial info-dump. I'd recommend this to anyone who enjoys Jasper Fforde's books or creative dystopian fiction.
alexiscartwheel: (reading)
There are more, but I'm lazy (and busy, argh), so just the highlights!

Harry, A History by Melissa Anelli
Part memoir, part fandom history by the webmistress of The Leaky Cauldron. Some of Melissa's fandom experiences mirrored my own, so I particularly enjoyed those parts of the book. Other bits didn't interest me quite as much; for instance, there's a long section about Wizard Rock (mostly about Harry and the Potters, really), which I think is interesting, but I never was super into. It's an interesting read for anyone involved in Harry Potter fandom.

Bloodhound by Tamora Pierce
I'm a fan of Tamora Pierce's work—I've read almost all of her books—and this one wasn't one of my favorites. I think the basic set-up is good, but I'm just not as invested in Beka as I am in Daine or Kel. This isn't helped by the fact that it's just too long. It took a long time for the plot to get going, then things picked up... only to slow down in the middle of Beka's investigation.

Into the Wild Nerd Yonder by Julie Halpern
A random pick off the YA new books shelf that turned out to be a quick and fun read. The protagonist is a high-school sophomore coming to the realization that she's grown out of her friends (who are mostly just using her) and, despite her reservations, accepts an invitation from a classmate to play Dungeons & Dragons. It's not new territory, but I enjoy a good story promoting good friendships with fun people who accept you over trying to be "cool."
alexiscartwheel: (reading)
I'm reading books! And reviewing them!

Saturday by Ian McEwan
I really wanted to like this book because I enjoyed Atonement, but I came away underwhelmed. May impression of the book may have been unfairly influenced by having to put it down during a busy patch of class project and work commitments... but the fact that I read several other books in the meantime is kind of a signal that I wasn't that engaged. The writing was incredibly detailed and descriptive, but I couldn't connect with the narrator and didn't really care what happened in the end. Though not much does happen in the book, which takes place over one Saturday. On the other hand, I love Mrs. Dalloway, in which, over the course of one day, not much happens, so there you go. Maybe it was the wrong moment for me to read the book... or maybe it's just not that great.

Arrows of the Queen by Mercedes Lackey
I've read a few Mercedes Lackey's books before and found them generally entertaining, so after the disappointment of Saturday I picked up Arrows of the Queen, a Half Price Books bargain that's been sitting on my shelf for several years. I thought it was pretty good, but not great. There's an interesting story of a teenage girl who rebels against her restrictive family and is chosen to train for a prestigious position, a varied cast of supporting characters, and some good world building. The biggest weakness for me was the way that things seemed to come easily to Talia, which I think is partially due to the many chronological jumps, sometimes between chapters and sometimes even mid-paragraph, that make it harder to see skills and relationship develop. It's a good read, but Lackey's Cinderella retelling Phoenix and Ashes is still my favorite of her books.

I'm currently midway through Harry, A History by Melissa Anelli, so look for that next...
alexiscartwheel: (hp - hermione)
Today I've got a round up of thoughts on three great series, followed by two young adult dystopian novels.

Anne of Green Gables )

Half Blood Prince )

The Last Olympian )

The Hunger Games )

Little Brother )
alexiscartwheel: (reading)
Yesterday I finished reading The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, which I thought I started out well but was ultimately underwhelming. I started a new book before bed (because I have to read before going to sleep) and instead of wisely reading a few chapters and going to sleep, I ended up staying up til 3:30 to finish the whole thing!

The book was North of Beautiful by Asian-American author Justina Chen Headley. The teenage protagonist, Terra Rose Cooper, has a large birthmark on her face and has spent her life trying to find the right treatment to remove it. When nothing works, she cakes on layers of makeup to hide and works out in order to have a beautiful physique to distract from her face. She feels trapped both in her skin and in the small Washington town where she lives with her controlling, verbally abusive father and doormat mother, so eager to escape to college that she's graduating from high school a year early.

Things start to change when Terra meets Jacob, a Chinese goth boy, when her car slips on a patch of ice and she almost crashes into him on the way home from her latest failed laser treatment. Terra and her mom become friend with Jacob and his adoptive mom, Norah, eventually accompanying them on a trip to China. I thought North of Beautiful was a great coming of age story. Terra's father is a cartographer, and maps have always been an important part of her life, and the author uses cartography to illustrate Terra's journey to define herself and her notion of beautiful. There are familiar YA tropes at work, but Justina Chen Headley makes them seem fresh and important. On a personal level, as someone who's long had image issues in part because of several skin conditions, I could really understand a lot of Terra's anxieties. This is a good choice for fans of YA Lit, or anyone who thinks that art, beauty, and cartography sound like great elements for a coming of age story.
alexiscartwheel: (bsg - roslin)
This weekend I read Stephenie Meyer's other book The Host, which features exactly zero sparkly teen vampires. Depending on your perspective, that could be either a very good or a very bad thing. The Host is an adult sci-fi romance that at over 600 pages is still a pretty quick read.

Here's the main premise: alien parasites have taken over the planet and turned it into a peaceful utopia. There are very few humans who have not been implanted with a "soul," and those that remain live in hiding. When Melanie Stryder is captured, she becomes the host for Wanderer, a soul thousands of years old who has live on eight other planets. Melanie still refuses to give up, and she fights with Wanderer for control. As Wanderer attempts to settle into her new life on Earth, she experiences Melanie's memories of her brother Jaime and boyfriend Jared and begins to love them too, eventually setting off on a quest to find them.

I enjoyed the book more than I expected. I was anticipating lots of love triangle drama, and there was a little of that, but I thought the story was more about the fight to survive and about the strange emotional problems of two consciousnesses trying to inhabit the same body. In the later chapters, there's also some exploration of the ethics of the invasion. I'm not sure if a series is planned, but The Host definitely wraps up in a way that leaves plenty more to explore in this world.
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