November 2014 round-up

Books I’ve already talked about
The Unstoppable Octobia May
This One Summer by Jillian and Mariko Tamaki
Gate of Ivory by Doris Egan
The Crossover by Kwame Alexander
El Deafo by Cece Bell
The Magic Thief: Home by Sarah Prineas
Bellwether by Connie Willis

Other books
Igraine the Brave by Cornelia Funke: I listened to this one as an audiobook, which I think was a good choice for me. I’m not sure I’d have had the patience for it in print. It’s a pretty standard story, but one that the kind of reader who enjoys Nancy Blackett a lot would probably like.

The Sun’s Bride by Gillian Bradshaw: Bradshaw takes on Rhodes, and a naval story. I liked this one, although I felt a tad dubious about the romantic angle and the villain (who seemed very convenient and not completely convincing). Still, since I am a reader who enjoys books about the sea, this one had a lot to recommend it.

Nuts to You by Lynn Rae Perkins: I probably wouldn’t have read this one if not for the Cybils, because I am very much not an animal book person, and this is all about talking squirrels. But somehow Perkins won me over, and I ended up enjoying quite a bit.

He Laughed With His Other Mouths by M.T. Anderson: Cybils book. I didn’t find it particularly amusing or thought-provoking, and I disliked the footnotes. Anderson is best, in my opinion, when he writes about dark, weird stuff.

The One Safe Place by Tania Unsworth: A nice example of a middle grade dystopia that seems appropriate to the concerns of that age and also has some emotional resonance. The story is not groundbreaking, but I liked the characters and Unsworth writes well. I would say this is one for kids who aren’t quite ready for the intensity of The Giver.

The Swallow by Charis Cotter: So it turns out that if you quote Hamlet, especially the end of Hamlet, I am guaranteed to start crying. (“Flights of angels,” sob sob.) That doesn’t have much to do with this book, which is a lovely combination of quiet and spooky and emotional. I liked it very much and think it’s one I would have gone back to as a younger reader.

Boys of Blur by N.D. Wilson: Boys of Blur is an interesting book. I was completely immersed in it while reading, and Wilson has a gift for the rhythm of poetic language. I liked the characters quite a bit, and appreciated how diverse the small town was, in ways that seemed natural. But I felt like occasionally the mythic quality of the story led to a kind of sketchiness regarding character and motive which left me feeling a bit hollow. I admire it, I’d even recommend it, but the payoff just wasn’t quite there for me.

Gaijin by Matt Faulker: I thought the art for this graphic novel about a Japanese-American boy interned during WWII was lovely, but unfortunately I didn’t think the text worked. It’s clunky, and I found myself really annoyed with the main character (and especially his attitude towards his mother which seemed completely unkind for no good reason).

The Princess in Black by Shannon & Dean Hale: It’s interesting to think about this in the context of Liz B’s post on princesses; I think the Hales are doing something neat in letting their princess be both happy wearing pink and having tea AND turning into a monster-fighting hero when needed.

Blue Sea Burning by Geoff Rodkey
An Age of License by Lucy Knisley
Luck Uglies by Paul Durham
Bog by Karen Krossing

Other posts
I read Ancillary Sword last month, but I wrote my review this month
Links I found interesting
Gillian Bradshaw is a favorite author

TV & movies
I finished Parks & Rec, and promptly began mourning it even thought the last season hasn’t even started airing yet. I love having a funny, heartfelt show that I can truly enjoy.

Hoping for a new show to take Parks & Rec’s place, I started New Girl and ended up watching season 1. It’s not Parks & Rec at all, which I’m having a hard time not holding against it, but it’s a decent show. In the “watch when I have time” slot for now.

Murder on the Home Front is one I expected to like more than I actually did. I started the memoir it’s based on and while I didn’t finish it, my sense of Molly’s voice was of someone keenly intelligent, and perhaps a bit restless with convention. In the movie, she’s reduced to someone who makes every stereotypical amateur detective mistake, and a love interest for the brilliant forensic doctor. In short, I felt like this was a less-good version of Foyle’s War, unable to carry off either the mystery or the philosophical implications.

I have watched several episodes of The Blacklist now and I still can’t decide whether I actually like it. The premise of the show is interesting, but I don’t find the characters all that compelling, especially Elizabeth Keen. I’m also dubious about the heavy handed foreshadowing of a particular twist (and if it turns out that this was all misdirection, I will not be much happier). In short, I feel like I’m watching it more out of inertia than true enjoyment, which means I probably won’t be watching too much longer.

I’ve seen most of Poirot and several Columbo episodes, but have never seen all of them in order. Poirot in particular is great for watching while doing other things; since I have read all of the Christie stories, the plot is not a factor, and I can just enjoy the Poirot/Hastings/Miss Lemon interplay. (I do love Miss Lemon, and maintain that she’s a librarian at heart.)

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2 Comments

Filed under bookish posts, monthly book list, reviews

2 responses to “November 2014 round-up

  1. I have yet to find a comedy to… not replace Parks & Rec, which I know nothing ever will, but to find as much uncomplicated enjoyment in. There’s usually so much I have to overlook in comedy in order to have fun with it. Sadly I couldn’t get into New Girl when I tried it, so my search continues.

    • Maureen Eichner

      YES. That is exactly what I value about Parks & Rec. And I keep waffling on New Girl–when I wrote the post I was obviously feeling fairly positive, and now I’m not. Heh. I enjoy it, but I do have to overlook things, and while I value the way Jess & Cece are written, I also feel like it’s a fundamentally shallow show.

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