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books read, early February - Barnstorming on an Invisible Segway [entries|archive|friends|userinfo]
Marissa Lingen

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books read, early February [Feb. 16th, 2010|03:51 pm]
Marissa Lingen
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Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni, The Conch Bearer. For much of this book I felt it was walking a very fine line between writing to children and patronizing children. Then the ending...well, I heartily disagreed with much of the ending in a way that feels like it would be a spoiler, but I'm glad to talk about it on e-mail if you're interested. Suffice it to say that while this was a fast read, I don't think it's going to be an enduring favorite for me.

Sarah Beth Durst, Ice. Ah, the hazards of making a fairy tale into a modern novel. This was very well-written, and of course I am a sucker for all things snowy and Arctic. But the protagonist--the protagonist deserved better than her love interest. She deserved someone who didn't pout and mess with her [spoiler] and generally not get that, "Hey, dude, I need something to do all day when you are out doing magic stuff," was not such a huge thing to ask and in fact was a thing that one might anticipate, female persons being actual full-fledged human beings and all. And Cassie was, she was a full-fledged human being. She was awesome. She deserved better. It ended up feeling to me like the shape of the story was too external to her, that there were plenty of interesting stories that would have been organic to this character and this was not one. But the title did not lie, and I did like all the ice.

Reginald Hill, A Clubbable Woman, Blood Sympathy, and Midnight Fugue. The first and last of these are the first and (so far) last of the Dalziel/Pascoe books, and I still love the series. I'm not sure I would have kept going if I'd started with the first one, because it isn't as funny, and it hasn't built up the characters who are fun and interesting and worth caring about. Notably, Ellie and Wield aren't there, and I like Ellie, and I love Wieldy. Interesting to see it all start, though, and very much worth my time, and I expect I'll get around to rereading them in order at some point just to see how it goes. The middle one was the first in the Joe Sixsmith series, with which I did not bond at all. Does anybody know whether those get better by as much as the Dalziel/Pascoe books do?

Stieg Larsson, The Girl Who Played With Fire. Until the Villa Villekulla reference, I wasn't sure what it was I was missing about this one compared to the first book. Then it hit me: it was much less of a love song to other mysteries and other Swedish literature. Much more of a straight-up mystery/thriller. Which was fun, too, and I'm glad I read it, and I'll read the last one in the series when it comes out. But I missed the level of texture the first one had.

Ingrid Law, Savvy. The tone of this one got a little folksy for me at times, but in general it was a fun coming-of-age modern fantasy, YA, subcategory: crazy family. Mostly crazy siblings, though; other crazy relatives more or less by reference only, which is too bad, as I love other crazy relatives, but that may just be me.

Robert Ludlum, Trevayne. Grandpa's. The top of the stack of Grandpa's Ludlum, and the first I have any record of reading. This was written when Ludlum was mad as hell over Watergate and corruption in general, and so it's sort of messagey. I also found it fascinating where he was with ethnic stereotypes. Characters who used ethnic slurs were fairly clearly being signaled as uncouth, unpleasant, generally not the sort of person you wanted to be. However, ethnic stereotypes, positive and negative, abounded. Italian-Americans were the main subject of this, which is sort of fascinating looking back on it from a point where Italian-Americans are presumed to count as white in such an obvious way that I'm not sure most of the people I went to high school with could come up with a slur for an Italian. And Omaha is pretty heavily Italian-American. So this was more interesting to me as a window on its time than as a book.

Roger Osborne, The Floating Egg: Episodes in the Making of Geology. My inclination to read nonfiction is starting to grow back! Slowly. But still. This was an extremely quirky book, about Yorkshire and pleiosaurs and the alum industry and there was this bit in the middle with Captain Cook quite unexpectedly, and...it was good. It was definitely good. But it's one of those books where you have to be comfortable with just giving the author his head.

Laurel Snyder, Any Which Wall. Okay, you guys, okay okay okay, I am flapping my hands excited about this one. You remember what Edward Eager did as inspired by E. Nesbit? Laurel Snyder is the next step on that road, the next "modern children having fun magic adventures inspired by previous set of same," and I love E. Nesbit, and I love Edward Eager, so I was primed to love this as well. I hope she does lots more of them. I want a copy for my very own. She uses the older kids having cell phones to give them a bit of freedom around their town, and it is not trying to be slick or hip or sophisticated, and it is just plain fun.

Lisa Tuttle, The Mysteries. I completely failed to care about any of these characters. papersky's Tor.com post talked about how well-handled the mythology was, and I believe her. And I did love the Guardians. But otherwise--I didn't hate anybody. I just didn't really care who got lost and who got found. They were distinct and well-drawn portraits of people I just didn't much care about. It was well-enough written that I kept reading anyway, but I don't think I'll go back to it.
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Comments:
[User Picture]From: buymeaclue
2010-02-16 10:05 pm (UTC)
You remember what Edward Eager did as inspired by E. Nesbit? Laurel Snyder is the next step on that road, the next "modern children having fun magic adventures inspired by previous set of same,"

Sold!
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[User Picture]From: txanne
2010-02-17 01:00 am (UTC)
ME TOO.

Oh boy oh boy!!!! I wonder if my brilliant sixth-graders have these. (They've been lending me Percy Jackson.)
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From: diatryma
2010-02-16 10:12 pm (UTC)
Ice: You explained what bugged me a bit about the book, especially especially the spoiler. It could have done more and been more interesting, but first it had to get all this retelling out of the way.
Which is not to say that I didn't really like it.
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[User Picture]From: mrissa
2010-02-16 10:40 pm (UTC)
I read it in late November, and I do not in the least bit blame you for not keeping track of every book I've ever blathered briefly about. My comments were not lengthy or inspired.

But yes, Lisbeth is really quite the thing.

I was really amused in this one, because it seems obvious to me that Mikael is O HAI I M AUTHER INSERSHUN, and then Larsson went on and on about how good he was in bed. So skilled! So awesome! And I thought, yes yes, dear, we all believe you, pat pat.
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[User Picture]From: mrissa
2010-02-17 04:15 pm (UTC)
I haven't seen the movies yet, no. I'm always leery of movies made from books, but I will almost certainly try them anyway.
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[User Picture]From: desperance
2010-02-16 10:35 pm (UTC)
I think you either warm to Joe Sixsmith or you don't (I didn't either). Certainly nobody has been urging me to try 'em again.
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[User Picture]From: zalena
2010-02-17 12:18 am (UTC)
Yes to the crazy relatives! I also prefer extended family, and I also like constructive craziness: the place where dysfunction meets possibility. Have you read HIlary McKay's Casson family chronicles? Have we talked about this before?

May also check out the Laurel Snyder. I love Nesbit, and loved Eager as a young reader (I was less keen on him as an adult.)

There's a fair amount of YA in your recent reading. Any particular reason?
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[User Picture]From: mrissa
2010-02-17 04:18 pm (UTC)
I loooove the Casson books. So much love. So much squeeing.

As for the YA in my recent reading, I'm not sure. I think I've been uncertain about how much time I'll have for various things, so I want to get stuff from the library I know I can get through before it's due. Also I think the relative lack of nonfiction skews the rest.
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[User Picture]From: gaaldine
2010-02-17 11:24 pm (UTC)
I didn't particularly like _Savvy_. It was okay, but not revelatory or fantastic for me. And now that you've reminded me of it, I know why the uncle character in _Midnight for Charlie Bone_ struck me as familiar, though of course he actually came first . . .
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