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#33 Ursula K. LeGuin, The Left Hand of Darkness, 320 pages.

First of all, I can't believe I got this far into my life as a geek without having read this seminal book. And it's not like people haven't recommended it to me before. It's not like I haven't sat in shame when I'm forced to tell other geeks that I've never read any LeGuin, no, not even Left Hand. It's just that hard sci-fi that makes you think is something I'm not often in the mood for. But finally I got around it it.

To be honest, while I can see why it's as well-regarded as it is it didn't bowl me over the way Roadside Picnic did. For one thing, the politics bored me. It was intellectually interesting from a philosophical point of view, but political intrigue has never really been my thing. The gender-stuff, while definitely the best part of the book, isn't nearly as groundbreaking to someone reading it in 2012 as it would have been to readers in 1969.

That said, it *is* a great book, and I'm glad to have read it. LeGuin is a wonderful writer (no surprise there) and I definitely need to make an effort to read more of her stuff.

#34 Rebecca York, New Moon (The Moon Series, Book 6), 336 pages.

Another book in the horrible werewolf porn series I'm addicted to. We've now graduated from werewolves to add psychics, magic-users, and shapeshifters from another dimension. They're like candy corn -- horrible, but addictive.

#35 Kimberley Pauley, Sucks to Be Me: The All-True Confessions of Mina Hamilton, Teen Vampire (maybe), 304 pages.

I would have never believed anyone could do a unique teen vampire novel, but Pauley's pulled it off. Mina Hamilton's parents are blood-sucking fiends. Literally, not figuratively. Actually they're quite nice - they're just vampires. Mina's known for ages, but now the Vampire Council has found out and she has to decide if she will join her parents in undeath - or live a mortal life believing her parents are dead once the Council's mind-wipers are through with her.

#36 Amber McRee Turner, Sway, 320 pages.

Cass idolizes her mom, who does disaster recovery and travels a lot. Cass's life is marked by long stretches of time alone with her boring father in between mom's visits home. But when Mom comes home this time Cass immediately senses something's not right. Seems Mom's decided to get herself another family. Cass blames her father - maybe if he wasn't so boring, Mom would have stuck around. The last thing she wants to do is take a road trip in the beat-up RV her father's been restoring. But Dad's insistent. Cass wants to go convince her mom to come home, not spend time with her boring dad. Then again, maybe Dad's not as boring as she always thought. Enter M.B. McClean and his amazing magical historical soaps.

This is one of those sappy, feel-good books about kids dealing with difficult family issues and learning about what's really important in life. And it's a good one.

Progress toward goals: 102/366 = 27.9%

Books: 36/100 = 36.0%

Pages: 11517/30000 = 38.4%

2012 Book List

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#32 Arkady and Boris Strugatsky, Roadside Picnic (Rediscovered Classics), 224 pages.

spoilers )

Progress toward goals: 88/366 = 24.0%

Books: 32/100 = 32.0%

Pages: 10237/30000 = 34.1%

2012 Book List

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#27 Gail Carriger, Timeless (The Parasol Protectorate, No. 5), 416 pages.

A satisfying conclusion to the series, with a lot of nagging questions answered, but I'm very sad to say goodbye to this one.

#28 Celia Thomson, The Stolen (Nine Lives of Chloe King), 288 pages.
#29 Celia Thomson, The Chosen, 245 pages.

I think I really just had to get past the huge differences between the books and the TV show. Once I got over the whole different=bad thing there were definitely some things about the books I liked better than the show. Brian not being clueless and having a backbone being one of them. As was the Mai leaders not being . . . perfect. To say the least. Still cheesy teen-wish-fulfillment, but enjoyable cheesy teen-wish-fulfillment.

#30 Barbara Else, The Travelling Restaurant. Barbara Else, 300 pages.

I've definitely got some interesting things to say about this one. So much complexity in a deceptively simple package. One of the things being that it took me halfway through the book to suddenly have this brain flash: This is a dystopian novel! And it is, absolutely. That fact is just a little obscured by the fact that it's not actually a future dystopia -- the world of the Restaurant is not our world at all, but a typical high fantasy world suffering from The Accident in which all magic was lost from a world that depended on it - a loss that coincided with the loss of the rightful rulers leaving the land in the hands of a 'provisional' Queen with a penchant for giving sickly sweet speeches about how wonderful everything is under her benevolent rule and making sure that anyone who doesn't immediately agree and tell her how wonderful she is mysteriously disappears. Said Queen is also determined to remove that pesky 'Provisional' from her title by any means necessary. Enter Jasper, the twelver-year-old son of one of the the kingdom's most eminent scientists -- now permanently reassigned to brewing ever increasing dosages of the kingdom's version of Botox for the Queen. The Queen seems to have taken an unhealthy amount of interest in Jasper and his little sister Sibilla, and in the family's flight from the city Jasper is left behind. What follows is Jasper's quest to reunite with his family and to save his little sister from the clutches of the Evil Queen. As in all good quest narratives, along the way he meets a variety of helpers and antagonists, and some who seem to fit in both categories. Secrets are shared and pasts are revealed, but it's all secondary to the main objective -- get to Sibilla and protect her at all costs.

And this is where I think this book really shines. It definitely falls into the category of 'kid has to save the day because the adults can't be trusted to do it right'. But all the adults in this book are *realistically* flawed. They're not stupid, or naive, but they are all damaged, with emotional and mental wounds that often impair their better judgement. Reading this, you're constantly reminded that the adults *remember* a time when things were good. There is a certain overwhelmed helplessness to their actions - you get the feeling they are constantly looking around in bewilderment -- how did we go from normal to *this*?

For the children, this *is* normal. There's anger, absolutely, but there's none of that paralyzing disbelief and denial. It is this very acceptance -- this almost protective attitude toward the adults -- that is most heartbreaking. I was struck particularly by the scene in which Jasper almost tells his aunt that the man she loves - who she believes is dead - was instead captured alive. He starts to say something, then catches himself. The man was captured. He's going to be dead soon anyway. No need for her to grieve twice. No twelve-year-old should have to think like that.

From my description at this point you're probably imagining some dark depressing narrative along the lines of The Hunger Games. That couldn't be further from the truth. The genius of this book is that the story, in all its dystopian anguish, is told in a straight-forward, fairy-tale style narration that, much like Jasper himself, downplays the darker events in favour of focusing on the next step toward achieving the goal. And, of course, there's quite a bit of humour sprinkled in for some much needed comic relief.

#31 Kate Coombs, The Runaway Princess, 288 pages.

Princess Margaret is incensed. Her father has offered half the Kingdom and her hand in marriage to the prince who defeats the dragon, withers the witch, and beats down the bandits who are 'terrorising' the Kingdom. Honestly, the dragon hasn't eaten anyone since Margaret's great-aunt, the witch is mostly harmless -- good luck charms and love spells and the occasional metamorphosis into a frog, but only for those who really deserve it. And Meg can't help but admire the bandits' whole 'rob from the rich to give to the poor' schtick. Meg doesn't even want to marry a prince -- they're all so boring -- and as a final indignity she is to be 'sequestered' in the highest tower of the castle until the contest is won. As if! However, warning the witch, defending the dragon, and backing the bandits is harder than Meg thought it would be with all those princes in the way, not to mention having to maintain the illusion of her presence in the tower, with only a garden boy, a maid, and an over-eager junior guardsman as accomplices. And then things get *really* complicated . . .


Progress toward goals: 86/366 = 23.5%

Books: 31/100 = 31.0%

Pages: 10013/30000 = 33.4%

2012 Book List

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#24 Ann Finnan, The Sorcerer of Sainte Felice, 360 pages.

Michael de Lorraine is to be burned at the stake as a sorcerer when he is saved by a strange monk and a conveniently timed rainstorm. Abbot Francis takes Michael back to his abbey in Sainte Felice where Michael discovers that all the monks there are sorcerers, hiding in plain sight under the nose of the Inquisition. But Abbot Francis has made some powerful enemies -- will their luck hold out, or will the Holy Office discover their secret? I really liked this one - it reminded me of Judith Tarr's The Hound and the Falcon trilogy (which I totally need to reread).

#25 Eoin Colfer, The Arctic Incident (Artemis Fowl, Book Two), 292 pages.

Second in the Artemis Fowl series - and already you can see the cracks in Artemis' ruthless facade. Not to mention it's just great fun.

#26 Gail Carriger, Heartless (The Parasol Protectorate), 400 pages.

I'm so sad there's only one book left in this series.

Progress toward goals: 76/366 = 20.8%

Books: 26/100 = 26.0%

Pages: 8476/30000 = 28.3%

2012 Book List

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#23 Eoin Colfer, Artemis Fowl (new cover), 304 pages.

I'm still trying to decide what I think of this. It's definitely different. It's strange to have a protagonist that is so very ruthless. I am looking forward to reading more of the series though. One thing that really did bother me the whole way through was his name -- Artemis is a *female* name god(dess) damn it!

Progress toward goals: 73/366 = 19.9%

Books: 23/100 = 23.0%

Pages: 7424/30000 = 24.7%

2012 Book List

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So I have been very remiss in my reviewing lately. Hold onto your hats, cause this is a long one.

#1 Donny Bailey Seagraves, Gone from These Woods, 192 pages.

Ok, talk about depressing. This book is about an 11-year-old who accidentally shoots and kills his uncle on a hunting trip. And how he learns to live with it. Well done, but very depressing.

#2 Sara Ryan, Empress of the World, 224 pages.

First love is hard enough without coming out as well. A very realistic and heart-tugging story of two awkward teen girls navigating a romantic relationship.

#3 Margo Lanagan, Black Juice, 208 pages.

Wow. Just wow. Lanagan's short stories are Literature in the best sense of the word -- haunting tales of circumstances as fantastic as they are remarkably human. Savour slowly.

#4 Lynn Jonell, The Secret of Zoom, 320 pages.

Somehow this kind of story has become its own sub-genre without my noticing: troubled pre-teen dealing with loss of one parent in comically bizarre circumstance and subsequent withdrawal and neglect of remaining parent discovers something fishy going on in their community which usually (but not always) relates back to the death of the first parent. Subsequent adventure and corresponding danger result in the redress of evils, the discovery of hidden truths, and a closer relationship with remaining parent. As clicheed as the plot is becoming, this is not a bad example of the genre.

#5 Rebecca York, Killing Moon (The Moon Series, Book 1), 352 pages.
#6 Rebecca York, Edge of the Moon (The Moon Series, Book 2), 336 pages.
#7 Rebecca York, Witching Moon (The Moon Series, Book 3), 352 pages.
#8 Rebecca York, Crimson Moon (The Moon Series, Book 4), 352 pages.
#9 Rebecca York, Shadow of the Moon (The Moon Series, Book 5), 352 pages.

This series is werewolf porn. Smutty paranormal romance with no redeeming qualities whatsoever. So why can't I stop reading them? Ah well, everyone has to have some guilty pleasures.

#10 Steig Larsson, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (Movie Tie-in Edition) (Vintage Crime/Black Lizard), 672 pages.

Yeah, I finally got on the bandwagon. While I definitely did enjoy the book, I have to wonder what the hype's all about. It's good, but not as great as I was expecting considering the press. Still gonna read the other two though.

#11 Gail Carriger, Soulless (The Parasol Protectorate), 384 pages.
#12 Gail Carriger, Changeless (The Parasol Protectorate), 400 pages.
#13 Gail Carriger, Blameless (The Parasol Protectorate), 384 pages.

Vampires and Werewolves in Victorian London. Sinister scientists and mechanical monsters. Steampunk meets the paranormal romance. What more could you ask for?

#14 Anna Myers, Time of the Witches, 208 pages.

A historical fiction account of the Salem Witch Trials from the point of view of one of the accusers. A pretty interesting look at cutthroat local politics and mass hysteria from the inside.

#15 Kate Thompson, Creature of the Night, 256 pages.

Bobby is a career criminal at the age of 14, hanging around street toughs years older than him and stealing cars then taking advantage of his youth to escape the consequences. When Bobby's mother drags Bobby and his little brother Dennis away from Dublin and into the Irish countryside to try to escape her debt, all Bobby wants is to get back to Dublin and his old life. But life in the country is different from Dublin. When he steals a car in his new home his mother's landlord makes him work off the charges. Farm work is tough, and Bobby doesn't have time to get in trouble any more. Besides, he's got other things to think about. What happened to the tenant before them, who disappeared mysteriously in the middle of the night? What happened to the child who disappeared there 20 years earlier? And who is the 'little woman' 4-year-old Dennis claims comes to talk with him every night?

#16 G. M. Malliet, Death of a Cozy Writer (A St. Just Mystery), 312 pages.

Pretty much exactly what the title says. When a wealthy mystery writer with penchant for pitting his heirs against each other is killed, there is no shortage of suspects, including the new wife, whose previous husband also died conveniently.

#17 Jennifer Knight, Blood on the Moon, 400 pages.

Nothing like a love triangle with a vampire and a werewolf to liven up a girl's college experience.

#18 Suzanne Collins, The Hunger Games, 384 pages.

Another popular book I'm only now getting around to reading. For this one, I totally understand the hype. And I can't wait to see how they treat it in the movie.

#19 Celia Thomson, The Fallen (Nine Lives of Chloe King), 256 pages.

What can I saw -- I saw the short-lived TV series on Netflix and I really liked it in a cheesy way. But then they ended on that cliffhanger and it was cancelled. When I found out it was based off a series of books I figured I'd check them out. Unfortunately this is one of the few times I think the tv version was actually better than the books. But I'm withholding final judgement until I finish the other two :)

#20 Max Lüthi, The European Folktale: Form and Nature (Folklore Studies in Translation), 200 pages.

Very interesting analysis of how the very two-dimensional nature of the folk tale actually serves to increase its potency and meaning.

#21 Melissa Kantor, If I Have a Wicked Stepmother, Where's My Prince?, 320 pages.

This was an interesting version of the 'misfit teen' genre. Kantor's protagonist - having been moved from California to New York due to her father's marriage to a woman she detests with two young daughters she can't stand -- actually gets what every misfit teen girl longs for: popularity, and the hottest boy in school for her boyfriend. Only problem is, now that she's got it, is it really what she wants?

#22 Shana Norris, Something to Blog About, 256 pages.

I actually quite liked this -- brought back memories of the early days of blogging, the hysterical drama of misfit teens, and the confusion and misunderstandings of first love.

Progress toward goals: 72/366 = 19.7%

Books: 22/100 = 22.0%

Pages: 7120/30000 = 23.7%

2012 Book List

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Books read in 2012:

#1 -- Donny Bailey Seagraves, Gone From these Woods, 192 pages, 6/10.
#2 -- Sara Ryan, Empress of the World, 224 pages, 7/10.
#3 -- Margo Lanagan, Black Juice, 208 pages, 10/10
#4 -- Lynn Jonell, The Secret of Zoom, 320 pages, 5/10.
#5 -- Rebecca York, Killing Moon, 352 pages, 6/10.
#6 -- Rebecca York, Edge of the Moon, 336 pages, 6/10.
#7 -- Rebecca York, Witching Moon, 352 pages, 6/10.
#8 -- Rebecca York, Crimson Moon, 352 pages, 6/10.
#9 -- Rebecca York, Shadow of the Moon, 352 pages, 6/10.
#10 -- Steig Larsson, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, 672 pages, 8/10.
#11 -- Gail Carriger, Soulless, 384 pages, 9/10.
#12 -- Gail Carriger, Changeless, 400 pages, 8/10.
#13 -- Gail Carriger, Blameless, 384 pages, 8/10.
#14 -- Anna Myers, Time of the Witches, 208 pages, 7/10.
#15 -- Kate Thompson, Creatures of the Night, 256 pages, 8/10.
#16 -- G. M. Malliet, The Death of a Cozy Writer, 312 pages, 6/10.
#17 -- Jennifer Knight, Blood on the Moon, 400 pages, 7/10.
#18 -- Suzanne Collins, The Hunger Games, 384 pages, 9/10.
#19 -- Celia Thomson, The Fallen, 256 pages, 5/10.
#20 -- Max Lüthi, The European Folktale: Form and Nature, 200 pages, 8/10.
#21 -- Melissa Kantor, If I Have a Wicked Stepmother, Where's My Prince?, 320 pages, 7/10.
#22 -- Shana Norris, Something to Blog About, 256 pages, 7/10.
#23 -- Eoin Colfer, Artemis Fowl, 304 pages, 8/10.
#24 -- Ann Finnin, The Sorcerer of Sainte Felice, 360 pages, 9/10.
#25 -- Eoin Colfer, The Arctic Incident, 292 pages, 8/10.
#26 -- Gail Carriger, Heartless, 400 pages, 8/10.
#27 -- Gail Carriger, Timeless, 416 pages, 9/10.
#28 -- Celia Thomson, The Stolen, 288 pages, 7/10.
#29 -- Celia Thomson, The Chosen, 245 pages, 7/10.
#30 -- Barbara Else, The Travelling Restaurant, 300 pages, 10/10
#31 -- Kate Coombs, The Runaway Princess, 288 pages, 9/10.
#32 -- Arkady and Boris Strugatsky, The Roadside Picnic, 224 pages, 9/10.
#33 -- Ursula K. LeGuin, The Left Hand of Darkness, 320 pages, 8/10.
#34 -- Rebecca York, New Moon, 336 pages, 6/10.
#35 -- Kimberley Pauley, Sucks to Be Me, 304 pages, 7/10.
#36 -- Amber McRee Turner, Sway, 320 pages, 7/10.
gwynhefar: (Default)
Ok, so I'm way behind on the list of books read, so you don't get reviews for these, just the list. Sorry.


Book #80 -- Steve Niles, 28 Days Later: The Aftermath, 105 pages.

Book #81 -- Katherine Howe, The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane, 371 pages.

Book #82 -- John Claude Bemis, The Nine Pound Hammer (The Clockwork Dark, Book 1), 359 pages.

Book #83 -- Michael Morpurgo, An Elephant in the Garden, 199 pages.

Book #84 -- Julie Anne Peters, grl2grl: Short fictions, 151 pages.

Book #85 -- Marilyn Kaye, Demon Chick, 215 pages.

Book #86 -- Deva Fagan, Fortune's Folly, 257 pages.

Book #87 -- Mackie D'Arge, Lifting the Sky, 288 pages.

Book #88 -- David Levithan and Rachel Cohn, Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist, 183 pages.

Book #89 -- Walter Tevis, The Man Who Fell to Earth, 209 pages.

Book #90 -- Janet Lee Carey, Dragon's Keep, 301 pages.

Book #91 -- Cora Harrison, My Lady Judge: A Mystery of Medieval Ireland, 320 pages.

Progress toward goals: 360/365 = 98.6%

Books: 91/100 = 91.0%

Pages: 26903/30000 = 89.7%

2011 Book List

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Haven't posted my book list in ages, which doesn't mean I haven't been reading. In fact, what with now taking the T to work, I have more time to read than ever. So, without further ado, the last month or so's worth of reading:

Book #69 -- Will Shetterly, Nevernever, 240 pages.

Continuing my re-read of the Bordertown series. I'd forgotten most of this one, honestly, and surprised myself with how much the ending affected me. Ambiguously happy never felt so sad.

Book #70 -- Isobel Carmody, Little Fur #1: The Legend Begins, 224 pages.

The first in a series for kids, this is an adorable adventure book with an eco-friendly message that refrains from being *too* dogmatic.

Book #71 -- Ying Chang Compestine, A Banquet for Hungry Ghosts: A Collection of Deliciously Frightening Tales, 192 pages.

This is an amazing collection of short ghost stories focused around food, with recipes to accompany each story. Absolutely wonderful.

Book #72 -- Keith McGowan,The Witch's Guide to Cooking with Children, 192 pages.

Quirky retelling of "Hansel and Gretel".

Book #73 -- Susanne Selfors, To Catch a Mermaid, 272 pages.

Typical, but still fun, example of the children-dealing-with-death-of-one-parent-and-grief-of-the-other-discover-something-remarkable-that-helps-heal-family genre.

Book #74 -- Amy Gordon, Magic by Heart, 197 pages.

In one of those alternate realities in which magical abilities are rare but not unheard of a young girl with her own budding abilities brings together a family long separated by fear and resentment.

Book #75 -- Jane Lindskold, Brother to Dragons, Companion to Owls, 288 pages.

Pretty impressive for an early novel with an amazing portrayal of a mentally ill protagonist trying to survive in a dystopian society.

Book #76 -- Barry Hughart, Bridge of Birds: A Novel of an Ancient China That Never Was, 288 pages.

How the hell did I manage to miss this one for so long? Based on a Chinese folktale, this novel has that indescribable *something* I associate with the 1980s fantasy of my childhood - something both simpler and deeper than today's polished, 'sparkly' fantasy.

Book #77 -- Megan Crewe, Give Up the Ghost, 256 pages.

Cass knows her parents are worried about her, but she wishes they wouldn't bother. With her dad always off in his own world and her mother always on the road, Cass has been taking care of herself since her older sister died. Not that death has stopped her from poking her nose into Cass's business. Besides, Cass has friends, they're just . . . well, dead.

Book #78 -- Dean Hale, Shannon Hale, and Nathan Hale, Rapunzel's Revenge, 144 pages.

Graphic novel version of a kick-ass, braid-whipping Rapunzel.

Book #79 -- Kerry Hardie, The Bird Woman: A Novel, 384 pages.

This is exactly the sort of domestic strife novel I wouldn't usually buy, but picked up cause it was free at ALA and I'm very glad I did.

Progress toward goals: 305/365 = 83.6%

Books: 79/100 = 79.0%

Pages: 23945/30000 = 79.8%

2011 Books

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Book #63 -- Emily Rodda, The Key To Rondo, 368 pages.

The old music box has been passed down in Leo's family for generations. All the children learn the rules: Wind the box three times only. Never shut the box when the music is playing. Never move the box before the music stops. When Leo inherits the box he intends to keep the rules as his grand-aunt did before him. His adventurous cousin Mimi, however, has different ideas. When Mimi breaks the rules of the box she unleashes a terrible power that threatens to consume not just the world in the box, but Leo and Mimi as well.

Book #64 -- Chris Platt, Star Gazer, 144 pages.

Jordan McKenzie has just moved to rural Michigan from California, and she is enraptured by the big draft horses used by the local Mennonites. Jordan desperately wants a horse of her own, but her mother is reluctant, until the day Jordan accompanies a friend to the auction and makes an unplanned purchase - a lame draft mare destined for the slaughterhouse. Now Jordan has to nurse the mare back to health, and convince her mother, and the whole town, that she's not just a clueless city girl.

Book #65 -- Warren Fahy, Fragment: A Novel, 528 pages.

Hender's Island is a no-mans-land - an impenetrable fortress out of the way of the major shipping lanes and untouched by man for centuries. Botanist Nell Duckworth hitches a ride with an adventure reality show, hoping to discover new plant species on an island ecosystem isolated from the rest of the world. What they find, however, goes beyond what anyone could have imagined. Turns out Hender's Island has been isolated for a lot longer than anyone though - long enough for evolution to take a completely different path. And the creatures
of Hender's Island are hungry.

Book #66 -- Sam Bourne, Righteous Men, 416 pages.

Mediocre murder mystery/religious conspiracy story.

Book #67 -- David Gregory, The Next Level: A Parable of Finding Your Place in Life, 119 pages.

An interesting parable about different ways of looking at live by comparing the universe to a global corporation. Some of the insights were actually rather good and well articulated, unfortunately the end conclusion is far too religious for my tastes.

Book #68 -- Marcus Sedgwick, My Swordhand Is Singing, 224 pages.

A vampire story the way vampire stories *should* be.

Progress toward goals: 257/365 = 70.4%

Books: 68/100 = 68.0%

Pages: 21268/30000 = 70.9%

2011 Books

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Book #61 -- Joan Druett, She Captains: Heroines and Hellions of the Sea, 304 pages.

The title is a little misleading - this book isn't just about female ship captains but about the history of women's involvement in all maritime occupations. From young women who disguised themselves as men to work on whaling boats or warships to the wives and daughters who managed the household and raised the family alone while their men were at sea, this book chronicle's women's unsung contribution to the nautical world.

Book #62 -- Jackson Pearce, Sweetly, 320 pages.

When Gretchen was eight, she and her brother and her twin sister went looking for a witch in the woods. When they finally made their way home, Gretchen's sister had vanished. Haunted by the loss of their sister and plagued by nightmares of the yellow-eyed being who chased them, Gretchen and Ansel rely only on each other as first their mother, and then their father succumb to their grief. After being kicked out by their stepmother when Gretchen turns eighteen, the siblings travel cross-country looking for a new start. They find it in the small town of Live Oak, South Carolina, when their ancient car breaks down and local candy-maker Sophia takes them in. But something is not right in this small Southern town. Girls are disappearing and the locals blame Sophia, calling her a witch. Troubled by the similarity to her own childhood trauma, Gretchen is determined to find the truth about the disappearances and to vindicate Sophia, but as she digs deeper with the help of local outcast Samuel, she stumbles on more than she bargained for. This is a very interesting conflation of 'Hansel and Gretel' and 'Red Riding Hood' - the atmosphere is dark and perfect.

Progress toward goals: 236/365 = 64.7%

Books: 62/100 = 62.0%

Pages: 19469/30000 = 64.9%

2011 Book List

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Book #56 -- Will Shetterly, Elsewhere, 248 pages.

More of the Bordertown re-read. Gods I love this series.

Book #57 -- Jill Wolfson, Cold Hands, Warm Heart, 256 pages.

This story interweaves two lives - 15-year-old Dani who receives a desperately-needed heart transplant, and 14-year-old Amanda, whose sudden death gives Dani a chance at life.

Book #58 -- Pamela Ehrenberg, Tillmon County Fire, 175 pages.

The teens surrounding a mysterious arson in a small Appalachian town each tell their stories - a religious zealot, the new kid who happens to be gay, the pregnant girl who works at the hardware store, and a pair of identical twins - only one of whom has diminished mental capacity. It actually works quite well.

Book #59 -- K. L. Going, The Garden of Eve, 240 pages.

Forced to move halfway across the country after the death of her mother, Evie doesn't understand her father's obsession with the dead apple orchard they now own. The people in the nearby town claim that it's a curse that stops the trees from producing - a curse connected to the mysterious disappearance 40 years earlier of a young girl - also called Eve. Evie doesn't know what to think, especially after she meets Alex - a strange boy who seems to live in the local graveyard.

Book #60 -- Jennifer Bryant, Kaleidoscope Eyes, 272 pages.

When Lyza's grandfather - a cartographer - dies, he leaves Lyza a key and a map: clues to the famous lost treasure of Captain Kidd said to be buried in the area. Lyza and her friends immediately hatch a plan to find the treasure. But treasure isn't the only thing Lyza has to worry about this summer. Her friend Malcolm's older brother has been drafted into Vietnam and Lyza's older sister is turning into a hippie before her eyes.

Progress toward goals: 228/365 = 62.5%

Books: 60/100 = 60.0%

Pages: 18845/30000 = 62.8%

2011 Book List

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Book #54 -- Frewin Jones, Warrior Princess #3: The Emerald Flame, 352 pages.

What can I say, Frewin Jones is one of my guilty pleasures. Quick read, ass-kicking female lead, quasi-Celtic setting, perfect brain candy.

Book #55 -- Rebecca Barnhouse, The Coming of the Dragon, 320 pages.

Don't let the childish fantasy cover fool you, this is actually a really good retelling of the end of the Beowulf saga, long after the defeat of Grendel and his mother. Rune is a foundling, an outcast among the Geats. But when a dragon attacks the settlement, Rune joins King Beowulf and his party to go hunt it down, and in the process, learns a great deal about his past and his future.

Progress toward goals: 207/365 = 56.7%

Books: 55/100 = 55.0%

Pages: 17654/30000 = 58.8%

2011 Book List

cross-posted to [livejournal.com profile] 15000pages, [livejournal.com profile] 50bookchallenge, and [livejournal.com profile] gwynraven
gwynhefar: (alone)
Book #52 -- A. LaFaye, The Keening, 224 pages.

Lyza knows her father is a bit odd. When he's carving in his workshop, he often forgets to eat or sleep unless her mother makes him come in. His words don't always make sense, and it's sometimes like he sees a whole different world than the rest of them. But Lyza loves her father, and she wouldn't do anything to change him, no matter what the village kids say. But when Lyza's mother dies suddenly of an illness, Lyza's world is turned upside down. Without her mother there to ground him, Lyza's father seems to drift further away into that other world, and some of the people in the village are talking about sending him away to the workfarm where all the crazy people go. If Lyza wants to keep them together, she has to decipher the clues her mother left behind to protect her family. But that other world has its claws in Lyza too.

Book #53 -- Lilith Saintcrow, Night Shift (Jill Kismet, Hunter, Book 1), 352 pages.

This is pretty much just pure brain candy. It's your typical kick-ass chick fights the monsters that go bump in the night story. The style is a bit too cinematic - there's only so many times I need to read that Jill's trenchcoat swirls around her ankles as she turns or that the charms in her hair tinkle. Also, the action gets a little bogged down when the author stops to describe every single motion in some kick-ass martial arts move. Narrative quirks aside, it's still an enjoyable representation of the genre.

Progress toward goals: 200/365 = 54.8%

Books: 53/100 = 53.0%

Pages: 16982/30000 = 56.6%

2011 Book List

cross-posted to [livejournal.com profile] 15000pages, [livejournal.com profile] 50bookchallenge, and [livejournal.com profile] gwynraven
gwynhefar: (birds of a feather)
Book #47 -- Samantha Sotto, Before Ever After: A Novel, 304 pages.

Shelly's husband was killed in a terrorist attack 3 years ago. She is slowly starting to piece her life back together when a man appears on her doorstep who looks amazingly like her dead husband, Max. Paolo shows Shelly a picture of Max and a young boy. The young boy is himself, Paolo explains. The man is his grandfather. Paolo explains that he has been searching since coming across a picture of Max in a book published by a friend of theirs. Recognizing the man to be the grandfather he thought was dead, Paolo has since tracked down another, more recent picture of Max on a restaurant website. Paolo convinces Shelly to come with him to confront the man they both loved. During the trip, Shelly recounts to Paolo the story of how she fell in love with the tour guide in a most unusual guided trip of Europe. The history Max recounts and the stories he tells on that trip take on new meaning for Shelly and Paolo in the context of a man who never changes, and never dies. I absolutely loved this book. It reminded me of the Time Traveller's Wife in tone, although I liked this one even better.

Book #48 -- Carmen Agra Deedy & Randall Wright, The Cheshire Cheese Cat: A Dickens of a Tale, 256 pages.

Skilley the alley cat has an embarrassing secret - he can't stand to eat mice. Instead, Skilley has a different weakness . . . for cheese. Skilley strikes up a bargain with the mice of Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese Inn - he'll serve as the inn's mouser and protect them from danger, in return, they will keep out of sight of the people and bring him treats of cheese from the locked larder. This arrangement works quite well at first, but soon Skilley discovers that the Cheshire Cheese mice are keeping another secret. To make matters worse, Skilley's mortal enemy, the vicious Pinch, has been recruited as a second mouser, and Pinch is determined to make snacks of all Skilley's friends. With guest appearances by Charles Dickens and other notable personages of Victorian London, this is a delightful novel.

Book #49 -- Will Adams, The Alexander Cipher, 517 pages.

In the same vein as Dan Brown's bestsellers, this historical adventure novel follows the search for the missing tomb of Alexander the Great. Very fun read.

Book #50 -- Jake Wizner, Spanking Shakespeare, 304 pages.

Shakespeare Shapiro leads a cursed life - between his embarrassingly weird parents, his total lack of social grace, and, of course, his utterly absurd name, Shakespeare is the consummate high school loser. About the only thing he can do well is write, which is why he's composing a hysterical memoir for his school's writing competition. But for all that Shakespeare excels at translating his personal upsets into humour, some things just aren't funny, and Shakespeare is about to discover just how serious life can get, and how good he really has it.

Book #51 -- Marie Phillips, Gods Behaving Badly, 288 pages.

The Greek gods are alive and . . . well, not-so-well, in modern London. Times are a-changing, and the previous rulers of the earth are now crammed into a single decrepit townhouse and forced to get day jobs. Artemis is a dog-walker, Apollo is a television psychic, and Aphrodite works for a phone sex company. But, diminished power or not, they're still up to their old tricks, which is unfortunate for Alice and Neil, two shy friends on the edge of becoming more when they're pulled into a jealous competition between Apollo and Aphrodite. But this divine spat won't just ruin the lives of Alice and Neil - it might spell the end for the whole planet.

Progress toward goals: 192/365 = 52.6%

Books: 51/100 = 51.0%

Pages: 16406/30000 = 54.7%

2011 Book List

cross-posted to [livejournal.com profile] 15000pages, [livejournal.com profile] 50bookchallenge, and [livejournal.com profile] gwynraven
gwynhefar: (Default)
Book #45 -- Catherynne M. Valente, The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making, 247 pages.

Took me awhile to get around to this, but it's wonderful. I had wondered weather Cat's style would make the transition well between adult and children's fiction, but it worked beautifully.

Book #46 -- Krista Russell, Chasing the Nightbird, 200 pages.

A YA historical fiction novel set in New Bedford, MA in the immediate aftermath of the Fugitive Slave Act. Lucky has been accompanying his father on the crew of a whaling ship for years, but when his father dies, his estranged older brother gains custody and forces him to work in the mills. Determined to escape back to sea, Lucky allies himself with Daniel, a young fugitive slave working in the mill, and Emmeline, a Quaker ship captain's daughter. But when the 'kidnappers' come to town, Lucky's plans are thrown into disarray and he has to decide if he will strike out on his own, or stay to help his friends.

Progress toward goals: 179/365 = 49.0%

Books: 46/100 = 46.0%

Pages: 14737/30000 = 49.1%

2011 Book List

cross-posted to [livejournal.com profile] 15000pages, [livejournal.com profile] 50bookchallenge, and [livejournal.com profile] gwynraven
gwynhefar: (Default)
Book #42 -- Terri Windling, ed., Life On The Border (Borderlands), 368 pages.

More in my reexploration of my childhood stomping grounds. I'd forgotten how amazing this series is.

Book #43 -- Crissa-Jean Chappell, Total Constant Order, 280 pages.

An interesting book portraying a teen's struggle with OCD.

Book #44 - William R. Freudenburg and Robert Gramling, Blowout in the Gulf: The BP Oil Spill Disaster and the Future of Energy in America, 254 pages.

The title of this book is misleading, as it's more about the history of the energy industry and the implications of America's love affair with petroleum than specifically about the BP spill. Still has some interesting information.

Progress toward goals: 171/365 = 46.8%

Books: 44/100 = 44.0%

Pages: 14290/30000 = 47.6%

2011 Book List

cross-posted to [livejournal.com profile] 15000pages, [livejournal.com profile] 50bookchallenge, and [livejournal.com profile] gwynraven
gwynhefar: (faeries afoot)
Book #39 -- Stephen Parrish, The Tavernier Stones: A Novel, 370 pages.

A thoroughly readable adventure novel in the Dan Brown/National Treasure mould.

Book #40 -- Terri Windling & Mark Alan Arnold, eds., Borderland: Where Magic Meets Rock & Roll (Borderlands Series), 244 pages.

Book #41 -- Terri Windling & Mark Alan Arnold, eds., Bordertown: Where Magic Meets Rock & Roll, 253 pages.

A trip down memory lane in honour of the new anthology just published. This series epitomised my adolescence. I wanted to run away to Bordertown in the worst way.


Progress toward goals: 159/365 = 43.6%

Books: 41/100 = 41.0%

Pages: 13388/30000 = 44.6%

2011 Book List

cross-posted to [livejournal.com profile] 15000pages, [livejournal.com profile] 50bookchallenge, and [livejournal.com profile] gwynraven
gwynhefar: (reading)
Book #35 -- Holly Black and Cecil Castellucci, eds., Geektastic: Stories from the Nerd Herd, 432 pages.

From a tale of forbidden romance between a Klingon and a Jedi Knight to the poignant story of a teen whose role as Columbia in Rocky Horror allows her an escape from a difficult home life this short story collection is written by geeks, about geeks, for geeks.

Book #36 -- Laurie Faria Stolarz, Deadly Little Secret (A Touch Novel), 252 pages.

Ever since he pushed her out of the way of a car, Camelia can't help but be drawn to Ben. With all the rumours going around that Ben was somehow responsible for his ex-girlfriend's death, Camelia's friends warn her away from him, saying he's dangerous. Ben tells her she's in danger too, but not from him. Something is certainly going on, but how can Camelia prepare herself if she doesn't know who to trust?

Book #37 -- Stephen Alter, The Phantom Isles, 210 pages.

When three friends recite a passage from an old book in the library said to conjure up ghosts, they don't really expect it to work. And at first it seems like nothing happens. But the next morning the librarian notices something different about some of her books - they have images in them where none were before. Images of faces - that move.

Book #38 -- Daniel Kehlmann, Me and Kaminski (Vintage), 195 pages.

Art critic and biographer Sebastian Zollner travels to a remote village to interview reclusive painter Manuel Kaminski, rumored to be not long for this world. Zollner hopes a biography published in the immediate aftermath of the old man's death will bolster his flagging career. The mystery of the old man's past, however, is much more complicated than Zollner ever expected.


Progress toward goals: 140/365 = 38.4%

Books: 38/100 = 38.0%

Pages: 12521/30000 = 41.7%

2011 Book List

cross-posted to [livejournal.com profile] 15000pages, [livejournal.com profile] 50bookchallenge, and [livejournal.com profile] gwynraven
gwynhefar: (Default)
Book #33 -- Kate DiCamillo, The Tiger Rising by Kate DiCamillo, 121 pages.

Life hasn't been the same for Rob since his mother died. His father barely speaks to him, he's bullied at school, and he lives in a motel. But one day he meets a new girl named Sistine who is just as lost as he is. Oh, and did we mention there's a tiger? Pretty deep, actually, for a middle school book. I liked the oblique association of the caged tiger with the children's repressed feelings.

Book #34 -- Marie Desplechin, Poor Little Witch Girl, 124 pages.

Lots of kids want to stand out - Verbena just wants to be normal. But coming as she does from a long line of witches, normal isn't an option. Now she has to deal with her ambitious and demanding mother and her newly awakened powers, not to mention school and friends and boys. Especially boys. After all, who wants to be with a girl who can turn him into a toad? Cute story, although I thought the ending was a bit rushed. Also there was some awkward phrasing and some choppy paragraphs, but that might be because it's a translation.

Progress toward goals: 131/365 = 35.9%

Books: 34/100 = 34.0%

Pages: 11432/30000 = 38.1%

2011 Book List

cross-posted to [livejournal.com profile] 15000pages, [livejournal.com profile] 50bookchallenge, and [livejournal.com profile] gwynraven

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