Friday, March 19, 2010

What I've been reading...

[edited to add: Blogger wouldn't publish the post with links -- kept giving me weird html error messages. You're on your own to find them now, but I trust that you'll be fine.]

Going Bovine, Libba Bray. They announced that she won the Printz Award while I was in the middle of it, so I had some external validation for my enjoyment of the book, not that that matters overmuch. (I just like being right.) It’s a quest story, a twist on Don Quixote, that's both bittersweet and wacky: teenage guy gets diagnosed with Creutzfeld-Jakob disease, has a visitation from a punk angel while he’s in the hospital, then busts out and goes on a road trip with a dwarf and a sentient yard gnome on a mission to save the world from (I think) getting sucked into a black hole.

A Bad Day for Sorry, Sophie Littlefield. Stella Hardesty is in her 50s, lives in rural Missouri, and killed her abusive husband several years before the book opens. She now has a business where she basically beats up other women’s abusive husbands and boyfriends for them. Also, she runs a sewing machine shop. Littlefield manages to write a book that's quirky-charming without ever veering into quirky-contrived and writes a heroine who is one of my favorite things, a salty broad.

In the Garden of Iden, Kage Baker. Time-traveling cyborgs. Forbidden love. The Spanish Inquisition. An extraordinary narrative voice. Botany. For the love of all that’s holy, read this book.

Faithful Place, Tana French. The third in her phenomenal Dublin-set crime series, this time written from the perspective of Frank, the undercover detective. I actually found this the least compelling of the three, partly because he’s dealing with a cold case and partly because he’s a more closely guarded character than the other two narrators and I felt held at arm’s length a bit. But even the least compelling of her three books is still better than 98% of what I read.
This seems like as good a time as any to mention that I finish less than a quarter of the books I start, maybe less than a tenth. Life’s too short.

In the Land of White Death, Valerian Albanov. I’m indulging a fancy for stories about polar exploration; this is the first I’ve finished. It’s a first-person account of a doomed 1912 Arctic expedition out of Russia, based on Albanov’s diaries. Their ship was locked in ice for more than a year, so he took 12 people with him and decides to walk/kayak back to civilization. Two of them survived, the ship was never seen again.

Ship Breaker, Paolo Bacigalupi. Awesome post-apocalyptic fantasy. World without oil, protagonist is a young teen boy, Nailer, who works on a salvage crew, crawling through the ductwork of abandoned oil tankers to collect copper wire and the staples affixing it to the sides of the ducts. He also has a terrible father who is a criminal and a drug addict and manipulative and MEAN. After a storm, Nailer finds a wreck with a girl alive on it and has to decide if he should kill her and keep all of her stuff, becoming the wealthiest person around, or go on the run with her, being chased lots of people who want to kill them, including his father. Outstanding world-building and pacing and intense action scenes. There were parts where I caught myself quite literally holding my breath and had to remind myself that it was a first-person YA story – the narrator would come out okay.

The Happiness Project, Gretchen Rubin. This book deserves its own post when I’m feeling more eloquent, but for now: She’s a genius.

1 comment:

David said...

this was great - thanks.

word verifgication = brani