maharetr: Comic and movie images of Aisha's eyebrow ring (The Losers) (Default)
( Jun. 30th, 2010 04:34 pm)
So! I got way behind on writing and posting these. Catching up now, on 30 Nov *cough*

Committed by Elizabeth Gilbert: This was a delightful, if slightly meandering, read through the history of (Western) marriage, and Elizabeth’s own relationship. Had some startling and enraging points – American women had to become citizens of their foreign-born husband’s country. American husbands got to keep theirs (and their wives became American citizens Or Else) because apparently you got swallowed whole by your husband when you marry.

Does my head look big in this? by Randa Abel-Fattah: Meghan, don’t bother with this book :P It’s a story of a Muslim teenager growing up in Melbourne, and it’s very much a Muslim women are people too! And not oppressed! Or terrorists! Which is a depressingly needed message, but doesn’t make it any less a polemic brick. I had to remind myself that ‘keeping yourself “pure” until marriage’ is still a shitty, anti-sex message, no matter the creed of the speaker. It’s also achingly, wonderfully Australian, and I kinda adored it for that.

The winter of our disconnect: by Susan Maushart: The author of Wifework and her three teenage children pull the plug on their technology, first by going without power for two weeks, and then banning almost everything with a screen (TVs, laptops, mp3 players) from the house for six months. There possibly wasn’t quite enough material to justify the length of the book, but it was still an interesting read about how technology has radically changed our lifestyles and the personal impact of the experiment on her family: her son retakes up the saxophone, and after hours of practice, goes out and joins a band; all of them get way more sleep, and start catching up on their serious sleep debts; one of her daughters learns how to cook, etc. There’s no real conclusions here, but I kinda want to read Walden now. Worth picking up.

The stuff of nightmares by Malorie Blackman: This was originally mistagged in our system as ‘Short stories’ and it was the process of figuring out if it was or not that got me curious enough to read it. Actually, it probably could have been short stories, or at least, didn’t have enough plot material for a whole novel. Also, the father was a self-absorbed, emotionally and verbally abusive jerk, to the point when he did actually turn up saying ‘Son, X was not your fault’ I didn’t actually believe that the character could really mean it: I hadn’t seen anywhere near enough growth, let alone acknowledgement of how much of an arsehole he’d been.
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maharetr: Comic and movie images of Aisha's eyebrow ring (The Losers) (Default)
( May. 3rd, 2010 10:48 am)
The declaration by Gemma Malley: The idea was kinda cool – we have drugs that can make you live forever, so the birth of children is closely monitored, and non-sanctioned children are ‘Surplus’ and raised as slaves. It was let down by non-involving writing and a flat main character. The most interesting and motivated character was actually the primary baddie.

The SAS and Elite Forces Survival Guide: Bought from the booksellers when they came around to work. A brief overview of a huge range of disasters and how to cope, plus a workout routine and first aid. Useful, but it strikes me a little cynically as a book for wannabes (rather than people who actually do). *cough*like myself*cough* :P.

The absolutely true diary of a part-time Indian by Sherman Alexie: I picked this up based on Neil Gaiman’s endorsement on the cover: “I have no doubt that in a year or two it’ll be winning awards and being banned.” It so will. It’s already on the WAYRBA list (WA award, kids nominate books and then vote on them). I read the first X number of pages at work, and grinned, snickered and then had to put it down before I burst into tears. I have a quibble or two, but that doesn’t stop me from whole-heartedly recommending it. Totally read it if you see a copy.

Those tracks on my face by Barbara Holborow and a few memoir writers: I loved Barbara Holborow since I read her columns in That’s Life magazine. This book was published before that, in 1994, and while it’s a slightly contrived memoir, it totally reinforces my love for her.

Life as we knew it by Susan Pfeffer: Frankly, I was looking for a book that I could knock off before the end of the month. It was either this or ‘The road’. This was an odd sort of book... there’s nothing that I could point to that would make me say ‘omg, that bit was amazing!’ or ‘the writing was brilliant!’ because it was pretty mundane, although an authentic teen-diary-style voice. But I totally picked it up while I was standing in the living room, thought: “I’ll just read another page or so” and stood there for 20 minutes, reading. Then kept trying to sneak pages at my desk, and devoured it at lunch. The compulsion to find out what happened in the end was intense, and, finally, satisfying.
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maharetr: Comic and movie images of Aisha's eyebrow ring (The Losers) (Default)
( Apr. 21st, 2010 02:12 pm)
So late that I may as well call it MarchApril reading, but whatever.

In no particular order:

Hourglass by Claudia Gray: Third Evernight book. It turns out the plot *does* go the way I expected it to, but by the time it actually happens, there’s no time for it to be a point of tension, and I think it could have bee an excellent point of tension. Either way, still reading, looking forward to the next one. The bulk of the female characters are still freaking awesome, with their own lives and motivations. Major bonus points for the background, casually inserted lesbian relationship, and the no-fuss reaction of the major character.

Numbers by Rachel Ward: A cool, not-quite-realised premise (main character can ‘see’ the date of everyone’s death when she looks them in the eye), so it didn’t quite come together for me, but the character’s voice and style was strong, and I’d read more of her work.

Adoration of Jenna Fox by Mary E. Pearson: A girl wakes up from a coma, and things are quietly Very Wrong. I liked it, but I wanted to see more of the world it was set in; while it was partially the point that they were so isolated, it really felt like the book was unfolding in a non-existent world, which was a shame, because what we did see was so intriguing.

The wave in the mind by Ursula K. Le Guin: *hugs book to my chest, tightly* Collection of essays, speeches and opinion pieces of Le Guin’s. She writes with such eloquence and kindness and clarity, even (or perhaps especially while she’s ranting) that I want to memorise whole pages as pick-me-ups during my day. She makes me feel less alone, somehow: that there are women who have come before me, and it’s okay; they know, and they’ve got my back. *waves hands incoherently*

After dark by Stephen King: new short stories. It could be because I was reading them in between snatches of the Bachmann books, but the women as Other, or as victims of/for the hero, or as non-entities seemed sickeningly pronounced in this collection. It might be a while before I buy another of his books.

One shot by Lee Child: Garry-Stu Jack Reacher, at it again, being amazingly competent and smart and manfully awesome. Guilty pleasure, and I’ve totally reserved the next one we have in the library.
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maharetr: Comic and movie images of Aisha's eyebrow ring (The Losers) (Default)
( Mar. 9th, 2010 04:41 pm)
February 2010

  • The children of men by P D James: God. The movie was brilliantly brutal, and this was too, but in a quieter, more horrifying way. At one point I actually had to put the book down and go do something else, it was so horribly bleak. Nicely done, though.

  • Evernight by claudia Grey: Oh, man. Much better vampire story than Twilight. Even being brutally spoiled (I read the blurb of the second book before starting the first) I mostly really, really enjoyed watching this unfold. The reveal itself was fine, but the way it was handled felt like irritating ret-conning. Once I was over that, it was a very enjoyable ride. Major, major points for the discussion of violent relationships and the 'They started an argument, you [Lucas] started the fight!' comment. I’ll read the next one.

  • Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey N: Man. I adored The Time Traveler’s Wife, but this... It feels like it jumps point of view every other paragraph. I was ‘hooked’ from the first few pages of TTW, but I didn’t even feel a stirring until about page 130 or so here, and there was only one moment of ‘oh, love!’ in the whole story for me. The big question’s answer turned out to be a convoluted and completely unnecessary addition, and while the... practicalities of the final scenario made a certain amount of sense, the character motivation that lead to the scenario had me going: ‘Really? Really? Even if it works like you wanted, how does that in any way lead to you having a happy life?” *sigh*

  • The invention of Hugo Cabret by... someone: Ahhh. I think this one of those books that falls victim to the ‘I really wish it was X’ when in fact the book is aiming for Y. It’s about 500 pages long, and probably less than a third of them contain text. The rest is beautiful pencil sketches, so it’s a little like watching a silent film. Given that it’s about one of the first film makers, this is pretty appropriate. What really attracted me to it was the idea of telling a story without the need for a common language, (see my game rec post on Machinarium) and this isn’t it, alas.

  • Dear John by Nicholas Sparks: I liked it more than I expected, and was surprisingly touched by the father son relationship. I kept reading mostly because it rang 'true' (or rather different) as a guy trying to navigate a relationship with many people.

  • Stargazer by Claudia Grey: continuing the story of Bianca with Lucas. The reveal didn't quite go where I expected, but it leaves a question or three open for the next book. Most of the women in this book were *awesome*. I especially loved Raquel and Dana. Looking forward to the third one.

  • Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld: This was a fun romp between the Steampunk/clunker Axis powers, and the Darwinist Allies of WW1. The inside cover map is particularly beautiful. Curious about the next book.
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    January 2010
    • The hard way (Lee Child): Very repressed, but quietly macho men being very very competent at solving a kidnapping mystery. There were moments where I thought Child was far too in love with his character, and the last quarter was very much 'Main character saves the day improbably' but mostly I had a ball.
    (Gave up on Luck in the shadows alas. I want to like it so much more than I do)
    • Liar: I’m not sure how I feel exactly about the ending, but... well, with books that I’m not invested in, I’ll read the first few chapters, skip to the end and read the last few chapters, put it down and wander away. This book I would sometimes turn a page and cover the right page with my hand so I wasn’t spoiled while I read the left. This was freaking excellent.

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    Not planning on anything formal here, but it's a start:
    December 09

    * Danny the champion of the world: Adorable, passionate dad and his boy Danny.
    * (Re-read Secret scribbled notebooks again *cough*)
    * My candlelight novel: Sequel to Secret scribbled notebooks. Just as lyrical and beautiful. Bonus points for the no-fuss, grounded fling Sophie has with a woman she met at uni.
    * Mahalia: short novel about 17 year old Matt who becomes a single dad to the beautifully named baby Mahalia after Emily leaves. Realistic -- gets the monotony of day-to-day life down pat.
    * Little wing: Emily's story. Short novel about her emerging from post-natal depression. Depressing, in a realistic way :P
    * 1984: Finally got around to reading it. Am slightly bemused by Orwell's politics, and I'm reminded that these were Men, writing for Men. *resigned shrug*

    * Wicked: I really enjoyed the first half of the book, but the second part, while probably a realistic portrayal of someone struggling with grief and guilt, dragged. The scene between Elphaba and Dorothy were surprisingly heartbreaking.
    * The gift of fear: A good book, despite the author’s ego –bringing into your conscious mind all the things your intuition is trying to tell you, rather than suppressing those things in order to be polite.
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    Not so much an experience of reading a novel as being repeatedly hit over the head with a polemic brick. That said, it's a brick that's saying: 'here is how to be civilly disobedient: here is your history, here are your tools. Go forth.' I loved damn near every word.
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