cerusee: a white redheaded girl in a classroom sitting by the window chewing on a pencil and looking bored (it falls on you and you die)
Romance:

Beverly, Jo:
Skylark
Secrets of the Night
Lord Wraybourne's Betrothed
An Unwilling Bride

(Beverly sold the premise of this one--uptight aristocratic dickwad weds illegitimate bluestocking--much more effectively than I would have guessed, based on what I'd seen of Beth and Lucien from other books. What I took away from it, though, was a strong desire to see even more of Eleanor and Nick. I just ship 'em so hard that all other Rogues books have subsequently deteriorated into vehicles for more fleeting scenes from the continuing saga of Eleanor and Nick.)

Balogh, Mary:
Slightly Married
Slightly Wicked



YA:

Collins, Suzanne:

The Hunger Games
(I already texted and e-mailed my sister with many a squee regarding the amazingness of this book--she was quite right about how un-put-downable it becomes once you hit a certain plot development early on--so I don't have much left for you. It's sort of a populist, dystopian, Battle Royale scenario, narrated by a very compelling, intelligent protagonist who is not a reliable narrator. Collins is brilliant, and I can't recommend this book hard enough.)

Catching Fire
(Sequel to The Hunger Games. Not as world-rocking as HG, because it's a sequel, but it moves the story along pretty well, and the ending made me want to bash my head against the nearest slab of concrete. I am very glad that the third book, Mockingjay, is due out in August.

A little bit of spoilery stuff. )
cerusee: a white redheaded girl in a classroom sitting by the window chewing on a pencil and looking bored (shoukei the formerly divine)
As it happens.

YA:

Jones, Diana Wynne: Enchanted Glass
(solid work.

It's really sad to think its probably her last, but she's put out several (good) books in the last few years, so what the fuck could I have to complain about. I have had literally my whole lifetime of Diana Wynne Jones's books; I count my blessings, and find them to be numerous and lovely. This woman has brought so very much joy and wisdom into my life: I reveled in her books alongside my older and younger sisters even when I didn't get along very well with those sisters; we all still love her books today. I have gone back to her stories dozens of times and not found them wanting, not ever. I love her, I love her works, I love everything she brought to my life.

I'm really sad, but I have a lot to be thankful for).

Romance:

Brockman, Suzanne: Over the Edge
(Man, I wanted to like this; I bet I never again run across a military romance author so pleasantly enlightened about feminism and homosexuality. And hey, it didn't suck; she can write a decent sentence, at least. But the sex was never all that sexy, and I only liked the A-plot, not the B, C, or D-plots. Brockman seems like a good person; I wish she was a better writer).

Beverly, Jo: The Devil's Heiress.

Balogh, Mary: A Summer to Remember
(I liked it more as a book than a romance. There are worse complaints, I guess).


Manga:

Azuma Kiyohiko: Yotsuba& vol. 8.

CLAMP: Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicle vol. 26
(Well, damn).

Nakamura Yoshiki: Skip*Beat vols. 16-20
(Oh, I had so much to say about these volumes! But I didn't write it down, and I kinda forgot most of it. I think it was ranting along the lines of how amazing this manga is for allowing Kyoko to remain the focus of the manga even in a storyline where she'd normally be sidelined--I mean, in what other shoujo manga do you expect a storyline nominally dedicated to mending fences between the delectable leading man Ren and his estranged dad to end up focused on said dad's budding mentoring of/hilarious feuding with Kyoko? (God, that was cool.) I love Nakamura and her genius for writing Kyoko. I could read this for a hundred more years; given the glacially slow development of plot, it would only generate ten years or so of actual story...).

Urasawa Naoki: Pluto vol. 8

Yoshinaga Fumi: Ooku vol. 3.
cerusee: a white redheaded girl in a classroom sitting by the window chewing on a pencil and looking bored (Default)
Novels/prose books:

Romance:

Beverley, Jo: Christmas Angel.

Crusie, Jennifer: Bet Me
(both Crusie and this book particularly are major favorites of a friend of mine. I didn't love the book nearly as much as her, but it's a good book. It's easy for me to see why she loves it so much, knowing her--I bet she imprinted on Min like a baby duckling on its mama).

Phillips, Susan Elizabeth: Natural Born Charmer
(soooo much better than the other Phillips I tried, What I Did For Love. I fell in love with the first chapter, cooled slightly over the course of the book, but was consistently impressed by the way Phillips portrayed Blue's artistry--she showed it very naturally and consistently, in a way that made Blue feel like a real person).


YA:

Ono Fuyumi: The Twelve Kingdoms: The Vast Spread of the Seas
(apparently between the initial meeting of Naokawa/Shoryuu/En and Rokuta/Enki five hundred years ago and their current state of their uber-competent rule and the moderate harmony of their interpersonal relationship, there were a few decades of dissonance. The book is about that, as well as about their initial meeting, which I already know from the anime.

Spoilers. )


Graphic novels:

Lutes, Jason: Berlin: City of Smoke: Book 2.
cerusee: a white redheaded girl in a classroom sitting by the window chewing on a pencil and looking bored (books)
I have to do this now because library books are due, and it got cold and snowed and the heat came on, so I can't keep piling these suckers up on the radiator.


Non-fiction:

Tyler, Royall, ed.: Japanese Tales
(this is an anthology of medieval Japanese stories--not folk lore, but rather stories written by upper-class members of the imperial court. I started reading this sucker back when I worked at the bookstore, some three years ago. It's a slow read, although an interesting and worthwhile read for people who are a) interested in Japanese history and culture, b) folklore and fairy tales, or c) Shinto and Buddhism. I'd heard for years about how Shinto and Buddhism harmoniously co-exist in Japan, but until I read this book, I never fully understood how that worked--I'd imagined peaceful mutual tolerance, but it's really more like a deep blending. You read about things like travelers going down some dangerous, haunted path, running into danger in the form of a powerful kami, and praying to a Buddhist figure. The menacing kami, however, sees that the traveler is a devout Buddhist, and, being a devout Buddhist his/her/itself, spares the traveler. It's a little bit like the way that various kinds of Western supernatural lore--vampire and werewolf myths--intermingle with Catholic imagery and Catholic beliefs--holy water, crosses, prayers, consecrated ground and whatnot).



Mystery:

Matsumoto Seicho: The Voice: Short stories by Japan's leading mystery writer
(In some other decade, I guess. It took me a few stories to adjust to the fact that in every story, the twist was signaled in about the first quarter of the story, and the rest of the story would be dedicated to following events to some logical end. I kept wanting some second twist closer to the end of a story, and it kept not happening).


Stout, Rex: Too Many Cooks
(Um, yeah, as [livejournal.com profile] snarp said, for a white guy writing in 1938, he didn't do too bad. And the story is Stout's usual strong stuff. But if the n-word or any of several other racial or ethnic slurs are dealbreakers for you, I would not read this.

I think Stout's racist like he is sexist--his is the worldview of an intelligent, thoughtful, sophisticated, creative, permissive and rather generous personality who is not, like, spectacularly socially enlightened for his era--I think he fits into his zeitgeist; he doesn't push the boundaries of his world. As a white chick who like snappy writing and vintage mystery, I find it easy and worthwhile to forgive him, but he does sometimes write things that need forgiving).



YA fiction:

Gaiman, Neil: The Graveyard Book
(I try to avoid Gaiman's prose books, because I don't enjoy them, but this was pressed on me by someone who knows my taste, and knows I adore Kipling. And, well, I finished it, which for me is pretty good when it comes to a Gaiman prose work, but I wish I hadn't known that it was a riff on Kipling's The Jungle Book before I read it, because then I would have been pleasantly surprised, instead of disappointed that it wasn't more like it. I love Kipling something ungodly fierce, and although Kim edges ahead by a hair as one of the most beautiful, loving, dream-like tributes to a real lost homeland I've ever read (the racial politics are actually really interesting, and not just massively depressing like, say, Heart of Darkness), The Jungle Book is nearly my favorite Kipling work. Gaiman's social politics are certainly easier to navigate than Kipling's (I mean, he did actually mean well, and he loved, loved, loved India, but boy was he racist), but if I was going to put them up next to each other, that's the only place where Gaiman would win for me.

Okay, will someone please tell Gaiman, for the love of god, that giving characters names like "Shadow" and "Door" and "Nobody" is fine when you're writing for comics--although it's still godawful cutesy--and the name is not the main signifier, but that when you're writing straight prose work, giving characters hideously unsubtle names like that is like slamming the readers in the head with a giant fucking brick over and over and over every single page? And to please stop it. Stop stop stop.

Alternatively, if people would stop trying to make me read Gaiman's prose work, he could continue to write books about people with BLINDINGLY OBVIOUS SYMBOLIC NAMES and using other textual tricks that so work better in a visual medium than in prose, and people who like that kind of thing could enjoy them, and I could ignore them in peace).



Graphic novels/comics:

Beaton, Kate: Never Learn Anything From History
(the only complaint whatsoever I have about this fabulous collection of Beaton's comics is that I had read them all recently enough to be able to remember them pretty well).


Hinds, Gareth: Beowulf
(hmm).



Manga:

Akino Matsuri: Petshop of Horrors: Tokyo vol. 6.


Asano Inio: What a Wonderful World! vol. 1
(okay, I remember these. I was so thrown, because I was sure I'd read some of these stories before when I heard they were licensed, but I started with volume 2 and didn't recognize any of them.

If you like Asano, you'll probably enjoy these. If you don't, you probably won't).


Azuma Kiyihiko: Yotsuba vol. 6
(the translation in this volume felt weirdly stiff--it's all still funny, and god knows, the art is expressive enough, but I know this could be better. Not the work, but the translation. Bummer. I never thought I'd say this, but I'm sorry ADV isn't publishing this anymore, because they were doing it better than Yen Press).


Tanaka Masashi: Gon vol. 3.

Urasawa Naoki: 20th Century Boys vol. 5

Urasawa Naoki: Pluto vol. 6
(bawl).

Yasuko Aoike: From Eroica With Love vol. 4.


Yazawa Ai: Nana vol. 18-19
(bawl.

My love for Nana K. continues to grow in a way I never envisioned when I picked up volume 1 of this book, lo those three or four years ago. There is something profoundly satisfying about watching a callow youth mature into real adulthood, and I think Nana K. has experienced more genuine positive growth as a person than any other character in this entire series. Some of her decisions are kind of anxiety-inducing, but they're decisions she made thoughtfully and even selflessly, and she follows though on them in a steady way that's kind of unimaginable for the person she used to be).
cerusee: a white redheaded girl in a classroom sitting by the window chewing on a pencil and looking bored (Default)
Novels/prose books:
Bierce, Ambrose: Fantastic Fables
(hmm. Lots to be said. Aesop's Fables, as written by a sophisticated late 19th century cynic; cynicism palls really, really fast. It's interesting, but at least from my perspective, not entertaining).


Romance:
Heyer, Georgette: The Talisman Ring
(I liked it! As I generally do with Heyer. She's very good, you know).

Sutherland, Peg: Queen of the Dixie Drive-In
(When [livejournal.com profile] telophase shipped this to me lo those many months ago, I meant to do an in-depth snarky review of it in lieu of payment. But I never got around to it, and then school happened. I think it was mostly okay? The prose didn't send me screaming and it wasn't hugely misogynistic or anything).


YA:
Jones, Diana Wynne:
The Game (way too short, but a good read. Loved the bit with the pork chop, and also how well the reveal worked with the prior characterizations; Jones always does that kind of thing well. There's a little part of me that keeps waiting for her to do some kind of truly pan-mythic story, but maybe that's not fair, especially at this point; she's a basically Western Civ gal, and I know that. And she does pretty good stuff with Greco-Roman/Western European/British Isles mythology; it's not as if she's stagnated with it).
The Spellcoats (reread),
Conrad's Fate (reread),
House of Many Ways (reread),
--totally meant to go on in more detail about all these rereads, but, as I said, school happened.


Light novels:
Ono Fuyumi:
The Twelve Kingdoms: Sea of Shadow
(I wanted to love this, and Yoko, as much as [livejournal.com profile] bookelfe did, but I didn't. I felt better about that after I went back and reread her post on it, and her comments about why she identified so strongly with Yoko--identifying with a character is always YMMV, and I'm not that person. But I totally get the bit about it subverting fantasy tropes. It's fascinating for that, and the more I go back and look at it, the more I like the structure and plot. The prose of the translation is unimpressive, but the story is good).

The Twelve Kingdoms: Sea of Wind
(awww baby kirin. And, while reading this book, I found myself suddenly hugely in love with the entire universe--reading the second book made me love the first more, and made me desperately want more of the entire world, and all the characters. I begin to get used to Ono's mind, and I like it).


Graphic novels:
Foglio, Phil and Kaja: Girl Genius book four: Agatha Heterodyne and the Circus of Dreams (holds up well on a reread).

Warren, Adam: Empowered vol. 5 (awwwwww fuckity.
But I'm relieved. I expected to cry a hell of a lot more than I did. I am simply grateful that I didn't cry more than I did. I think this series will eventually rip my beating heart from my chest and set it on fire, because that's what Adam Warren does to your heart. And you then say, "thank you sir, may I have another? Because I adore your clever writing, even though you obviously want to hurt me.")


Manga:

Akino Matsuri:
Genju no Seiza vols. 6-7 (was that another PSOH ref with the kirin? Say it's so, Akino!).
Petshop of Horrors: Tokyo vol. 5

Mori Kaoru: Emma vols. 8-9 (oh shit the Meredith bedroom scene was so hot! There is no sex, although there is sexiness, but the intimacy--emotional and physical--is so pure and tangible I kept having to put the book down and go oof).

Ninomiya Tomoko: Nodame Cantabile vols. 15-16.

Otsuka Eiji, writer, Yamazaki Housui, artist: Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service vol. 9

Takaya Natsuki: Fruits Basket vol. 22

Umino Chica: Honey & Clover vol. 4.

Urasawa Naoki: Pluto vol. 5 (and here I'd just boasted to my LCS guy that I knew everything that was gonna happen because I didn't see Urasawa deviating from the basic structure of the plot as outlined in Tezuka's The Greatest Robot on Earth. So far, he hasn't, but this is fucking Urasawa, man. He's a master of suspense. He will surprise you, and he will make you hang. And he'll do it well. It's why he's awesome and we love him.

Urasawa Naoki: 20th Century Boys vol. 4

Watanabe Taeko;
Kaze Hikaru vol. 11
cerusee: a white redheaded girl in a classroom sitting by the window chewing on a pencil and looking bored (books)
Novels/prose books:

Mann, Thomas: The Oxford Guide to Library Research
(not the novelist, the Library of Congress reference librarian and former private detective. He's a cranky sort, and I love him for it. This is basically a reference work, and much of text is devoted to enumerating many of the valuable and important resources still not available in digital formats, or only available through paid subscription databases--or, Why The Internet Has NOT Replaced Libraries, and Why Google Print Won't Either. Enough money and interest could make a lot of the non-digital stuff available digitally, but he's dead right about how keyword searching and ranking algorithms are no replacement for subject classification, subject headings, and value-added descriptors. A nice supplement, yes, but not a replacement for the expensive mental labor of catalogers.

I wish he was less blase about the copyright bit--he's pretty dismissive about the idea that authorship could function without strict copyright control, since we're greedy sots who want our money. That's arguably just realism, but it follows on the heels of a long discussion of the value of Government Documents, and, hello, LIBRARIES, which would be violating fucking copyright out the wazoo if not for the grace of First Sale Doctrine. Never mind that libraries predate copyright. But all that is an argument for another post).


Stout, Rex: Plot it Yourself and Murder by the Book
(Speaking of libraries, these are from my school library's pet "Bibliomystery" collection--a collection of mystery novels prominently featuring books or libraries. They're my first Nero Wolfe mysteries, and I dug them muchly, although they're definitely more along the lines of Agatha Christie, "read once, then toss," rather than Tey or Sayers, where you would keep and reread the books for their brilliant writing and characterization, not just for the mystery).


Wittlinger, Ellen: Hard Love
(A Printz-winning YA novel a friend pressed on me, about zines, first love, and a Boston-area teenage boy who falls in love with his lesbian friend. I was surprised at how engaged I was by this book--it's been a long time since I read a YA book with the power to grab my emotions this way. Recommended if you like good YA, zines, books featuring well-written gay people, or Boston. Me, I fucking love Boston, and everything else was a nice extra).



Graphic novels:

Geary, Rick: The Murder of Lincoln
(how does Geary create an atmosphere of suspense about one of the best-documented murders in American history? Incredible. It's like watching 1776, where historical knowledge does not diminish the power of the storytelling, or reduce the emotional impact--in contrast, the weight of history increases it many times over. I read with a lump in my throat that never went away).

Ka, Oliver, writer, and Alfred, artist: Why I Killed Peter
(I had a feeling disturbingly early on where this was going, but it didn't diminish the impact as it unfolded. This is Ka's autobiographical account of having been molested as a child by the titular Peter, a priest and beloved family friend. It includes Ka's blissful childhood up to that point, and, briefly, his subsequent, troubled teen and adult years. It gets pretty meta at the end, with an account of the adult Ka telling his friend and creative collaborator Alfred about the experience, and the two of them planning the book and visiting Peter. The whole thing was powerful and unsettling, but I can't tell you how much the last part got to me--it didn't feel gimmicky in the slightest, but instead very brave and honest and sad. Some of the last sequence appears in photos of Ka and Alfred, and there's always something about that technique, and the way it strips the sense of fiction away from the cartoon images of real people that really digs into the gut.

NBM ComicsLit).


Straczynski, J. Michael, writer, and Gary Frank, pencils: J. Michael Straczynski's Midnight Nation
(a friend lent this to me, hoping to amend my very negative impression of Straczynski as a writer based on the clusterfuck that was his run on Spider-Man, back when I still gave a crap about superhero comics.

It didn't work. It's so laughably silly and bad. Straczynzki's ponderous explanation of the conceit as having sprung from certain deeply dramatic events in his youth washed out any potential dignity the thing could have had for me--I know he didn't mean it that way, but god, it read as so very silly and flailing a connection--and the horrible, stiff, inappropriately oversexed, unimaginative art killed the rest. I know I liked Frank's pencils on Supergirl, but for whatever reason--because this is not a cape book, and I expect decent anatomy and clothing from non-cape books, or maybe because the inker and colorists failed or something, I don't know--his work is just hideous and lame here. I un-recommend this book).



Manga:

Yazawa Ai: Nana, vol. 14
(GOD.

I've really come to love Hachi, who's gradually growing into a much more mature, centered person than one would have initially anticipated. I wish we saw more of her. But I might have to take back everything I said about only caring about other characters as they pertain to the Nanas--I found myself with my heart in my throat for all the major characters, this time around.

And, oh, Nana O).
cerusee: a white redheaded girl in a classroom sitting by the window chewing on a pencil and looking bored (Default)
Graphic novels:

Avi, author, Brian Floca, artist: City of Light, City of Dark
(so very, very excellent. I amused myself by trying to translate the bits of Spanish dialogue without looking at the English captions for them. I didn't do very well, but I appear to have remembered more of my high school Spanish than I realized.

YA plot structure is so recognizable! I think I would have identified it as being a YA book even if I hadn't seen Avi's name on the cover).


Sabatini, Rafael, author, Various: Graphic Classis: Rafael Sabatini
(I haven't read any Sabatini before--don't look at me like that; I wasn't an English major--and I was pleasantly surprised by how much I liked his style. Very fun stuff).


Bell, Gabrielle: Lucky
(or, when slice-of-life gets whiney.

Sorry, that's not fair. I did really like it, but I constantly wanted to shout at the boyfriend, "Just pick an apartment and stay in it! I'm tired of reading about the author helping you move and you deciding to stop checks you wrote to innocent tenants who thought they'd found a roommate, you jerk." Maybe it's a New York real estate thing, where you have to move fast and put down a deposit on an apartment you want to rent ASAP lest you lose it, but I really disapprove of writing checks in bad faith, particularly when it's done habitually).


Manga:

Hirano Kohta: Hellsing vol. 3
(Doing wonders for the image of the Catholic church, those side stories are).

Watase Yuu: Absolute Boyfriend vol. 4
(I can no longer remember whether I read volume 3. I might have. I dunno.

This is not gonna go down in history as my favorite Watase manga, but man, I always dig her style. I'd rather be reading Ceres, it's just never at the library when I'm there).
cerusee: a white redheaded girl in a classroom sitting by the window chewing on a pencil and looking bored (the covers of this book are too far apar)
Novels/prose books:

Jones, Diana Wynne: House of Many Ways
(Yay! Diana Wynne Jones! Oh, how I love Diana Wynne Jones.

I don't think it's as clever a sequel to Howl's Moving Castle as Castle in the Air, but it's always a sublime pleasure to read a Diana Wynne Jones book I haven't already got memorized. I liked Charmain almost much as I liked the protagonist from The Pinhoe Egg whose name I have impressively already forgotten. That kid was awesome, though. Charmain's for Waif reminded me of the Pinhoe Egg kid's love for the egg; I get swoony over close, loving relationships with intelligent pets, especially dogs. I am also jealous of the Breakfast/Morning Coffee/Afternoon Tea magic, even though I enjoy cooking and don't mind the effort involved.

Charmain's such a gimme character--a red-headed, lazy bibliophile with a dog who just wants to be left alone so she can sit around looking at the hydrangeas, eating pastries and reading? Dude, what a stretch.

Like [livejournal.com profile] telophase, I wish there'd been more Howl (and more Sophie, too), but considering how rarely Jones writes sequels in her dozens of novels, I'll take what I can get).


Graphic novels:

Clowes, Daniel: Ghost World
(this was badly over-hyped to me. I assume that a great part of the fuss--aside from the fact that it was made into a movie, which is sadly overvalued by far too many people who read comics--comes from this having been published in 1993, when I assume it was in scant company.

Everybody in it is a jerk; I'm surprised it wasn't published by Drawn and Quarterly. No seriously, though, this "real people talking and acting like people really do" thing? Some people do talk like that, yes, and some people do live pointless lives of random, petty cruelty and have small, sad dreams. But that is only a part of the human experience. If I read this straight off of having read one hundred and eight Superman/Batman book, I might have been impressed by this; I probably even would have enjoyed it for its difference. But I didn't. And I'm bored to death by petty nihilism guised as authenticity).


Rucka, Greg, author, Steve Lieber, artist: Whiteout: Melt
(now with spies! I do love a well-drawn mystery. Note how skillfully Lieber avoids drawing Carrie's right hand until Carrie thinks about her hand. Awesome).
cerusee: a white redheaded girl in a classroom sitting by the window chewing on a pencil and looking bored (Default)
This everything I can remember reading since...oh, March or maybe a little before? Probably no earlier than February. I jogged my memory by looking at my bookshelves; if it was from a library, or elsewhere borrowed, I may have forgotten about it. I borrow more novels/prose/nonfiction than I buy, so this list is a little slanted towards comics and graphic novels, which I buy more often, because less of what I want to read is available from the library in a regular and timely fashion.

It's also slanted towards comics and graphic novels because I read a lot more of them.

School-related/academic reading: uncounted multitudes.
Poetry: like you care.

Novels/prose books:

Kipling, Rudyard: Kim (reread), The Jungle Book.

Eddings, David & Leigh: The Belgariad, The Mallorean (rereads).

Stephenson, Neal The Diamond Age, Zodiac.

Can't remember the author: Keturah and Lord Death.

Alexander, Llyod: The Golden Dream of Carlo Chuchio.



Comic strip collections/comic book collections/graphic novels:

Various: The Big Book of Hoaxes.

Eisner, Will: The Spirit Archives vol 1, The Building.

Ishida Tatsuya: Sinfest, Sinfest: Life is My Bitch (all the Sinfest is technically a reread, since I read the strip online).

Warren, Adam: Empowered vol. 3 (damn! just...damn. Adam Warren's obscenely talented. I am interested in his ideas, and would like to subscribe to his newsletter).

Buja's Diary.

Geary, Rick: I cannot remember their damn names, but the Jack the Ripper book, and the Lizzie Borden book. Which reminds me,

Graphic Classics: the O Henry, the Lovecraft, and the Stoker.

Moore, Alan and Rick Veitch, Swamp Thing (whatever that first Moore volume is titled).



Manga. This is where it gets long. )


And yes, this is typical.

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