Movable Type 3.2
August 20, 2006
SRP Book 11: Gunslinger Girl Vol. 2
Gunslinger Girl Vol. 2 by Yu Aida (178 pages)
I reviewed the first volume a month ago, and I don't have a whole lot new to say about this one. Still getting used to the reading right to left and to the Look At The Pictures, Kat. Still interesting, though. Even with the difficulties in reading, it goes quickly, so I'll probably stick with the series.
SRP Book 10: The Death of Friends
The Death of Friends by Michael Nava (232 pages)
You may remember that I read most of this series back in October and November. After reading five more or less in a row, I was feeling a bit burned out on them, so stopped for a while. Then last month I realized that Defulct was going to be taking the books with him when he moved, so I'd better read the two I had left. Of course, I only had time to get to one - I'll have to ILL the other. Ah well.
Anyway, what to say without giving too much away? Very good. Sad. Interesting explication of complicated relationships, especially the one between the main character, Henry, his former lover, and the lover's wife. I was glad that things got better with Josh before the end. Oh, and there was some interesting discussion of issues related to the pornography business, as well. I heartily recommend this series, but I'd try to start with the first, The Little Death, because Henry definitely evolves over the course of the series.
August 19, 2006
SRP Book 9: His Majesty's Dragon
His Majesty's Dragon by Naomi Novik (384 pages)
The concept is stunningly simple: the Napoleonic wars... but with dragons! Yes, dragons. They're another branch of the armed forces, you know: the Aerial Corps. This is the first in the series; the main character, a British Navy captain, captures a French ship that contains a dragon egg. The egg hatches at sea, before the Aerial Corps can be contacted, so there aren't any properly-trained dragon handlers on board. The dragon bonds with the captain, who then has to give up his career and lifestyle to join the Aerial Corps. It's Patrick O'Brian with DRAGONS, and maybe a little Jane Austen thrown in. The dragon characters are drawn just as fully as the human ones, and both "comedy of manners" type scenes and battle scenes are done well. Very highly recommended.
August 15, 2006
SRP Book 8: Rebecca
Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier (390 pages)
I adored this book. I have rarely found a character with whom I identify so completely. So much of what the nameless main character describes thinking and feeling is just... me. The story is enthralling and very atmospheric. It did drag slightly in the middle, but overall, I loved it. I can tell this will be a frequent reread.
August 02, 2006
SRP Book 7: Are Women Human?
Are Women Human? by Dorothy L. Sayers (69 pages)
This little book is both hilarious and very, very wise. It contains an essay and an address that Sayers gave on feminism and the basic question of whether women are, in fact, equal human beings. There is some religious content, but I think readers of any beliefs would enjoy this little gem of a book and the peek it gives into early twentieth century feminism.
July 14, 2006
SRP Book 6: Gunslinger Girl Volume 1
I finished my ninth book this morning, so I should really get caught up on reviews...
Gunslinger Girl Volume 1 by Yu Aida (186 pages)
A friend told me to read this, and his description of the whole "government program to turn little girls into weapons" thing sounded sort of like Serenity, so I figured I'd give it a try. I don't read much manga, so this provided an interesting challenge. Or, rather, two challenges. One was specific to manga: just getting used to reading the columns from right to left. The other goes for all graphic novels. I'm a very verbal person - even when people talk to me, my brain translates what they say into written words that I then "read" - so I had to keep reminding myself that The Pictures Are Important. Look At The Pictures. I think it was a good exercise, though, and the concept/plot of this one was interesting enough to make me want to read the next one.
June 25, 2006
SRP Book 5: Second Sight
Second Sight by Amanda Quick (390 pages)
Amanda Quick is one of the few romance writers I'll go out of my way to read. Her plots are actually interesting, and her characters are multi-faceted. I mean, it's still froth, but it's compelling froth. That said, I didn't think this one was one of her best. It was still fun, but she's starting to repeat herself a bit. And this one was late Victorian instead of Regency, but didn't really feel much different.
It also provoked a rant about how romance writers really need to get over the word "nubbin," but I'm not sure we really need to get into that.
Anyway, it's one of a loose series about the Arcane Society, which deals with paranormal secrets and psychic abilities and such. True to Quick's form, the main character is a forward-thinking spinster with various responsibilities that make her try to forge a career - as a photographer, in this case. She meets a mysterious man who she later finds out is rich and powerful. While falling in love, they find the bad guys, discover secrets, blah blah. You know the drill. But really, it's a fun light summer read.
June 18, 2006
SRP Book 4: A Country Affair
A Country Affair by Rebecca Shaw (280 pages)
A Country Affair is the first of Shaw's Barleybridge trilogy. It centers on a country vet practice in the British village of Barleybridge. The main character, Kate, is a young woman who wants to be a vet, but didn't get into vet school because of a poor exam grade. She takes a receptionist job at the vet practice instead, and has to decide whether to try the exam again while getting used to her new job and coworkers, dealing with her icky boyfriend, and finding out secrets about her own family. There are also a few good subplots dealing with other staff and patients at the clinic.
This book was cosy and atmospheric, reminiscent of Miss Read or the Mitford books. But it had a reality to it I didn't quite expect: animals die, babies are miscarried, relationships are complex and uncomfortable. Once I got used to this, though, I think it really added to the book's quality. It's a cute British village novel, but it's not just a cute little village story. The next volume should be published in the States in the fall, and I can't wait.
June 14, 2006
SRP Book 3: Immortal in Death
Immortal in Death by J.D. Robb (312 pages)
This is the third in the Eve Dallas mystery series by J.D. Robb, a.k.a. Nora Roberts. I must admit, I love Nora under either name; she's one of the few romance writers I will go out of my way to read. This series is about a New York cop in the late 21st century, a world of droids, space colonies, legalized prostitution, and designer drugs of all kinds. Dallas has a tortured past, a good nose for crime, and a super-sexy love interest, the mysterious Roarke.
In this installment, Dallas gets involved in a series of murders in the high-class fashion world while she's preparing, somewhat ambivalently, for her wedding. Her best friend is a suspect, and she's dealing with resurfaced memories from her past as well. The mystery is complex but not too convoluted, and I didn't quite expect the ending. Good, fun read.
June 12, 2006
SRP Book 2: The Ice Storm
The Ice Storm by Rick Moody (294 pages)
This book presented a bit of an oddity for me: I liked the movie so much, much better. Weird. I loved Ang Lee's movie, but the book just didn't do it for me. It lacked the wonderful subtlety of the movie, and I had a hard time relating to the characters in the book. That said, the writing was quite good and interesting (although really, what do we have against putting quotation marks around dialogue? It's a lovely convention. Let's keep it), and it did a great job of evoking a strong atmosphere. I liked the beginning, got bogged down in the middle, and then started liking it again toward the end. So... I don't know. Give it a try.
And yes, this is the book that inspired the "Clean Plate Book Club" post yesterday. I started it a few months ago, got about halfway in, and put it down until earlier this week. But I'm glad I stuck with it and finished.
June 08, 2006
SRP Book 1: Into the Wilderness
Into the Wilderness by Sara Donati (691 pages)
Rachel has been raving about this series for years, and I finally managed to read the first one. I really, really liked it, but it also took me a really, really long time to read. I'm not sure why. I guess the pace just dragged at times, and the writing is much denser than you might expect from something marketed as a romance novel. (It seemed more like historical adventure fiction with some romance thrown in, actually.) But the characters were complex and interesting and I'm definitely planning to continue with the series.
One very interesting thing was Donati's incorporation of other author's characters. Into the Wilderness is sometimes called a "sequel" to The Last of the Mohicans, and apparently involves some of the same characters, but I haven't read Cooper yet so I'm not sure. (I did pick up a cheap used copy of Last of the Mohicans the other day and I'm hoping to get to it soon.) Additionally, Donati's use of Gabaldon's Clare Fraser has been well documented. But did anyone else notice the throwaway mention of Jane Bingley, an acquaintance in England? Hmmm....