Archive for June, 2010

June 29th, 2010

» 24 Books: June

Sure enough, right after I wrote my last 24 Books update, I ordered the next Robin Hobb book — and finished it in a few days. I loved both volumes (it’s Robin Hobb, after all), but of course the second one was much more satisfying — a lot of character stuff paid off. And then it ended, and I longed for her to go on for another book or two or three, because what happens next is bound to be fantastic. I hope it’s in the works.

Audiobookage: I started to listen to Terry Donnelly’s reading of Anne Enright’s The Gathering. The book won the 2007 Man Booker Prize (I had a college course all about Man Booker Prize winners and love to get reading material from the lists of winners and finalists), and it seemed like it was going to be really good and interesting and well-written — but Donnelly’s reading was so overdramatic. So. So very very. I couldn’t stand it; I turned it off after maybe 10 minutes. I’m not counting this one, obviously, though I’m putting the printed book version on my library list to give it another whirl later.

In contrast, I absolutely adored Simon Prebble reading Christopher Isherwood’s A Single Man. Prebble is one of my favorite readers, and this book was a really lovely little snapshot. Doesn’t hurt that I was imagining Colin Firth the whole time (he played the main character in the screen adaptation, which is also currently on my library list — haven’t seen it yet). Beautifully written and read.

I don’t remember where I read a recommendation for Rebecca Stead’s When You Reach Me, but thanks to whomever! I listened to Cynthia Holloway’s reading and really enjoyed it. It’s a YA book (the main character is a twelve-year-old girl), but I happen to love YA fiction. It’s a nice, age-appropriate look at friendships and parent relationships, and has a wonderful “mystery” that coalesces at the end. It’s really only a mystery to the narrator (especially if the reader has looked at the back of the book or any kind of review or plot synopsis), but I still liked Stead’s pacing.

Rounding out June, a departure from my usual: Lone Survivor, by Marcus Luttrell with Patrick Robinson. It’s the story of Marcus Luttrell, a Navy SEAL, the lone survivor of an anti-Taliban operation high in the mountains of Afghanistan. I was in tears by the third page. Luttrell spends the first half of the book showing just what it means to be a SEAL — how he started on that path, and the unbelievably grueling training that candidates undergo. The remainder is the recounting of Operation Redwing: four SEALs heading into the Hindu Kush to find and hopefully capture or kill a Taliban leader, their discovery and the resulting battle, and ultimately Luttrell’s amazing rescue by the people of a small village. It’s riveting stuff, and I stayed up much, much too late last night reading it. I have the utmost respect for the grit and determination of those SEALs.

The only downside in this fascinating, funny, heartbreaking book are the occasional political — not asides, exactly, and I hate to call them outbursts, but — it’s clear that Luttrell has no love lost for what he calls the “liberal media” and what he sees as its role in the deaths of his comrades. I don’t really want to get into a whole big political discussion about it, but as one of the “lefties” he randomly lambasts I found myself feeling pretty alienated during those portions of the book, when otherwise I had nothing but respect, admiration, and gratitude for him. It’s a pretty complicated situation over in the Middle East (how’s that for understatement?) and I realize I don’t even understand the tip of the iceberg — well. Anyway. If you can look past the small smattering of politics (or are in sympathy with them, I suppose), I highly recommend this book. Fascinating read. I have the opportunity to hear Luttrell speak next month (which is how I heard about the book in the first place), and I’m very much looking forward to it.

2010 Book Count: 17 (+4 fluff)
January: 2 (+3 fluff)
February: 4
March: 3
April: 2 (+1)
May: 1
June: 5

June 9th, 2010

» 24 Books: May & June

May wasn’t a good reading month for me. I was incredibly busy and pretty stressed out, and trying to get through One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez. (Which I’m still not even halfway through, but I am determined to finish it dammit.) Lennie rescued me toward the end of the month, though, and lent me the latest Sookie Stackhouse book: Dead in the Family, by Charlaine Harris. I devoured it in a couple days.

If you like the rest of the Southern Vampire series (or the True Blood series, or whatever you want to call it), you’ll like this one. I didn’t think it had as much zip and plot as the earlier books, but I did think it felt like less of a set-up book than the last one. I thought Dead and Gone (the one right before this, with Sookie’s unusual great-grandfather [don't want to spoil anyone so I won't say more!]) was treading water, setting things into place for a bigger something. I don’t feel like that something really came, but I’m hopeful that it’s still on the horizon, and that Harris has some kind of overarching vision she’s writing toward.

Continuing the theme of series that I will stay up half the night reading, this month I checked out the audiobook of Robin Hobb’s latest, Dragon Keeper, read by Anne Flosnick. Not my favorite narrator choice for this book, and I briefly considered ditching the audiobook entirely and ponying up for the book version instead (the waiting list at the library for it is ridiculous right now), but I was already sucked into the story and it was too late. This is the first volume of two in the Rain Wilds Chronicles, but it’s in the same world as almost all of Hobb’s books, and continues the story started in Assassin’s Apprentice. I’ve already read some nine? books (I pretty much think Robin Hobb hung the moon) in this world, so I have a rather strong idea of the voices of the characters and her writing in my head. Anne Flosnick has some other ideas about it, but I was able to mostly ignore those.

Anyway, before I go off on a tangent about how wonderful Robin Hobb’s books are and how you should halt everything in your life (maybe even your job) to read them all right this second, I will just say thumbs up. And that the Rain Wilds Chronicles are really one big book split into two volumes, and I think I’m going to wander over to Amazon right now, even though I prefer paperbacks to hardcovers for fantasy books, and it will mean I only own one, which will eventually have to be remedied…

2010 Book Count: 13 (+4 fluff)
January: 2 (+3 fluff)
February: 4
March: 3
April: 2 (+1)
May: 1
June: 1

June 1st, 2010

» long weekend

I had to pull a tick off my toe this morning. NOT a good way to wake up. So now I’m all paranoid, wondering how long it was there, where I picked it up, if there are eighty-seven more lurking in my bed somewhere. I kind of want to crawl on out of my skin to somewhere safe and tick-free.

But then, driving into work this morning, I realized it’s Tuesday. Tuesday! What a great feeling.

I had a pretty fantastic long weekend. I missed having Bren up, but Beth and I had a blast in her honor. We had tons of good food, browsed Ikea & Patina & Dream Haven, visited the pony and Molly’s puppies, saw Prince of Persia (I liked it!), and went to a Saints game (complete with tailgating and fireworks). The weather was absolutely gorgeous, aside from some brief smatterings of rain during the ballgame (which worked as a nice excuse to smooch with my man under the umbrella, ha). Beth headed back for the wilds of Iowa mid-morning yesterday, and I spent the day with said man, enjoying the sunshine. We discovered swings across the street from my apartment. Swings! Swings are one of my absolute favorite things in the world. We also found a little walking path/alley/supposed park meandering through some of the neighborhoods just northeast of me, and spent a while walking through what could have been a movie set of suburbia: blue sky, singing birds, manicured lawns, laughing kids. The afternoon rounded out with a nap in the hammock, which is another of my favorite ways to spend a sunny day.

Before all that I had a pretty perfect Friday too, come to think of it. My trusty Friday night riding buddy and I took our horses out in the back field. All the baby jumps from the Pony Club rally a couple weeks ago are still there, so I jumped Poe out there for the first time. He found it all very very exciting, and charged boldly over everything (except that one run-out we had because he was charging TOO boldly pell-mell across the field — definitely need to bit him up a little before next time!). He even cantered into and through the water! After bopping over the three baby-baby fences we meandered over to the BN bank. He went up to the edge willingly enough, but was giving it the eye, trying to figure out what the heck it was all about. When Lennie walked her horse Ollie past him and Ollie popped off the bank, Poe’s expression was priceless: Oh! That’s how it works. Well, if he can do it, I certainly can! And he hopped right off after Ollie. This horse, he is going to be a cross-country maniac. I can’t wait.