Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Starting Children of God, plenty of tissues on hand

It was not nearly sunny enough for me to start reading Children of God, but I did it anyway.  I am exercising strict self-control and rationing my reading of it partly because I'm still getting over a cold and can't afford to get too congested from all the crying I am doing/will do but mostly because I don't want it to be over.  At the same time, it's painful to drag out all this suffering.  Once again, with feeling, I'm glad I'm not God.

The perils of lending

I suppose when I lend books to people with tiny toddlers, I should not be too surprised when they come back with new illustrations . . .

City of Fallen Angels: descending into darkness

Simon, I still love you, even if you had moments of intense dumb this time around.  I can't tell you how glad I am that you and Clary are still best friends after what happened between you.  It makes me sad and a little jealous.  Clary, I was kind of ready to write you off as annoying, but I appreciate that you're willing to take responsibility in a non-destructive way, unlike Jace.  Jace, well, I'm glad you're not dead.  Mostly.  But you're getting reeeeeealllllllly tiresome.  If you keep this up, I may start seriously rooting for your death.

I stalled out near the end of this volume because it seemed to be going somewhere stupid, but after a week to de-angst, I was able to finish it, and it didn't end as badly as it might have.  However, Clary, I hope next time you know just to leave.  The moral of the story is, of course, that you should never leave the tortured male lead alone with the not-quite-entirely dead body of his nemesis.  I thought we already knew that?

I'm actually kind of digging the parallel stories here.  The present day is the Mortal Instruments series, but there are increasing numbers of cross-over characters with the newer series (Infernal Devices) that takes place in the past.  It's building some great tension and curiosity about what happened in the past and how it's connected to the present.  If only they weren't so young and dumb and prone to little mistakes like putting the whole world at risk because of hormones, I mean, true love.  Ah, well, it's YA.  :)

Thursday, May 19, 2011

This witch is still magical (and so is Terry Pratchett)

How is it that when I finish a Terry Pratchett book, I am always wiser and gentler than when I started?  And how is this true when the books are also hilarious, clever, and comical as all get out?  I don't know how Pratchett keeps it up, but I love it.

I find myself feeling a bittersweet sadness with every Pratchett book I read now that I've learned he has early-onset Alzheimer's disease.  Will this be the last book?  When will the cracks start to show?  Will he be able to write all the stories he has in his head before his head becomes a strange place for him?

It must be ten times worse for him.  I wonder if he feels pressured to make each book end well just in case it is the last.  He's always made the Discworld books mostly self-contained.  I've always liked that about him.  No cliffhangers here. 

However, this most recent Tiffany Aching novel feels like a last one since so many of the growing up type issues have been resolved.  (And there are tons of cameos!)  I'm sure Pratchett could revisit and make something else brilliant, but I wonder if he just wants to stop while he's at the top of his game? 

Have you read this one?  What do you think?  Is he done with this corner of Discworld?

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Poetry + teenage boy + baseball = great

Books in verse by a male teenage narrator that are fun, funny, and sometimes touching: that's what Ron Koertge's Shakespeare Bats Cleanup and Shakespeare Makes the Playoffs bring to the reading table.  Novels in verse are starting to gain momentum in the YA market, and I find them fascinating.  They're a different kind of poetry collection, one driven by narrative in a different way.  Koertge's books seem particularly valuable because, not only are they entertaining, they can actually be educational.

For the poetry fan, they introduce the place of formal poetry in a poet's life.  They're mostly in blank verse, but there's a lot of conscious experimentation on the narrator's part and a realization of the challenge and value of formal poetry to present day writers.

For the non-fan who thinks poetry is irrelevant and has nothing to say that's as good/deep as prose, there's a lot of thoughtful, realistic work being done here.  How poetry can help us shape and process things is an important theme and one that rings true to my own experience as it's presented here.

I just wish this stuff had been around when I was a teen.  Maybe I wouldn't have avoided modern poetry for the better part of a decade if I'd seen how relevant, useful, and beautiful it could be.  Thank you, Mr. Koertge, for two most excellent books!  I'm looking forward to re-reading them the next time I need some inspiration.

The Quotable Rothfuss

Hey, fans, if you've read NotW or WMF, drop on by the blog o' Rothfuss and read everyone's favorite quotes and post some of your own. 

Friday, May 6, 2011

House hunting for sign seekers

Humans like stories.  We like to make stories up.  We like to give things meanings.  We like signs and searching for signs.  When signs seem obvious, they confirm for us that we're going in the right direction.  When we're desperate, any sign will do, even if we have to get creative with our meaning-making and interpretation.

When I was looking at houses, after seeing two abysmal ones, I finally saw one that was really promising. As we left that house and passed by a heavily wooded area, I saw a fox.  It was HUGE.  Many medium sized dogs would have run in fear.  It felt thrillingly like A Sign, especially when I consider how long its been since my last animal encounter, especially near my residence.

The next house we saw had a number and a letter, and the letter was the same as the first letter in my name.  That, too, felt like a sign.  The house was just in hideous shape on the inside.  Huge but a total mess and in need of thousands of dollars of work.  Perfect for a fixer-up family but impossible for me, no matter how much I liked the space and the layout.  I decided the address was Not A Sign. 

My life, my story, my choice, right?

Monday, May 2, 2011

Read it for the vampire hummingbirds

When I started reading this fourth book in a series, I had only the vaguest memories of what happened in the previous books.  The author earned bonus points by making that not matter at all.  (Excellent summary work, author!)  At the end, the author lost all those points by ending on a cliffhanger.  (You're better than that, author!)  Cliffhangers should never be allowed unless the next book is coming out in less than a month.

I rather adore Karigan because she's so practical.  Pragmatic, realistic characters get on my nerves less when they encounter relationship drama, even if they do make stupid (but reliably consistent with their character) choices.  Sigh. 

And then there was that bit with her father, which was kind of painful.  One of Karigan's faults is one that I share: we build up unrealistic pictures of people we care for and then get smashed when we're wrong.  It's really no fun when we are forced to confront the fact that our parents have pasts and still make choices that disappoint us.  It's not (entirely) their faults that we look at them unrealistically.  The intense disappointment we feel when we come to see that they are fallible humans is because we were wrong, and we realize that being an adult will never make our problems go away, and we can never trust our parents in quite the same worshipful way again now that we know them better.  Growing up sometimes sucks.

In conclusion: I still like this series, but the author will have to do something big to appease me after that cliffhanger.  (Good thing the plot threads are going in such enticing directions . . .)