Book #16 of 2006

Trickster’s Queen by Tamora Pierce
Rated 10/10
Published in 2005, Random House for Young Readers
480 Pages
Started February 19, 2006
Finished February 26, 2006

This, my friends, is what reading is all about for me. Fantastic story, the kind that grips you and doesn’t let go until the last word. The kind of story that leaves you in with sniffles and the random tear or too perched on the end of your nose. The kind of characters that feel like best friends and leave you missing their company. The kind of book you hug at the end and wish you could start it all over again as if you had never read it.

I can’t imagine how hooked on this writer’s work I would have been, if I had discovered her when I was 10 years old. I’m almost that hooked now. I really admire Pierce’s writing. She doesn’t talk down to her audience. She has amazingly strong characters, especially her women, who are treated as the equals of men, in battle as in everything. I truly hope my daughter is a reader, for these are the kinds of books I want her reading.

Book #15 of 2006

Fables Vol. 4 by Bill Willingham
Rated 10/10
Published by Vertigo, 2004
240 pages
Started and Finished February 18, 2006

Well, this was definitely my favorite so far. So many questions raised in the first 3 sets were answered and just as many more asked. The stories are superbly drawn, the characters stay true to their…eh…character, and the story is fantastic. I can’t wait to get my hands on 5. And 6. And 7 and 8 that come out this year.

What makes someone well read?

I think this is a belated New Year’s Resolution post to myself.

I’ve been perusing various reader blogs lately and this is a question that I keep asking myself. Are these people better read that I? They are reading classics, best sellers, the avant garde, things that sound funky fresh and awesome…and I’m reading young adult literature and graphic novels. I will admit it, I generally detest classics. They are a few I have loved; The Scarlet Letter, Tess of the D’Ubervilles, The Great Gatsby. Does the fact that I have never read James Joyce, Henry James, or Wallace Stegner make me ‘not’ well read? Are the people who struggled through any of the “greats” really better read than I am because they read such difficult work? There were SO many people in my college classes acting like they absolutely worshipped the ground these people walked on. I couldn’t get what was so amazing about them.

I have been a bit of a book snob in the past. I’ll admit it. Hell I still am. I just called a comic book a graphic novel for pete’s sake. But I found that reading what the “better read” people were recommending was making me read slower, enjoy it less, and feel just plain awful. At some point last year I decided the hell with it, I was going to read what grabbed me and if it didn’t grab me within the first few pages I was chucking it. And for the first time in 3 years, I met my reading goal; 52 books for the year.

I think what I am trying to say is that it doesn’t matter how well read I personally am. I have enjoyed every single book I’ve read this year. I will continue to try new things. I plan on reading more by Joyce Carol Oates this year. I plan on trying Margaret Atwood, who scares the bejesus out of me. But I’m not going to make myself miserable anymore. I’m not in college. I’m not writing reviews for anyone but myself really. I do have an awful tendency to worry about what other people think, but I’m working on that too. I don’t care if I’m well read. I care if I read well.

Book #14 for 2006

Fables Vol. 3 by Bill Willingham

Rated 10/10
Published in 2004 by Vertigo
192 pages
Started and Finished February 18, 2006
Recommended by Andi
Genre: Graphic Novel

Best Parts: Same as always; characters, story and illustrations! And my two favorite characters hooked up; even if they were under an evil enchantment.

Worst Parts: Too short! I want more!

Review: Lazy version, and they do it better:

FABLES: STORYBOOK LOVE is a captivating tale of romance and adventure. After being hunted and hounded by a savage being called the Adversary, the legendary characters of fables and fairytales were forced to relocate to a magical high-rise in Manhattan. Living in peaceful disharmony for centuries, the literary figures have forged a dysfunctional existence of tentative alliances and allegiances. But when Snow White and the Big Bad Wolf begin an improbable romance, Bluebeard enacts a devious plan to destroy his rivals. Now as Goldilocks mercilessly stalks the two lovers in the Cascade Mountains, Prince Charming confronts Bluebeard in a deadly duel within the confines of the Fables’ New York condominium. “From Amazon.”

Book #13 for 2006

Mirror Mirror by Gregory Maguire

Rated 7/10
Published in 2003, Regan Books
320 Pages
Date Started: February 12, 2006
Finished: February 18, 2006
Genre: Historical/Fantasy Fiction
Reason for Reading: Didn't like Wicked, but loved the short stories I've read by him in The Faery Reel and The Green Man, edited by Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling

Best Parts: The combination of historical fact and fairy tale fiction.

Worst Parts: At times a little confused, disjointed. It was hard to want to pick it up, but at the same time hard to put down. Some of the fairy tale aspects were just very strange.

Review: This was an imaginative combination of history and fiction. Maguire has taken the true (but embellished) story of the Borgia family from the 1500s and the fairy tale of Snow White and combined the two. Lucrezia Borgia, daughter of Rodrigo Borgia aka Pope Alexander VI, and her family were famous for many things including supposed incest, murder, and treachery. She becomes the "evil step-mother" figure of the fairy tale.

For the most part I enjoyed this book, enough to want to try some of his other books. I have a feeling, however, that I enjoy Maguire's short stories more than his longer works.

Favorite Quote: "I believe in the floor. I put in in place and I walk on it. Faith is a floor. If you don't work at making it yourself, you have nothing to walk on."

Me! Me!!

Andi tagged me for an awesome book meme!

1. Name five of your favorite books:

a) The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon. Oh, this book just sent me into the throws of a bookish bliss not seen since the day I first met Joyce Carol Oates. Or that could be the other way around.

b) The Princess Bride by William Goldman. This has been only favorite lists since I was 13 years old and gaga for Cary Elwes. *sigh* Much, MUCH better than the movie. And I love the movie. I reread this every couple of years.

c) A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith. I didn’t meet this book until I was an adult, much to my chagrin. I’ve read it twice now and fell deeper in love with it the second time. It has such simple beauty.

d) To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee. Such a powerful story. I think I need a reread.

e) Harry Potter for the kid in me.

2. What was the last book you bought?

Fables Vols 3 and 4. I so *heart* these graphic novels!

3. What was the last book you read:

Fables Volumn 3: Storybook Love

Mirror, Mirror by Gregory Maguire. Very good. I enjoyed it much more that Wicked.

4. Last five books that have been really meaningful to you (no particular order).

a) The Alchemist by Coehlo. Such elegant writing. And such a great moral tale. Very powerful story that had quite an effect on me.

b) Trickster’s Choice by Tamora Pierce. There is a reason I’ve been reading so much YA fiction. It is the vein of my own pitiful attempt at writing a story. And here I found an inspiration. I have long wanted a YA FEMALE hero, a Harry Potter for the ladies, and Tamora Pierce writes about female heroes (or sheroes, she calls them). I want to write like her when I grow up.

c) Twilight by Stephenie Meyer. Same as above. I can’t believe this is a first novel. I’ve read it twice since Dec 05 and loved it oh so much more the second time. I can not wait for the next in the series.

d) The Faery Reel ed by Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling. Showed me that short stories CAN be good. I have never been one to enjoy a short story, with the exceptions of Flannery O’Connor, Alice Walker and Eudora Welty, but these anthologies by Datlow and Windling are slowly changing my mind.

e) Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer. Here I found one of the most precocious narrators I have ever encountered. And a great story as well.

5. Name three books you’ve been dying to read but just haven’t gotten around to it?

Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke
Paradise Alley by Kevin Baker
Winter’s Tale by Mark Helprin

6. Tag five people and have them fill this quiz out on their own.

Andi tagged me and Amanda. Don’t know anyone else who would do this, but if you do, I would definitely love to read it. This is the best meme I’ve seen in awhile.

At the Library

So, I went to the library today. Incidentally, I’m going on vacation tomorrow until Saturday, don’t be surprised if you don’t see me until Monday.

Anyway, I went to the library today. I had to get some books to take with me to the mountains, since I don’t own enough anyway. (Can you hear the sarcasm?) Ye Gods, I got 9 books!

Yet again, ANYWAY, while I was checking out, my favorite librarian Brandon (she’s a girl too) asked me if I would be interested in writing book reviews for the library’s website. Of course I said yes (must brush up on reviewing skills) and she took my info. I’m surprised at how much that excites me, but it does! I have, for forever, wanted to work at the library and now in some small vicarious way I’m going to get to! Yay!

If you’re curious, I got, and yes, I know I’ll never read all these:

Bluebeard’s Egg and Other Stories by Margaret Atwood
The Everything Potty Training Book by Linda Sonna (I dang well better read this!)
The Final Solution: A Story of Detection by Michael Chabon
Midnight’s Children by Salman Rushdie
A Stir of Bones by Nina Kiriki Hoffman
Trickster’s Queen by Tamora Pierce
Vile Bodies by Evelyn Waugh
and a couple of writing books.

God, I love the library.