ladyslvr: (Default)
2009-07-08 03:31 pm

Reading Contest - June Report

Books finished:

The Trophy Kids Grow Up: How the Millennial Generation is Shaking up the Workplace by Ron Alsop (2 pts) - Yet another book that tries to talk about an entire generation based only on the actions and attitudes of its elite East Coast representatives. The author makes a few good points about that select few, but then reverts to repeating himself. A lot. The first chapter or two would make a good, long magazine article. The rest of the book is unnecessary.

The Foolish Virgin by Kathleen Norris (2 pts) - A tepid romance novel written and set in the mid 1920s. Though interesting from a historical perspective, the story, itself, doesn't offer much.

Monkey Girl: Evolution, Education, Religion, and the Battle for America's Soul by Edward Humes (2 pts) - An excellent and very readable analysis of the history and politics surrounding the Kitzmiller, et al vs. Dover School Board trial of 2005 that legally challenged Intelligent Design's status as a science.

The Unlikely Disciple: A Sinner's Semester at America's Holiest University by Kevin Roose (2 pts) - Roose, a typical freshman at Brown University, decides to do a semester "abroad" at Liberty University to try to learn more about the Evangelical Christian Right, a segment of his own culture that he freely admits to knowing nothing about. Well worth reading.

Encyclopedia of The End: Mysterious Death in Fact, Fancy, Folklore, and More by Deborah Noyes (1 pt) - Purported as a children's book, though clearly meant for older (say 10+) children, this is a straight forward encyclopedia on death, dying, and various practices and customs associated with it. Each entry is succinct, clearly written, and tasteful. That such a book is even necessary goes to show just how far we've driven death and dying out of our lives.

Kitty and the Dead Man's Hand by Carrie Vaughn (2 pts) - Kitty goes to Las Vegas to get married and ends up on the bad side of Murphy's Law. The series continues to be enjoyable, though the series is obviously going through a transformation at this point and may be about to embrace a lot more of the fantastical/horror elements than it has previously dealt with.

Total points for the month: 11
Total points for the year: 76
Year end goal: 160
ladyslvr: (Default)
2009-06-13 12:06 pm
Entry tags:

"The Listener"

That makes two.

Being Human knocked my socks off. As far as shows about angsty, supernatural creatures go, this has become the paragon in my mind. So I eagerly await the second series.

Two months later, another show has come along that nearly took my feet along with the socks. NBC has been burning off a Canadian series called The Listener. Naturally, I missed the first two episodes, which were aired together, because NBC is not one of those stations I watch. Ever. So I downloaded them. Watched them. Researched the show. Learned that we're the last country to get it.

I've now spent the last week watching and surfing the thirteen episodes in the series. It is everything--absolutely everything--I want in a superpowers show.

Want to know more? )
ladyslvr: (Default)
2009-06-07 11:38 pm

Reading Contest - May Report

Books finished:

Seek by Paul Fleischman (audio) (1 pt) - An audio book that simply would not have worked in text form only. The main character is a high school student who was raised by his single mother. His English teacher assigns him to do an autobiography, so he creates his from the sounds that shaped his life. As his absentee father was a DJ, the sounds are primarily based on the character's search for his father up and down the airwaves.

Prince of Stories: The Many Worlds of Neil Gaiman by Hank Wagner, Christopher Golden, Stephen R. Bissette, and Terry Pratchett (3 pts) - A biography of Gaiman centered around the genres to which he contributed. Most of the information is redundant for people who are already fans of Gaiman, but wouldn't be interesting to people who aren't, unless they're not familiar with his entire body of work.

Good Fairies of New York by Martin Millar (2 pts) - A literary mess. There's a lot of stuff happening in this story, but it's all jumbled together with a lot of abrupt transitions between scenes and voices. The characters are difficult to distinguish and even more difficult to like.

Bloodlist by P.N. Elrod (2 pts) - An early entry into the good guy vampire and paranormal noir genres. Set is 1930s gangland Chicago, the main character is a newborn vampire who needs to solve his own murder. This is one of the few series for which I eagerly anticipate new entries and periodically reread the older ones.

Woman Hollering Creek and Other Stories by Sandra Cisneros (2 pts) - The stories detail very mundane events in the lives of very ordinary people. All of the stories are told from a woman's perspective and from a feminist angle. They also feature characters who are Mexican or Mexican American. The author has a poetic voice, but also has a propensity for lists as a descriptive device. Most of the stories are character studies, which makes them thin on plot or action.

Scarlet by Stephen R. Lawhead (2 pts) - The second book in the Robin Hood trilogy, this one focuses on Will Scarlet and his joining of the band of Welsh freedom fighters lead by deposed prince Rhi Bran y Hud. It's told mostly in flashback with frequent interruptions to highlight the fact of the storytelling. Like most second entries in a planned trilogy, this one builds on the structure established by the first, but has problems with stagnating in the inevitability of the story.

The Devil You Know by P.N. Elrod (1 pt) - A self-published novella set following the ninth book in the series, but dealing with events revealed in the third. It's a standalone story, so people who don't get the chance to read it won't be missing anything. However, it does serve as a fitting conclusion to the first trilogy that clarifies some of the points raised within.

The Opposite of Invisible by Liz Gallagher (audio) (2 pts) - YA. A teenage girl who is firmly in with the outcaste art crowd at her school falls for her best friend and a hotly sought after jock at the same time, only to have both of them express interest in her.

Peter Pan and Other Stories by J.M. Barrie (2 pts) - The story based on the play Peter Pan reveals a whole side to the characters that Disney conveniently left out. The story is dark and dangerous and suggests itself to be more of a commentary on child death than on the ostensible plot of growing up. A follow up story "Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens" is also included. This one appears to be the testing ground for some of the ideas that did eventually make it to the play, but is otherwise unremarkable.

Who Can Save Us Now?: Brand New Superheroes and Their Amazing (Short) Stories by Owen King and John McNally, eds. (2 pts) - Billed as being a collection of short stories about superheroes for the 21st century, this anthology mostly reveals that the authors didn't understand what made the iconic heroes of the comic book Golden and Silver ages so super. Some of the stories--especially toward the back half of the book--are quite good. A couple would have been better if they hadn't been under the umbrella of the anthology and its stated purpose. A few, though, only reveal a meanness, pettiness, and vindictiveness that is not in keeping with how superheroes are supposed to be.

Total points for the month: 19
Total points for the year: 65
ladyslvr: (Default)
2009-05-05 06:30 pm

Reading Contest - April Report

Posting a couple days late, here.

Books finished:

The Wanting Seed by Anthony Burgess (2) - A satire about a future world suffering from out-of-control human population growth. This story was probably a lot funnier when it was published in the 60s because of how many taboo ideas it proposes as reasonable solutions to dealing with population growth. Unfortunately for the satire, it's not the 60s, the world has changed quite a bit, and many of the taboo ideas aren't. As a result, I had a hard time seeing and appreciating the satire; and, at times, couldn't identify what was supposed to be satirical.

Extraordinary Engines: The Definitive Steampunk Anthology by Nick Gevers, ed. (2) - A collection of short stories with a couple of short novelettes that nominally represent a cross-section of steampunk fiction. Most of the stories seemed rather weak, though people more familiar with the steampunk genre might very well have a different view.

The Short History of a Prince by Jane Hamilton (2) - A coming-of-age story told across three decades, and centered around the defining year in the main character's life when his older brother succumbed to cancer. Another story that would probably appeal more to a reader who likes this genre.

The Know-It-All: One Man's Quest to Become the Smartest Man in the World by A.J. Jacobs (2) (Audio) - Jacobs details his quest to read the Encyclopedia Britannica from A-Z in one year. During this year, he also comes to terms with his relationship with his father while pursuing his quest to become a father. This non-fiction story is perfectly suited to being listened to in fragments over the span of several weeks. While interesting, it's very repetitive and thin on depth.

Total points for the month: 8
Total points for the year: 46