July is over. August is not.

1 August, 2012

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In an attempt to escape the constant attention demanded by my uterus and its inhabitant, I read. A lot. And count down weeks I have left of something weighing around 5 pounds standing headfirst on my flattened bladder like some kind of naked mini break-dancer. (Which, by the way, is only 5 weeks or approximately 33 days).

July’s books:

Flight, Sherman Alexie
Alexie is one of my favorite authors, and possibly my absolute favorite, so it’s probably not surprising that I found ‘Flight’ fantastic, current, and beautiful… So many poignant moments told so well, so accessibly…

Some quotes: “And anger is never added to anger. It multiplies.”

“Then I remember that God is really really old. So maybe God has God arthritis. And maybe that’s why the world sucks. Maybe God’s hands and fingers dont work as well as they used to”.

“Every part of you has different memories. Your fingers remember the feel of a velvet coat. Your feet remember a warm sandy beach. Your eyes remember a face”. (5/5)

The Alchemist, Paulo Coelho
A pretty, pretty book. Short, simple and deep. “I love you because the entire universe conspired to help me find you”. (4/5)

Pest Control, Bill Fitzhugh
Funny, quick and with a happy ending. And, lots of information about bugs. I think I would have enjoyed it more if it had had illustrations. I looked for this book at Powell’s for about 15 minutes before Eli found it for me. He asked me how it was when he saw I’d finished it and I literally spent the next 30 minutes describing the plot to him. No offense to Fitzhugh, but I think my version of his plot was a bit funnier than the original… The parts that were funniest could have been made funnier and more comprehensive, and in my retelling I made Eli laugh, so… (4/5)

The Folk of the Air, Peter S. Beagle
Such an interesting concept- a marriage of madrigal and magic, of reality and fantasy, of beautiful prose and action. It wasn’t the most believe-able fantasy I’ve read by Beagle, or the most beautiful, but it passed away the summer hours most delightfully. It left me trying to talk in Olde English… (3/4)

The Devil You Know, Mike Carey
Wonderful urban fantasy. Felix Castor makes a wonderful protagonist, both likeable and funny (without trying too hard), and sardonic and cynical (without being too hard-edged). While some of the aspects of the story’s reality were left a bit un-explored the story moved along at a fast pace and remained interesting. I’m already looking for the second in the series. (4/5)

Viscous Circle, Mike Carey
It’s simply amazing how many words I had to look up in this novel. I adored it, and the hero, Felix ‘Fix’ Castor. He’s so dark and funny and caustic and self-effacing I can’t help but like him.
The author apparently writes for Marvel and Virgin comics, which while surprising in some ways puts other things into place– the action scenes dragged a bit for me, which they tend to do in comics too, even with the pretty pictures to carry along the plot. It wasn’t necessarily a visual text- the dialog and action moved it along far more than description. Still, a fantastic plot, fantastic characters and the possibility of more in this series in the future while maturing the characters and momentum. (4/5)

Serenity: Those Left Behind, Joss Whedon, Brett Matthews, Will Conrad (illustrator)
Comic books have always been hard for me to read– I always find myself distracted by the pictures or the text, instead of marrying them together. This particular comic, however, was a bridge between a TV series I loved (Firefly) and a movie I didn’t really like (Serenity). so I found the story interesting and fulfilling, and the artistry somewhat appealing (although some of the artists were clearly better at capturing the likeness of the characters than others). (3/4).

The Bean Trees, Barbara Kingsolver
Sweet book with Kingsolver’s usual beautiful throw-away lines- simple, kind of dated, but so pretty and light. I read this the first time a long while ago and it surprised me the lines and parts I remembered and that have lasted through the years. (4/5).

The Penguin Who Knew Too Much, Donna Andrews
If you like your mystery super-sweet and light you might like this series. Randomly picking up titles at the library the other day this seemed like a good choice for an animal lover like myself. However, it was just too damn saccharine for my taste. The main character is put-upon and mostly un-relatable with a giant, loving, well-meaning but overall highly annoying family and fiance. I finished it because it only took a few hours to read. If it had been any longer I would have put it down, even though it did feature a zoo of adorable animals. (2/5).

Night Train, Martin Amis
That was weird. This what I get for randomly selecting books off the library shelf, I guess: weird, pretty much un-relatable and unsatisfying mysteries. It had an interesting style and moved rather quickly but there wasn’t any pay off for the angst. I read it immediately after reading a teeth-rottingly sweet mystery that was, ironically, right in front of it on the shelf, and they couldn’t have been more different.
It was pretty clear the female character was written by a man– something just didn’t ring true. I was surprised to read the author was from London though– the grizzled, depressed and beaten tone felt fairly urban american (2/5).

Home For a Spell, Madelyn Alt
Couldn’t finish this crap-tastic book for the life of me. I kept thinking ‘maybe once they find a dead body it will get interesting’. Close to half-way through the book, reading painful text and over-wrought dialog (from what I can only assume is a 17 year old writer on a red bull binge) I still didn’t have a body, a plot, or any desire to keep reading. (1/5).

Snuff, Terry Pratchett
I literally applauded when I finished this book- Terry Pratchett’s books make me like life more. Sam Vimes is one of my all time favorite characters– I love it when the discworld novels center around him or the city watch– you get a fantasy, a mystery and an extrapolation of what it means to be human all in one hilarious novel. Bravo Sir Pratchett, and thanks. (5/5)

Butcher Bird, Richard Kadrey
The Sandman Slim novels are my new favorite series, but this book, written before the series started took a bit to get into. The second half was much better than the first and I’m glad I picked it back up, even if it did read a bit like an immature version of Sandman Slim. There was fantastic imagery in this novel (On the cover a William Gibson review likens it to something from Juxtapose, which I pretty much agree with), but the characters (theoretically different) where pretty much the same characters used later in the Sandman Slim novels. (4/5).

The Last of the Menu Girls, Denise Chavez
I found this book in the 1 dollar shelf of Powell’s. It is either comprised of a series of short stories or of a series of rather disconnected chapters surrounding the main character Rocio. At times it is brilliant and well crafted narrative and at others it is almost schizophrenic stream of consciousness. Sometimes it’s both at once: “I have decided to buy the gift package of ‘Evening in Paris Cologne and Bath Water’ for my Mother. “I’ll take this please,” my voice falters. I don’t remember how to speak, I am afraid, my clothes are all wrong. Can’t you cover me up? Shape my doubts, pluck the nervousness away, mask the fear and seal the lips with hope for self. Dynamite Red of course.” (70).
I liked/understood the first chapters better than the last few– they got more confusing as I went along, and didn’t seem to follow a chronological time-line… perhaps there was some great meaning for that, but I didn’t get it… Also they were a bit depressing. (2/5).

The Dark Lord of Derkholm, Diana Wynne Jones
I’ve recently become obsessed with dragons and much to my pleasure and surprise this book had them. A light, fun, easy read- perfect for distracting myself and easy enough to finish while really physically uncomfortable. Unfortunately my copy from the library was either much loved or much abused– it split down the middle and tried to separate itself from the cover, causing me to worry about it’s physical form almost as much as I enjoyed the text. (4/5).

Very Bad Deaths, Spider Robinson
My (new to me) local library drives me batty with the way it shelves fiction– especially genre fiction like mysteries, fantasy and sci-fi. I’ve taken to randomly pulling books that catch my eye and hoping I get lucky. This book was one of those randomly pulled from the mystery section– I probably would have called it Sci-Fi or a thriller (thrillers, oddly enough, are housed with the Adult fiction), but it was, honestly, a mystery book as well.
Normally I’m not a fan of serial killer themed mysteries, but this book had enough else going for it that I didn’t mind so much– it was funny, it had a well-developed telepathic character and it was fairly current (even though the cover art looks like it belongs in the early 1980s).
It wasn’t the best book in the world, but it makes me want to look the author up and see what else he’s written. I’ll put up with any number of flaws for a writer with an apparent sense of humor. (3/5).

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One Response to “July is over. August is not.”

  1. NGS Says:

    I read The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian and loved it, but didn’t think to actually look for other books by Alexie Sherman. I added Flight to my library list! I love it when people give me such awesome book reviews, especially people who are so honest about the good and the bad!


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