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Kaethe

Kaethe

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The Worst Witch Saves the Day - Jill Murphy

The Worst Witch Saves the Day - Jill Murphy, Jill Murphy

This is one to pre-read for the Possum, mostly. She relies heavily on my suggestions, and it's kind of hard to keep ahead of her.

***

I'm unimpressed. It's all a bit thin.

Library copy

The Dot - Peter H. Reynolds

The Dot - Peter H. Reynolds

pretty with an excellent point

***

2009 Mar 31

A big hit with the PandaBat who is not much of a drawer yet.

***

Cleaning up some database errors I came across this. Fun fact: a decade on, the child in question is now an adult and an accomplished artist. This is what makes raising children and also going back over old little reviews, so much fun.

Pure Drivel - Steve Martin

Pure Drivel - Steve Martin

Martin's writing appeals far more than most comedian's. Joke-writing is hard and I have nothing but respect for the work that goes into it, but most comedians aren't practiced at or devoted to longer formats. Martin is much more appealing to me as a short story writer than as a stand-up performer, actually. Although the idea of re-reading him scares me: if it doesn't age well I don't want to know.

 

Library copy

 

The Year 1000: What Life Was Like at the Turn of the First Millennium - Robert Lacey, Danny Danziger

The Year 1000: What Life Was Like at the Turn of the First Millennium - Robert Lacey, Danny Danziger

One of two books I remember reading in honor of the millennium; the other was Stephen Jay Gould's Questioning the Millennium. So one look back and one look forward. The look back was fascinating. Although I know more about the history of the British isles than any place outside the US it remains impenetrable to me.
I enjoyed it quite a bit, of course, I'm the sort of person who walks out of any historical film discussing how well they did in recreating the period. for England the answer is almost always "not enough sheep."

Library copy

White Nights - Ann Cleeves

White Nights - Ann Cleeves

May 2019
This may well deserve a higher rating, but 7 months after I finished it without making even the slightest effort at a review, I have no idea. I recognize the start of the story from the blurb. And that's pretty much it. The identity of the first victim eludes me, as does the reason for any of it. All I seem to recall is that there was extensive back story. Well, also it got me interested in the the Hebrides and other islands, enough to look at houses for sale and jobs listings, not that I could consider moving without a lottery win because there is no way in hell that I am packing up and lugging all these books anywhere. I would love to see the white nights though.

Sad, innit, how little I remember? Still, I'd like to read more by Cleeves.

Library copy

Something Wicked This Way Comes - Ray Bradbury

Something Wicked This Way Comes - Ray Bradbury

The prologue begins with an opening line reminiscent of A Christmas Carol: "First of all, it was October, a rare time for boys."

Forty or so years ago I read this and identified with the boys, of course I did. This time I couldn't. So it was just a bunch of wordplay and monologuing and there was no horror to it anywhere, just an ad for an imaginary place I wouldn't be welcome. He did say some nice things about libraries, though, so I'm giving it a couple of stars.

Library copy

Sleeping Beauties - Owen King,Stephen King

Sleeping Beauties - Owen King, Stephen King

 

 

for Modern Masters of Horror

I enjoyed this enormously. There were some surprises and some poor reading on my part (my earlier race comment was wrongish, because of my failure to notice and/or remember the race of characters, but also kind of accurate given later developments - it's complicated). Anyway, nice work with archetypes and fairy tales and a premise that is clearly fantasy, but also very grounded and concrete. There's a large cast and lots of plot. But also really nuanced and generous, kind even. Stephen has always showed an understanding of and sympathy with abused women, so a whole lot of compassion towards the inmates of a women's prison is no surprise. But there is also a lot of anger, some of it directed at people behaving badly and some of it directed at society for creating and exacerbating iniquity. Dickensian.

Good on these two for writing a book that is absolutely entertaining, but more than just entertaining.

Good for many squares, and recommended to those who don't care for horror in general.

Library copy

Sleeping Beauties - Owen King, Stephen King

Sleeping Beauties - Owen King, Stephen King

for Modern Masters of Horror

 

I enjoyed this enormously. There were some surprises and some poor reading on my part (my earlier race comment was wrongish, because of my failure to notice and/or remember the race of characters, but also kind of accurate given later developments - it's complicated). Anyway, nice work with archetypes and fairy tales and a premise that is clearly fantasy, but also very grounded and concrete. There's a large cast and lots of plot. But also really nuanced and generous, kind even. Stephen has always showed an understanding of and sympathy with abused women, so a whole lot of compassion towards the inmates of a women's prison is no surprise. But there is also a lot of anger, some of it directed at people behaving badly and some of it directed at society for creating and exacerbating iniquity. Dickensian.

Good on these two for writing a book that is absolutely entertaining, but more than just entertaining.

Good for many squares, and recommended to those who don't care for horror in general.

Library copy

Biased: Uncovering the Hidden Prejudice That Shapes What We See, Think, and Do - Jennifer Lynn Eberhardt

Biased: Uncovering the Hidden Prejudice That Shapes What We See, Think, and Do - Jennifer Lynn Eberhardt

Eberhardt has been working at Stanford for 30 years now, uncovering the roots of systemic racism via social science. Together with other researchers she has performed a lot of studies and learned and published. One focus of her work has been in using social science to address pressing social problems. In this book she takes all her years of research and expertise and lays it all out for the non-academic reader.


If you're not up on implicit bias it is the part that we all have picked up on regardless of our explicit ideas or beliefs. It kicks in faster than thought and slips in under our mental radar. It's why police shoot unarmed black boys, why they stop more people of color driving, it's why fewer African American and Hispanic children are labelled gifted and are more likely to have the school cop called on them for minor infractions. It's much more than that, too.
But there's the best part: Eberhardt knows how to short circuit it. There's a reason why people call them "genius" grants even if the MacArthur Foundation never does.


Engrossing, insightful, and with luck, truly helpful. We can all do better and this book is a first step for many. Brilliant.

Library copy

The Testaments - Margaret Atwood

The Testaments - Margaret Atwood

At this point I have written two different reviews for this book and I just can't summon the energy to start over yet again.

 

The Handmaid's Tale is amazing and horrifying, even as a reread after thirty years.

 

The Testaments is also amazing and horrifying, but where the first was a cautionary tale the second is the product of a different perspective. There is agency and volition about some of the ways women of different ages, classes, and circumstances can find to rebel against an oppressive regime.

 

The Testaments is a rallying cry, and really, just what I needed this year.

 

Library copy

Reading progress update: I've read 44 out of 416 pages.

The Strange Case of the Alchemist's Daughter - Theodora Goss

I love the snarky tone. There's Holmes going on and on. A reference to The Castle of Otranto. I particularly like this line, "as though someone had decided on large and ominous as a decorating style."

The King of the Castle - Victoria Holt

The King of the Castle - Victoria Holt

This is what I was expecting The Black Pearl to be more like: a young orphaned penniless English woman accepts a job doing [art restoration] at a castle with a dark and dangerous lord of the manor and a changeable and undisciplined child. There are horseback rides and formal dinners and quaint local customs and a difficult man intrigued by a staunch and somewhat contrary, not especially pretty woman, who is never flirtatious or coy and isn't at all shy about telling him when he's doing things wrong. There is danger, and careful nursing at home, a valuable inheritance, and at least a couple of other single men who might be attracted as well, but are much more charming.

 

I loved it for so perfectly being what I expected. But boy, did I find the presumption of inherent class to be repugnant. There are actual peasants. It isn't clear exactly when this is set sometime after trains but before rural electrification or antibiotics. Surprisingly few deaths in childbirth, but lots of orphans.

 

Fun stuff. Especially the horrible sexism that's all about carving out a place for one exceptional woman. Gah. I'm ready to fight on the barricades and eat the rich. Interestingly there's a strong parallel between the story of the brave noble ancestor hiding out from the mob with a kind servant and the stories Southerners like to tell about the aristocratic ancestor's brave struggles during and after the civil war.

 

Used for Relics and Curiosities in honor of the secret messages that reveal clues to the long-lost emeralds. I guess valuable jewels aren't as crass as regular money.

 

Library copy

Will My Cat Eat My Eyeballs?: Big Questions from Tiny Mortals About Death - Caitlin Doughty

Will My Cat Eat My Eyeballs?: Big Questions from Tiny Mortals About Death - Caitlin Doughty

For my second Transformation I'm turning Baker Street Irregulars into Black Cat.The books that could have fit Baker Street all ended up as something else. And this has such a perfect cat on the cover.

 

It's all perfect, really. The art features a girl and a skeleton, minimalist, just a tad creepy, but also adorable. Which is pretty much the same as the text. It's fascinating what questions kids ask, and Doughty is clear and accurate in a casual, slightly snarky tone. The answers are age-appropriate for even quite young children because there's nothing scary: it's all the debunking of scary, really.

 

Really entertaining and clever. Now I'm eager to read her other books.

 

And this gives me my second and third bingo on my way to blackout. (top left to bottom right diagonal and last column)

Up and down the Scratchy Mountains - Laurel Snyder, Greg Call

Up and down the Scratchy Mountains - Laurel Snyder, Greg Call

Fairy tales must be hard to write: so few people ever manage to produce a good one. There are many retellings, of course, particularly popular in YA, but few new ones. Snyder does an excellent job of getting the tone right: close enough to respect the conventions, but with enough of modern sensibility to avoid sounding fake. So sure, there's some magical transportation to keep things moving, but a realistic evaluation of the boredom and discomfort of travel.

There's some mystery, some menace, inflexible tradition, and motherless kids setting off for adventure. There is some silliness, but the children are taken seriously for their concerns and needs and desires.

Charming and a little corny, but never smarmy. Not too scary for preschoolers, but better for the 5 and ups.

The art is charming, but not accurate to the text, so it doesn't enhance the experience. I don't expect video adaptations to be exactly like the source material, but I do feel like the illustrations shouldn't be at odds with text in a picture book. Nothing huge, it's just clear that the artist wasn't working from the final text.

Library copy

Lyra's Oxford - Philip Pullman, John Lawrence

Lyra's Oxford - Philip Pullman, John Lawrence

More books should be published in small editions with illustrations.

 

Lyra is a bit much in The Golden Compass; Will was my favorite character in that series. But over the years she's really grown on me.

 

This is just a short visit to check up on her well after the events of His Dark Materials are past. Her life is different and she is changed. But it's lovely to see her back in Oxford, in her natural element, up to at least some of her old tricks.

 

Plus, who doesn't like to imagine what their daemon would be?

 

And in joyful news, this little book gave me a bingo! And now it'll likely be at least one bingo with every book I finish.

 

I made a mistake: there should be a Bustopher on Full Moon. That's the one I transformed to New Release for Emergency Skin.

Reading progress update: I've read 50%.

Emergency Skin - N.K. Jemisin

Thanks to Obsidian Blue, Chris' Fish Place, and Char's Horror Corner!!! (That's an exclamation point for each of you.This is so good!