Archive for October, 2011

October 31st, 2011

» 24 Books: October

InterWorld, by Neil Gaiman and Michael Reaves. I’m a pretty regular reader of Neil Gaiman’s blog, so I don’t know how I remained oblivious to the existence of this book for so long. I found it when looking for ebooks from my library, and I’m delighted I did. I don’t know the process Gaiman and Reaves used to write this together, but the voice presented is pretty seamless (though there are a few especially delightful passages that are obviously pure Gaiman). This is a story about a boy who steps between worlds, and I (predictably) loved it.

Snowdrops, by Andrew Miller. This is another I requested after the long list of Booker Prize nominees came out. I read about half of it in September before having to return it to the library; when I checked it out again this month I finally finished it. I’ve actually had my hands on a few nominees but had to return them before even cracking them open — too many books and too little time! Anyhow — I really enjoyed this one. It’s a dark, gritty story about a British lawyer’s stint in Moscow in the 2000s, and how he becomes caught up in the city’s atmosphere of corruption. Miller’s descriptions of Russia are entrancing, and his characters fascinating. The narrative is second-person, which almost always makes me want to crawl up the wall, but Miller makes it palatable here — definitely the best I can recall reading.

Jamrach’s Menagerie, by Carol Birch. Another from this year’s Man Booker Prize shortlist. I really loved this one at first: it opens with the main character, a boy named Jaffy, encountering a tiger in the street. While everyone else flees, Jaffy approaches the tiger and pets its nose; the tiger plucks the boy up and carries him off. This is how Jaffy is introduced to the marvelous Jamrach and his menagerie. The book is beautifully written and I was just delighted with it for the first – third? And then it started to go a bit grim. I don’t want to spoil it for anyone, but it gets graphic, and grinds on, and on, and on. It’s still well written, and wrenching, and interesting — but if I had known before picking it up just how much of it would be so intimately wretched, honestly I don’t think I would have read it. So I don’t regret it exactly, but I can’t recommend it without a big caution flag. I spent Saturday afternoon curled up in a coffee shop with it, frowning and wincing and complaining to Eric how horribly wrong it had all gone. (And then we went to see In Time, that new Justin Timberlake movie, which was horrible in its own way — great concept, appalling dialogue — and then we went home and watched Cloverfield and Dawn of the Dead (90s remake), and the next day I saw Paranormal Activity 1 and 2, and I’m nearly to the end of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo which has its share of graphic scenes — My point being, ’tis the season and all but damn I am ready for something light and fluffy and happy happy happy.)

2011 Book Count: 38
January: 6
February: 2
March: 7
April: 3
May: 3
June: 3
July: 4
August: 3
September: 4
October: 3

October 4th, 2011

» 24 Books: September

Love Me, by Garrison Keillor. I got a Nook for my birthday! It is awesome and I love it. This was the first interesting-sounding book I found that was available immediately on my library website. (They actually have a pretty good collection of ebooks, but lots have a waiting list.) I don’t listen regularly to Keillor’s A Prairie Home Companion radio show, but I always enjoy it when I do. I like his style and sense of humor, and I really enjoyed this book. His usual dry wit shines through here, and the book is packed with lots of Minnesota, particularly St. Paul, which I loved.

B is for Beer, by Tom Robbins. I’m normally a big fan of fairytales for adults, or adultish books for kids. I checked this out from the library along with Love Me, expecting something whimsical, fun, cheeky. I enjoyed Robbins’s Jitterbug Perfume — but I did not enjoy this. I found it by turns boring, laborious, preachy, and silly/absurd (and not in a good way). I’d give it a miss.

The Magician King, by Lev Grossman. This is the sequel to Grossman’s The Magicians, which I read in June. I liked it even better than the first one — maybe because I knew what to expect, style-wise. I knew to be patient, that everything would twist in the end and all the curious little pieces that didn’t quite fit before would all join up. I feel like Grossman lays out lots of – not quite clues, but little things, moments and references, and you gather them all up as you’re reading and then at the end you say Ah-ha! But it’s not something you ever would have guessed. It’s not a mystery novel where you’re trying to solve something; instead it’s a wonderful, dark, at times dreadful ride. I don’t know if he plans another novel in the series, but if he does I will be in line.

The Griff, by Christopher Moore & Ian Corson. I really like Christopher Moore, and I really like graphic novels, but I didn’t really like this. Meh.

2011 Book Count: 35
January: 6
February: 2
March: 7
April: 3
May: 3
June: 3
July: 4
August: 3
September: 4