Category Archives: books

Books Read, October 2010

Books
Fool’s Girl by Celia Rees
Blameless by Gail Carriger – This was a bit of a letdown when compared to the other two books in the series, partly because Carriger was using a particular stock plot from the romance novel that I find particularly annoying.
Royal Flush by Rhys Bowen
Rampant by Diana Peterfreund – This was the most fun YA book I’ve read in a while. Astrid is called upon to fulfill a destiny her family has been charged with – hunting unicorns. The unicorns in this book aren’t the shining happy mystical creatures that tend to populate fantasy novels. Instead, they are dangerous, malodorous vermin. Rampant has plenty of humor and fans of fiction featuring girls kicking ass would likely enjoy this book.

Manga and Graphic Novels

Library Wars #2
Sand Chronicles #9
Detroit Metal City #6
Dengeki Daisy #1 and #2
Bakuman 1 and 2
Jyu-Oh-Sei 2 and 3
Marvel Visionares: Walter Simonson’s Thor Volume 1 – I hadn’t read these classic comics before and this collection was just as awesome as I expected it to be.
Kekkaishi 8 and 9
Story of Saiunkoku 1
The Dreaming Complete Collection
The Cinderella Inheritance and The Cinderella Solution
Wicked Lovely: Desert Tales Volume 1

The Fool’s Girl by Celia Rees

I read a YA book every month for my YA book group, and I didn’t care for this month’s selection at all. The Fool’s Girl tells the story behind the play Twelfth Night, focusing on the daughter (Violetta) and son (Stephano) of the couples in the play.

Normally, I’d expect to enjoy this book, but I found it extremely dour and depressing and didn’t care for the depiction of Shakespeare in at all. It is very brave to write a book with Shakespeare in it because I think that most people who like Shakespeare already have their own ideas about the type of person Shakespeare was. This certainly prevented me from enjoying the book very much. Also, the framing story for the book was so bleak it was hard for me to summon up much enthusiasm for reading when Viola was dead, Orsino is hapless and clueless, Sebastian is a dissolute murderer, and Olivia is crazy and suicidal. For anyone that enjoyed Twelfth Night, this type of premise is a little hard to take. The play does have dark elements in it, but that’s a little different than making the characters from the play mostly unrecognizable. Violetta flees the sacking of Illyria and goes to England with Feste the clown where she meets Shakespeare and tries to foil Malvolio’s evil schemes.

I didn’t enjoy Shakespeare as depicted in this book. He seemed tired and overwhelmed. I would probably be tired and overwhelmed if I lived in the 16th century, but I don’t picture the man who wrote Shakespeare’s plays as having no sense of humor or delight in writing. Rees’ Shakespeare displays neither of these qualities. In portraying a genius author, it took almost 150 pages for Shakespeare to come up with a Cunning Plan, and Rees takes the lazy way out of saying that he has a plan but doesn’t let the reader know the plan which just seems like a cheap way of building suspense into the story. Then there’s a little mini-checklist of Shakespearian references that gets ticked off throughout the book. Is there a skull? Yes! Are there Oberon, Titania, Witches, and Puck analogues? Yes! Is Violetta a Dark Lady? Yes!

This book wasn’t badly written and it was clearly well-researched, but it just failed to entertain me on so many levels. If I could have gotten over the horribly depressing take on Twelfth Night that opened the book, I might have been able to suspend my disbelief more and found this book less annoying. As it is, I probably only finished it because I’m going to have to discuss it with my book group later this week. I really hope that this book doesn’t start a trend of rewriting wretched back stories for Shakespeare’s comedies, because I do not want to read about Rosalind from As You Like It ending up on the street as a toothless meth addict being slapped around by an alcoholic Orlando.

Books Read, September 2010

Books

The Hunger Games, Catching Fire, and Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins
Leviathan by Scott Westerfield

Manga

20th Century Boys #10
House of Five Leaves #1
Butterflies, Flowers #4
Arata #3
Gakuen Alice #13
Amber by Night
Demon Sacred #1 and 2
Antique Gift Shop #1
We Were There #6 and 7
Hetalia: Axis Powers #1
Gente #1
Otomen #7
Kaze Hikaru #1-4, 6, and 8

Books Read, August 2010

I was able to get more reading done this month since I was on vacation!

Books

The Red Necklace and The Silver Blade by Sally Gardner – Nice swashbuckling YA historical fiction with a little bit of fantasy set during the French Revolution.
Blood Smoke and Mirrors by Robyn Bachar – Fun, funny urban fantasy novel.
Boneshaker by Cherie Priest – I thought I should read some steampunk.
Dead Travel Fast by Deanna Rayborn – Not as strong as the books in the Lady Julia Grey series.
Nobody Move – Denis Johnson – Great modern crime noir novel.
Last Night’s Scandal, Lord of Scoundrels, and the Sandlewood Princess by Loretta Chase

Manga and Graphic Novels

Gakuen Alice #1, 12
Skip Beat #21
Honey Hunt #5
There’s something about Sunyool #1
Flower in a Storm #2
Nana #21
Handful of Harlequin Manga
Hyde and Closer #1
Alice the 101st #1
Future Diary #7
Alice in the Country of Hearts #4
Happy Cafe #4
Arata #3
Scott Pilgrim #6

Books Read, July 2010

I usually read more books than this! I kept picking up books and putting them down without finishing them after I finished the third book in the Millennium Trilogy.

Books
Girl who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest

Manga and Graphic Novels

Stolen Hearts 2
Butterflies, Flowers 3
Night Head Genesis #1
Goong: The Royal Palace 1-4
Johnny Boo Vols 1-3
Gatcha Gatcha Vols 1-3
20th Century Boys 8 and 9
Saturn Apartments #1
Twin Spica #1
Fables: The Good Prince
Fables: War and Pieces
Fables: The Dark Ages
Biomega #1
The Sheikh’s Reluctant Bride
The Shiekh’s Contract Bride
Sale or Return Bride

Johnny Boo Volumes 1-3 by James Kochalka

One thing I’m looking forward to as my kids get older (they are almost three now) is introducing them to some of the books and comics I like. Right now their reading tastes tend towards wanting to be read various Thomas the Tank Engine stories over and over again, which is fine. But I’m curious to see if they’ll eventually enjoy reading comics. I was lucky enough to snag the first three volumes of Kochalka’s Johnny Boo series at ALA and they’ve become a real hit at my house. The stories about Johnny Boo, his friend Squiggle, and their frenemy the Ice Cream Monster are simple enough to keep the attention of a three year old and fun for parents to read out loud.

The first volume introduces the little ghosts Johnny Boo and his friend Squiggle. They have debates about which is better, Boo Power or Squiggle Power. When they go to find Johnny Boo’s secret ice cream (secret ice cream is more delicious than regular ice cream) they meet an ice cream monster who claims to be friendly, but he swallows all the ice cream and Squiggle! Fortunately Squiggle’s loop-d-loops cause the monster to burp, and everyone becomes friends in the end!

The second volume deals with the stars and Johnny Boo’s flippy haircut. When his hair flips and Squiggle laughs too much, Johnny Boo proclaims that Squiggle will not be his best friend anymore. In fact Johnny Boo states “maybe this dumb old rock will be my new best friend.” Squiggle cries and he and Johnny Boo make up, but Squiggle decides to visit the stars to learn about Twinkle Power, leaving Johnny Boo alone in the dark.

The third book shows the effects of eating too much ice cream, as Johnny Boo discovers that is muscle is all floopy, but the Ice Cream Monster is strong because he has started eating happy apples. Johnny Boo tries to find the happy apples, only to run into mishaps involving mushy apples and the strangely compulsive eating habits of the Ice Cream Monster. Even when trapped in a monster’s belly, Johnny Boo and Squiggle manage to make the best of the situation, perhaps because the Ice Cream Monster’s stomach is equipped with television.

One of the things I appreciated about the Johnny Boo books was the pacing of the yelling. Frequently being able to yell things like “Boo,” “Squiggle Power Extreme,” and “Run from his butt!” does wonders for maintaining the attention of young children. If you’re reading the books to kids, you can encourage them to yell along, and I think any child will be happy to yell “Boo!” or “EEK EEK EEK!” if given any encouragement.

I figure any time my kids will independently pick up a book and demand a reading session, that’s a good sign of the book’s appeal. Johnny Boo and the Happy Apples has been a daily read for the past week, and I was interrupted when I was writing this post and had to read all three books in a row. So that was around 120 pages that my kids sat through since each book is divided up into short chapters totaling 40 pages. These books would be a no brainer to add to a kid’s graphic novel section in a library, and they’re great to have at home if you want to introduce comics to your children. The production quality from Top Shelf is nice, these are hardback books printed on nice paper stock so the illustrations look very crisp and clear.

Books Read, June 2010

I traveled a bunch in June. At least being trapped in planes let me read a few more novels than I usually manage in a month-long period. I started reading ebooks for the first time too, plowing through the Millennium Trilogy on the iPad.

Books

Silent in the Sanctuary by Deanna Raybourn
Lay Down my Sword and Shield by James Lee Burke
Naamah’s Kiss by Jacqueline Carey
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and The Girl who Played with Fire by Stieg Larsson
Personal Demons by Lisa Desrochers (ARC from ALA)

Manga and Graphic Novels
Library Wars: Love and War 1
Otomen #6
Toriko #1
Kimi ni Tokoke 4
Arata 2
Magic Touch 8
Flower in a Storm 1
Owly Volume 1
Agent Boo Volume 1
Portrait of M & N 2
Happy Cafe 3
Maid Sama 5
Millenium Prime Minister 1