Saturday, July 31, 2010

Never Let Me Go trailer

I just watched the trailer for Never Let Me Go, based on the book by Kazuo Ishiguro (my review of Never Let Me Go) and started crying about 2/3 in. Maybe I'm just a big sap, but I think it looks really moving.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Review: Chalice

There's no wind up to reading Chalice by Robin McKinley. No soft start, no easing into the world. McKinley just starts.
Beekeeper Marisol has been chosen as the new Chalice, destined to stand beside the Master and mix the ceremonial brews that hold the Willowlands together. But the relationship between Chalice and Master has always been tumultuous, and the new Master is unlike any before him.
There's not much action to this book. There's more atmosphere than anything else. It was good, but something about it left me cold.

Maybe, and it pains me to say this, maybe I just don't know about Robin McKinley anymore. Her books are all different - different worlds, characters, plots - so why do I sometimes I feel like I've just read the same book again? I think it's McKinley's voice. She has a really strong voice, clear and concise, that carries through everything I've read by her. I've written about this before, actually, but I don't know why it bugged me reading Chalice.

Other bloggers (including Presenting Lenore and bookshelves of doom) really enjoyed this book. Maybe its all about having the right frame of mind.

Buy Chalice on Amazon.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Teaser Tuesday: 7/27

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along!

Just do the following:

  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • Share the title & author, too, so that others can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teaser!
Today's teaser is from Fingersmith by Sarah Waters.
They hanged her, as the did murderesses then, on the roof of the Horsemonger Lane Gaol. Mrs. Sucksby stood and watched the drop, from the window of the room I was born in.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Review: The Lightning Thief

I had never heard of the Percy Jackson series by Rick Riordan before the first book in the series, The Lightning Thief was made into a movie earlier this year. I didn't see the movie but I heard good things about the book at the time, so when I saw it on sale on my Nook, I bought it.

This is a really fun middle grade book. I enjoyed reading it - no surprise since I have loved reading myths and legends since I was in middle school myself. Percy is a fun character to spend time with and Riordan does a great job of making the world he inhabits seem believable.

My only quibble with the book is the relationship between Percy's mom and her husband and how that is wrapped up at the end. But otherwise, I though this was a fun book that any young reader would enjoy.

Buy The Lightning Thief: Percy Jackson and the Olympians on Amazon.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Architecture Links for Friday

Short and sweet, to end your week:

Yes, I would live inside a bookshelf. (at Gizmodo).

More architecture FAIL at Huffington Post, via Go Fug Yourself. (That may be the least grammatically correct sentence I've ever written, FYI.)

Years ago, my sister bought me a reprint of Shelter by Lloyd Kahn.
Shelter is many things - a visually dynamic, oversized compendium of organic architecture past and present; a how-to book that includes over 1,250 illustrations; and a Whole Earth Catalog-type sourcebook for living in harmony with the earth by using every conceivable material. First published in 1973, Shelter remains a source of inspiration and invention. Including the nuts-and-bolts aspects of building, the book covers such topics as dwellings from Iron Age huts to Bedouin tents to Togo's tin-and-thatch houses; nomadic shelters from tipis to "housecars"; and domes, dome cities, sod iglus, and even treehouses.

The authors recount personal stories about alternative dwellings that illustrate sensible solutions to problems associated with using materials found in the environment - with fascinating, often surprising results.
It is a really fascinating book, so I was pleased to find out (via ArchiDose) that the sequel, Shelter II, will be reprinted later this year. I am very interested in taking a look when it comes out.

Happy Friday!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Waiting Wednesday 7/21

Two books coming out in the next year by some YA heavy hitters:

Tortall and Other Lands: A Collection of Tales by Tamora Pierce
Collected here for the first time are all of the tales from the land of Tortall, featuring both previously unknown characters as well as old friends. Filling some gaps of time and interest, these stories, some of which have been published before, will lead Tammy's fans, and new readers into one of the most intricately constructed worlds of modern fantasy.
Out February 22, 2011.

Pegasus by Robin McKinley
Because of a thousand-year-old alliance between humans and pagasi, Princess Sylviianel is ceremonially bound to Ebon, her own Pegasus, on her twelfth birthday. The two species coexist peacefully, despite the language barriers separating them. Humans and pegasi both rely on specially-trained Speaker magicians as the only means of real communication.

But its different for Sylvi and Ebon. They can understand each other. They quickly grow close-so close that their bond becomes a threat to the status quo-and possibly to the future safety of their two nations.
Out November 2, 2010.

Waiting on Wednesday is hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Teaser Tuesday: 7/20

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along!

Just do the following:

  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • Share the title & author, too, so that others can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teaser!
My teaser today is from Old Man's War by John Scalzi. This is a re-read for me but its just a great piece of sci-fi.
"Should your soldier survive, it may keep the knives as a token of its victory," the ambassador said.

"Thanks," I said.

"We would not wish to have them back. They would be unclean," the ambassador said.
Maybe you have get it in context, but I actually found that to be a pretty funny exchange. If you are interested, here is my Old Man's War review.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Review: The Onion Girl

At my last Book Club, we discussed The Onion Girl by Charles deLint. According to Wikipedia, The Onion Girl is the 12th (of 24) book in de Lint's Newford collection - all books set in an imaginary city where the boundary line between magic and reality is blurred, and generally centered around a large group of friends/acquaintences. At the heart of this group is Jilly Coppercorn and The Onion Girl is her story.

For the most part, my book club all agreed it was an interesting book but not what we expected. Personally, I expected the magic and real life to be more integrated. Other than reading Tarot Cards or catching something strange out of the corner of your eye, magic doesn't happen in the real world. There is a Dream World and the World As It Is and they were very different.

Many characters show up in The Onion Girl from deLint's other Newford books, but it was easy to keep track as he reintroduced them each time. In fact, it got a little repetitive.

I can't say I loved this book, but there was one thing that kept me (and several other members of my book club) riveted to the very end: the character of Raylene. Raylene is Jilly's sister and suffered through much of the same abuse as a child. But where Jilly was rescued from the streets by caring people, Raylene joined forces with her friend Pinky and started on a life of petty crime. She's not a sympathetic character in the normal sense, but she's fascinating and strong-willed.

Buy The Onion Girl on Amazon.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Review: The Passage

My husband recently read The Passage by Justin Cronin and suggested I may want to hold off on reading it (I'm just not sure I'm in a place where I want to read scary things right now). Instead, he agreed to let me interview him about the book.

In just a couple of sentences, can you tell us what The Passage is about?

The Passage is a dystopian vision of the Western United States where society has collapsed under the oppression of a genetically engineered race of monsters. The survivors live in a constant state of siege trying to scratch out a meager existence. The crux of the drama focuses on a small group of defenders on a hopeful quest (hence the title The Passage) to secure help/resources for their community.

What made you decide to read it?

I decided to read it after my favorite book reviewer suggested I crack it open. I also was at three social events on three consecutive days where everyone seemed to be talking about it. I had also just loaded the B&N e-reader onto my iPhone, and thought I would put it through it's paces by chugging through a 700+ page book. The Passage fit the bill nicely.

Aw, I'm "your favorite book reviewer." That's so sweet. Also, wise to say since I know where you sleep.

700 pages is a lot no matter what the format. Did it seem long? Too long?

Actually, no, it wasn't too long... but then again I am a big fan of the epic story line. If though you are looking for a quick summer read this isn't it. It also isn't a light-hearted, sweet and fluffy piece. It's dark, and make no mistake, it's got horror in its bones.

For the most part the action and plot rolled along well. There were only a few chapters that seemed slow, but this was just obligatory background and atmospheric stuff that taken in the context of the whole story were necessary to communicate to the reader. On that note, Cronin has a very simple communication style. It is descriptive but not overly wordy which I believe will make this book accessible to many readers.

One word of caution: despite the basic writing style, this book has so many characters in so many geographic locations over such long time periods that taking a short break in reading could present a challenge. I happened to chug through this book in about three days so I didn't run into this problem, but I could see that if a reader approached this tome in a casual manner they could easily be confused.

So, it sounds like you liked it, then. What did you like the most about The Passage?

I think I liked the dystopian aspect best for a couple reasons.
First, it gets you thinking about how fragile our society is, and what you would do in tough times. Not necessarily when bloodsucking monsters attack, but you know... when things go really south and our world turns on it's ear. It's that pervasive fantasy that makes you think you'd have what it takes. The hubris that makes you think that you above others would have the gumption to be one of the survivors.

Secondly, and on a more cheerful note, I am also a big fan of movies and books where the common man rallies against uncommon odds, successfully or not. And that's what this book is all about.

Well, knowing you, I am sure you'd be one of the survivors. Too bad you'd be saddled with me, the least outdoorsy woman you know.

But back to the book - would you recommend this book to other readers? Who do you think might enjoy it?

I would recommend it to a mature reader who enjoyed post-apocalyptic fiction. I believe that you'll like this if you liked:
Thanks to my fantastic husband for helping me out and sharing his thoughts!

Buy The Passage on Amazon.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Teaser Tuesday: 7/13

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along!

Just do the following:

  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • Share the title & author, too, so that others can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teaser!
My teaser today is from Something Rotten (a Thursday Next Novel) by Jasper Fforde. This is way more than two sentences, I know, but this this not the kind of book you can pull two random sentences out of and expect it to make sense. It barely makes sense when you're reading it cover to cover!
Mrs. Tiggy-winkle looked miserable.

"Well, you know there has been much grumbling within Hamlet ever since Rosencrantz and Guildernstern got their own play?"


"Well, just after you left, Ophelia attempted a coup d'état in Hamlet's absence. She imported a B-6 Hamlet from Lamb's Shakespeare and convinced him to reenact some of the key scenes with a pro-Ophelia bias."

Monday, July 12, 2010

Review: Captive Queen

Eleanor of Aquitaine was a fascinating historical figure, one of the wealthiest and most powerful women in Europe during the Middle Ages. She was the Duchess of Aquitaine, Countess of Poitiers, Queen of France, Queen of England (though not both of those at the same time), a crusader, a sponsor of writers and troubadours, a wife (twice), mother of ten (maybe 11) children (two with Louis VII of France, the rest with Henry II of England), and, at the end of her life, a nun. At a time when most women were illiterate chattel, she was a influential and accomplished woman in her own right. It's no wonder that so many books about her life are out already, with more coming this year.

So, with such fascinating subject matter to work with, why did I find Alison Weir's Captive Queen so uninteresting?

I won't go so far as to call it boring - the subject matter was enough to keep me going - but it was close. One of the biggest problems: the book is written in third person from Eleanor's perspective, but since the queen was in prison for years, there are vast stretches where all the action happens off screen.

The writing is also really clunky in places (see A Reader's Respite's review for some great examples) and there were far more sex scenes than I needed to read.

If you're an Eleanor fanatic or just a Plantagenet junkie, you might want to check Captive Queen out of your local library. But there's no need, I think, to run out and buy it when it comes out tomorrow (7/13).

Buy Captive Queen: A Novel of Eleanor of Aquitaine on Amazon.

I received this book through the Librarything Early Reviewers program.

Thursday, July 8, 2010


Some random links of interest, of various kinds:

Via Shelf Awareness, Bookshelf Porn. I like Read More Books than Blogs (on a blog, of course). Which one is your favorite?

Here's probably the heaviest coffee table/book storage ever built, at dornob.

Courtesy of a thread off Librarything, one of the most amazing bookstores I've seen:
Librería El Ateneo Grand Splendid in Buenos Aires.

I love these pieces from Depot Visuals - though imagine how much cooler they'd be if they were real.

This is what I imagine it would look like if Hobbits built a shed: The Composting Shed at Inverleith Terrace by Groves-Raines Architects.

For Laura: photos of Venice's cemetery, which is not, of course, in Venice.

Sorry for the lack of images. I am lazy/busy today.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Friday Update 7/2

Most Fridays, I update my library and share what new books I bought or received during the past week.

This was an awesome book week for me. Actually, it was just an awesome week in general. For one thing, it was my birthday on Tuesday! And for my birthday, my fantastic husband bought me a Nook e-reader from Barnes & Noble!

We had talked in the past about getting a Kindle and had looked at many of the options. After going back and forth, we had decided the Nook would be the best choice for us, when we decided to get an e-reader. But I was totally surprised when he gave it to me - I certainly didn't expect to get one so soon! Thanks, honey! (Granted, it didn't hurt that prices have started coming down. I just got an ad from Amazon that the Kindle is now $189 and the Kindle DX is $379. Then again, that's still not cheap.)

At the same time he gave me the Nook, my husband also installed the app on his iPhone, so that we could both read the e-books we buy. So far, that's worked out great. We read Charlaine Harris's latest Sookie Stackhouse novel (#10, Dead in the Family) together. Now he's reading The Passage by Justin Cronin (which I'll probably get to eventually). I'm still reading Captive Queen: A Novel of Eleanor of Aquitaine by Alison Weir (on paper), as well as, for some light diversion, reading Percy Jackson and the Olympians #1: The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan. I even read a bit of A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court by Mark Twain, which I downloaded for free.

In addition to all our new e-books, I bought a book I have wanted for a long while: The Three Little Pigs: An Architectural Tale by Steven Guarnaccia. I was amused when the sales clerk asked if it was a gift when I checked out. Nope, for me.

Happy Independence Day to all the Americans and happy weekend to all!