Sunday, November 13, 2011

Number 20 is Possession by A.S Byatt. I really, really liked my first foray into Byatt's novels (The Children's Book), so I thought I'd give her 1990 Booker Prize winner a shot.

It's a complicated piece of work with multiple narratives and authors. Ostensibly, the 'hero' of the book is Roland Mitchell, a bit of a sad-sack scholar, an expert (but not THE expert) on a fictional Victorian poet, Randolph Henry Ash. One day Roland is going through a pretty much ignored collection of Ash's mundane papers (bills and such), and comes across the draft of a letter that points at something unknown before now; that Ash may have had a relationship outside of his marriage.

And so begins the literary mystery that is the heart of this novel. Mitchell sleuths out the identity of Ash's lover, another poet named Christabel Lamotte, and with the help of a Lamotte scholar, Maude Bailey, they find a packet of letters between the two poets and unfold a hidden love story.

This book isn't as easy a read as The Children's Book was as the narrative shifts from Roland and Maude to the letters between Ash and Lamotte and includes their poetry as well. I can certainly appreciate Byatt's artistry here as she does an excellent job in writing as two separate Victorian characters, both their private correspondence and their published poetry. Of course though, this book has also reminded me that yeah, I'm still not a fan of poetry.

I found though, that because of the letters and the poetry, while we really get invested in the relationship between Ash and Christabel, it leaves the modern characters a bit ... lacking. We're supposed to see progression in the relationship between Roland and Maude as well, but it never seems as natural a thing. Roland still seems to be a spectator in life, and Maude is still only defined by being 'cold'. They started off being defined more as characters, but by the time the Ash/Christabel correspondence is uncovered, the modern characters are given short shrift as their entire raison d'etre is to investigate further into the lives of the two Victorian poets.

All that being said though, I found the ending actually a little sad, so obviously some of Byatt's characters did resonate with me.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

And now we take a brief pause in our fantasy reading to bring you a little bit of non-fiction. Number 19 is The Jaws Log by Carl Gottleib.

I admit I had a moment of indecision when thinking about whether or not to include this book because I don't do re-reads on this blog, and technically, I have read this book before. But that was... 30 years ago? And honestly, I'm not sure I read it so much as just looked at the pictures.

This book details the making of one of my all-time favourite movies, Jaws. I mean, I already know a lot of the history of this movie and the trials and tribulations they went through making it, but this book was chock full of details that I still didn't know and once gain, I am amazed that this movie even got made, let alone be the increadible movie that it is.

I heard a nasty rumour not long ago that someone was thinking about re-making Jaws, and if anyone ever does, they need to be forced to read this book so that they know they will be shitting all over an amazing, hard-wrought, finely crafted movie that became a block-buster almost in spite of everything that happened. And there should then never, ever be talk of a remake.
Number 18 is The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. Yes, I broke down and read it.

I'm a little surprised at myself, mainly because I don't deal with post-apocalyptic-type stuff. But... I found this didn't bother me too much that way.

I'm not going to say too much about this book. I enjoyed it actually. As far as popular teen-lit x-over stuff, this is VASTLY superior to that sparking vampire series. The writing is a zillion times better, and we won't even compare the two protagonists. Hell, I'm sure Katniss could do away with awful old Edward with no problem.

Not too sure if I'll continue on, if I can track em down in the library, perhaps so.
Number 17 is Wise Man's Fear by Patrick Rothfuss. This is the sequel to The Name of the Wind. We pick up the story pretty much where it left off. In fact, it started the exact same way as the last book and I had to double check I'd bought the right one. But I had so off I went. We're back at the University with Kvothe. Of course he continues to get in trouble and eventually, he's in so much trouble that he has to take a leave of absence from the school. Funny enough, when this happened, I had been thinking that we need to get out of the University, and voila. Kvothe's lone noble friend has finally managed to attract what could be an extremely powerful sponsor for him. So off Kvothe goes to try and impress a man who's close to a king. I liked this part of the novel. There's some nice court intreigue, and quite a bit of romance as Kvothe also manages to run into his unrequited love, Denna, as well as help his patron woe an appropriate bride. The action then moves to the countryside as Kvothe is charged with to rid the neighbouring woods of bandits who are stealing tax money from his patron. With the usual fantasy small band of misfits, they manage to do so. I liked this part too. It was the next part I didn't. We then get this... diatribe where Kvothe follows a legendary creature of the Fae and becomes her lover for awhile. I don't know. I found this part rather boring. And trite. And annoying. And repetative. However, once he leaves and goes to the homelands of one of his comrades, it gets interesting again.

For the most part, I truly enjoy Rothfuss' world builiding, he's doing a lovely job overall, but I found so much about his foray into fae to be a mistep. It just came across as... too much.

We return to the University and I found by that time, that, like Kvothe, it was good to be back on familiar ground.

I'd also like to move the story forward in the narrative framing plot too. I'm sure we will, but right now, it's moving a little too slowly.

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

The next book, number 16 of this year, will have a very important footnote added to it. The book, The Magician King by Lev Grossman, is the first book I read in digital form. That's right, for my birthday, I got a Kobo e-reader. I won't talk about my feelings on the Kobo here as I'm still working those feelings out, but as I got it last Thursday and finished the book on Monday... I guess I don't hate it as much as I thought I might.

Of course, the speed with which I read it can also be attributed to the fact that The Magician King is a good book and a worthy successor to The Magicians.

When we catch up with Quentin and the other king and queens of Fillory, they're living the high life of... well, not doing too much at all. This lifestyle really suits some of them (Eliot and Janet), but Quentin seems bored and Julia, she's still broken. After a rather scary hunt for the Wishing Hare, it is revealed that things are not all right in Fillory and Quentin seizes upon this to go on a Quest. For he believes that a quest is just what he needs.

The narrative of this book is different from the last, and I found it an excellent departure. While most chapters deal with Quentin and his quest, the others focus on Julia, who was only a minor character in the first book, and tells the story of what happened to her and her journey to becoming an extremely powerful hedge witch. Of course, her story ends up being important to the main narrative as well, and it does all tie nicely together.

The Quest itself is simple, but not, just as all good quests should be. There is a lot of... coincidences, but that being a rather large trope of fantasy, it didn't bother me even if it did become predictable a couple of times. Grossman obviously knows his heroic quests, heck, there's even a harrowing of 'Hell' at one point.

The book ends up at a surprising place though. Well, it was a suprise and wasn't. It puts Quentin in a VERY unhappy place (whereas all those closest to him are very happy) and I'm not sure what that means. I don't know if there's another sequel coming or not, but if there is, I'm wondering if Quentin might go the Martin Chatwick route and if so, man that'll be a helluva read.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Number 15 this year is The Magicians by Lev Grossman. This book really is Harry Potter x Narnia but written for adults. I know that probably sounds really banal, but did I love this book? Damn right I did.

The main character, one Quentin, is such a perfect study of 17 year old teenaged ennui that it's almost hilarious, but not. Just like real teenaged ennui. He's incredibly smart and incredibly unhappy, and obsessed with a series of children's books about the imaginary country Fillory (this would be the Narnia stand-in). When Quentin finds himself suddenly accepted to a school for learning magic called Brakebills (this would be the Harry Potter part), Quentin thinks that finally, he can be happy, he'll be learning something few learn, and maybe, maybe he can go to Fillory.

But unlike Hogwarts, Brakebills comes across as much tougher. Cause you see, in The Magicians, magic is more like computer science or advanced chemistry or electrical engineering. You have to be prepared for long, hard study and practice to master, complete with incantation, confounding variables, deep thought, passionate virtuosity, and great precision. It's kinda awesome.

The first parts of the novel deal with Quentin's time at Brakebills and the weirdness that goes on there (the 4th year trial is particularly wicked), and the various characters. Quentin doesn't really find himself much happier, despite everything. He still hangs on to the idea that maybe one day finding their way into Fillory will make him happy.

Fillory, when they get there, is everything that they never thought it would be. It was brutal and and dangerous and in their arrogance, everything goes completely wrong. Once again, also awesome.

I have to go out and the sequel to this right away.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Hey guess what? Number 14 is more fantasy! I don't think I've read this much consecutive fantasy novels that weren't all part of the same series in a very long time. But anyway, number 14 is The Blade Itself by Joe Abercrombie. This came suggested from a number of sources, so thought it was time to give it a try.

Glad I did. So since this is the first book of a trilogy, this is our introduction. We meet the cast ; Barbarian Logen Ninefingers, crippled Inquisitor Glotka, selfish-spoiled pretty boy Jezal; the commoner who made good Major West and of course the powerful and enigmatic magus, cause you always need one of those.

I liked all the characters, even when they were made to be unlikable. Jezal is a complete pratt, West is a little too moral, Glotka is so very cynical (with good reason though), and Logen, well he's not as barbaric a barbarian as he's been in the past.

So not only do we meet the characters, but Abercrombie does some very successful world building too as he takes us through a few countries and their history and the wars that all of the main characters (except Jezal) have lived through. It's nicely done.

I don't have much to say other than I did enjoy this book a lot and will definitely be forging ahead with this crew, especially as they were finally heading out on the quest that that aforementioned powerful and enigmatic mage had enlisted them for.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Number... crap, what number am I on? Oh yeah, lucky number 13. And it is The Dragon's Path by Daniel Abraham. I picked this book up because it got a good review from the AV Club, invoking a favourable comparison to GRRM no less, so I decided to give it a shot.

I could immediately understand the GRRM comparison as Abraham structures this book exactly like GRRM structures his Song of Ice and Fire books; each chapter is told from the POV of a main character. The difference is that Abraham has less main characters than GRRM does. There are three main characters, Marcus Wester, Cithrin and Geder. Then a few other lesser characters who also get POV chapters.

I found this a little... hard to get into. It wasn't bad or anything, it just didn't really reach out and grab me. I found the worldbuilding a little... I don't know, pedantic? I just didn't find the unfolding of the world's history to be that interesting. Perhaps because I felt it was somehow disconnected from what the characters were going through? Geder has an almost unhealthy interest in history, but since his interest is put forth as almost frivolous and child-like, I found it hard to take all of it seriously. And I just found all the different races kinda Star Trekian and a little difficult to keep track of.

Abraham's court intreigue is definitely not on par with GRRM's. Now, the comparison is a mite unfair because that is the sort of thing that GRRM so excels at, but at this point in fantasy writing, if you're going to approach court politics, you have to bring your A game. I think we have a B game going on here. One of the other POV characters (Dawson) is knee deep in this, a nobleman mover and shaker who is convinced he is saving his king, and he brings some of the other characters into the fold whether they want to or not.

I have no problem with characters being far flung from one another, but other than at the very beginning, I just wasn't seeing connections between their storylines and that kinda annoyed me. I'm sure it will come back around again and be tied together, but the sense of... urgency isn't there? I dunno.

Not to say that there aren't some very good parts to this book. Geder makes an incredibly huge, dire decision that I definitely didn't see coming, and his character is growing very interesting. He's almost doing a reverse Jaime and I can respect that. In fact, I think I found Geder's plotline to be the most interesting of them all.

All this being said, I felt the book did considerably pick up in the second half, so it is enough to make me want to continue on when the next one comes out.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Since this is about books and concerns two of my favourite authors, I thought this would be a good place to post it for posterity.

Wednesday of last week, I did an interview with the CBC for a piece they were doing on George R.R. Martin. They wanted to talk to a fan, and my friend who works for the best sci-fi/fantasy bookstore in Toronto immediately thought of me and put my name forth.

The piece aired on Sunday, on The National no less. I'm on it for like 30 seconds, and they got my name wrong, but still, there I am along with interviews with George himself and Guy Gavriel Kay, who is undoubtedly, my favourite author. Supreme geek moment as far as I'm concered :)

Here's a link to the piece:

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Number 12 this year is The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss. Thanks to all the follow up to A Dance With Dragons I'm on quite the fantasy kick right now.

So I came to this book in a funny way. Two years ago, I voted in the silly cage match on where they pit various characters from different fantasy series against one another in mock battles. I started voting because one of the characters involved was Jaime Lannister. Jaime had a solid voting block and moved all the way through the competition to the final, where he was defeated by Rand Al'Thor from the Wheel of Time saga. But... the character Jaime defeated to get to the final was someone I'd never heard of before, a guy named Kvothe (pronounced close to 'Quothe'). Didn't think much of him didn't bother to look him up, I just voted for Jaime (and by this time, GRRM himself had gotten in on the fun and was doing little writeups of the battles himself, which definitely helped Jaime in the voting). I even remember thinking that Qvothe was a stupid-sounding name and basically dismissed it summarily (I have this rather strange bias that I usually have to like the names of the main characters I'm reading about in order to have full enjoyment)

A week before ADWD came out, I was browsing in Chapters and one of the employees recommended The Name of the Wind to me. I immediately recognized Kvothe's name, and was all set to dismiss it again, but then I realized; not only was this fellow recommending it to me, but on the strength of one book, this character had garnered enough votes in a contest voted on by fans of the genre, to get to the quarter finals. Hmm. Maybe there is something to this story. So I took the advice and the book came home with me.

I actually started it just before ADWD came out, but then set it aside in order to deal with that incredibly anticipated monstrosity. I picked it up the moment ADWD was finished and... I enjoyed it.

It's an interesting narrative, with Kvothe, now a simple innkeeper called Kote, basically telling his life story to a Chronicler. It seems that Kvothe has lead an extrodinary life, the life of a hero, and there is some mystery surrounding his disappearnce.

As with many fantasy heroes, Kvothe 'suffers' from disgustingly perfect syndrome. He's incredibly intelligent, the son of wandering musicians, playwrites, etc. So he can sing, he can play, her can perform, and he learns so very very quickly. When his family and troupe are killed by a seemingly mythical group of bad guys, Kvothe's comfortable life is (of course) thrown upside down. He spends three years living on the streets of a large city before he takes control of his destiny and goes to learn at the University, a place that teaches what passes as the world's magic.

The book, and Kvothe himself would get tiresome after awhile due to his incredibly gifted intellect, but fotunatately Rothfuss does balance this nicely with Kvothe's penchant for getting into trouble. It is, of course, a common problem of those who are so much smarter than most everyone around them, but in this case it does work. It's not so much you want to see Kvothe taken down a peg or anything like that, you actually do want him to succeed.

Rothfuss has done an excellent job of giving us a protaganist who might have tilted towards unlikable, but there is enough strength and depth to this charater that you do want to know how he went from poor child prodigy to hero and then fell to lowly inkeeper. And since this book revolves around the one character (told from his POV pretty much), that's pretty freaking important.

The sequel to this has just come out. And yeah, I'll probably end up picking it up.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

I'm so excited about number 11 this year. It is a book that I (and many other) have been waiting for SIX years to come out now. That's right folks, number 11 this year is A Dance With Dragons by George R.R. Martin.


In 1996, my then-roommate Karen tossed me a book with the words "Read this. I mean it." Karen and I had gone through university together and a lot of our reading tastes meshed quite well. So read it I did. And then I immeditately went out and bought my own copy of A Game of Thrones. So yeah, I've been with this series for a long time now.

I'm afraid to say too much about this book because I realize I blew threw this behemoth (900-odd pages long) in 5 days, so great was my NEED to read it, and I realize that not everyone has read it yet, and there are those who are coming to the books after having watched the series on HBO...

So all I will say is that for the most part, I loved it. It's been 10 years since we've heard from Tyrion (who had last been seen performing a rather incredible murder), Daenerys (who was staying put in the city of Mereen to try and learn to rule) and Jon Snow (who had just been made Lord Commander of the Wall). Much of DWD is devoted to these three, and it's so wonderful to read about them again. One of the few misgivings I had was of a new travelling companion for Tyrion. Not sure why Penny didn't sit right with me, but yeah... no. Dany's dragons are growing up and, in standard Martin form, they are not cute and cuddly, sage-wise dragons of much other fantasy. They have loyalty and love for Dany, but they are very large, VERY dangerous creatures that no one really knows how to train. And Jon... he has to deal with the resident king-claimant in Stannis, his rebellious brothers who aren't exactly in favour of Jon's dealings with the wildings, the wildings themselves, and the unrest caused by Roose Bolton's 'rule' of the North. He has his hands full and also has the book's first true "FUCK YEAH!" moment.

Disappointments? Not many. Biggest one for me is only one Jaime chapter, and a chapter that obviously puts him in some danger, so now I'm really wondering what happened to him.

More new POV characters, some I didn't really care about (as usual, I'm finding it hard to be interested in any of the Ironborn, with the exception of Theon though. Oh Theon, karma is a harsh, harsh mistress for you isn't she?), but a certain exiled ex Knight of the Kingsguard also becomes a POV character, and it was nice to read of him. He's a class act.

The endings leave some major characters (and some minor but those we've seen for a very long time) in pretty dire straights again, whilst some seem to be trucking along fine and others seem to be improving their lot from previous, and of course, the shifting power is shifting again, especially with the revelation of another Targaryen, one that Dany knows nothing about.

Overall? It's bleak and hard and dire with moments of cunning and heroism and just enough fantasy elements thrown in to make things just that much more intersting. In other words, it's perfect and like we haven't been away for 6 years (although, in preparation for July 12th's release date, I did re-read the other books).

So, how long before The Winds of Winter? :)

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Place holder for books 9 Origin of the Species by Nino Ricci and 10, The Constant Gardner by John Le Carre.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Number 8 is Tigerheart by Peter David. I've had some ups and downs with Peter over the years (well, ok, really only one down, so nevermind) but overall, I've always enjoyed his stuff, and he is mentioned a few times in this blog due to his Arthurian cycle. So when I saw Tigerheart on sale for a ridiculously cheap price, it had to come home with me.

I loved this damn book. It's been awhile since a book made me tear up, but this sure did. Tigerheart is a pastiche of Peter Pan. It's not a true retelling, perhaps a bit of a sequel, but whatever it is, I thought it beautiful and I enjoyed it much more than the original.

It's not just that the story is familiar of course, but it's also that David's narrative voice so perfectly captured the narrative voice of so much late 19th/early 20th century children's literature, where the narrator is omnicient and very nearly a character in themselves. It's a voice I don't find that's pulled off well very often (I think C.S Lewis did it brilliantly in his Chronicles of Narnia) and so David should be lauded for this alone.

But he should also be lauded for creating an interesting character in Paul Dear, who holds his own with The Boy and Captains Hack and Slash and sweet Gwenny. And he should be lauded for such a beautiful, moving treatise on what it means to be a child, and what it means to be an adult, and how moving from one to the other is difficult but doesn't always mean they have to be mutually exclusive either.

Well done Peter David, really, really well done.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Book number 7 is Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro. I have not seen the movie, I picked this up because I loved his novel Remains of the Day.

Never Let Me Go is told from the first person narration of one Kathy H. A "carer" for "donors" who has been at her job for a very long time; longer than most seem to be able to do it in fact.

She reminices about her days at a (what sounds like) very idyllic English boarding school called Hailsham. She's repeatedly told she was lucky to have been there, to have learned and had a good life and been treated kindly by the school's various guardians. She had two very close friends at the school, Ruth and Tommy.

It's hard to discuss this novel without talking about the main 'mystery' that is slowly unfolded through Kathy's narration. These are not typical children who are destined to be typical adults. They have singular purposes, to be donors, and once you realize what they are and what they're to be, this book is all at once sinister, sad and even a little appalling. But it's because it's also beautifully written from the POV of a character who is, first and formost, a person. Kathy is a naieve, empathetic, smart girl who never really rails against what she and her friends are reared for. And as much as you want her and Tommy and Ruth to escape their fate, you also know that they won't. For despite everything they learned at Hailsham, about life and art and the tantalizing rumour of 'deferrment', they weren't taught to question. They were taught to just accept because they don't know any better and really, society didn't want them to know any better.

It's an excellent, sympathetic mystery that leaves you questioning... a lot of things.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Numero 6 this year is The King's Speech by Mark Logue and Peter Conradi. Let's just get this right out of the way shall we? I loved the movie. Loved it. It was well acted, well written, well done. It was touching and surprisingly funny and all around engaging. And now, upon reading this book, I also realize the movie used a fair bit of 'dramatic license'. Funny enough though, this knowledge does not affect my enjoyment of the movie. It is too well done of a movie for me to feel I've now been cheated or anything. The movie centers more on moving towards one, specific goal, and that is that King George VI (played so beautifully by Colin Firth) is able to deliver his first war-time address to his subjects free of his previously debilitating speech impediment. But according to the book... by the time this speech was delivered, the King wasn't as hampered by his speech problems as the movie would have you believe...

Anyway, the book, compiled from the journal entries and scrap clippings of Lionel Logue by his grandson Mark, is a fairly straightforward telling of Logue's life from his initial work as a speech therapist in Australia, to his family's move to England, to the meeting and treatment of his most famous patient who would also become a friend. The book lays out Bertie's treatments much like they are in the movie, breathing exercises, practice, removing of troublesome words from speeches, basically giving the King confidence in his ability to speak, therefore removing his tendency to stutter. The book does also show that there was an honest to goodness friendship between the two men of VASTLY different classes and it is nice to see. But by the time Bertie is crowned King George VI, Logue and Bertie had been working together for quite awhile already and his stutter was much more under control by this point. Yes, Logue still helped and attended the Coronation and whatnot, but by this time, Bertie was not attending regular sessions and whatnot.

The book is an interesting look at what happened through many of Logue's and even the King's own words. It is also a slightly deeper look at the crisis the monarchy faced with the abdication of Edward VIII. But the movie, through some phenomenal performances, manages to give everyone much more warmth and character, if not true historical acuracy.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Books have been read, but not blogged, so let's do a catch up post:

Number 3 of the year is Some Great Thing by Lawerence Hill. Saw this book for cheap, and since I enjoyed his Book of Negroes, thought I'd give something else by him a shot. This book tells the story of the unlikely named Mahatma Grafton, a young, rather aimless black man who returns to his hometown of Winnipeg and gets a job as a reporter with the Winnipeg Herald. He doesn't partcularly care about the job, nor about Winnipeg, nor about his father's ambitions for him. Hat is like a lot of his generation, he just doesn't really care about much. But that changes over the course of the book as he gets involved with racial tensions and the entire Manitoba language-rights issues. It's a very interesting read because it's something I really knew nothing about. Oh sure I remember language-rights as an issue overall, plus of course the Referendum, but this book is a nice microcosm of the unrest that was happening over a lot of Canada at the time. The characters are all well done, and, despite being a large cast, quite memorable. There's some oddities that make it really fun (the exchange reporter from Cameroon for one) and overall, it's a very clever novel.

Number 4 of the year is Gwenhwyfar by Mercedes Lackey. Not a bad book. I definitely like books where Gwen isn't a whiny bitch, but this also felt like Lackey had watched that horrendous King Arthur movie (y'know, the one with Clive Owen) and decided that Warrior! Gwen needed some backstory. So yeah, this Gwen is a warrior, which is fine and dandy but doesn't really bring that much new to the character. I did like that Lackey brought the idea of the 'three Gwens' that Arthur marries into one tale (this is something that isn't dealt with much in most of the Legends) and I liked that she gave Gwen some interesting sisters. But overall, the 'Arthurian' part of the story isn't dealt with at all so the book actually feels strangely disconnected from what it should seemlessly be a part of. As a look at gender roles and equality in early Britain, it's a great book, as an Arthurian tale? Not so much.

Number 5 of the year is Bloodsucking Fiends by Christopher Moore. This is the first book of his tale of Jody and Thomas, and the one I should've started with rather than You Suck. So it was nice to get the backstory down and how it all got started. Fun as always, Moore is rarely disappointing. Best line? "He's doing rather well for a non-swimmer".

Ok, gotta get reading some more it seems.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Book number 2 for the year is The Sword of Albion by Mark Chadbourn. It's a fun historical fantasy set in the Elizabethan years (well, 1588 to be exact) and concerns the exploits of England's most famous spy, Will Swyfte. And yes, that is rather odd, for one would think that by being well known to the world at large as being a spy, that you wouldn't actually be very good at your job, but in this world, as with Will Swyfte, what you see isn't what you get. Swyfte and his comrades are not the main source of information against the mundane enemies of England such as France and Spain, no, they are employed against a far more fearful, nefarious and older Enemy; the Unseelie Court.

Chadbourn builds a nice world, familiar but with overtones of the unfamiliar, his characters are good (Swyfte is a bit too much out of the James Bond mold, but hey, it kinda works) and he does dread and excitement well. I could've done with a little less sea warfare, but given the context of when this novel is taking place, I guess there's not much way around it.

If there's more Will Swyfte books, I'll continue on.

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Brand new year, brand new page. Book number 1 of 2011 is Sleepwalk With Me by Mike Birbiglia. This was tossed to me by my husband, as Birbiglia is one of those stand up comics that Graig knows about but whom I've never heard of before. Sleepwalk With Me is the book-version of Birbiglia's one man show of the same name. It's a funny look at his life, and the main thread in it is that he suffers from sleepwalking (or the more clinical REM sleep disorder), to such an extent that he actually endangers his life during it. I liked Birgibglia's style, very self-depricating but funny.

On a personal note, I think I found this book kinda scary-funny from the point of view that my dear husband has some of the same sleepwalking type episodes. Fortunately they've not escalated to the point of Birbiglia's, but still... a lot of it sounded mighty familiar.

Sunday, January 02, 2011

It's January 2nd now, so time for our 2010 Year End post. In a lot of ways, it wasn't a very diverse year as I read quite a few things by the same authors. And of course, there were my usual tomes about Shakespeare in there. So what did I read this year? The list is as follows:

The Book of Negroes - Lawrence Hill
Shakespeare's Wife - Germaine Greer
Dead Until Dark - Charlaine Harris
Fool - Christopher Moore
Under Heaven - Guy Gavriel Kay
Privilege of the Sword - Ellen Kushner
Dead in Dallas - Charlaine Harris
Mythago Wood - Robert Holdstock
The Torontonians - Phyllis Bret Young
A Gentleman's Game - Greg Rucka
The White Queen - Phillipa Gregory
The Children's Book - A.S. Byatt
The Court of the Air - Stephen Hunt
Contested Will - James Shapiro
Atonement - Ian McEwan
Elfland - Freda Warrington
A Cure for All Diseases - Reginald Hill
Vanity Fair - William Makepeace Thakeray
The Wordy Shipmates - Sarah Vowell
The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo - Steig Larsson
The Red Queen - Phillipa Gregory
You Suck - Christopher Moore
Of Human Bondage - W. Somerset Maughm
Wizard's First Rule - Terry Goodkind
Let the Right One In - John Alvide Lindqvist
Her Fearful Symmetry - Audrey Niffeneger
Dead to the World
Dead As A Doornail
All Together Dead - Charlaine Harris
Definitely Dead
From Dead to Worse
Dead And Gone

Grand total? 32. Damn, one shy of my best record so far. Of course, part of the problem was in November I got completely sidetracked and did a slew of re-reads, but oh well.

Favourite book this year? Of course we have to go with Guy Kay's latest, Under Heaven. A truly gorgeous book that I thoroughly enjoyed. Also right up there was A.S Byatt's The Children's Book. And for best non-fiction, I'm going to go with Contested Will because I like any book that shoots down the 'Shakespeare didn't author his plays' conspiracy as well as this one did.

I read a freaking lot of vampire books this year, 10 all together. The best one being, by far, Let the Right One In. You Suck was rather... toothless (disappointing for a Christopher Moore novel) and the Sookie Stackhouse extravaganza is just light fare that's easy to burn through.

Tried to get into an author two of my cousins adore, but found myself disagreeing with their worship of Terry Goodkind.

Overall, I am pleased with my tally. Library plus starting to take the subway again in the latter part of the year helped bump the totals up.

I've already started my first book of 2011.