Thursday, February 16, 2012


My nephew! Welcome to the Party, little man!

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Read-Whatcha-Got Challenge: An Update and a Confession

First the update:

12. Thomas Wolfe "Look Homeward Angel"

While I did write this name on my list and strike a line through it, I didn't finish it. I started it eagerly and after about forty pages, I just couldn't go on. Wolfe's prose is full of energy and crammed with ideas, but is just one shade off of purple, which is far too close for me. Let's call his prose violet. Next!

19. Deborah Harkness "A Discovery of Witches"

Easily the smartest vampire/witch/etc book I've ever read. Detailed world-building and humanly-drawn inhuman characters make the book very easy to get lost in, which is the way a book about monsters should be. What I didn't like about the story was the pacing. Far too long and lingering in the wrong places. The heroine, a witch who doesn't know how powerful she really is, spends too much of the story not knowing how powerful she really is. The damsel-in-distress act gets repetitive. While it is crucial for an author to love her characters, she must be ready at a moment's notice to drag their asses through Hell. Harkness mollycoddles her lead characters for three hundred pages and just when things get interesting, the book ends and we are told to wait for the sequel. Which of course I'll read, but I won't be happy about it.

34. Janna Levin "How the Universe Got Its Spots"

This is a wonderful diary by an astrophysicist/cosmologist as she pursues the shape of the Universe and explains how she came to the field. It's a treat to be inside a mind like this. We see her work and her life and along the way learn the ins and out of cosmic topology, relativity both special and general, and why the Universe might be a finite place. I'll admit that a couple of times the math shot right over my head, but for the most part Levin takes care to avoid that.

23. Mary Doria Russell "Doc"

A well-told story - no, yarn, in the best sense - about Doc Holliday and his life before the OK Corral. In Russell's hands, Doc is a living, breathing (painfully, due to the tuberculosis) human being. He is a deep soul, who spends each day with Death and in true Southern form, greets him with a drink and witty joke. The story shifts skillfully from one character to another, getting in their heads without having to rely on first-person narrative. It's a highly crafted narrative technique that Russell makes look effortless. This is NOT an easy thing to do and when it's done well, the reader doesn't even notice. I also loved the fact that Doc's Georgian accent comes through crystal clear without reading like dialect. It brought me back to Savannah every time he said something.

And now the confession: I bought a new book. Yes, I know, but the thing is, I'm going to read it before April 1st. My only saving grace is that I have to read it for work. No, that is not cheating. Why? Shut up! that's why.