115-116

Oct. 7th, 2008 08:44 pm
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115. *How to Ditch your Fairy by Justine Larbalestier (300)

I really enjoyed this book. It is fairly light and playful and has a refreshingly new premise. The characters act believably - incredibly stupidly at times, but believably, especially for high school students - and I love the universe that it envisions.

116. *Chalice by Robin McKinley (263)

I'll have to read it a couple more times to form a full opinion, but having read it once, I can say that I definitely liked it and I look forward to reading it again. The feel of Chalice is much more like McKinley's earlier books, such as The Blue Sword, rather than her more recent (and modern) ones. It is a lovely book.



116 / 150 books. 77% done!


57 / 75 *new books. 76% done!


4 / 10 ^non-fiction. 40% done!


32040 / 33000 pages. 97% done!

114

Sep. 19th, 2008 06:22 pm
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114. *Melting Stones by Tamora Pierce (312)

The latest book set in the Circle universe. I tend to prefer the Tortall books as a rule, but Melting Stones doesn't have the issues that annoy me about most of the Circle books. There is only one main character in this book and one important setting, and there is one main event/disaster happening. Therefore the story doesn't keep jumping from place to place and person to person like most of the Circle books do, and Evvy's story gets more of the depth it deserves and requires.

Evvy, the young stone mage that Briar found in a previous book, got in trouble back in Winding Circle and is forced to travel with their teacher Rosethorn to try and figure out what is causing plants on a distant island to die inexplicably. Not surprisingly (because otherwise what would the point of the book be?) it turns out that Evvy's special talents are required to save the day.

Evvy is one of the most human characters that Pierce has ever written. She's self-centered and rude. She's damaged and yet cares deeply about some things - but because she's a stone mage, most of the things she cares about are stone. She recognizes (some of) her faults and, when she thinks it's necessary, tries to overcome them. She makes some huge mistakes and has to deal with the consequences.



114 / 150 books. 76% done!


55 / 75 *new books. 73% done!


4 / 10 ^non-fiction. 40% done!


31477 / 33000 pages. 95% done!

113

Sep. 19th, 2008 06:09 pm
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113. *The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett (386)

It's no surprise that I liked this book. A Little Princess, also by Burnett, has been one of my favorite comfort reads for many years. I loved the movie of The Secret Garden growing up, and I have seen and frequently listen to the sountrack of the musical.

No, the surprising thing is simply that I've never read it before.

As with A Little Princess, The Secret Garden is a sweet book, with lovely writing. Even what could be major disasters - the cholera in India, Mary's bad manners and temper and Colin's as well - are written so beautifully that there's no real sense of menace. The store is moved along by little mysteries - can Mary adapt to her new life? Can she find a way into the garden? What is the crying she hears and why doesn't anyone acknowledge it? And so on.

It was great to read the book having just listened to the musical. There are lines, especially dialogue, that are pulled straight out of the text, and although there are minor differences in the plot (for example, in the book, Mary's father is Mr. Craven's wife's sibling, and in the musical it is Mary's mother), the musical captures the story well.



113 / 150 books. 76% done!


54 / 75 *new books. 72% done!


4 / 10 ^non-fiction. 40% done!


31165 / 33000 pages. 94% done!

112

Sep. 19th, 2008 06:04 pm
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112. ^*Simplexity by Jeffrey Kluger (309)

This was a LibraryThing Early Reviewer book.

The anecdotes and bits of data that make up this book are intriguing and very interesting to read. I've heard about some of them elsewhere - the "wisdom of the crowds" idea, that a large group of people guessing the answer to an impossible question (how many marbles does it take to fill up a car, that sort of thing) will average to near the right answer, even though most of them individually get it very wrong, for instance. The discussion about why traffic happens the way it does was also fascinating. I especially liked the chapter that compared the function of cities to the function of bodies.

But that's all it seems to be - a collection of interesting stories. Which, don't get me wrong, I enjoyed reading. I do find these things quite fascinating. But there weren't any any connections made between them or any overarching theories coming to light, so as much as I enjoy the stories, I don't really understand the point of the book.



113 / 150 books. 75% done!


53 / 75 *new books. 71% done!


4 / 10 ^non-fiction. 40% done!


30779 / 33000 pages. 93% done!

110

Sep. 17th, 2008 06:00 am
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110. *Elsewhere by Gabrielle Zevin (275)

It's kind of an afterlife story. A girl is in a bike accident and wakes up on a boat. She doesn't realize it for a while, but she's dead and they're on the way to 'Elsewhere', which is apparently where dead people go. And live backwards, so you start out whatever age you are and live until you're a baby, then you're sort of sent back to Earth to be reborn.

At first the main character resists starting a new 'life' in 'Elsewhere', instead obsessing about her old life. But she eventually accepts it and learns to enjoy it. At the end of the book, she is sent back to be born again.

It was an ok book. I didn't quite get the point of it. It was decently well-written and the characters were interesting enough, I just couldn't really get into the plot.



110 / 120 books. 92% done!


51 / 75 *new books. 68% done!


3 / 10 ^non-fiction. 30% done!


30222 / 33000 pages. 92% done!

109

Sep. 7th, 2008 06:47 am
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109. *Confessions of a Jane Austin Addict by Laurie Viera Rigler (293)

When I think about this book, I think about three parts of it - the title, the story, and the end.

I like the title, it is in fact the reason I picked up the book in the first place, but it has very little to do with the story ('Jane Austen' is relevant, but the title as a whole? not really.).

The story. The story is about a 21st century woman, Courtney, who wakes up one morning and finds herself in someone else's body, in someone else's life, a life that could be straight out of one of Austen's books. For a long time, she thinks it's a dream, and she has trouble reconconciling her 21st-century thoughts and ideas - including ideas about hygine and privacy - with the standards of the day. It's an interesting story and the transition from 'it's only a dream' to 'this is my life now' is believably done.

Since I'm talking about the end of the book, I'll speak in as general terms as I can, but below will have some spoilers.

The end, however, was highly dissatisfying. Why did it happen? How did it happened? What happened to the 'real' Jane and to Courtney's 21st-century life? I'm not satisfied with a fortune-teller saying fortune-teller-y things like 'these things happen' and 'live your life as it is' and leaving it at that. I want answers - I don't need answers to everything, but to something would be nice, and there are none provided at all. I was very disappointed with the end.




109 / 110 books. 99% done!


50 / 75 *new books. 67% done!


3 / 10 ^non-fiction. 30% done!


30147 / 33000 pages. 91% done!
Audiobook time: 27h7m

108

Sep. 7th, 2008 06:28 am
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108. *Little Brother by Cory Doctorow (382)

Little Brother starts out with a group of four kids who are in the wrong place at the wrong time - that being, near the site of a terrorist attack in San Fransisco. They get picked up and held for nearly a week as suspected terrorists, and when they're finally released, only three of them are let go. One of those three, Marcus, decides to fight back.

A seventeen-year-old kid fighting against the Department of Homeland Security.


Little Brother is a wonderful, if slightly terrifying, book. It makes me want to pay for everything with cash and get rid of my newly-purchased E-ZPass.

Some books are scary despite how impossible the premise may be. Little Brother is scary for the opposite reason - it really seems like something that could happen, especially in today's climate of the War on Terror, idiotic airport regulations, illegal government phone taps, and so on. The question is, I guess, if something like this happens, will we have a brilliant (if occasionally misguided) high school student to knock sense back into us?

It's also beautifully written. I read the whole book in two days (which would have been less of a big deal to me a month ago, when I didn't have a full-time job to get in the way of my reading) because I just couldn't put it down. There is some 'infodumping' but it's fascinating - to me, anyway - and absolutely necessary. If he'd used terms like ARG, LARP, TOR, crypto and so on without explaining what they meant, the whole book would have been a maze. As it is, it reads like someone (Marcus) telling the story, with these little asides to explain this bit of technological geekery that was mentioned or that bit of just-plain-geekery that is relevant to the plot.

I loved this book. It is every bit as good as I heard it was.



108 / 110 books. 98% done!


49 / 75 *new books. 65% done!


3 / 10 ^non-fiction. 30% done!


29854 / 33000 pages. 90% done!
Audiobook time: 27h7m

107

Sep. 7th, 2008 06:23 am
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[personal profile] fiveforsilver
107. The Hero and the Crown by Robin McKinley (227)

Aerin-sol, daughter of the Damarian king and his second wife, is practically an outcast at court. Between her pale complexion and flaming red hair, her clumsiness, and the fact that her magical royal 'Gift' has not appeared, and the general disdain the she is held in by nearly the entire country, only her father, her friend and cousin Tor, and Teka, her childhood nursemaid, still acknowledge her.

Then she gets sick and during her convalescence, discovers kenet, an ointment which is proof against the fire of the small dragons that sometimes harass villages in Damar. With that discovery and her subsequent forays into dragon-hunting, she creates a new place for herself in the country and the court. But to save her country and her people, she must go up against Maur the Black Dragon, an evil sorcerer, and her own inner demons.

This was the first McKinley book I ever read, and it introduced me to my now-favorite author. The story-telling in this book is wonderful; McKinley's forte is description over dialogue and action and here there is plenty of it. There are several convoluted sequences that can be difficult to follow - including the timing at the beginning of the book - but at the end of the day, it does make sense and perhaps it adds to Aerin's own confusion about her life.



107 / 110 books. 97% done!


48 / 75 *new books. 64% done!


3 / 10 ^non-fiction. 30% done!


29472 / 33000 pages. 89% done!
Audiobook time: 27h7m

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