Sunday, February 24, 2008

Shiva Time

Well, I've been neglecting my blog and my bird, but I'm getting around to both right now. Shiva is a peach-faced lovebird that is smaller than a common sparrow, but has the strength of ten because her heart is evil. Right now, between giving me kisses, she's stalking the Rottweiler. Talk about delusions of grandeur.
32. The Grenadillo Box by Janet Gleeson. This was a Group Book Read over on goodreads, and I ordered it from a dealer on Amazon on Jan. 16. Plenty of time to read it the first of February, I thought. But it took until Feb. 13 to get here, so I am behind. This is a mystery set in the 1700's, wrapped around the historical person of Thomas Chippendale, the famous furniture maker from London. It is written in fairly uneven first person, Hopson veering from brilliant deductions to cowardly churlishness.
33. The Honor of the Queen by David Weber. Honor's continuing adventures, covering herself with glory and fame, and losing herself an eye and half a face.
34. The Short Victorious Style by David Weber. Honor continues, finding revenge against her old enemy and true love, but the story is swamped under multi-tons of details: laser impellers grasers...everything but dilithium crystals. Meh.
35. Dog Days by John Levitt. This first novel has some interesting characters, but I've seen them before. The protagonist, a Harry Dresden look-alike, is a talented "practitioner" of magic, but a lone wolf, messy and slovenly, but comes in when it counts, albeit gathering his fair share of blood and damage. It ends in a predictable "oh my what will I do with my life now" set up for the sequel.

Monday, February 18, 2008

I've got to catch up

My mom has been in the hospital this week, and I spent one night with her as she is 95, blind, and mostly deaf. The staff was afraid she would get up and become disoriented, and end up breaking her hip. So I taught Wednesday, spent the night at DMH, then left to teach all day Thursday. I was a zombie, really. But she's home now, and doing well. Then DH and I went away for a romantic overnight at a local bed and breakfast, and a wonderful shopping trip. So...lots of reading, but no blogging. Here we go!
31. Windhaven by George R. R. Martin and Lisa Tuttle. This was a huge disappointment, as I am a huge fan of Martin's Song of Ice and Fire series. I've never heard of Lisa Tuttle, so maybe the blame can be laid at her door. This is the story of Maris' struggle to overcome tradition and allow skill to determine who can become flyers. Sounds wonderful, but the whole book is depressing. Every victory is tainted with death and loss, and at the end of the book you just feel like the whole thing wasn't worth the effort. Meh.
32. Sten by Chris Bunch and Allan Cole. Wonderful start to an old SF adventure series, full of memorable characters and true love that survives all odds. Definitely worth the read.
33. On Basilisk Station by David Weber. Strong female character with cute cat character who is a charismatic hero, a captain of her own ship who never gives up, who never surrenders. Great book, although heavy on the theoretical physics (I just skim over that), and peculiarly repetitive on the fact that Honor is not pretty. I suppose because a beautiful woman wouldn't be taken as seriously?

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Medieval mystery

30 is Ian Morson's Falconer and the Face of God, a historical mystery set in 1267 in Oxford. It is a good story, filled with great details of alchemists, Francis Bacon, the King's Jews, and traveling jongleurs (actors/jugglers/acrobats).
My kidneystones have been jiggling round again, and my right side feels like someone sewed a grapefruit under the skin, but I've only had one bout of intense pain, and hopefully this is just the irritated flesh grumbling about. More cranberry juice for me. At this rate, I've consumed the entire production of Massachusetts, or wherever they grow them.
There is a memorial service tomorrow for a woman I've known since I was thirteen or so, who gave me my first job and taught me to cook, who taught me most of everything I know about herbs and wild foods. She's been battling cancer for 10 years, and we both had chemo during the same time period this summer. She died Monday night, and I am dreading going to her service. I feel guilty -- I lived and she didn't . I know it's irrational, but I feel like no one wants to see the survivor when you're mourning the death of someone who was so vital and in charge of her own business.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Fantasy and Reality

28 is Harry Turtledove's The Wisdom of the Fox, a sword and sorcery epic which is, as always, grand and sweeping. It is interesting to see the hero, having won fair lady, lose her to a passing horse trader because he didn't pay enough attention to her, being too busy trying to keep the peace in a barbarian-beset land. His sidekick, Van of the Strong Arm, is a perfect echo of the Gaul Viridovix in the Legion Cycle by Turtledove, so perfect that it is distracting at times -- I find myself questioning what book I am reading.
29 is a non-fiction book, The Devil in the White City, by Erik Larson. It is subtitled Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair That Changed America, which is a good summary of the book. It speaks of the 1893 World's Fair in Chicago, the people who built it, dreamed it up, and those who exploited it. It is also the story of H. H. Holmes, a psychopath that used the Fair to kill perhaps 200 people, mostly young women. Actually, with all the news stories that came out as they traced him and his killing spree, I'm amazed I've never heard of him. It's full of interesting ways that the Fair influenced our world: Walt Disney's father helped build it, and told him many stories of the fantastical buildings, L. Frank Baum wrote Wizard of Oz after seeing the White City, and Frank Lloyd Wright got his start here.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Warning: Slow moving book

27 is David Anthony Durham's Acacia Book One The War With The Mein. The first one hundred pages are verrrrrrrrry slow going, and I almost bailed out, but I was determined to finish this. By the middle, it was very interesting: the king of Acacia has been assassinated by one of the Mein, a people who were dominated and sent into exile centuries ago. The king's four children are hidden away in distant countries to save them from the Mein, who sweep through the country, destroying the Acacians by introducing a deadly plague. The eldest daughter, Corinn, is captured and kept in the palace as a trophy. She ends up as the mistress of the Mein leader, Hanish. The eldest son, Aliver who ends up a desert warrior, Dariel, the youngest, who ends up a pirate, and Mena, the younger daughter, who ends up the living representative of a raging goddess, bond together to retake their father's throne, promising to end slave trade, build a utopian future. Unfortunately, the end of the book is a real downer. I won't spoil it, but I don't think I'll go on with the series.