Roni ncats' Reads for 2009

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Roni ncats' Reads for 2009

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1ronincats
Bearbeitet: Jan. 6, 2009, 11:42pm

2ronincats
Bearbeitet: Jan. 16, 2009, 8:26pm

#5 Soul Music by Terry Pratchett (373 pages)
#6 Frederica by Georgette Heyer (379 pages)
#7 Thief of Time by Terry Pratchett (357 pages)

My comments on the books are over in the 75 Book Challenge group--should I copy them over here as well?


3dihiba
Jan. 14, 2009, 7:03am

Yes, please do!!

4merry10
Jan. 16, 2009, 7:25am

Yes please. I have lots of Heyer and Pratchett books. Both authors seemed to require being completely collected. Dorothy Sayers and Kerry Greenwood's Phryne Fisher series was the same.

5geogal
Jan. 16, 2009, 8:17am

I just got a copy of the newly released reprint of Frederica from Sourcebooks and can't wait to start it. Have you tried any of Heyer's mysteries?

6ronincats
Bearbeitet: Jan. 16, 2009, 8:38pm

Book #1 for the new year is Eight Cousins by Louisa May Alcott. Yes, a reread, but it has been at least twenty-odd years since I last read it. I had been wanting to read some of my old children's classics, all in a box in the attic and not added to my library yet, but I was at my sister's house yesterday and there it was, right in front of my eyes. Irresistable.

The story. Lots of morals and uplifting themes but with a true personal interest underneath. Not current writing for sure--still got teary at least three times, as the lachrymose scenes tugged at my heart strings (which are woefully accessible). That many years ago it would not have occurred to me to note that Aunt Peace, the old lady, was 20 plus 30 years old--what!!

Of course I had to go ahead with Rose in Bloom next! I find it not quite as strong a story as Eight Cousins, perhaps because this book was written more to answer the question of what became of the characters in the first book rather than arising from the situation itself as in the first book. Still an enjoyable and sentimental journey!

#3 Ambulance Ship by James White. One book in an omnibus I received for Christmas, infilling my collection of Sector General books. White wrote a series of initially short stories, later collected with an added infrastructure into books, with the late books being written as such and much stronger for it. The concept, of a giant space hospital meeting the medical needs of thousands of physiological types of beings and the mystery involved in the very frequent first contacts, is fascinating, and White handles it very well. Nothing else like this in the field, unfortunately. I am a fan of Murray Leinster's Med Series, but it was not nearly as imaginative and well-thought out as this.

#4 Mort by Terry Pratchett. I have a headachy head cold and wanted to read something familiar. After reading The Turtle Moves!, I thought I'd reread the Death Discworld books--I've only read each once, and there's so much in there you don't catch on the first reading. This was delightful and light.

#5 Soul Music by Terry Pratchett I had to reread this one because I didn't remember it very well and said I didn't care for it because of all the rock music puns. I had completely forgotten the roles Death and Susan had in it. It's an important link between Mort and Hogfather. And I just read Reaper Man in 2008 for the first time. So now I have to read Thief of Time.
One "series" that runs through the Discworld books of Terry Pratchett is that which has Death as a major character. In the Discworld, things that people believe in become actual things rather than remaining abstract concepts. So we have anthropomorphic personifications of such things as the Tooth Fairy, Jack Frost, Hogfather, and, of course, Death. Death is interested in everything human, but usually gets it wrong when he tries to reproduce it. Like Susan's swing. In Mort, he has an adopted daughter and takes an apprentice. In Reaper Man he is "laid off" by his bosses and fights back. In Soul Music he gets bummed out by his job and seeks a way to forget, and his granddaughter Susan has to fill in. She helps out in Hogfather as well, going where Death cannot while he tries to fill in for another missing anthropomorphic personification. And now I am getting ready to reread the last in the series, so far, Thief of Time of which I recall very little because I have only read it once before. Like most Pratchett, these books can be read just for fun at a surface level, but they really resonate on a number of levels at the same time, which is why Pterry fans love them so much.

#6 Time out to read Frederica by Georgette Heyer to participate in a discussion elsewhere. The only romances I read any more, and they are all rereads, are Heyer's, due to the wit and accuracy, characterization and storytelling she puts into them. As discussed elsewhere, nobody else even comes close.

#7 Thief of Time by Terry Pratchett. The last in the series featuring Death and Susan, at least for the time being! I have to confess that I think that I bought this at the same time as Truth and a number of other books, and that it ended up getting moved out of the TBR pile onto shelves without me ever reading it!! Even with my lamentably failing memory, I think I would have remembered more details from this book had I actually read it previously. Nonetheless, it is NOW read. This group of books is one of my favorite Discworld series, and TOT did not disappoint. The Auditors reappear with their usual intent of reducing the Universe to numbers and measuring and counting things and getting rid of that unpredictable squishy life stuff, especially humans. And this time it devolves to all-out war. Death has to go scare up Pestilence, Famine, and War out of their comfortable niches, and the Fifth Horseman even gets called up, while Susan is her usual no-nonsense self (the scenes of her actually teaching in her classroom are among the most hilarious in the book) and gets a love interest. Much fun, much action, great way to while away a couple of evenings!

ETA touchstones.

7ronincats
Jan. 16, 2009, 8:40pm

Geogal, I have tried a few of Heyer's mysteries, but they just don't affect me like the romances do. Isn't it nice that they are reprinting her again. Most of my copies of her work are from the 70's and starting to fall apart!

8ronincats
Jan. 19, 2009, 1:04pm

#8 Really slowed down here for a while for no particular reason. I only bought the Wii yesterday, so can't blame that for taking up reading time. I've spent a LOT of time reading threads rather than reading books, that's true. Or maybe it was just the book I was reading.

The Wizard Hunters by Martha Wells is a book I read for an online discussion group. (pre LT, remember back when AOL had online discussion groups? This is the remnant of one of those, Women in Science Fiction and Fantasy.) There is a book that precedes this, and someone who reviewed this commented that some of the same characters are in this book, so knowing what happened to them took some of the fun/suspense out of reading the first trilogy. I can see that happening.

We start out with the character of Tremaine in Ile-Rien. This starts off full of interest--I really liked the beginning. Her nation is under attack by mysterious enemies, and losing. Because of her ownership of a sphere, she is pulled into the resistance, which is trying to follow the enemy back into another dimension where their attack bases are located. A second frame of reference is with the natives of that world (Syrnai), two men who are wizard hunters. After really good introductions to both point of view characters, the story settles down to rather more mundane exploration of each other's cultures, us against the dual bad guys, explosions and rescues. It's the first of a trilogy, so although it ends at a certain climax, there is obviously much more to come.

What I liked: the characters of Tremaine and Ilias.

What I didn't like: rather plebian us-against-them action. It wasn't bad, but it didn't catch me up and make me not want to put the book down. In the nature of trilogies, this may change in later books.

From what I have read, The Death of the Necromancer (the pre-story) may be a stronger book. I actually thought it was going to deal with the Syrnaic backstory, which appears to be considerable, but it doesn't. It is all Ile-Rien backstory.

At this point, I would give this a lukewarm recommendation. It is at least on a par with most fantasy being published, probably better than many, but not on my A or B list.

9ronincats
Jan. 23, 2009, 11:10pm

#9 The Annotated Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett. This classic tale is beautifully presented in a large hardcover book with elegant dust jacket. The story most English readers are familiar with, the themes are such that this story has resonated in hearts for years. The greatest joy of this edition are the variety of illustrations from all the best artists scattered throughout the book, many in full color. The annotations themselves are fairly commonplace and, for me, add little to the enjoyment of the book, but the illustrations make it well worth while, especially because Amazon is currently selling this $35 book for $7.

I had forgotten how preachy the last chapter was, as it follows the father on his travels--I suppose that all was forgiven and forgotten in that last glorious revelation in the Secret Garden.

10ronincats
Bearbeitet: Jan. 25, 2009, 11:49pm

#10 The Unadulterated CAT by Terry Pratchett
A delightful little homage to REAL cats, with witty descriptions of situations which any cat owner will recognize. Cartoon illustrations by Gray Jolliffe add to the fun. Short and sweet.

11ronincats
Jan. 25, 2009, 11:49pm

#11 I've just spent a couple of hours reading Rilla of the Lighthouse by Grace May North. Not to be confused with great literature, this 1926 book is still a satisfying read. Rilla is brought up on a small New England island by her grandfather, the lighthouse keeper. Because her mother ran off with and married a city guy, a poor artist fellow, he won't let her go off the island when the city folk are up during the summer. But when a convalescent young man is beached on the island, and nearly comes to harm because Rilla is afraid to tell her grandfather, he has a change of heart and lets go of his hate of city folk. When he is killed during a storm that smashes the lighthouse, Rilla's "Uncle Lem" sends her to boarding school where she makes some friends and learns not only to read and speak correctly, but to write. When her grandfather's other close friend returns from Ireland, he tells Rilla of her grandfather's confidence to him that her father never knew she lived through her birth that killed her mother, and that her grandfather left him an address that would reach her father.

Bare bones. Perhaps silly and surely sentimental, but simply told, and bringing me to tears at least 4 times during the book. This book was at my grandmother's when I was a child and I devoured it during our annual visits--wore the front cover off of it! I left out all the twists and turns--that would spoil the fun. A very satisfying read. I believe that North wrote a number of what would now be considered YA books for girls. OH, I just found a copy WITH a cover on eBay for $9.99--definitely worth it to me! What luck!

12ronincats
Jan. 26, 2009, 12:47am

#12 Ginnie Come Lately by Carola Dunn was recommended as a decent Regency romance, as I was bemoaning the fact that none measure up to the Regencies of Georgette Heyer. And in truth, it is a fun little story with no major glaring inaccuracies EXCEPT that the hero grabs the heroine and kisses her in anger the second time he encounters her. Totally unnecessary, definitely not would have happened according to the mores of the time, and the story would have been more delightful without the totally unnecessary sexual tension between the two.

13FlossieT
Jan. 28, 2009, 10:31am

>10 ronincats:: roni, somehow missed this one earlier. I'm not a cat person but I LOVE the Unadulterated Cat. Hysterically funny - my first ever 'proper boyfriend' bought me a copy and I can remember scaring the commuters on Reading station platform with my unrestrained guffawing. Genius stuff.

14ronincats
Jan. 28, 2009, 12:05pm

Thanks for commenting, Flossie. When you bring two of my favorite things together, Pterry and cats, you are right--genius stuff!

15ronincats
Bearbeitet: Jan. 28, 2009, 6:15pm

#13 Griffin's Castle by Jenny Nimmo. Nimmo's new book is a stand-alone, not a series like her well-known Charlie Bone books or her Magician trilogy. I grabbed this book from our school librarian before she even got it catalogues. I really like the Charlie Bone books, even if it took the second book before I really got into them--they are a good, original children's fantasy series. With the Magician books and this one, Nimmo moves even further into Welsh mythology, reminding me a lot in tone of Alan Garner's books. This story eerily evokes the mindset of a very bright girl who has never belonged, never had a home of her own, and her imagination brings to life stone animals from a wall near a Welsh castle. Recommended.

16ronincats
Jan. 28, 2009, 6:14pm

#14 Today is YA day at my house! Book 14 is The Game by Diana Wynne Jones, a delightful little romp with characters whom I shall not identify, because that's part of the game.



17judylou
Jan. 28, 2009, 9:39pm

My son has lots of Wynne Jones books on his shelves. I really should start reading some of them. . . . . . one day!

18ronincats
Jan. 28, 2009, 9:48pm

Judylou, pick one up when you want to be entertained, in general. Her Spellcoats series is more serious. But it is all good.

19ronincats
Bearbeitet: Feb. 2, 2009, 11:47pm

#15 Goblin Quest by Jim C. Hines.

I picked this one up because it promised "one of the funniest dungeon-delving epics ever." Sigh.

Why do I ever put any credence in book blurbs?

Okay, the premise is this. Take your usual quest gang. Hero, wizard, dwarf, elf. And add a goblin, a short-sighted, weak little goblin, who starts to question why goblins are always just sword-fodder. Who is impressed into the gang willy-nilly, and who begins to develop an independent outlook, some initiative, and even some goals. He even picks up a god along the way--a little god, mind you, but when has there ever been a god for goblins, huh?

The writing is nothing special in itself. Pretty pedestrian. The plot is a typical quest plot by design, but from the viewpoint of the goblin instead of other members of the group. It's not really that funny most of the time, unless you are really into goblin angst, which can get a little irritating in large doses. But the denouement, the climax, actually showed originality and made me laugh.

So, if you are willing to read 336 pages in order to really appreciate the last 10, be my guest. Don't say I haven't warned you.

This is the first in a trilogy, but the story arc of this book ends here and you can easily tiptoe away into the night with no loose ends.

I have to read a later book of his, The Stepsister Scheme, for a book club next month, but I already had this one on my TBR mound so thought I'd try it. TSS claims to turn the tales of the princesses of legend on their collective a--es, so we'll see if he's improved on the writing end. A positive element is that Jane Yolen made good comments about it, as did Esther Friesner. Esther IMO writes much the same stuff and at the same level as Hines, but I really LIKE Yolen's stuff, so we shall see--will the blurbs lead me on again?

ETA touchstones

20ronincats
Bearbeitet: Feb. 2, 2009, 11:46pm

Still only 9:07 on Saturday the 30th here on the West Coast, so here is my last book for January. Nickelini and Prop2gether both mentioned it in Kiwidoc's thread this week, which led to me buying it for my nephew who collects versions of Shakespeare.

#16 Twisted Tales from Shakespeare by Richard Armour. As you might expect, if you know of Richard Armour, this involves terrible puns and lots of footnotes (I wonder if Terry Pratchett or Jasper Fforde were Armour fans--both are deadly with footnotes.) A quick, clever read which is enhanced by knowledge of the plays being lambasted* (* basted for barbecuing).

ETA touchstones.

21ronincats
Feb. 2, 2009, 11:45pm

#17 Remake by Connie Willis This tightly written novella creates a future Hollywood where everything is digitized, and creativity involves what is essentially super photoshopping- removing from or adding to the originals. Willis' prose and the viewpoint character she uses evoke the futuristic atmosphere in the context of an unusual love story, or is it the same old story? Here's looking at you, kid.

22ronincats
Bearbeitet: Feb. 4, 2009, 11:08pm

Books Read in 2009, * indicates reread, message # indicates where review is on my 75 Book Challenge thread:

1. Eight Cousins* by Louisa May Alcott (msg 8)
2. Rose in Bloom* by Louisa May Alcott (msg 11)
3. Ambulance Ship by James White (msg. 22)
4. Mort* by Terry Pratchett (msg 23)
5. Soul Music* by Terry Pratchett (msg 27)
6. Frederica* by Georgette Heyer (msg 31)
7. Thief of Time by Terry Pratchett (msg 40)
8. The Wizard Hunters by Martha Wells (msg 45)
9. The Annotated Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett (msg 47)
10. The Unadulterated Cat by Terry Pratchett (msg 49)
11. Rilla of the Lighthouse* by Grace May North (msg 51)
12. Ginnie Come Lately by Carola Dunn (msg 53)
13. Griffin's Castle by Jenny Nimmo (msg 61)
14. The Game by Diana Wynne Jones (msg 62)
15. Goblin Quest by Jim C. Hines (msg 72)
16. Twisted Tales From Shakespeare by Richard Armour (msg 76)
17. Remake by Connie Willis
18. The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman (msg 90)




23ronincats
Feb. 4, 2009, 12:43am

# 18 The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

I've been listening to the chapters online at a pretty slow rate, but my own copy was awaiting me when I got home today! Woohoo!! I think this book well deserves its new status as a Newbery Award winner, and predict it will be a well-loved children's classic for years to come. Gaiman acknowledges the inspiration of Kipling's Jungle Books. It was clear how much this book owes to its model, especially in chapters 3 and 4, the first stories written (Ah, Bagheera and Kaa, I see you!). However, Gaiman has transcended his inspiration and created his own unforgettable story that will probably be more accessible to modern youth than the Jungle Books are now (how I loved those books!). Highly recommended.

24ronincats
Bearbeitet: Feb. 12, 2009, 11:18pm

19. The Reluctant Widow* by Georgette Heyer (msg 95)

Reading this for a group read. While this is not one of my very top-tier Heyers, it is in the second tier and extremely enjoyable. A permutation of a Gothic suspense handled with humor and subtlety, great characterization--a lovely light read.

25ronincats
Feb. 6, 2009, 12:53am

#20 A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett

An old favorite, a children's classic, revisited for nostalgia's sake.

26ronincats
Feb. 8, 2009, 2:24pm

#21 Tinker by Wen Spencer

I read the first two Ukiah Oregon books by Spencer when they first came out. Enjoyed the first, but then in the second it settled down to this series thing where Ukiah kept digging up things from his past, but it was really more of the same and not interesting enough in itself to keep me going. But I kept hearing good things about Tinker and so finally picked it up and read it.

At the outset, Tinker reminded me a lot of Emma Bull's Borderlands books such as Finder. Many of the same elements exist--Elves and their world abutting our contemporary world, a protagonist who has a special gift. But Tinker really is an interesting person on her own, and the intricacies of this interaction of societies are more explicitly spelled out, as is the scientific rationale for it happening in the first place. Since Tinker is an 18-year-old girl, her viewpoint is in quite a different place than mine in terms of her relationship issues, but I did enjoy the society and world-building of this book. An enjoyable read and I will probably look for the sequel.

27ronincats
Feb. 12, 2009, 11:16pm

A used book purchase arrived today. I read this children's book at the library in the mid-80s and loved it. Decided I'd better get my own copy, and read it this afternoon.

Book #23 The Rescue of Ranor by Wilanne Schneider Belden.

This story of a reluctant witch in a land where Magic works and a Non from the neighboring land where Science works, as they work out their destinies, is not sappy or sentimental or trite. It is clever and matter-of-fact with moments of sheer terror, and a demon-goblin named Ordure. I loved it then, and I still love it now.

28ronincats
Feb. 12, 2009, 11:17pm

I finished Book #24 today, Devil's Cub. I love this book. Not only is there the deja vu from TOS of the flight to France, but I just like the character of Mary Challoner a great deal.

And then I went on to Book #25, Book of a Thousand Days by Shannon Hale. I had heard so much about this book, but Borders never had it on the shelves. So finally I checked my local library. Bingo! I love the voice of this book, told in diary type fashion. The voice brings us into the experiences and emotions of the narrator, along with her sketches. This is quality children's fantasy and should become a classic with time.

29ronincats
Bearbeitet: Feb. 12, 2009, 11:19pm

Book #26 The Alchemyst: The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel by Michael Scott. The first of a juvenile series, this book finds twins caught up in the toils of Immortals and Elders in a classic fight between good and evil. Book one is just the first step in the adventure, with no resolution of the issues.

This book for me was okay, but not in my top tier of fantasy. It's a good story, similar in quality to the Warrior Heir series and the Percy Jackson series, fun but not outstanding, a B level book.



30ronincats
Feb. 13, 2009, 4:27pm

Book #27 So Many Books, So Little Time: A Year of Passionate Reading by Sara Nelson

This was a light, enjoyable read. Sara's and my book tastes don't overlap that much, but her marriage has similarities to mine and she has some outstanding quotes about reading--about three, although leafing back through quickly, I can only find one of them:
"Especially for people whose daily lives and jobs and worlds require them to interact with other humans all day, a book can be a savior. A book is a way to shut out the noise of the world. It's a way to be alone without being totally alone."

31ronincats
Feb. 20, 2009, 10:36pm

Book # 28 Miss Seldon's Suitors by Jeanne Savery

This Zebra Regency Romance is very typical of the field. Few can come close to the quality of Georgette Heyer in characterization, authenticity, and plot. And this is a possible amusing story done in so-so fashion.

Here are my caveats. The characters are drawn with broad strokes and are very stereotypical. The youngster writing bad poetry from The Grand Sophy, the unreformed rake, the ill-bred noblewoman. The Vicar from Austen's Pride and Prejudice. I liked Miss Abernathy quite a bit, but isn't her paramour just a little precious? What did that add to the story. And, fatally, the easy romance trope of love at first glance instead of the gradual development of a relationship.

Little things, too, like Matty turning the lamp down low the first night when she goes to bed. In that time frame, there would be no gas lamps, only oil lamps,using animal fats, and never in a Heyer have I heard reference to the nobility or gentry using lamps rather than candles.

So, an entertaining Regency Romance Light with a somewhat fantastical plot, but not the full-bodied vintage, IMO. The point, of course, is that there are times for each to be appreciated in its own way.

32ronincats
Feb. 22, 2009, 10:42pm

Book # 29 The Stepsister Scheme by Jim C. Hines

This book occurs a few months after Cinderella (Princess Danielle Whiteshore) marries her prince. Her stepsisters kidnap her husband, the prince, and try to kill her. Only the intervention of her bodyguard, Princess Talia (Sleeping Beauty), prevents it. Snow White (Princess Snow) is also around, having been helping the Queen Bea with various projects, and she sends the three princesses to rescue her son. All three princesses have deep-seated psychological issues as the result of their upbringing and experiences, and all have to deal with them in the course of this story.

The premise has a lot of potential. Interesting characters and situations abound. For those who like Esther Friesner or James P. Blaylock or Craig Gardner Shaw, you will love this. But, like those authors, for me, I find the magic missing. It's okay, a light read, but not one I'll ever read again. It didn't hook me like McKillip or McKinley or Diana Jones(that's Diana Wynne Jones, but the only way I can get her touchstone is to do this version) or Nina Kiriki Hoffman do.

33aslikeanarnian
Feb. 23, 2009, 6:42pm

I started The Stepsister Scheme a while back and couldn't get into it, so it's still on my TBR pile. I'll keep it around until I'm in the mood for something light, but I'm in no particular hurry to read it.

Also, I added my thoughts about The Graveyard Book and The Last Unicorn to their posts over on my thread, if you're interested. (Spoiler alert: I really liked both of them.)

34ronincats
Feb. 23, 2009, 6:43pm

Thanks, I'll head on over and check them out!

35ronincats
Bearbeitet: Mrz. 8, 2009, 6:24pm

Jumping on the LT bandwagon, I checked a copy of Haroun and the Sea of Stories out from my local library and, like many of you, found it a delightful little fable with all kinds of fun, not so subtle plays on words and characters. This must have been a labor of love for someone whose first language was not English. Well-crafted, a wonderful children's book. Thanks to all of you--I had never heard of it.

Book # 30 Haroun and the Sea of Stories by Salman Rushdie

Last book for February:

#31 The Grand Sophy* by Georgette Heyer

This delightful regency is a true comedy of manners, with many distinctive characters and a true comedy of errors at the climax. Sophy is the favorite heroine for many Heyer readers due to her self-possession and strength of character.

36ronincats
Bearbeitet: Mrz. 8, 2009, 6:26pm

#32 Small Gods by Terry Pratchett

This re-read of a favorite Pratchett (just the second, and it's been years) was something I could read a little of each night this week, and then finish in a grand slam in the bubble bath this morning. In a fable-like tale, it explores the nature of the DiscWorld gods as well as that of fanaticism and human nature. Perhaps my favorite character is that of the philosopher Didactylos.

#33 The Tomb by F. Paul Wilson

I have heard numerous people speak positively about the Repairman Jack series, but tell me, does it get better after this? This book came across as a mix of the Hercules Poirot mystery about the guy who found the diamond in South Africa and the second Indiana Jones movie. Highly predictable, very sensationalistic, fairly pedestrian prose. More horror than my taste. Not my cup of tea, can't give it more than a 2.5.

37ronincats
Mrz. 19, 2009, 10:59pm

#34 The Whipping Boy by Sid Fleischman

Even though Linda was not too charmed by this book, the precís sounded interesting, so I asked the school librarian down the hall if we had this book, and we did, so...

A very quick read--did it waiting for PT this afternoon. Rather a young children's book, I would think--definitely simpler than the majority of Newbery winners. I would think good for 7 and 8 years olds. Considered in that context, I would recommend it as a fun fable, but again, very simple, short, and young.

#35 The View from Saturday by E. L. Konigsburg

This Newbery Award winner received such good reviews from Linda (Whisper) and Carolyn (MusicMom) that I asked my school librarian if we had it, and voila!

I particularly loved two things about this book. One was the back-and-forth interweaving of story lines coming together in the contest situations, building in the complexity and the development of relationships. The other was the distinctive voice of each of the POV characters--in fact, this would be a great example for grade school teachers to use to get across the concept of voice in writing.

A delightful little story, and much thanks to Linda and Carolyn for making me aware of it. I had read Konigsburg's From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler long ago (not in my childhood, because she hadn't written any of her books then), but missed this one, written much later. In fact, the 29 years between the two is the longest span between any two Newberys awarded to one author, according to Wikipedia. Factoid of the day.

It's tournament time. Go, Jayhawks!

Book # 36 A Curse Dark as Gold by Elizabeth Bunce

Recommended highly by selkie_girl, this retelling of the Rumplestiltskin genre of fairy tales is solidly set in an early 1800's type of society. Excellent characterization, original working out of the plot, highly recommended by me as well.

Book #37 Territory by Emma Bull

This book finally came out in paperback, so I jumped on it. Bull writes a fine quality of fantasy in general, and this is no different in quality. But she has produced something highly original. In substance, this is a story of life in Tombstone, Arizona, in the days when it was a booming mining town. The historic verisimilitude comes through at every point without detracting from the finely drawn characters. The women characters are especially well done, although every character is distinctive and believable. The fantasy is subtle, running through the plot without ever coming quite out into the open. This blend of Western and fantasy is a fine example of story-telling.




38FicusFan
Apr. 5, 2009, 3:28pm



Hi Roni,

I was browsing and enjoyed your lists and comments. I have the Discworld books too and love them. I also enjoy Death. I have 4-5 still to read, but not enough time.

I have the whole Goblin trilogy so I guess I have that to look forward to (/sarcasm).

39ronincats
Bearbeitet: Apr. 5, 2009, 3:36pm

And you may like the Goblin books better than I did. There were a few, well, there was ONE great moment in the first book, the only one I've read, which is the denouement. If you like the angst in Woody Allen movies, instead of getting irritated by it, you may well like these better than I. And they may even get better--maybe. ;-)

BTW, there tends to be a lot more discussion on the 75 Book Challenge thread--I keep a thread going over there for that very reason. I see I'm a few books behind here--have to fix that today!

ETA actually, I'm on my second thread over there, but if you find one, there's a link to the other, in the last message for the first thread and in the first message for the second thread.

40ronincats
Apr. 5, 2009, 3:39pm

#38 Aunt Dimity's Good Deed by Nancy Atherton

The third I've read in this series suggested by someone, I know not who, on LT. These are very light mysteries with a touch of paranormal (Aunt Dimity) and interesting characters. Enjoyable for a quick, light read.

Book 39 Wild Things: the art of nurturing boys by Stephen James and David Thomas.

I received this ER book in January, and have been slowly making my way through it ever since. In the interests of full disclosure, I am reading this book not as a parent but as a school psychologist with 30 years of experience in working with boys from preschool through age 13. This book is by two men who are both experienced counselors and fathers, on the topic of raising boys.

It took me a long while to get into this book, reading it as I typically do nonfiction, a section of a chapter a night several nights a week. I feared at first it would be one of those pop culture type books, a fear nourished by the cute little labels the authors placed on the different developmental stages. I found it slow going through the first third of the book, when the authors were describing the various developmental stages. Looking back, I think this was because of my familiarity with this information--which would not necessarily be the case with a parent reading this.

When the authors started Part 2: The Mind of a Boy, I perked up. This is my area of expertise, after all. And it was outstanding! The identification of common errors made in dealing with boys and strategies in working with them in brain-compatible ways on top of the descriptions (highly accurate) along with specific mini-sections dealing with major issues raised this book well above the average parenting book.

When I reached Part 3: The Heart of a Boy, I had difficulty putting the book down. I have powered through this section in the last three days! The insight, the specific examples, and the strategies and game plan for nurturing boys to emotionally healthy men are simply outstanding. I now plan to order this book for both of my nephews and their wives because I value its advice for raising their young boys (one age 5, one still in utero) so highly. I also have found rich ideas for strengthening my own counseling interactions with boys in my schools.

Two caveats: 1) the current formatting of the book as an ARC: the inserts about specific problem areas broke into the flow of the chapter text and were hard to read because of the different font. Hopefully, this will be addressed in the final published edition.
2) In the final chapter of the book, "Rituals, Ceremonies, and Rites of Passage", where the authors talk about ways of integrating our boys into the larger society, they make explicit their spiritual connection to God as part of this. If you are an atheist, this may be an issue for you, but it only impacts this chapter and not the many great chapters before it. If you are a member of a religion or agnostic, you will have no difficulty, and indeed, much benefit in incorporating this dimension into your parenting.

Of all the parenting books I have read over the years, and there have been many, this book is simply outstanding and receives my highest rating of 5 stars. I cannot recommend it enough to the parents of boys both for its insights and its suggestions.

41ronincats
Apr. 5, 2009, 3:42pm

Book # 40, Igraine the Brave by Cornelia Funke

This is a very cute and fun children's book, for ages 8 to 11, by the author of the Inkheart series. As Igraine turns 12, her parents make a small error in conjuring up her birthday present and turn themselves into pigs who cannot work magic. Normally this would have been straightened out in time, but with an evil magician attacking the castle and trying to steal the Singing Books of Magic right now, it is quite inconvenient. Igraine is spunky and clever and saves the day in various ways.

Book #41 Cotillion* by Georgette Heyer

A re-read of one of my favorite Heyers. Can't say much about the plot without running into spoilers. Best appreciated with a background of the typical Regency plots to set it against.

42ronincats
Apr. 12, 2009, 5:46pm

Book #42 Fit at 50 and Beyond: A Balanced Exercise and Nutrition Program by Michael Gloth with Rudy Speckamp.

This was an ARC that I received via the Early Reviewers group. It is a slender book, 168 pages. I was looking forward to it because I have been, for once in my life, watching my diet and trying to up my exercise this year, and I wanted to know if there were any special things I should be aware of for my age group.

Overall, I think this book is for the total beginner in this area. You have short, simple overviews of diet and exercise in a number of areas.

There were only two contributions that were new to me. One is the concept of "effective" calories--the calorie count of food minus the energy expended to process it. The other is the need to consume 20 grams of protein within 30 minutes after your exercise routine.

A nice feature is the appendix of web and book resources. I would recommend going straight to these resources, however, instead of reading this book, for the majority of persons interested in this area.

Another nice touch is the sprinkling of recipes designed by the second author who is a nutritionist, but these are only a sampling, and provided with limited nutritional information (calories and protein--I need fat and fiber to enter in my Points).

Overall, a basic introduction, clearly written, and useful for those with limited knowledge in these areas.

43ronincats
Apr. 12, 2009, 5:47pm

# 43 Last and First Men by Olaf Stapledon

Read for a group read. This book is deservedly a classic for the breadth of imagination it developed in 1930. He was perhaps the first to develop the concepts of group minds, genetic engineering, and terraforming. His work was extremely influential on many early science fiction writers.

That said, this is a book that you had to read as a teenager to love, for modern readers. Stapledon was a philosopher by profession, and his book has no story. It is a dispassionate recital of the history of the race of man through millions of years and 18 stages of development. One can read it and say, "oh, that is interesting. What a range of imagination." But it is written in dry, scholarly prose with no protagonists to pull you in, no dialogue, not even when we finally get to the narrator's own looming tragedy are we able to really feel for him, so deadened have we been by the scope of years and multiple tragedies by that time. While I am glad to now be familiar with this classic, I am happier that I will never have to read it again.

44ronincats
Apr. 26, 2009, 11:56pm

44. Saving Jesus: How Fundamentalism Betrays Christianity by Bruce Bawer

I pulled this off the shelf to recommend to Richardderus, and started skimming it--which quickly transformed into a complete reread. I love the first few chapters of this book with a passion. The next few are fascinating as Bawer traces the invention of millennial dispensationism, substitutionary atonement, and the Rapture in the 1800s in this country. As he moves up into modern day, I used to feel he became somewhat strident and overstating his position...but, among other things, after having a child come to me at work in an anxiety attack because her mother told her that Obama was the devil and the world would come to an end if he was elected (true thing--I couldn't make this up!), I am inclined to think that Bawer does not overstate. When I read Bawer, I love his discussion of the vertical dimension of religion as opposed to the horizontal dimension, and see a road to a living Christianity.

45. I'm falling behind! Too much time reading threads, or planting roses and tomatoes. So time for a new YA, Fairest by Gail Carson Levine. Actually, it's several years old, but only came out in paperback last fall, and I picked it up at the school Book Fair a couple of weeks ago. It says "New York Times Bestseller" on the cover, and I can well believe it. Levine takes fairy tale elements and combines them in new and completely original patterns to create an engrossing story of a girl coming to terms with herself as she is pulled into the heart of a crisis in her kingdom.
#46. Thirteenth Child by Patricia Wrede

There appears to be a trend to set fantasy in the midwest or west of this country lately. Jane Lindskold (Changer, Child of a Rainless Year), Emma Bull (Territory), and Lois McMaster Bujold (The Sharing Knife series) all have set their fantasies in the Southwest or Midwest. Now Patricia Wrede has started a new series called Frontier Magic with Thirteenth Child. This book follows the heroine, Eff (for Francine), from about 5 years of age up to high school age as her family moves to the frontier. A frontier outside the magic shield that protects humans from steam dragons and other magical creatures that, along with the natural predators, make settling the West a very chancy business. This book has somewhat of a YA feel to it due to the age of its heroine, but a fascinating depiction of an alternate reality corresponding to our early to mid-nineteenth century. It will be interesting to see how the further books develop, when Eff will be an adult. As usual, Wrede has great characterization as well as an intriguing setting.

45ronincats
Apr. 26, 2009, 11:59pm

#47 People were reading some of the Chrestomanci books by Diana Wynne Jones, which reminded me that I had accidentally taken Witch Week to school with the Ibbotson's. So I retrieved it Monday while at work, and of course did not get home without starting it. This is definitely one of Jones' juveniles, the story of a group of children at a boarding school in a plane of existence where witches are burned to death. We take different POVs of the least popular students and their various problems, getting to know the class and their teachers, before everything falls apart and Chrestomanci is called in to help straighten it out. Easy reading, great for middle school, probably the weakest of the Chrestomanci books for me.

#48 Bloodhound by Tamora Pierce

Along with several others here, I have recently finished Bloodhound by Tamora Pierce. This substantial book (534 pages sans appendices) is a sequel to Terrier and continues the story of Beka Cooper, a policewoman (they are called Dogs rather than cops) in Tortall 200 years earlier than the Tortall described in Pierce's later series, The Song of the Lioness, The Immortals, Protector of the Small, and the Trickster series (14 books in all). While Terrier was the story of Beka's apprenticeship, she has just become a full-fledged Dog in this book, and is sent to a neighboring city to investigate her first major case with a senior partner.

These books have a different tenor from the others, in part because we are dealing with an earlier time, but mostly because of the first person reporting by Beka. In general, although I am not a great fan of first person, it is handled well and believably through her journal. Some of the factors of major influence in the first book, the social structure of her friends and the cat Pounce, are seen relatively little in this book, while other key components (her ability to gain information from dust eddies and pigeons) have key parts but are not as prevalent. The police procedural and the character of the new city and its inhabitants are well handled. We see Beka mature, and I am looking forward to the third book, due out in 2010.

46ronincats
Apr. 27, 2009, 12:02am

#49. Diary of a Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinsey

Although I enjoyed Bloodhound quite a bit, I was working through some very busy days and only had a little time to read each day so it took me 4 days. I was ready for something quick, and I had picked this book up at Costco a couple of weeks ago. Definitely a quick and easy read. Our writer Greg is self-centered and gets himself into quite a lot of trouble--pretty typical for his age in most ways. The drawings are quirky and add to the enjoyment for this quick, light read. This one goes straight to my school "library"--it's just right for my fifth and sixth graders.

50. The Bell at Sealey Head by Patricia McKillip

I very much enjoy the quality of McKillip's writing. Since first reading The Forgotten Beasts of Eld, which won the World Fantasy Award for Best Novel in 1975, and then her fantastic Riddlemaster Trilogy, her lyrical writing immediately transports me into another world.

This book deals, as her books so often do, with multiple levels of reality, from the interesting and ideosyncratic nature of our characters in the "now" (think English coastal village in the early 1800's), to the hidden society of Aislinn House, to the stories coming off of Gwyneth's pen. The different stories intertwine and support and enrich each other as a mystery is discovered, a wrong is set right, and our characters grow into themselves. Highly recommended.

This one is nearly as good as Od Magic, my favorite of her books of this decade.

And that brings me to 50 books, 1/3 of the way to my goal, with 2/3 of the year still in front of me (I was wondering for a while!).

47ronincats
Mai 9, 2009, 6:52pm

#51 Dial-a-Ghost is a children's fantasy book by Eva Ibbotson for the age 8-11 range, as well as those of us who either never left or have returned to our childhood. In an England where ghosts are real ectoplasm and somewhat overpopulating London, we have a lovely family eking out existence in a small knicker shop, when they discover a new business that places ghosts with locations. Our family, however, instead of arriving at the ruins on the grounds of a convent, arrive at a big old imposing house by mistake. Here, an orphan has just inherited the estate, but his evil uncle and aunt are scheming to remove him so they can inherit instead. As part of their plan, they rented the most evil, vile, violent ghosts they could find, who hated children, to haunt the place.

What will happen? Who will prevail? Twists and turns, turns and twists, how ends our tale?

Lots of fun, this would be a great read-aloud to kids!

#52. Four British Fantasists: Place and Culture in the Children's Fantasies of Penelope Lively, Alan Garner, Diana Wynne Jones, and Susan Cooper by Charles Butler

I picked this up at the library because I have read and enjoyed nearly all the children's literature written by the last three authors. It is very dry and scholarly, a literature professor's thesis, and so it took me a while to work through, a chapter an evening on the evenings when I didn't fall asleep in the middle. I felt it did give me some insight into these authors, and it was interesting in its own way, but I got nowhere near the enjoyment I get from simply reading the authors themselves, and so I would recommend to you to go to the source and leave this book be.

#53 Eat This Not That-Supermarket Survival Guide and Eat This Not That The No-Diet Weight Loss Guide by David Zinczenko

I'm going to count these two as one book. I read every word in the first, and all the text in the second, but they are most of all picture books. This explains their hefty price ($19.95 @), but to have that many color photos in a book has to be expensive to print.

In the first book, the typical format within the sections is to have photos of 7-8 foods on the right page with boxes giving certain nutritional information, and then a corresponding number of the same food types on the left page, also with boxes, that represent much lower calories and fat grams. For example, the difference between a can of Progresso White Clam Sauce (on the left) and Progresso Red Clam Sauce (on the right) is 70 calories, 9 grams of fat, and 530 mg of sodium. The book does this for staples in the refrigerator, the pantry, the freezer, snacks and sweets, and drinks, as well as a few short chapters on the produce aisle, meat and fish counters, and a save-money shopping guide.

The second book was the original one. It focuses on restaurant meals in the first half of the book--for example, if you are eating at KFC, the Creamy Parmesan dressing will add 25 fat grams to your meal. At Jack in the box, a Deluxe Hamburger with ketchup and mustard instead of the default Mayo-Onion sauce (90 calories, 10 g of fat) will save you 410 calories, 31 g of fat, and 825 mg of sodium over the Jumbo Jack with Cheese. Do you know that the WORST sandwich at Subway would be the tuna salad? Beats out the meatball hands down? While I could wish this would be more exhaustive, it really does help train you on what to look for when making choices, and I have started checking online the nutritional info for food chains before I go to them. It also has a chapter for foods to eat at certain places, such as the movies or the ballpark or vending machines, as well as certain types of restaurant food (chinese, italian, etc.) It has a chapter on the supermarket, but this was clearly much expanded upon and made much more useful in the next book, that reviewed above.

I went ahead and bought both of these since neither were available at my library, and I knew I would need time to look through them and really internalize the information. They are good reference books, and since I am seriously working on losing weight and therefore tracking my eating religiously through Weight Watchers Online (24 pounds since my Christmas holiday spike), I think they were worth the investment.

48ronincats
Jun. 6, 2009, 4:18pm

#54 The Zero Stone by Andre Norton

This one is StormRaven's fault. He brought up Andre Norton on a thread about YA science fiction and mentioned this as one he would recommend. I have my own favorites, but I could not remember this one very well and went and reread it this morning.

As with much of Norton's science fiction and fantasy, we have a young protagonist who is alienated from family and society through no fault of his own. Hunted by others for an artifact that had caused the death of the man he had believed to be his father, he escapes one planet and then a spaceship to another planet when the former turns out to be another trap. En route, he gains the help of a telepathic mutant cat (it's more complicated than that) and is able eventually to win a new start. As is usually the case, we have a coming of age story with lots of action and an essentially optimistic outlook. Anyone who looks at my library will realize that Norton was a major influence on my reading in my teens, and that I have retained my affection for her writing, especially the early works.

49ronincats
Jun. 6, 2009, 4:20pm

#55 The Quiet Gentleman by Georgette Heyer

This is not one of my favorites, but it was voted upon for a group read and, what the hey, an unfavorite by Heyer is better than 90% of regencies in general. The plot is a little grimmer than most, and we don't see much interaction between the leads because most of the attention is on the mystery--that's why it's one of my less favorites. But the characterizations are great as usual.

#56 The Toll Gate by Georgette Heyer

This book also has a mystery embedded in it, like the last I read, but is one of my favorites. So I had to go read it when I finished The Quiet Gentleman to see why I like this one so much more. Well, for one thing, it is just so much more romantic! John Staple is a great character, one of her best, and Nell is truly a lady in need without being in any way a needy lady. Far away from the high society of London, the characters of the denizens of the countryside are developed with affection. The romance and the mystery intertwine, without one overbalancing the other, humor and suspense pace each other throughout the book.

Can you tell that I like it? Highly recommended.

50ronincats
Jun. 6, 2009, 4:21pm

#57 Uncharted Stars by Andre Norton

This sequel to The Zero Stone finds Murdoc Jern with financial problems after his ostensibly successful resolution of the plot of the former book. Blocked at every turn, he engages in riskier and riskier adventures while still seeking the origin of the zero stones. Eet is curiously reserved in this book, and even when it gets very active, works more with the Zacathan than Jern, but is the star of the finale. Lots of imaginative action, in the style of its time (1969).

51ronincats
Jun. 6, 2009, 4:23pm

#58 Deepwood by Jennifer Roberson

It is the sequel to Karavans, which I read two years ago when it came out. Before I was tracking my reading on LT. There is definitely going to be at least a third book coming out in the series.

These are big, multi-POV books with complex plots. I hate big multiple POV books with complex plots. I love C. J. Cherryh for example, but Downbelow Station nearly killed me. I like books with a few key characters with whom I can identify. They can split out if we have time to get to know them beforehand, as in LOTR where the first book is the whole group together before it splits in book 3 into 3 different viewpoints. But I don't LIKE books that swing all over the place. I've had difficulty getting into the Malazan Empire for that reason.

These are big multi-POV books. A land under attack from two sources, a foreign conqueror who decimates settlements whenever they get too large, and a wild wood that changes people who get caught up in it. And the latter, Alisanos, is on the move, while the former, the Hecari, are just beginning to react to it.

We have a family fleeing from their home to relatives in another land, and taking a shortcut dangerously close to Alisanos. We have a caravan-master, a hand-reader. a messenger, a ale-master, all at a settlement where caravans take off from Sancorra to other lands to excape the Hecari. We have cousins who are a different race, Shoia--or are they?

In the first book, there is intrigue, tragedy (the settlement is decimated by the Hecari), relationship-building, and the family setting off. In the second, Alisanos moves for the first time in over a generation, capturing 5 of the 6 family members, generating a storm that destroys the settlement, and significantly affecting the paths of the cousins. Let's see, there are 5 POVs for the family as they are scattered afar, two for the cousins. Mercifully, the caravan-master, hand-reader, messenger, and ale-master stay in the settlement throughout and so are basically one POV.

Still, Roberson pulls it off. The books are quite readable, you find yourself identifying with key characters, you begin to care what happens to them, and at the end of the second book, you still have really no idea how all this is going to be resolved, so it isn't predictable. One hopes that Audrun is going to kick ass, but it isn't at all guaranteed how that is going to turn out. Lots of loose end to tie up at the end of Deepwood--unfortunately, I'm going to have forgotten half of this by the time the third book comes out.

Recommended for fantasy fans.

52ronincats
Bearbeitet: Jun. 6, 2009, 4:26pm

59. ReThinking Christianity by Keith Ward
60. Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman

I'd been working all week on Re-Thinking Christianity. It was fascinating. It went from "This is all stuff I already know" in the first few chapters, to "This is really interesting stuff" in the middle, got bogged down with Hegel and German philosophers two-thirds of the way through, and ended with a bang. Ward talks about the evolution of Christian thought and belief from the life of Christ as recorded in the Gospels, through the major change in focus and emphasis seen in Paul's epistles and the Gospel of John, and on through 5 other periods of major evolution of theology in Christianity. He talks about one of these, the Reformation, being based on the concepts of allowing diversity of interpretation, the right of dissent, and personal freedom of belief at its core. And he argues for the continuing growth of Christianity in relationship to the modern world. A very thought-provoking work, I shall be looking for more of his writings.

And then, to celebrate the end of spending a week on one book, I reread Good Omens. Not a change of subject matter, or indeed necessarily of theology! I do enjoy this book. I know little of the movie "The Omen" but a lot of Revelation; this book plays both like a finely-tuned fiddle. Not necessarily a great book, but a very enjoyable and satisfying read.

53ronincats
Jun. 6, 2009, 4:27pm

#61 Deepest Roots by Sheila Moon

This is the third of a series of books for children by Sheila Moon, one which I did not know existed until a month or so ago when I found it by accident. The first book, Knee Deep in Thunder was written in 1967, and the second, Hunt Down the Prize, in 1971, and I read them both several times over in the 70's, and spent rather too much to hunt down and purchase copies of them in the late 80s, pre-internet searches. I did not realize there was a third, which was indeed written much later in 1986. Now all three are available in a matching paperback set that can be found on Amazon. So I bought the third one to go with my old Atheneum hardbacks of the other two.

Each of these books has to do with Maris and her dog Scuro who are drawn to the Great Land to help protect in in times of crisis from our own land. The Great Land underlies all other lands and troubles from it can spill out into our own. The Old Ones are central to the well-being of the land, Grandmother, Grandfather, Dark Fire, and Owl, and the Guardians, various talking animals, work to make those goals come into being. Don't think Narnia--this is nothing like. This is based on Navajo mythology, and seeks to speak to the soul of how we treat others and work with others.

Some may find it a fault that these goals are very evident and that the characters speak openly of them, and may find the prose didactic and think that it lacks grace. However, I must say that I find the cadence and openness of the speech and the philosophy to be very true to what I have found working with people of the Dine and other native Americans. It is how they would instruct their own children and discuss among themselves important issues.

Worthy of your consideration, IMHO.

54ronincats
Jun. 6, 2009, 4:28pm

#62. City of Bells by Elizabeth Goudge

This is probably the perfect introduction to Goudge's writing for LTers, because of the way her love of books is inextricably interwoven into the story. It showcases her key themes of love of peaceful places, integrity, belief in people and in something beyond, rebirth. In some of her retellings of true events, the tragedy is unavoidable because the events have already happened and cannot be changed although they can be reinterpreted. Here, there is room for hope and peace and growth. And some of her most enchanting creatures are to be found here, especially Henrietta and Grandfather, although all her characters are to be cherished. If after reading this book, you are not captured, then accept that Goudge's writing is not up your alley. If you are, then delight that a whole body of works is now available to you.

Thanks to Stasia for inspiring this long overdue reread. I have the sequels, Sister of Angels and The Blue Hills (known as Henrietta's House in Britain), waiting for me, but as I noted on another thread...

I have two weeks of school left, and about 11 reports to get done in that time. Since each report takes 3 to 4 hours minimum, and my actual work time is still taken up with assessment, counseling, and meetings, it becomes imperative that I set aside reading for writing over this time--even though I REALLY, REALLY want to be reading instead. Ah, discipline, and the sense that what I do may make a difference in some child's life, as well as the knowledge that I'll still be working after the school year is over if I don't get busy now!

55FicusFan
Jun. 6, 2009, 4:36pm

I have books 2 and 3 of the Cathedral Trilogy Towers in the Mist and The Dean's Watch, which is also listed as a series for these books. They were my mothers, and I have never read them. I found out on LT that there was another one City of Bells. I have been trying to find City of Bells, and when I do, then I will try them.

56ronincats
Jun. 6, 2009, 4:45pm

FicusFan, there is really no connection among the stories of the Cathedral trilogy, it is just that each of them has a classic cathedral in the midst of the story, and with Goudge, those cathedrals become characters in their own right. Of the other two, I love The Dean's Watch and am more lukewarm about Towers in the Mist. Anyone who cherishes Oxford, however, will appreciate her loving portrayal of that town in the Elizabethan age in the latter. The former is a story that stampedes my heart strings. Again, there is no connection or carryover in the stories of these three other than the presence of a cathedral. I think to list them as a series must have been a marketing ploy.

57FicusFan
Jun. 6, 2009, 4:56pm

No marketing ploy. They are listed that way on LT. I had no idea they were supposedly connected until I saw it.

58FicusFan
Aug. 1, 2009, 2:39pm

Hey Ronin, I am just checking in. I remember in my thread that you said your book group had chosen Black Ships in June and I was wondering how that went?

59ronincats
Aug. 2, 2009, 12:37pm

Hi, FicusFan. Wow, I have gotten very behind on this thread, although I have kept up on the 75 Book Challenge thread! Thanks for finding this one and bringing it up to the top!!

I must with chagrin admit that I never got Black Ships. The discussion was the Tuesday of the last week of school, and I was writing reports like crazy with every free moment so I could be done by the end of the week (and I succeeded!!!!). I even sat through the (on-line) discussion of it without needing to reveal I hadn't read it yet--shame on me. It is still a book I am interested in, and plan to get. The others enjoyed it. It was just the timing that threw me.

Now to bring my last 20 reviews over to this thread!

60ronincats
Aug. 2, 2009, 12:40pm

#63 Sister of Angels by Elizabeth Goudge

At 155 pages, it was a quick read. This is not the full-fledged adult novel that City of Bells was. Expressly dedicated "For Those Who Love Henrietta", it is a novella expressly designed to showcase her in a lovely little story, great to be read at any time, but especially at Christmas time. Carrying on the characters of the first book with many of the themes, but in a more fable-type manner, it is deeply satisfying to "those who love Henrietta". The third book, The Blue Hills will be slightly longer, slightly deeper, and a wonderful way to bring Henrietta's story to a close.

#64 The Blue Hills by Elizabeth Goudge

The third of this series completes the books with Henrietta at their core. This book is a fairy tale without being a fairy tale (because nothing TRULY magic happens, as the author says), an enchantment and a look at our own pretensions and fears within the context of the familiar characters we have come to know and love in the previous books. Definitely recommended for the YA contingent here at LT, but with its charm and beautiful descriptive scenery for the adult readers as well. This was my favorite of the three when I was young.

61ronincats
Aug. 2, 2009, 12:41pm

#65 The Unknown Ajax by Georgette Heyer

This may be my favorite Heyer. Certainly I think she must have taken great joy in its construction. Taking place entirely at Darracott Place on the border of Kent and Sussex, the story deals with the arrival of Major Hugh Darracott who is the new heir after the deaths of his uncle and cousin. Because Hugh's father was disinherited after marrying a weaver's daughter in Yorkshire while in the military, no one in the family except Lord Darracott, his grandfather, knew of his existence prior to this. His grandfather bids him to the family estate to be "licked into shape".

With such a small canvas, the characters of all the family are vividly drawn with a wicked eye for detail. The challenge of melding in Yorkshire dialect with Heyer's usual accurate but unobtrusive use of the vernacular of the time is well met. The culture of the countryside in these post-Napoleonic times provides the dramatic and riveting climax of the story, which, unusually, brings out the best in everyone. Delightful all the way through, this is Heyer at her best, IMHO.

62ronincats
Aug. 2, 2009, 12:43pm

#66 The Magician's Book: a skeptic's adventures in Narnia by Laura Miller.

I'd been on the waiting list for this at the library for months. It's a curious mix of personal memoir/history/reaction and formal litcrit. I enjoyed it quite a bit. I felt some of her chapters were a bit of a reach, but enjoyed her discussions of a wide range of literature in conjunction with the Narnia books. There are already some very nice reviews here on LT; I see no need to say more.

#67 No More Dead Dogs by Gordon Korman

This was the book I came home to on Friday after a hectic day packing up my offices as school for the summer. It was perfect. About middle-schoolers, but from several different POVs, this has something for everyone without ever fragmenting or becoming overwhelming. I liked it better than Diary of a Wimpy Kid--I loved the characters, and really enjoyed the plot. Recommended heartily to all you other YA readers. I wish I had written down who it was who recommended it on their thread so I could thank them.

#68 The BFG by Roald Dahl

Now this one has gotten a lot of discussion in the group! I know Linda read it, and a bunch of others, so when I saw it at the Scholastic Warehouse Sale (half-price!) I grabbed it. A fun little story! I think what I enjoyed most was the BFG's mangled turns of phrase. I have Matilda waiting--got it at the same time.
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63ronincats
Aug. 2, 2009, 12:45pm

Book #69 Fablehaven: Book One by Brandon Mull

Haven't gotten too much reading in on my traveling, but did finish this children's fantasy yesterday. I get odd moments here and there to get online, so have fallen way behind on most of the threads--will have to concentrate on that when I get back to San Diego. I found Fablehaven to be adequate--not an original concept but pretty well done. The main female character was a good POV and had the most depth--her little brother was simply irritating, much like the character Kirk Douglas plays in the movie of Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea--you know he's just going to be the a--hole who screws everything neat all up. The author cuts Seth a little more slack than I would. I'm interested in seeing if the second book, which I am starting, can build on and deepen this world.

#70 Fablehaven: The Rise of the Evening Star by Brandon Mull

Brother wasn't so irritating this book. On the other hand, I didn't see much additional character development and the action is leading to a predictable story arc. I can see people new to fantasy enjoying this, but for me it doesn't measure up to the top books--this is a middle range book. 2-1/2 stars.

64ronincats
Aug. 2, 2009, 12:46pm

#71 The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

I have to admit, after reading the two Fablehaven books, I was wondering if my sensawunda had gone flat. Was I just jaded with children's/YA fantasy after so many years of reading in the genre? After all, others had really enjoyed those books while to me, they were just a tad too predictable, too didactic, too flat despite a number of positive factors.

Fortunately, The Hunger Games dispelled that fear! This book grabs you from the outset and never lets you down. Many others have written full reviews of this book by now. Suffice it to say that I started it at 9:30 last night and had it done by 5:00 today despite Fourth of July activities and a family reunion today. The world-building was excellent, the characters vivid, the tension vibrant. I only worry that the sequel will be a let-down.

65ronincats
Aug. 2, 2009, 12:50pm

#72 Earthman's Burden by Poul Anderson and Gordon Dickson
I think I would have enjoyed this episodic series of stories about the difficulties the literal Hokas have in adapting to Earth culture a lot as a teenager, but I have to admit that now it seems rather dated and silly.

#73 Over Sea, Under Stone by Susan Cooper
As you noted, sirfurboy, this was a re-read, actually an umpteenth reread, for the group read here on the 75 Book Challenge group. I have said before, and shall again, that the second book in the series is one of my "perfect" books, i.e., one of those that you turn the last page and sigh in repletion, "Now THAT was a story!" As far as the series goes, it has to contend with Lloyd Alexander's Prydain Chronicles for top marks for a children's fantasy series. But it is right up there! It looks like the group will go ahead and read the entire series, hopefully. Always enjoy it.

#74 Zombies of the Gene Pool by Sharyn McCrumb

Sharyn McCrumb is a mystery writer. She has written two mysteries related to science fiction. Bimbos of the Death Sun was set at a science fiction convention with some hilarious events as the results of the foibles of fandom. Zombies of the Gene Pool takes on science fiction writers, and I had never read it. Someone mentioned it recently, and then I saw it at a used book store. It was well-written, and if I were more up on some of the writers being parodied, I would have enjoyed it more, but it was a quick and interesting read. (I have always read science fiction, but never been into fandom nor followed the personal lives of authors.)

66ronincats
Aug. 2, 2009, 12:50pm

#72 Earthman's Burden by Poul Anderson and Gordon Dickson
I think I would have enjoyed this episodic series of stories about the difficulties the literal Hokas have in adapting to Earth culture a lot as a teenager, but I have to admit that now it seems rather dated and silly.

#73 Over Sea, Under Stone by Susan Cooper
As you noted, sirfurboy, this was a re-read, actually an umpteenth reread, for the group read here on the 75 Book Challenge group. I have said before, and shall again, that the second book in the series is one of my "perfect" books, i.e., one of those that you turn the last page and sigh in repletion, "Now THAT was a story!" As far as the series goes, it has to contend with Lloyd Alexander's Prydain Chronicles for top marks for a children's fantasy series. But it is right up there! It looks like the group will go ahead and read the entire series, hopefully. Always enjoy it.

#74 Zombies of the Gene Pool by Sharyn McCrumb

Sharyn McCrumb is a mystery writer. She has written two mysteries related to science fiction. Bimbos of the Death Sun was set at a science fiction convention with some hilarious events as the results of the foibles of fandom. Zombies of the Gene Pool takes on science fiction writers, and I had never read it. Someone mentioned it recently, and then I saw it at a used book store. It was well-written, and if I were more up on some of the writers being parodied, I would have enjoyed it more, but it was a quick and interesting read. (I have always read science fiction, but never been into fandom nor followed the personal lives of authors.)

67ronincats
Aug. 2, 2009, 12:51pm

#75 Red Bird: Poems by Mary Oliver

These were suggested by Carolyn (Music Mom), and I greatly enjoyed them. Oliver is clearly influenced by one of my favorite poets, Dylan Thomas, but has her own distinct voice. This was a pleasure.

#76 The Dragon of Trelian by Michelle Knudsen

I thought this was recommended by someone here, but can't find the conversation anywhere. This children's fantasy is the first of a series, but is a complete story in itself. I was able to identify with the two protagonists right away, the writing is good, and the tension/story movement is excellent. This story is not particularly deep or "significant", but is very enjoyable storytelling with a consistent and interesting world. 4 stars.

68ronincats
Aug. 2, 2009, 12:54pm

Book # 77 False Colours* by Georgette Heyer

Another one of my favorite Heyer's re-read for a discussion group. Kit Fancon is one of her most charming male protagonists, and the story is delightful as usual. Highly recommended.

#78 Catmagic by Holly Webb

A short children's book picked up at the Scholastic Warehouse Sale for my lending library at school. A girl finds out that her uncle (and her dead father) have magical capabilities when she stays with him for the summer, and learns that her mother does love her. Very simple but good for third or fourth grade readers.

# 79 Matilda by Roald Dahl

I finally got around to reading Matilda today, when I should have been reading something else. What a character! I got very uncomfortable when she was punishing her father, but as soon as she turned to Mrs. Trunchbull I was fine. Great descriptive writing too.

69ronincats
Bearbeitet: Aug. 2, 2009, 12:56pm

Book # 80 The Companions by Sheri Tepper

Sherri Tepper is an experienced and prolific writer. She has strong feelings about human and animal rights and how we should treat each other and the world(s) around us, and these often if not inevitable show up in her stories. Sometimes this is to the detriment of the stories but often it enhances them.

The Companions begins on an eerily dystopian Earth whose overcrowding is exacerbated by the Right of Return, where any colonist of other planets has the right to return to Earth, and planetary governments send their elderly back because it is cheaper than caring for them. Politic ON earth is all too familiar, but we also have a universe full of aliens, each species with its own agenda as well. This is well-done as well--similar to David Brin's Uplift trilogy in complexity and motivation.

But it all unfolds in the background and interaction of our main character, a young woman with fascinating antecedents who is involved in an arkist movement on Earth, saving the few remaining animals. When she gets the chance to accompany her half-brother on an important mission to determine if plant manifestations on a distant planet are signs of intelligent life or not, at the same time that political forces have pushed through eliminating pets on Earth, she takes her current project, 6 dogs and their trainers, with her to buy time for their planned planet to be ready for them.

Willogs, lost ships, family dysfunction, alien politics--all come into play to a dizzying if satisfying conclusion of a well-written story.

70ronincats
Aug. 2, 2009, 12:59pm

#81 Scout's Progress* by Sharon Lee and Steve Miller

Stasia mentioned she was reading this, which was all I needed to pull it off the shelf and reread it myself. I DO enjoy the Liaden books! This book is a prequel to the main series of 5 books, starting with Agent of Change and ending with I Dare. This book and Local Custom are the stories, romances really, of the parents of the main protagonists and clan of the main series, but the culture of Liad and of pilots and spaceship and of clashes with other cultures (namely Earth) interplay throughout the books, making them most satisfying. I think I will go read the true prequels, Crystal Soldier and Crystal Dragon, which are in the distant past, about a thousand years, and explain how Liad came to be. I've only read them one and a half times and don't recall it all. Not as good a story as these 7 if I recall correctly, but still a worthwhile read.

#82 Crystal Soldier* by Sharon Lee and Steve Miller
#83 Crystal Dragon* by Sharon Lee and Steve Miller

The main series Liaden books are riddled with quotes from Cantra yos Phelium and with references to her and Jela and Jela's tree. These are the books that provide the backstory--who they were, why they were important, how the components of our present universe were set in place originally. I would not start with these books, but for those who appreciate clan Korval and the Liaden universe, these are important stories to be savored fully.

#84 Local Custom* by Sharon Lee and Steve Miller

The other half of the stories of the parents of the characters in the main series. Can't read about Daav's finding his lifemate without giving Er Thom equal time! Can I tear myself away and get back to new books? Stay tuned to find out.

71rainpebble
Bearbeitet: Aug. 2, 2009, 2:44pm

>#61:
Okay, after seeing her name bandied about by both women and men here on LT, you have finally, with this one The Unknown Ajax, convinced me to try a Georgette Hyer.
Gonna give it a whirl and see what happens.
Thanx for the recx. I have picked up 8 here today and that is only down to message 61.
belva
P.S. We love BFG at our house. We read it aloud a lot and it just cracks all of us up!~!

72ronincats
Aug. 2, 2009, 2:56pm

Great, Belva! Let me know your reaction after you finish The Unknown Ajax. And any of the others as well. And the Jasper Fforde's also! Hey, stop reading here and go read books. Fast!

73FicusFan
Aug. 2, 2009, 9:00pm

Hi Ronin,

Sorry you were not able to read Black Ships . Glad your group liked it, and I hope you do get to it in the future.

Very cool reviews yourself.

I have read the 2 Sharon McCrumb books. They were cute. I do go to cons, so I have seen the nuts she writes about. I liked book 1 better than Book 2.

I have never gotten into the Liaden thing, although have seen both authors many times at a discussion group I used to attend. I may have book 1 to try it, but have not yet read it.