jmc_bks: (daffs)
It's Monday! Time for SBD!

One of my goals for the year was to SBD at least twice a month, but I've been slacking on that for a variety of reasons, mostly because I've been struggling with the reading. March is almost over and I've read a grand total of five books. Five! Despite having almost 2 hours of guaranteed reading time while on the train! One of those books was Brockmann's Breaking the Rules (meh) which I wrote about last week, and another was an earlier SBD, Anna and the French Kiss. A third was good enough, River Marked, and merited a post on cover art. Which leaves two last books for discussion: I am J by Cris Beam and Why I Love Geeks by T.A. Chase.

I Am J was an impulse buy for in-flight reading. It is a YA GLBT book: its protagonist, J, is a transboy, born a girl physically but struggling with his gender identity. The book is well-written and appears to be well-researched, and it was worth the cover price. It gave me a glimpse in the the angst of a teenager whose typical adolescent issues are amped up by a factor of 1,000 because of the feelings of being in the wrong body and not fitting in. The book ends with the protagonist in a relatively safe and good place, looking forward to college and whatever might come next. But I doubt I'll re-read it, and I'm not sure why, other than to say that I didn't fall in love with the narrative. Solid B.

Why I Love Geeks was another impulse buy, and it was a rip off. The price ($7) was ridiculous -- the word count was less than that of a Harlequin Presents ($4.50). In terms of the ebook editing or formatting, there were a variety of typos in which similarly spelled (but WRONG) words were used. The prose read like fan fiction: not particularly polished. In fact, I've read much more lyrical fan fiction, thx. The suspense plot was unbelievable and over-complex, involving Chinese business, Russian spies, and an improbable pharmaceutical that makes people invisible. [Don't even get me started on the biochemistry. Even as a science idiot, I had to roll my eyes. I'm sure if The Biochemist attempted to read any of the "sciency" sections, she'd have a coronary. Because biochemistry is all about fast results and jewel-colored liquids bubbling in beakers.] One of the heroes was supposed to be a cute geek; his cuteness was exemplified by his filterless babble, which was apparently endearing. Or so readers were told repeatedly. Because there was a lot of telling and very little showing. The other hero was a cliche -- a taciturn, macho cop, from a long line of cops, with a big, nosy, interfering family. Seriously, I want my money and the two hours I spent trying to read this mess back. F.
jmc_bks: (armada4 - 08 Davis Cup)
Happy Monday!  I'm happy because I'm off today...which sort of makes up for the fact that I spent ten hours at the office yesterday.  But not really, since even on my day off I had to call in for a conference call.  (What's the point of a 9/80 work schedule when I end up working 10/95?)

Anyway, it's time for SBD!

I'm reading Stephanie Perkins' Anna and the French Kiss, a YA book about a girl who is sent to boarding school in Paris for her senior year of high school.  In the fall, this book got lots and lots of review blog attention, but I didn't pick up a copy until January (courtesy of [ profile] jperceval -- thank you!).  And after that, it sat in the TBR for a bit.  

In many ways, there's nothing new or different about this YA book.  There's an uncertain heroine who has been essentially abandoned by her family (although being left at a spendy boarding school in Paris isn't exactly a hardship, or as bad as being forced to live in the cupboard under the stairs and work as a house-elf); a potential love interest; learning about her new environment; building a new circle of friends while not completely losing the old; etc.  But Perkins is doing a pretty good job of reeling me in as a reader.  Even though I'm guessing that Anna Banana Elephant Oliphant will end up having a good year, I still want to follow along as it happens.

This description of Anna's father is such a clear dig at several authors who shall not be named, that it just tickles me.  Because I hate that they are considered mainstream "romance" instead of the utter schmoop that they are.  (There's nothing wrong with schmoop, but if you're going to make a living at it, own it, don't pretend it's high art.)  

...[H]is dream of being the next great Southern writer was replaced by his desire to be the next published writer.  So he started writing these novels set in Small Town Georgia about folks with Good American Values who Fall in Love and then contract Life-Threatening Diseases and Die.

I'm serious.

And it totally depresses me, but the ladies eat it up.  They love my father's books and they love his cable-knit sweaters and they love his bleachy smile and orangey tan.  And they have turned him into a bestseller and a total dick.

Also, I was fascinated by his clear decision about what he wanted to write.  There are genre romance authors who have made the same analysis, and who chose to write romance not necessarily because they think it's high art or even their preferred reading material but because it is an area in which aspiring authors can actually make a living, compared to other (more respected, socially accepted, pretentious) genres. 

At the store today, in the book/magazine aisle, I noticed that there's a graphic novel version of Twilight.  Really?  Was that necessary?  And sitting right next to that was The Harvard Lampoon's parody, Nightlight.  I was almost tempted by the parody.  But not quite.

Um, other than that, not much on the reading front.  Except I've got two paper boxes of books to donate to the library.  Anybody want some of them?  Most of them are books I read and enjoyed but am never going to re-read; some had been keepers but have fallen off the list; others I'm not sure how I acquired them at all because the blurbs are not at all appealing.  But if you're looking for some free books (and you are someone who has commented here before, please), drop me a line and I'll either send a list for you to choose from or do a random selection, your choice.  The books range from m/m to urban fantasy to category to historical to suspense.

On the fandom front, I have to say that it drives me crazy to read blue-collar American characters using British slang in their every day language.  The canon is clear -- Generation Kill could not be more working class and middle class American if it tried.  And still the characters sometimes use mobiles, or wear jumpers, or live in flats in fan fiction.  No.  Okay?  Just no.   A middle class Catholic boy from Baltimore would put on his sneakers or tennis shoes, not trainers; a dirt poor kid from Missouri would use a wrench, not a spanner.  That would be like having Dr Who talk about putting stuff in the trunk rather than the boot: not quite right and enough to drive a British reader crazy.


The US won its Davis Cup tie, and Spain won its tie.  Meaning they'll meet in the US for the quarter finals in July.  Potential sites under consideration by the USTA (?) are in Albany, San Antonia, and Austin.  I have family in Austin and San Antonio, and I've heard good things about Albany.  Road trip?

Okay, back to reading about Anna's year abroad.
jmc_bks: (meninas)
Title:  The Vespertine
Author:  Saundra Mitchell
Publication Date:  March 7, 2011
Publisher:  Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Source:  eARC via Net Galley

It's the summer of 1889, and Amelia van den Broek is new to Baltimore and eager to take in all the pleasures the city has to offer. But her gaiety is interrupted by disturbing, dreamlike visions she has only at sunset—visions that offer glimpses of the future. Soon, friends and strangers alike call on Amelia to hear her prophecies. However, a forbidden romance with Nathaniel, an artist, threatens the new life Amelia is building in Baltimore. This enigmatic young man is keeping secrets of his own—still, Amelia finds herself irrepressibly drawn to him.

When one of her darkest visions comes to pass, Amelia's world is thrown into chaos. And those around her begin to wonder if she's not the seer of dark portents, but the cause.

Why this book?  The setting caught my attention:  late 19th century Baltimore?  I'm in.

Amelia is sent to Baltimore to stay with cousins, essentially to find a husband.  After living under the thumb of her brother, August, she relishes the freedom to be had in the Stewarts' household, and the companionship of her cousin, Zora.  At dinner one evening, Amelia "sees" the future -- her cousin in a dress not yet made, dancing with a young man.  When she first mentions it to Zora, they both treat it as a joke:  Zora has a dress being made, but her young man never dances.  But eventually the vision comes true.  And then another.  And soon Amelia is receiving calls from many people who want to know their futures.  

In addition to popularity via prediction, Amelia meets a mysterious young man, Nathaniel Witherspoon.  Poor and working class, he's inappropriate as a suitor by her family's standards, but she doesn't care about that.  She does care and is fascinated to learn that he has a paranormal gift, one quite different from hers:  he can travel by wind and be called when she whispers his name to the wind.

Sadly, some of Amelia's predictions rebound upon her, ending with her exile.  (I don't think that's a spoiler, given the information revealed in the first paragraph of the book.)

What did I think of the book?  I enjoyed it, and I think anyone who likes YA paranormals or Anna Godberson's The Luxe series would probably appreciate the book.  The narrator is impulsive and self-indulgent, which is to say she is a teenager and acts like it.  She sees things, dreamlike, in the twilight, hence the name of the book.  The book had a sort of frothy gothic feel to it.  

Liked the use of the Baltimore "hon", arabbers, and the mention of different neighborhoods, although I do wonder if the Inner Harbor was called that back in 1889 -- at that time, it was still a light freight and passenger port, not a location a young lady would expect to inquire about or visit unless in the company of her family for some business purpose.  

Random editing comment:  Mademoiselle Thierry would be abbreviated Mlle. Thierry, not Mme. Thierry, which is short for Madame.
jmc_bks: (title2)
For SBD, I'm sharing a vacation read.

Title: I Was Jane Austen’s Best Friend

Author: Cora Harrison

© 2010 MacMillan

It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single girl in possession of a journal must write all her secrets in it.

Meet Jenny Cooper: shy, pretty cousin of clever, sparky Jane Austen (who has lots of handsome brothers and a vivid imagination).

These are Jenny’s secrets:

• She has never gone to a ball.
• She hates her school.
• She longs to wear a new gown and flirt with a handsome naval officer.
• She wishes real life could be more like a novel.

A delicious dance between truth and fiction this is a thrilling story of a moonlight flit, a dashing young man, and two girls in search of a hero.

Why this book? Because I was wandering around the bookstore at Dublin Airport, searching for something to read, and the cover caught my eye. As a general rule, I’m not a particular fan of Jane Austen fan fiction, but I was in a rush and needed something new to read.

What did I think? Well, it’s YA fiction, which I often enjoy, but it felt very…juvenile.

The book is loosely based on reality, in that Jane Austen did have a cousin named Jane Cooper who lived with the Austen family at Steventon for a time. Jane becomes Jenny, for ease of reference in the book. Otherwise, it is basically a mishmash of characters and plot lines from Austen’s books.  Jenny and Jane spend a lot of time doing teenaged girly things, talking about boys and family and what they want from their futures.  Jane's not the most likable person, really, and Jenny is a bit of a twit, although they are both products of their time and social position.

I don't know, it wasn't terrible, as JA fan fiction goes.  Neither does it stand out as being particularly well-written or original.

Keep or pass on? Passing on.

Read this author again? I wouldn’t go out of my way to read her other books, assuming that she’s written any.


Apr. 21st, 2010 08:52 pm
jmc_bks: (Default)
I'm failing Avidbookreader's TBR Challenge 2010.

This month's TBR book, Girl Overboard by Justina Chen Headley, was very appealing.  Loved the blurb, liked the non-white heroine/protagonist, enjoyed Chen's debut, Nothing but the Trusth (and a Few White Lies).  But I couldn't get past the half way point of Girl Overboard.  There wasn't anything wrong with it, truly, I just kept picking it up and putting it down.

For a review from a reader who loved Girl Overboard, check out Jia's post at Dear Author.

jmc_bks: (Default)
Tweets yesterday from @angelajames and @courtneymilan reminded me of Megan Whalen Turner's The Thief, one of my favorite reads in the past few years. Had to dig it out and do a re-read.

Reposting my review from April 2006, which can be found here with comments. It's a bit spoilerish in the end and there's a mark where the spoilers start.

Read more... )
jmc_bks: (star fort kinsale)
Fans of Megan Whalen Turner's Thief series have been waiting for the fourth book of the series patiently. (Mostly.) It has been three and a half years since The King of Attolia was released. What happened to Sophos? What will happen with the Medes? Is Eddis going to give in to the pressure to wed Sounis in order to secure the stability of the region?

In late winter/early spring next year, readers will find out the answers to some (likely not all) of their questions. Or so says Amazon Canada. Amazon US doesn't have any information, nor does Barnes&Noble or even HarperCollins, MWT's publisher. Or MWT's website (which, frankly, is not very user-friendly, IMO).

And from the 2009 HarperCollins Foreign Rights catalog at the Bologna Book Fair:

A CONSPIRACY OF KINGS by Megan Whalen Turner
Ages 10 and up, 400 pp, Pub 4/2010

Sophos, heir to the throne [of Sounis] has never wanted to be a prince, much less a king. He would rather continue his studies than learn swordplay or combat. But Sophos is his uncle's only heir, so he has no choice -- until he is kidnapped.

Sold into slavery, set to work building walls on the estate of one of his uncle's enemies, Sophos could remain anonymous for the rest of his life. But his country would crumble under the mounting conspiracy, and Sophos realizes that he cannot abandon his people. So he fights back. Battling his way out of slavery, battling through the conspirators' army, Sophos turns to the only person he knows will help him. His friend -- Eugenides, former Thief of Eddis and now king of Attolia.

An exhilarating companion to Megan Whalen Turner's lauded The Thief, The Queen of Attolia, and The King of Attolia, A Conspiracy of Kings is an action-packed, heart-stopping adventure. Finally, longime fans will discover what happened to Sophos while Eugenides was winning his throne and the queen of Attolia's heart. Old and new fans alike will be left breathless by the battles of sword and wit that the two friends mount against the traitors, in which nothing is what it seems. Sophos, the shy, dreamy scholar, is no longer someone to be disdained or overlooked. He is a force to be reckoned with. He is a king.

Megan Whalen Turner is the author of the three previous books in the Attolia sequence, Newbery Honor book The Thief, The Queen of Attolia, and ALA Notable The King of Attolia. She has also written a collection of short stories called Instead of Three Wishes.

Courtesy of the [info]sounis community.

TBR day

Apr. 16th, 2008 09:54 am
jmc_bks: (TDS)
Whereas today is the third Wednesday of the month,

And whereas I am participating in Keishon's TBR challenge,

It is encumbent upon me to post about the books I dug out of the TBR pile.

Jennifer Scales and the Messenger of Light )

Beyond Breathless )

P.S. I'm borrowing the format for Angie's older TBR challenge, because it is easy to use and I'm lazy.
jmc_bks: (barbapapa)
The holiday weekend in books: not very felicitous.

1. Down Home Zombie Blues by Linnea Sinclair. CBA --> DNF. Which is a shame because I’m sure this is a good book. 

2. Under the Rose: An Ivy League Novel by Diana Peterfreund. C. I didn’t hear much about this follow up to Peterfreund’s debut, which was promoted all over the place. No budget? Or was she burned by the overexposure? (I thought it was average.) Also curious about the format change – from hardback to trade paperback. The book itself? Eh. I didn’t mind spending 3 hours on it; I’m glad it was a library book, though. It seemed predictable to me, and I have an inkling about where it is going in the future (also predictable). Mostly I just felt impatient with the narrator, who never struck me as being as smart as I was told she was. 

3. If You Could See Me Now by Cecilia Ahern. DNF. Pretty cover. But if I had known from the backblurb that Ivan was imaginary, I wouldn’t have bothered even borrowing it from the library. Imaginary friends are okay for children but scream mental health problems to me in adults. Requires a suspension of disbelief that I can’t manage. 

4. Murder in Chinatown by Victoria Thompson. C. Interesting glimpse of turn of the century Chinese-Irish community. Okay mystery. All of the personal stuff that is hinted at between Sarah Brandt and Det. Sgt. Malloy? Eh. In the indelicate words of my impatient grandfather: piss or get off the pot. UST shouldn’t be stretched out forever; my limit is about 4 or 5 books; this series is long past that point. 

5. The Food of Love by Anthony Capella. DNF – not because it was bad but because I realized that I’d already read it. Went looking for a copy after reading Capella’s The Wedding Officer; realized I’d already read it a couple of chapters in. Good but not really worth a re-read IMO. B-/C+ 

6. Sugar Daddy by Lisa Kleypas. I actually have a bit to think about and to say about this book, but I’m saving it for Monday’s SBD. Unless I come up with something better for SBD, then I’ll post my opinion about Sugar Daddy earlier.

However, I did receive a Barbapapa book for Christmas! And a copy of Allende's YA book La ciudad de las bestias. And two Borders gift  cards.  Yay!
jmc_bks: (TDS)
What is a "groiny beat"? I'm assuming a sexy, dancable rhythm, but I'm not entirely sure. [Proof that I'm a dork when it comes to popular music.] Plus, the image that it puts in my head is not at all hot or sexy. When I read it, I thought of groin pulls and of big football players being carried off the field in little golf carts, which is probably not the mental place the author wanted me to go at that point in her story. Definitely not hot.

Where'd I read it? In Caridad Ferrer's It's Not About the Accent and Adios to My Old Life. I'm really enjoying this second YA book; I think Ms. Ferrer is going to become an autobuy for me.
jmc_bks: (star fort kinsale)

I'm not going to write about any HP7 content, I promise.  No spoilers here.  Just posting to share a link -- apparently Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, no matter how well it sells, cannot be #1 on the NYT list.  (H/T to Walt, who posted the link over at SBTB.)

jmc_bks: (Stupid)
I've been put on another project at work (in addition to my regular work, because clearly I need more than a regular work load). I've spent hours listening to a bunch of IBM consultants talk about internal controls. The result? A new drinking game: every time we hear the word "leverage" or "process" or "documentation", we must take a drink. I'm pretty sure we'd all have been passed out cold by the end of this morning's meeting.

On the reading front, I finished Caridad Ferrer's YA from MTV Books (via Pocket), Adios to My Old Life. A- from me, and sooner or later, depending on when my laptop is repaired or replaced, I'll post a full review. Also currently reading Daughters of Juarez, a nonfiction chronicle of the investigation into the disappearance of 400+ young women from Ciudad Juarez, the city sitting opposite El Paso across the Rio Grande. Interesting book, but a little scattered: does it want to be a true crime book? an indictment of sloppy Mexican police work? an indictment of the sexism and patronism existing in Mexican and American institutions when it comes to poor, politically-unimportant, young Mexican women? I'm not sure.
jmc_bks: (star fort kinsale)
Jane has posted a link to a spoiler to Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. A hacker claims to have gotten access to the publisher's network and posted spoilers. I'm not including a link, because that would be too much temptation for me. My mouse hovered over the link over at DA before moving away.

My speculation about HP. )

I'm not reading much romance lately. I've been trying to get through the stack of magazines that was accumulating in my living room, plus I got sidetracked reading HP fanfic. My recs so far: )
jmc_bks: (Truth by John Hodgman)
First, it's Monday, so it should be SBD. Except Beth is in Vegas. I would not presume to declare SBD in her place, but I'm going to ramble about SBDish things anyway.

Out of the loop. )

That law shouldn't apply to me, thank you. )

Brief Book Blurb )

Read more... )
jmc_bks: (Default)
Well, to be honest, my first venture into HP ff was the crossover Stephen Colbert-Harry Potter piece that I linked to a while back, Harry Potter and the Eagle of Truthiness. SC as Dark Arts professor was pretty funny, IMO.

I need to post a thank you to [ profile] eeyore9990 for her guidance on HP fanfic. More on the fanfic reading. )

The Biochemist sent me an link to Henry Jenkins' blog -- he's a media prof at MIT (I think) who attended Phoenix Rising, a Harry Potter conference in New Orleans last week. We'd talked about him before, or she had, when we talked about metas and the dynamics of fandom. Check out his interesting post on Harry Potter as a media phenomenon going against the tendency for fragmentation in media and entertainment as a media production that has gathered a huge, huge fan base that crosses age, race, financial, etc. lines.
jmc_bks: (TDS)
Borders is going to be offering two unauthorized Harry Potter books through September.  One is a biography, the other is speculative, titled The Great Snape Debate. Via Media Bistro.

Mmmm. Cake.

Apr. 5th, 2007 10:39 am
jmc_bks: (Chocolate)
Go check out Meljean Brook's post titled Carrot Cake: A Love Story.

Mmm. Cake. :sigh: Not on today's menu, unfortunately.

I've been unable to settle on anything to read lately. Picked up the ebook reader and opened four different stories, but didn't read more than 20 pages in each. A couple of passages grabbed my attention though:

"Matthew suspected he was made up entirely of opinions. And submission." From Laney Cairo's Bad Case of Loving You, which was better than the title would indicate.

And in Paladin of Souls, Ista's words to Cattilara as Arhys rode out to confront the Jokonans. I don't have the paragraph memorized, but it is about death riding out at his shoulder, and carrying the souls of his enemies before him. Makes the hair on my neck stand up.

ETA: And I just noticed that Ann Brashares has a new book coming out in June. An adult book. Her name is larger than the title on the cover, which means she's hit the big, big time -- her name is being marketed as much more than the book itself. I'm wondering if her YA readers are going to appreciate the change. The review by Publishers Weekly included in the record at Amazon? Not so nice, calling it a mediocre beach read.
jmc_bks: (Forward momentum)
Courtesy of The Biochemist, Scholastic has posted the Harry Potter cover art for Deathly Hallows. Better/more information can be found at The Leaky Cauldron. Personally, I like the UK adult cover art best. Would it be too odd for me to order my copy from
jmc_bks: (Default)
I was out at Amazon, buying a replacement book and CD (now that I've clicked to pay, I'm sure the disc and book will materialize in one of the places that I though I had checked), when I noticed that Harry Potter occupied two of the three top sales spots. The regular version was first and the deluxe version of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows ($39.00) rang in at third. What does deluxe mean in that context? I'm curious, since the regular version is going for ~$19. What does the HP fan get for that additional amount? Any HP fans want to volunteer information?


jmc_bks: (Default)

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