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[personal profile] supranee
A/N: This is my first post in this community, so I apologize beforehand for any mistakes.

The End of East is a collection of memories through three generations of a Chinese family who have migrated to Canada in hopes of pursuing a more successful life. At the age of 18, with the help of his village, Seid Quan affords a boat trip across the Pacific to find himself employed in Vancouver doing small odd jobs, like cleaning stores after closing hours. He makes various trips back to China to marry and bear children, working hard to able to afford their trips to Canada, and a house sufficient enough for his family. But families aren't perfect. There are huge tensions between a father and a son who never knew him. And when that son grows up to have a family of his own, his wife changes from ideal to unstable while his mother also becomes obsessive over her power in the household. Then, the grandchildren of Seid Quan are forced to accept this unhinged family, who are quiet and hide their history, guarding them like horrible secrets. 

Written in the tradition of the Joy Luck Club, I found this novel to be better than I thought. I was impressed with its writing style and I thoroughly enjoyed the character development of each family member. Who you thought was a great person in the beginning emerges to be a horrible mother-in-law, and the relationship a father wishes to have with his son changes to mutual silence. Nobody in the family is perfect, and I thought the author did a great job depicting this unstable family as a whole. It took me a bit to understand the family relations, though, because each scene is a memory of different relatives in different times of their lives. It jumps around quite a bit in the beginning, but it gets much easier to tie things together as you continue. I enjoyed this, but it didn't leave me with any inspiration or motivation to reach out towards my own family to solve issues. I'd recommend this book for those who enjoy the dramatic family stories.

Check out the full review on my blog.
moonplanet: cover of Alan's CD single "Hitotsu" (alan-hitotsu)
[personal profile] moonplanet
(I took care to give no obvious spoilers about the story)

Title: Ashma (on Librarything)
Author: compiled and translated from Shani into Chinese by the Yunnan People's Cultural Troupe, translated into English by Gladys Yang
Format: hardcover
Pages: 82
Year published: not mentioned
Language: English, original Shani (but translated from the Chinese version)
ISBN number: no isbn number
Reason for reading: I borrowed it from a friend because it sounded interesting.

Back cover text:
There is no back cover text, but for the story (the entire story in prose form), you can go read it here.

First alinea of the preface:
"Ashma" is a long and colourful narrative poem which has been handed down orally for generations by the Shani people in Yunnan. The poem describes a young village girl, Ashma, and her brother Ahay. In simple, unadorned language, it relates Ashma's determined struggle against the despotic landlord who has carried her off. With their vitality and their longing for freedom and happiness, young Ahay and Ashma epitomize the whole Shani people.
A branch of the Yi, one of the minority peoples in Southwest China, the Shani live in Kweishan District, southeast of Kunming, the provincial capital of Yunnan. They have their own spoken language, and a simple written script. They love music and dancing, and can express their feelings and wishes with a simple musical instrument made of bambook - the mô-sheen.

First few verses:
A fine bamboo we lengthwise split
In two, four, eight, sixteen,
And choose a piece without a flaw
To fashion a mö-sheen.

For when the soft mô-sheen is played,
Our inmost thoughts are told.
No sweeter music has been heard;
We love it more than gold.

Beneath the rock bees build their hive,
And make their honey sweet;
But I, I cannot make a hive,
Or honey good to eat.

Beside the pool the long grass grows,
And cuckoos sing in spring;
But I, I cannot grow like grass,
And neither can I sing!

Review:
here!
moonplanet: Dutch cover of His Dark Materials book 1, "Het Noorderlicht" by Philip Pullman (greentea)
[personal profile] moonplanet
Title: De man die zijn vrouw voor een hoed hield - neurologische case-histories (on Librarything; original title "The Man Who Mistook His Wife For A Hat: And Other Clinical Tales")
Author: Oliver Sacks
Format: paperback
Pages: 260
Year published: original 1985 (English) 1986 (Dutch), my edition 1988
Language: Dutch (original English)
ISBN number: 9029098066
Reason for reading: When I borrowed This is your brain on music the friend I borrowed it from said that Oliver Sacks wrote interesting books too. As I had never read a book by him and she owned this book in both Dutch and English editions, I borrowed the Dutch one.

Back cover text:
Oliver Sacks (Londen, 1933) is hoogleraar in de neurologie aan het Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York. Als auteur verwierf hij internationale faam met Een been om op te staan, waarin de arts Sacks zijn ervaringen als patiënt verwoordt. In Ontwaken in verbijstering beschrijft hij op betrokken wijze het 'ontwaken' uit de slaapziekte (Encephalitis lethargica).
De man die zijn vrouw voor een hoed hield, neurologische case-histories uit zijn eigen praktijk, stond wekenlang in de non-fiction bestsellerslijst van de New York Times. Oliver Sacks onderzoekt in dit intrigerende boek een groot aantal neurologische gevallen die, op zijn minst, als buitengewoon gekenschetst kunnen worden. Hij beschrijft patiënten met vreemde intellectuele en perceptuele afwijkingen, maar ook patiënten die juist een abnormale mentale kracht tentoonspreiden. Hij plaatst patiënten met geheugenverlies naast patiënten die overspoeld worden door herinneringen.
Sacks raakt hiermee aan de vreemdste uitersten van het menselijk bestaan. Hij laat een krachtig licht schijnen op de organische fundamenten van onze verbeelding, oordeelvorming en identiteit en pleit daarbij voor een diepergaande neurologie die van het zelf van de patiënt uitgaat. Door het inlevingsvermogen van Sacks kan de lezer de wereld van de patiënten binnengaan en zich voorstellen hoe het is te leven en te voelen als zij.

First alinea:
Hét favoriete woord van de neurologie is 'uitval', waarmee een beschadiging of onvermogen wordt aangeduid van neurologische functie: van spraak, taal, geheugen, zien, behendigheid, identiteit en tal van andere vormen van gebrek aan en verlies van speciale functies (of vermogens). Voor al deze dysfuncties (nog zo'n favoriete term) hebben we allerlei geheel eigen woorden: Afonie, Afasie, Alexie, Apraxie, Agnosie, Amnesie, Ataxie - een woord voor elke specifieke neurale of mentale functie waarvan patiënten soms merken dat ze deze als gevolg van ziekte, letsel of ontwikkelingsstoornis ten dele of geheel niet meer bezitten.

Review:
Read the review here (in English so it should be understandable for people who want to read the English book)
moonplanet: Stargate Atlantis, slightly edited screenshot (stargate-atlantis)
[personal profile] moonplanet
(I took care to give no obvious spoilers about the story)

Title: Vertrek van Aankomst (on Librarything; original English title "One step from Earth")
Author: Harry Harrison
Format: paperback
Pages: 174
Year published: original 1970, my edition 1971
Language: Dutch, original English
ISBN number: 9027406251
BookCrossing ID: 10286062
Reason for reading: I found it on Eindhoven train station. And it's a science-fiction book from the '70s! Which I really like reading :) And I hadn't read anything by this author yet.

Back cover text:
Harry Harrison is bij de kenners van science-fiction hoog gekwalificeerd. In 'De technicolor tijdmachine' sloeg hij een brug tussen nu, straks, toen. In dit boek overbrugt hij de ruimte: één flits tussen hier, ver, lichtjaren ver. Geen tijd, geen ruimte.
De auteur van De technicolor tijdmachine (P 1381) geeft negen ingenieuze variaties rond een futuristische vorm van telecommunicatie. Materiezenders verplaatsen drie-dimensionale voorwerpen, ook mensen, in geen tijd naar elke plaats in het heelal.
Eén stap naar Mars.
Eén stap naar infiltratie.
Eén stap naar misbruik voor militaire doeleinden.
Science-fiction van grote klasse.

First alinea:
1. Stap van de Aarde af
Dit land was dood. Het had nooit geleefd. Dood was het geboren bij de eerste vorming van het zonnestelsel, een planetaire miskraam van granietblokken, grof zand en scherpe rotsen. De lucht was zó ijl en koud dat ze eerder een vacuüm leek dan een leefbare dampkring. Hoewel het bijna middag was en de kleine bleke zonneschijf hoog aan de hemel stond, was de lucht donker, het fletse licht scheen over de oneffen vlakte die door geen voetafdruk nog getekend was. Stilte, eenzaamheid, leegte.

Review:
here!
moonplanet: cover of Superfly's CD single "Aa" (superfly-aa)
[personal profile] moonplanet
(I took care to give no obvious spoilers about the story)

Title: Out of Africa & Shadows on the Grass (on Librarything)
Author: Karen Blixen (Isak Dinesen)
Format: paperback
Pages: 351
Year published: "Out of Africa" original 1937, "Shadows on the grass" original 1960, my edition 1984
Language: English
ISBN number: 0140085335
Reason for reading: My grandmother loves Africa and the story "Out of Africa" a lot, both the book and the movie. As I have never seen the movie, I thought it would be a nice idea to read the book first and when I was at my grandmother's house a while ago, I asked if I could borrow the book.

Back cover text:
Karen Blixen's extraordinary love affair with Africa began when she and her husband went to Kenya to plant coffee in 1913. The marriage and the plantation failed, but Baroness Blixen's passion for Africa remained.

Out of Africa and Shadows on the Grass, presented for the first time in one volume, were written when she returned to her native Denmark and are full of her longing to return to the country and the people she came to love and admire. Her writing combines intelligence, compassion and an acute understanding of an alien culture.

First alinea of "Out of Africa":
I had a farm in Africa, at the foot of the Ngong Hills. The Equator runs across these highlands, a hundred miles to the north, and the farm lay at an altitude of over six thousand feet. In the day-time you felt that you had got high up, near the sun, but the early mornings and evenings were limpid and restful, and the nights were cold.

First alinea of "Shadows on the Grass":
As here, after twenty-five years, I again take up episodes of my life in Africa, one figure, straight, candid, and very fine to look at, stands as doorkeeper to all of them: my Somali servant Farah Aden. Were any reader to object that I might choose a character of greater importance, I should answer him that that would not be possible.

Review:
here!
moonplanet: Playing the okoto (okotomakikogoto)
[personal profile] moonplanet
Recently I've been reading a lot of Japanese literature in English and Dutch. For the English reviews on the Dutch translations, see my weblog. But here is one for an English translation!

(I took care to give no obvious spoilers about the story)

Title: The old capital (on Librarything)
Author: Yasunari Kawabata
Format: paperback
Pages: 182
Year published: original 1962, my edition 2006
Language: English (original Japanese title "Koto")
ISBN number: 9781593760328
BookCrossing ID: 8613166
Reason for reading: Found it on Abunai-con Veldhoven.

Back cover text:
Set in the traditional city of Kyoto, The Old Capital tells the story of Chieko, the adopted daughter of a kimono designer and his wife. Since her youth, Chieko was told that the childless couple kidnapped her in a moment of profound desire. When Chieko learns unsettling truths about her past, her life of love and affection is thrown into disarray.
This delicate novel traces the legacy of beauty and tradition from one generation of artists to the next as they navigate, with an ambivalent mixture of regret and fascination, the complex world of postwar Japan. This simple story of chance, art, and devotion resounds with deep spiritual and human understanding.
Yasunari Kawabata is widely recognized as one of the most significant figures in modern Japanese literature. The Old Capital was one of three novels specifically cited when he won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1968.

First alinea:
Chieko discovered the violets flowering on the trunk of the old maple tree. "Ah. They've bloomed again this year," she said as she encountered the gentleness of spring.
The maple was rather large for such a small garden in the city; the trunk was larger around than Chieko's waist. But this ancient tree with its course moss-covered bark was not the sort of thing one should compare with a girl's innocent body.
The trunk of the tree twisted slightly to the right at about the height of Chieko's waist, and just over her head it bent even farther. Above the bend the limbs extended outward, dominating the garden, the ends of the longer branches drooping with their own weight.

Review:
Story:
here!
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[personal profile] othercat
Tears of the Sun continues on from The High King of Montival with Rudi now High King and the various changes the various regions that make up the new kingdom are going through. We also get a good view of how preparations are going for the war against the Church Universal and Triumphant, the war itself, and how everyone who had been previously nonreligious are now suddenly finding religion now that magic of some variety works.


Read the rest of this review on A Wicked Convergence of Circumstances
moonplanet: Kagome from Inuyasha (kagome-rain)
[personal profile] moonplanet
(I took care to give no obvious spoilers about the story)

Title: Chobits anime comic #5 / ちょびっツアニメ版5 (on Amazon)
Author: CLAMP
Format: paperback
Pages: 128
Year published: 2002 (first edition)
ISBN number: 4063101665
Reason for reading: A friend had a few Japanese Chobits anime comics I could borrow. As I really enjoyed the manga and I have never seen the anime, I thought it was a nice opportunity to see if I liked the stories in the anime (an "anime comic" contains the stories in the anime with screenshots and speech ballons and drawn sound-effects).

Episodes in this book:
13: ちぃ 海いく (Chii "go sea")
14: ちぃ もてなす (Chii "entertain")
15: ちぃ 何もしない (Chii "do nothing")

Review:
Read more...
moonplanet: Dutch cover of His Dark Materials book 1, "Het Noorderlicht" by Philip Pullman (rodepanda_li)
[personal profile] moonplanet
(I took care to give no obvious spoilers about the story)

Title: Moshie Cat - The true adventures of a Majorcan kitten (on Librarything)
Author: Helen Griffiths
Format: paperback
Pages: 129
Year published: original 1969, my edition 1977
ISBN number:067129816X
Reason for reading: In elementary school I borrowed the Dutch version (title "Misjo") from the library. It was a very old book, but I really really liked it. When I wanted to borrow it again a short while after, it wasn't present at the library anymore. They had book sales of old books and I suspect they put the Misjo book in the "sales" as well. I wasn't able to find it for a very long time, but last year it appeared on Bookmooch. However, the person offering it only sent within the USA, but as someone else in the USA was filling a box of such books for me, I asked if she wanted to mooch it and put it in the box as well. It took a while, but now I could finally read the book again :D

Back cover text:
Moshie Cat was born in a small, protected orchard on a beautiful island. He had his mother beside him, plants and trees to explore, and brothers and sisters to play with. Then, one day, he was taken from his mother to catch mice for a neighbor. Moshie's life became one of uncertainty, new challenges, and surprises. Moving from home to home, he made both human and feline friends. He sometimes experienced cruelty, sometimes kindness. Never short of adventure, Moshie explored the grounds of a dangerous building site, dared to ride the elevator in a hotel, and pulled through a case of pneumonia. He finally found a loving family and all the friends any cat could want.

First alinea of the first chapter:
Moshie Cat was born on a beautiful island, an island covered with hills and pine trees and heather and surrounded by a sea that is almost as blue as the sky.
He was born in a little village which straggles in a triangular fashion in a valley at the bottom of a steep range of hills. The village is not far from the coast and from its highest streets the sea is plainly visible, shimmering silver in the sunlight, across a vista of orchards and isolated palm trees.
It is a village full of white or sand-brown houses with red roofs and green shutters. Each house has a small garden or a strip of orchard, and it was in one of these orchards that Moshie Cat was born.

Review:
Read more...
moonplanet: cover of Superfly's CD single "Aa" (superfly-aa)
[personal profile] moonplanet
Title: Forgotten Realms - Songs & Swords - Book 1: Elfshadow (on Librarything)
Author: Elaine Cunningham
Format: paperback
Pages: 312
Bookcrossing ID: 4957869 (received from silvas in Utrecht, left behind in Köln-Riehl Youth Hostel: http://www.jugendherberge.de/jh/rheinland/koeln-riehl/index.shtml.en?m)
Back cover text:
Silenth death stalks the Harpers of Faerûn. One by one, members of the semi-secret society for good in the Realms are falling to a murderer's blade. Now a Harper agent and a beautiful half-elf assassin must solve the mystery. If they fail, they will be the next victims.

But things in the Realms are rarely that simple.

First alinea of the prelude:
The elf emerged in a glade, a small verdant meadow ringed by a tight circle of vast, ancient oaks. His path had brought him to a spot of rare beauty that, to the untrained eye, appeared to be utterly untouched. Never had the elf seen a place more deeply green; a few determined shafts of early morning sunlight filtered through leaves and vines until even the air around him seemed dense and alive. At his feet, emerald droplets of dew clung to the grass. The elf's seeking eyes narrowed in speculation. Dropping to his knees, he studied the grass until he found it - an almost imperceptible path where the dew had been shaken loose from the ankle-high grass. Yes, his prey had come this way.

Review:
Read more...
moonplanet: cover of Superfly's CD single "Aa" (superfly-aa)
[personal profile] moonplanet
I just joined Dreamwidth this week and I was looking for an interesting book-review community, as I like reading book reviews :)
This summer holiday I'm trying to write as many book reviews as possible. Except for a few manga and French comic books, I have written a review for every book I read in July. It's fun and I'm going to try and continue writing reviews after the holiday as well!

Here is my latest review, of a fantasy book:

I took care to give no obvious spoilers about the story and there aren't even real spoilers in the back cover description...

Title: The Wise Man's Fear (on Librarything)
Author: Patrick Rothfuss
Format: hardcover
Pages: 994
ISBN: 9780575081413
Back cover text (actually on the inside of the dust jacket):
The Kingkiller Chronicle Day Two

'I have stolen princesses back from sleeping barrow kings. I burned down the town of Trebon. I have spent the night with Felurian and left with both my sanity and my life. I was expelled from the University at a younger age than most people are allowed in. I tread paths by moonlight that others fear to speak of during day. I have talked to Gods, loved women, and written songs that make the minstrels weep.

My name is Kvothe.
You may have heard of me.'


The man was lost. The myth remained.

Kvothe - the dragon-slayer, the renowned swordsman, the most feared, famed and notorious wizard the world has ever seen - vanished without warning and without trace. And even now, when he has been found, when darkness is rising in the corners of the world, he will not return.

But his story lives on and, for the first time, Kvothe is going to tell it...
Read more... )
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[personal profile] othercat
My general impression of this book for the most part was “maybe it’s the translation, because this book is doing nothing for me.” Another reason why I didn’t have much of a feeling for the book was that the writer has a dyslexic character who plays a pivotal role in the story, but couldn’t be bothered to actually research dyslexia. (The writer seems to believe that dyslexic people are across the board completely unable to learn how to read and need to have magical assistance in order to obtain even *basic comprehension. What was I talking about again? Oh, right; the story and my inability to stay interested in it.)

Our Hero is a young lawyer named Jon Campelli who receives word that his estranged father Luca has died. Luca is the owner of a book store and since Luca had no will, Jon now owns the place since he is the next of kin. It turns out that the books store is the meeting place of a secret organization of people with a peculiar psychic or magical talent.

The Library of Shadows
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[personal profile] othercat
It is occasionally difficult to define why you don’t like a book. It might be otherwise well written and the story might be interesting, but there is something about the book--something in the narration or characterization maybe--that feels a little off. This was largely my reaction to Black Swan Rising. It was a difficult book to start, a difficult book to continue, and I didn’t much care for the ending which is of the “everything goes back to normal wrap-up” variety.

We start with our non-genre-savvy heroine, Garet James, who wanders into one of those stores that turn up and then disappear. She is in a very bad financial situation due to some bad business deals made by her art-gallery-owning father.

Black Swan Rising
othercat: (journalling this)
[personal profile] othercat
Iron Crowned is the third book in Richelle Mead’s Dark Swan series. In this book, Eugenie continues to attempt juggling her role of queen of the Thorn Land with being a Shaman/exorcist in the ordinary world. She is not very successful due to having to fight a war against Katrice of the Rowan Land, whose son had kidnapped and raped Eugenie repeatedly in the previous book in order to fulfill a prophecy that states the Eugenie’s first born son would conquer the ordinary world. (I am still kind of reminded of Laurell K. Hamilton’s Merry Gentry series because of this plot point.)

Due to the fall out of the ending of Thorn Queen, Eugenie is now dating and allied with Dorian, King of the Oak Land. Another consequence of the outcome is that Eugenie’s step father Roland is no longer speaking to her. (This sort of nails down the coffin on my dislike of this character, which was born roughly around the time where he didn’t have a problem that a fellow Shaman was kidnapping and selling young “gentry” women.) She is also finding it difficult to take cases in the ordinary world due to how busy she is, (which is causing her assistant/secretary Lara a great deal of frustration).


Iron Crowned
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[personal profile] othercat
War for the Oaks is urban fantasy of the subset known as urban faerie. (While some more recent urban fantasy might tack on faeries in a mostly vampire and werewolf universe, this is primarily a novel dealing with Faerie and its intersection with the mortal world.) This novel originally came out in the 80’s. It has been reprinted by Orb books.

Our heroine is one Eddie McCandry, a young woman who finds herself without a boyfriend and without a band due to said boyfriend’s general incompetence and failure at life. Before she has time to do much more than be annoyed and angry about the situation she is contacted by an emissary from the Seelie Court. This emissary is a phouka (a type of shape-shifting faerie that can turn into a horse, a goat, or in this case a black dog) and he has chosen her for the not very wonderful job of being a participant in an upcoming war with the Unseelie Court. She has absolutely no choice but to sign on because the instant she was chosen by the Seelie Court, she became the target of the Unseelie Court.

The phouka is to serve as her bodyguard, which is something Eddie doesn’t appreciate, but can’t exactly escape. She appreciates it even less when she discovers that her part in the battle is to be a sort of angel of death--she finds out that she is the major component of a spell that ensures that the immortal combatants will have a permanent end should they be fatally wounded on the field.

In short, it really sucks to be her.

War for the Oaks
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[personal profile] abigailnicole


I was lonely, and the internet was broken, so I started reading Audrey Niffengger's The Time Traveler's Wife. I don't think this was a fantastic choice for warding off the blues, though....between this and Never Date A Writer I don't know that relationships are worth it or if they're the only thing that's worth it. I need a perspective not-relationship novel.

I love stories about time travel. I'm writing one, after all. And the time travel in this was well-executed...the problem of course is that time travel isn't real and doesn't work, so you have to walk a fine line between the mechanics and the story, and this toes that line well. While technology can be explained by a few sentences of technobabble, time travel affects causality and thus affects the flow of your plot. You can really write yourself into a corner in a hurry. The interesting thing is that The Time Traveler's Wife is written into a corner for an entire book. Henry, the main character, has no choice but to go through these experiences--he's caught in a corner. These are scenes I'd hate writing, but she does them well.

The plot is very well done--time travel is tricky, and she has same scenes reseen from different points of view, by different characters or sometimes the same character at different ages. The situation is profound, moving, the imagery lovely. I cried at the end. He died quoting Andrew Marvell, what do you expect? "Had we but world enough, and time--" ahhh.

But this book didn't quite satisfy me. It did, in some ways: the plot was lovely, well-thought out, the writing was simple, clear, precise, and lovely. What bothered me were the characters. And I didn't really know why until a patron interrupted me, while I was reading this today, to check out Twilight. And then I sat there for a moment and thought about it.

Because it's the same story. Bella and Clare are both pretty, feminine, have long hair, fall in love young and say with that man for life, don't do very much on their own. They both want a child, both have a daughter, both have husbands that are more interesting than they are, both their lives totally revolve around the person they love. The conflict in each depends on the defect of the other person that they love: vampire, time traveler. The intellectualism is better done here, obviously, and the plot is MUCH better written---but the characters remain the same mold. The perfect family save for one thing. A woman whose life depends on her significant other. When Edward/Henry leaves, Bella/Clare sits around and doesn't eat, stares into space, turns into emotionless zombies, stays in bed all day and feel awful. Only Jacob/Gomez is there to distract her but the depth of feeling is friendship and not love.

And this story is much better, don't get me wrong. But the characters irk me. Henry I love. A gaunt, tall, thin, dark, punk-lovin, alcoholic, sort of authentic version of the Arsonist. But he's all fuzzy around the edges. And that's all right--if that's a product of time travel, because he is mostly telling his own story and he feels fuzzy around the edges, then it's great characterization. But Clare is supposed to be his anchor, to hold him down, right? And all I know about her is that she has long red hair. Blue eyes, or maybe green. Part of this is the nature of the characters--from six to forty-three in the course of one book--but some of it is just general characterization. She does physical descriptions of characters well: when you're doing descriptions you stick to main traits that are easily identifiable, and let characters be memorable based on personality. But Clare needs to be solid. She needs to be what is holding him here, and she needs to be firmly fixed in the reader's mind as a solid point, and she's not. They're like twin stars in a solar system: they hold each other in place, and when one is missing the other sort of drifts away. I want them to be more solid, especially Clare. Even if she is the type of woman who spends her whole life waiting on a man, and who ahs a man at the center of her universe...well, maybe that's why she's not a very solid character, if she lets someone else be that much a part of her. But I want to know that, I want details of that, I want Clare to be more than she is. All of their friends, even Charisse and Gomez, feel flat and placeholders, not real and solid and fleshed-out: she's not good at doing little details that make characters really come alive. and for all of Alba's build-up she doesn't have much: part of that is her age, I know, you're not solid when you're that young. But you can have children who are more than a placeholder: look at Pearl, if you want to look at children that symbolize things.

Maybe these character types--interesting male, female who is dependent on him and whose life is mostly him--are more prevalent in literature than I think or realize. But I don't think it has to be this way, and I know it's not. Look at Jane Eyre, for crying out loud. She realized this very thing and had to say no, had to leave it so that this wouldn't be the case. She was solid first, and then she was solid again after he was gone. As a disconnected woman, I have to believe that there is more to life and literature than this: waiting on a man.

So thank you, Audrey Niffenegger--I love your plot, and I love your story, and I love your French poets and your prose. But your characters need to stand on their own.
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[personal profile] pale_moonlite
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon
Vintage, 2004. 272 pages.


Synopsis:

Fifteen-year-old Christopher Boone, hero and first person narrator of this (not-quite) mystery novel, has a penchant for maths, Sherlock Holmes and dogs. He doesn't like to be touched, eye contact and lies. Fictional stories (he calls them proper novels) he perceives as lies, but he likes murder mysteries because they're puzzles to him, problems to be solved. One night he finds Wellington, a friendly dog in the neighborhood, murdered in his owner's garden. He decides to investigate the case and write a murder mystery novel of his own. It's the beginning of a big adventure which threatens to destroy his small, well-regulated world.


Thoughts:

To write a story from the point of view of an autistic boy is, to begin with, a clever trick. The whole world is a mystery to Christopher and, seen through his eyes, becomes one to the reader. Ordinary things turn into monsters and what we take for granted becomes suddenly a blur. To solve the mystery, we have to read between the lines, but in order to understand Christopher, to get to know him, we also have to immerse ourselves into his world and learn to think the way he does.

The trick works. The Curious Incident ... is a page-turner, as entertaining as it is thought-provoking. There are beautiful moments; among my favorites is a passage about metaphors or another about prime numbers. Christopher talking about his aversion to eye-contact is a perfect example of how the ambiguity of the narrative works:

Read more... )


[x-posted to [community profile] book_reviews and to my journal]
libelula: Book Plus Pinup Equals Fun (Reading)
[personal profile] libelula
20TH CENTURY BOYS, vols. 1 & 2 by Naoki Urasawa
Viz Media, 2009, 210 pages, 978-1-59116-922-2, Paperback, $12.99
Viz Media, 2009, 206 pages, 978-1-59116-926-0, Paperback, $12.99

Genre: Manga/Science Fiction/Mystery

Synopsis:

Kenji lives an ordinary life running a King Mart with his mother and looking after his sister's infant daughter. Excitement isn't exactly a part of his day to day life, and he certainly doesn't have the time to go looking for it. But when a domino effect of unexplained events begins -- including the disappearance of a university professor, the death of an old school friend, and the sudden outbreak of a viral epidemic -- Kenji finds himself just as involved as anyone else. Central to all of these occurances is a symbol that Kenji finds familiar but can't quite identify, and a cult whose leader is known only as the "friend." Somehow these events are tied into Kenji's childhood, but after so many years he can't quite figure out how, exactly, it all fits together.

Thoughts:

This manga starts out a little slow, but by the end of volume two, you really begin to see where it's all headed, and that destination looks pretty exciting. So far this story has all of the best elements of an Urasawa manga -- an unexpected protagonist, a complex and interweaving plot, extensive background elements, and sinister overtones. Yet for all of its familiar aspects, 20th Century Boys feels as though it's definitely going to be different, and I'm looking forward to that.

Read the full review at The Reader Eclectic.

~
libelula: Book Plus Pinup Equals Fun (Reading)
[personal profile] libelula
STAR TREK (2009 film novelization) by Alan Dean Foster
Pocket Books, 2009, 274 pages, 978-1-4391-5886-9, Trade Paperback, $15.00

Genre: Science Fiction

Synopsis:

In this particular case, I'm not going to write a synopsis of the book. Either you've seen the movie or you haven't, and if you haven't, you probably don't want a synopsis since you'll either not care at all or not want to be spoiled.

Thoughts:

This book is pretty much what you would expect. It follows the course of the film and does its best to capture the sometimes chaotic events. A lot of times this results in lightning fast point-of-view changes that will leave you feeling dizzy, and it doesn’t leave a lot of room for extra insight into the characters or much of anything else. The story itself moves slowly up until the midway point where, all of a sudden, things start happening at a rapid pace. On the other hand, there are a few additions that fans might appreciate.

Read the full review at The Reader Eclectic.

~
libelula: Book Plus Pinup Equals Fun (Reading)
[personal profile] libelula
Just to get things started, I thought I'd post a review that I wrote a couple of weeks ago.

THE LIES OF LOCKE LAMORA by Scott Lynch
Bantam Books, 2007, 722 pages, 978-0-553-58894-1, Mass Market, $6.99

Genre: Fantasy

Synopsis:

The Lies of Locke Lamora takes place in the city of Camorr and focuses almost exclusively on the happenings of the city’s underbelly. More specifically, it focuses on Locke, a sometimes rash but always brilliant thief who caused more trouble before the age of ten than some of the city’s veteran criminals managed in their entire careers. The story’s narrative switches between two timelines (which might be a tad confusing at first, but you quickly get used to it), one revolving around Locke’s childhood and training, and one that shows him leading the Gentleman Bastards on a long con job against one of the city’s prominent citizens.

But, naturally, there are complications, and Locke is nothing if not resourceful.

Thoughts:

I really, really enjoyed this book. Granted, it took me a few chapters to really get my bearings. Lynch's style isn't like anything I'd ever read before (not that was done well, anyway), and I had to get used to it - not to mention, I had to figure out that there were multiple timelines that I needed to keep track of (well, two, but I didn't know that at first). Once I had that straightened out, though, I became quite engaged with both the story and the characters. Locke is a lot of fun, and I was glad that Lynch chose to give enough background for Jean that he became someone I was interested in as well. I'm expecting good things from the second book in the series, so I'll be quite excited to get to that review when it comes around.

Read the full review at The Reader Eclectic.

(There shouldn't be anything terribly spoiler-ish in the full review - at least not that I recall).

~

March 2014

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