Wednesday, April 01, 2009

March Readings

This was a strangely lopsided reading month. All books were finished in the first two-thirds of the month, with an eleven-day break at the end. Interesting, but I guess the middle of February was quite similar

Heh. I never knew that I was the kind of reader who went at it in fits and starts. I'll have to see if April turns my two data points into a trend.

Here are the books I read in March:
  1. Eclipse by Stephenie Meyer (3/5): This is YA Urban Fantasy. As is my norm, I had to fight my way through the beginning. I have trouble with Bella's endless sighing and Edward's games of dominance and control. But I was good once Bella remembered that she was the kind of girl who got her way, even if she had to be devious and underhanded with everyone, including herself. That, I enjoy. Also? Best. Comic. Ever. * [Warning: SPOILERS].
  2. Kitty and the Midnight Hour by Carrie Vaughn (3/7): This is a paranormal but not a romance. I found the werewolf society deeply repugnant and almost quit reading. I mean, why should I choose to hang out with people--now matter how fictional--who just grossed me out? But then it occurred to me that this might just be how werewolves lived where the main character was. After that, I was okay. I can deal with repugnant societies that are limited to a specific time and place. I'm also getting kind of tired of books that assume that one has to be a werewolf to be all about pack dynamics and dominance games. That's all human, pure and simple.
  3. Dead Until Dark by Charlaine Harris (3/8): This is the paranormal romance that provided the basis for the HBO series True Blood. It's a fun, murderous romp through the life of a mind-reading virgin and her boyfriend, Bob the vampire.
  4. Much Depends on Dinner by Margaret Visser (3/9): This is a nonfiction book on food history, specifically: Corn, butter, salt, lettuce, olive oil, lemons, chicken, rice, and iced cream. It's full of fascinating, interesting trivia. I had no idea that ice was pretty common i throughout history (if you were rich enough). The book is also concrete proof that people were warning us about factory farming 25 years ago.
  5. Suite Scarlet by Maureen Johnson (3/10): This is a YA contemporary. Maybe it's even marketed as teenaged chick lit. I dunno. It was a fun, fluffy read, kind of like cotton candy. Once the sweetness evaporated, I felt like something was missing. It took me a while to figure this out: it doesn't feel like anything that happened in the story matters--not even to the characters. But I was very impressed by the pitch-perfect description of what it's like be the poor kid in your crowd of friends.
  6. Equal Rites by Terry Pratchett (3/11): This is the third in Terry Pratchett's Discworld series, first published more than 20 years ago, and my second-ever Terry Pratchett book (unless you count Good Omens, but that's half Neil Gaiman too.) Equal Rites is subversive, interesting, hilarious, and groan-worthy, all at once. I had a great time.
  7. Frost Bite by Richelle Mead (3/15): This is the second book in the Vampire Academy series. I think now I know what the second book slump looks like. The prologue and first 100 pages were so weak I put away the book and decided not to finish. But, you know how it goes: I couldn't sleep; I got bored; I didn't have anything else with me. So I picked the book up again. The final 100 pages took for a nice, solid ride. I'm probably coming back for a third.
  8. Tender Morsels by Margo Lanagan (3/18): This is a retelling of Snow White, Rose Red. Despite promising, beautiful character introductions, the story never came together for me. Reading the book felt like my time on galley duty in the Navy: we took beautiful, fresh fruits and vegetables and turned them into mediocre meals.
  9. Three Shadows by Cyril Pedrosa (3/18): This a graphic novel, translated from French by Edward Gauvin. When I finished reading, I thought the story was too compressed. Haunting, tender, and sad, but still too compressed. Then I remembered that fables are supposed to be compressed. We're supposed to unpack them later. There's a lot to unpack here.
  10. Cooking Beyond Measure: How to Eat Well without Formal Recipes by Jean Johnson (3/20): The tagline on this book is, "for people too busy to do the equivalent of a small chemistry experiment when all they want is good food." I say to that, "Bah! Humbug!" This book isn't about principles of easy cooking. The only thing Jean Johnson dispenses with is the amount of each ingredient. The ingredients are all still there--just harder to find--and mixed in with a lot of text. As any technical writer will tell you, that is NOT the way to give instructions. The busy people reading this cookbook had better already know how to cook the things that they plan to throw together. Heaven help them if they don't know what a frittata is, or how to cook the prepared ingredients (quinoa, polenta, etc.)


* Now that I've seen the comic summary, I'm desperate to read Breaking Dawn... and I even have it on good authority the summary takes very little artistic license.
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