May 11, 2009

you make me mellow

Posted in books tagged , at 8:51 pm by placeinthestars

Last night I finished reading Silver Phoenix: Beyond the Kingdom of Xia by Cindy Pon.

I enjoyed it – it’s a fairly straightforward adventure story set in a fantastical version of China, featuring the seventeen year-old heroine, Ai Ling, who goes in search of her father (who left home six months before on an errand to the palace and hasn’t returned) after a powerful man in town tries to force her into marrying him.

She has adventures along the way, meeting up with Chen Yong and his half-brother Li Rong, and finds out a bit more about her own past life.

I could have done without the various rape attempts, the characterization is a bit thin, and the ending is either a setup for a sequel or unsatisfying, but the world-building is vivid, with lots of cool monsters for Ai Ling to fight off, the pacing is great – it’s a quick, compelling, easy read – and I really enjoyed how much Ai Ling enjoyed her food, as well as the very tasty descriptions of what she was eating.

I would totally read a sequel if Pon chooses to write one.

***

May 8, 2009

i am human and i need to be loved

Posted in books at 4:49 pm by placeinthestars

I finished reading Precious Dragon, the third Inspector Chen novel, on my commute home last night. I enjoyed it way more than The Demon and the City. It builds on those events and features characters we met in it (Jhai, Mhara), but has a lot more of Zhu Irzh and Inspector Chen working together, which is what I liked best about the first book and what was missing from the second, so I was really happy that they were together again. I enjoyed Miss Qi and Underling No, the Zhu family drama, and the dragons. Even Inari got to do something in this one, though I would like her to have a large, more active role in future stories.

possibly a spoiler?

May 2, 2009

take me to heart

Posted in books tagged , at 5:26 pm by placeinthestars

I finished Liz Williams’ The Snake Agent the other day. I enjoyed it a lot – I really liked Detective Inspector Chen and Seneschal Zhu Irzh, and their odd couple buddy cop partnership, and the set up of the Singapore Three, and the afterlife. I also enjoyed Sergeant Ma, the lords of hell, and the badger. Inventive and intriguing. Am already halfway through the second book.

***

April 27, 2009

from the ghost that guards her grave

Posted in books tagged , at 1:02 am by placeinthestars

I just finished The Nautical Chart by Arturo Perez-Reverte (trans. Margaret Sayers Peden). I didn’t dislike this book, but I felt the narrative strategy was gimmicky when it was revealed, and there was also a lot of claptrap about how women are mysterious and unknowable etc. etc. which made me roll my eyes a lot. And I get that it was probably more the narrator than Coy having all those ruminations, but they kind of got annoying after a while, spoilers

April 26, 2009

there’s love waiting for the both of you

Posted in books tagged , at 1:09 am by placeinthestars

I’ve just finished reading Georgette Heyer’s Black Sheep, and I enjoyed it tremendously. Abby is wonderfully non-missish and full of good sense and good humor, and I liked Miles and his pragmatism quite a lot. The plot is predictable, but never overly convoluted, and nobody acts like an idiot in order to make it work.

***

March 10, 2009

i don’t want to change the world

Posted in books tagged , at 8:21 pm by placeinthestars

I just finished reading The True Meaning of Smekday by Adam Rex, and I cannot recommend it highly enough. Hilarious and adorable and smart and witty and did I mention hilarious?

This is the story of Gratuity “Tip” Tucci and J.Lo, the runaway alien with whom she ends up going on an epic road trip – in a HOVERCAR NAMED SLUSHIOUS – to find her mother, who’s been kidnapped by aliens. There are stops along the way at Happy Mouse Kingdom (the Nicest Place on Earth!) and Roswell, as Tip and J.Lo try to keep ahead of the Boov (the alien invaders, of whom J.Lo is one) and the Gorg, who want to take Earth away from both humanity and the Boov. Utterly captivating and inventive adorable and hilarious.

I love the relationship that develops between Tip and J.Lo, the sheer cleverness of the gizmos and gadgets in J.Lo’s toolbox, and the fun pop culture references and sly jokes (the urinal cakes!), as well as the commentary on colonialism, manifest destiny, and post-9/11 America.

Highly, highly recommended.

March 8, 2009

the city is a sorceress

Posted in books tagged , at 5:33 pm by placeinthestars

I finally finished The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon (trans. by Lucia Graves), after having put it down for a long while for reasons which I no longer recall. I am not sure I got everything that happened, because I didn’t go back to the beginning to reread, but I retained enough to understand the major plot points.

I would recommend it – it’s the story of Daniel Sempere, the son of a bookseller, and Julian Carax, a mysterious author whose books and life Daniel becomes obsessed with, and the book follows him as he unravels the mystery surrounding Carax.

It’s very much a story of narratives, of truth and fiction and how we shape our lives as stories, and how the stories we tell shape our lives.

The writing is rich and evocative and full of vivid descriptions and elegant turns of phrase (some combination of original text and translation, I’m sure) and unexpected humor and sadness.

~*~

February 21, 2009

all the time in the world

Posted in books tagged , at 7:15 pm by placeinthestars

Last night, I finished The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Díaz. What a fantastic read. Compelling, heartbreaking and hilarious, with a great narrative voice and an epic tale of family tragedy. Plus, all the hardcore geek references that feel true and natural and not at all forced.

Oscar’s behavior with women was discomfiting in many ways (stalkery much?), but not played for laughs (though other characters do laugh at him and his lack of sexual success) – I think it was clearly recognized by his family and friends as problematic. Nor was Yunior’s (or anyone else’s) womanizing glorified or treated as a good thing (it costs Yunior Lola, after all). In fact, I think the book spends quite a bit of time examining the ramifications of being a player and the destruction it causes.

highly recommended.

***

February 15, 2009

all things go

Posted in books tagged , at 5:21 am by placeinthestars

I just finished reading Neil Gaiman’s The Graveyard Book. *sniffle* It was lovely and hopeful and bittersweet and just… lovely. Sigh. Highly recommended.

~*~

February 14, 2009

the walls are closing in

Posted in books tagged , at 8:03 am by placeinthestars

I read Faro’s Daughter by Georgette Heyer the other day. I wanted to like it a lot more than I did. I liked both Max and Deb, but Deb’s convoluted schemes just irritated me. I skipped to the end so I wouldn’t have to read through them all, which is something I only do when a book bores or irritates me.

Disappointing.

~*~

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