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Kaethe

Kaethe

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Cibola Burn - James S.A. Corey 

Cibola Burn - James S.A. Corey

So, I have way too many books sitting around half-read or less. My various TBR stacks and Currently Reading stacks come to a hundred or so, which is just way too many. So I decided I'm not going to check out any more books from the library or buy any more until I have gone through all of these and either finish them, or admit they're abandoned and put them in the donate box.

 

Except, I did go ahead and place a request for the 5th book in the Expanse series. Another one of these incredible 900 page jobbies. Because that's how much I love them.

 

I am just a skin sack full of contradictions.

 

Library copy

 

 

SPOILER ALERT!

Morris Mole - Dan Yaccarino

Morris Mole - Dan Yaccarino, Dan Yaccarino

Morris is a nerdy mole who wears a suit and a dapper hat and carries an umbrella. His brothers all wear hardhats. There is a crisis. And then unexpected turns of events. Nerds for the win!

Library copy

 

 

The Ballad of Black Tom - Victor LaValle  

The Ballad of Black Tom - Victor LaValle

These days we know from ranting, gibbering, racist, sexist, nasty-ass old men horrifying their friends and relations with pointless cruel stupidity, stunning everyone at the festive holiday gathering into silence. LaValle answers Lovecraft's most vile, offensive story, with a work of terrible beauty. "Ah, yes," you think as you close the shorts book: "that's what I wish I had thought to say." Order has been restored, the nasty old man has had his ass whipped in public.

You know what horror is? How far we haven't come in a century.

Damn, I love this story. I just want to go around smacking people upside the head with it, mostly figuratively. Perhaps the most thoroughly satisfying work I've ever read.

Library copy

Abaddon's Gate - James S.A. Corey 

Abaddon's Gate  - James S.A. Corey

Each one of these suckers is equal to about three regular-length books, and every one of these bajillion pages is good. I particularly like the way the authors made a future full of people of various colors, but the prejudice isn't racial, it's place of origin (Earth, Mars, Asteroid Belt). Way to represent and make it all future-y. Also an array of relationships that span a quite large gamut, and are all equally valid. And a good thing with age wherein no one's specific age is given, only their relative appearance to others. Keeps it universal by being unspecific about numbers but very specific about interaction.

But diversity isn't everything: they've got really interesting ideas about possible weird universal truths, and a firm grip on how people mostly behave and how they can behave, if they choose. Lots of alien stuff for the humans to react to. Just entertaining as all get-out.

Library copy

What Boys Really Want - Pete Hautman 

What Boys Really Want - Pete Hautman

Bailed on account of both "skank" and "slut" early on. I have pretty much zero-tolerance for slut-shaming. I generally like Hautman, though, so I'm giving the benefit of the doubt that this is just a single tone-deaf book. Certainly the cover image of four girls with identical hair in four different colors looks cheesy and generic, racially "balanced" like a cover of the Babysitters Club, and that reinforces the tone-deaf vibe. So, I'm gonna pass.

Library copy

 

The New World - Patrick Ness  

The New World - Patrick Ness

12/31/16
Nothing else was really grabbing me, you know? I saw an ad for the film Monsters of Men, which brought me to Ness and thinking it's been too long since I read it, because when I was recommending the series to Natasha as truly excellent sci fi, I couldn't remember much except lots of twists in the spaghetti. In fact, while I remembered that the series was Chaos Walking, I managed to choose the wrong title as first in the series three times in a row. There are only three novels in the series you understand.

personal copy

Triangle - Mac Barnett, Jon Klassen 

Triangle - Mac Barnett, Jon Klassen

Set amidst a dystopian hellscape of repetition and conformity, Barnett and Klassen's story evokes a quiet terror in the unwary reader. Look into Triangle's mad, staring, eyes and see the sort of dread that comes to us all after thirty-six hours of bad coffee and no sleep.

 

The prose has been sucked dry of blood, or color, or warmth, or life: there is no trace of anything humane left. The prose is so terse, so spare, Cormac McCarthy is beating out his own despairing brains with the crumbling remains of Hemingway. No one else will ever approach so near to the void, where the only solace is that you have no back to turn on your best friend before he stabs you in it.

 

Most artists set their haunted houses amidst dark and shadowy sets, where the difficulty of seeing permits the mind to fill in the half-glimpsed with all that is worst in the imagination. Barnett and Klassen have set their nightmare against a stark, white, relentless background: this world is devoid of a single softening shadow, the universe itself is as inescapable and cruel as the ubiquitous eye of Big Brother.

 

In the end you are left exhausted, with nothing left except Triangle and Square, the two-dimensional shapes of pain.

 

Library copy

 

A World of Pausabilities: A Exercise in Mindfulness - Frank J. Sileo, Jennifer Zivoin 

A World of Pausabilities: A Exercise in Mindfulness - Frank J. Sileo, Jennifer Zivoin

Mindfulness for children: all for it, from any source or tradition. So great idea, pretty pictures, but the rhyming text felt awkward and forced.

Library copy

How the Queen Found the Perfect Cup of Tea - Kate Hosford,Gabi Swiatkowska 

How the Queen Found the Perfect Cup of Tea - Kate Hosford, Gabi Swiatkowska

Minus one star for neither giving the recipes nor the key to comprehend the little pictures. Fortunately, I don't like tea (except iced, I live in the South), so I'm not terribly offended. but really, the whole multi-cultural aspect suffers if you don't take the time to explain how different peoples prepare their tea. Not every kid will care, but the adults who read to them are always excited to find something in a book that they can do together afterwards, and have a tea-party with three different kinds of tea would be ideal.

Library copy

 

Chu's Day at the Beach - Neil Gaiman, Adam Rex

Chu's Day at the Beach - Adam Rex, Neil Gaiman

Chu's not like the other kids, so his day at the beach starts out as one might expect and then takes a turn toward the frivolously weird. Cool.
library copy

  

The Return Journey - Maeve Binchy 

The Return Journey - Maeve Binchy

Adventures of the timid. Bunch does a thing where two people meet, strike up an immediate friendship, and proceed to give one another excellent advice about managing their lives. She does that here,and it is really good, pragmatic advice. Anyway, stories about middle class adults and their working class parents, with some affairs included to keep things dramatic, to amusing effect in Excitement. And no one else has done a better job of portraying just how tiring it can be to be a modern woman trying to keep everyone else happy.

Library copy

Caliban's War - James S.A. Corey 

Caliban's War - James S.A. Corey

Better than the first. It's got most of the same elements, but instead of the noir mystery aspect this one has hardcore politics. And a non-stereotypical female main character who has agency to spare. And another non-stereotypical female main character who has nothing in common with the other one. A diverse cast and while intimate relationships aren't the focus, they are used to good effect to make the characters and the culture well-rounded.

 

I can't hardly wait to read the third one.

 

Library copy

Kings of the Castle - Victoria Turnbull 

Kings of the Castle - Victoria Turnbull

An homage to Where The Wild Things Are with less rumpus. A good choice for a quiet book about staying up all night. Very attractive, especially the centerfold.

 

Library copy

Goldfish Ghost - Lemony Snicket, Lisa Brown

Goldfish Ghost - Lemony Snicket, Lisa Brown

The team who brought me The Latke Who Wouldn't Stop Screaming, one of my favorite holiday books, has brought another delight. The former goldfish goes out in search of company. Unexpected and sweet, with a deceptively simple and traditional style of illustration. Special props for the diverse street and beach scene. Brown and Snicket are a fabulous team.

And this business of special endpapers is a great one. That and the common sentence on how the art is created are both splendid additions. I have come to expect them, and am disappointed if a book doesn't include them.

Library copy

Reamde - Neal Stephenson 

Reamde - Neal Stephenson

Gold farming in MMPORG, and game building, veterans and draft-dodgers, a British writer of fantasy with exquisitely hand-crafted languages and cultures and also an American fantasist of the most prolific stripe, Seattle hipsters and Iowan wind farmers, private jets and slow boats from China: everything and everyone has a foil in this book, but since it's over nine hundred pages, an exhaustive catalog would be really long, and far less entertaining. Stephenson manages to take a Clancy-like scenario, give it a Dickensian and international cast, keep up a Dan Brown kind of momentum even as he takes time for National Treasure sort of thinking. Lots of thinking.

 

And also I happened to notice a particular device Stephenson used to good effect: the first time a name is introduced he spells it kind of phonetically, the way the character heard it, but when the character actually appears on stage, as it were, the name is spelled as it is using the Roman alphabet and English transliteration. It's important because there are quite a few people with nonEnglish names and nonRoman writing. In the same way he keeps the plot going without taking the time to explain everything: eventually all becomes clear for a character without a lot of telling. I don't usually notice technical aspects of a novel's construction, but at over 900 pages I had a fair number of opportunities to ponder whilst doing other things which were not reading.

 

So, the upshot: an incredibly entertaining book that one can feel smug about reading. Recommended for ereaders because of the heaviness and awkwardness of holding a bound copy.

 

Library copy 

Mr. Pants: Trick or Feet! - Scott Mccormick, R. H. Lazzell 

Mr. Pants: Trick or Feet! - Scott Mccormick, R. H. Lazzell

I don't understand whether these are cars who are treated like human children, or actual children drawn as cats for some reason. Doesn't matter. I was amused.

Library copy