Jan. 14th, 2015

venetia_sassy: (SH // Gladstone oh no! dead dog?)
What I've just finished reading

Underline: Greatly enjoyed; highly recommend.
Strikethrough: Did not like; do not recommend.
#Meh# It was okay; had some good points but I'm not keeping it.

Fiction - new

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

I bounced off this some time ago but trying again, it was very powerful. Spare writing but very dense imagery. I didn't read a lot at once. War is stupid and wasteful and horrible and humanity can be wonderful and terrible and so very ordinary. Yes, I cried.

War Horse (War Horse #1) by Michael Morpurgo

I saw the play last year (no, year before, now) and it was amazing. The puppetry was so clever and Joey and Topthorn really came alive. Again, it showed the terrible wastefulness of war (I cried.) The book ... a trifle too, hmm, twee? Better for kids, but see the play if you ever can. (I've never tried to watch the movie. Even knowing the film horses weren't being harmed, I'd be thinking of all the real ones who never came home.)

The Earthsea Quartet (Earthsea Cycle #1-4) by Ursula K. Le Guin

I've read several Le Guin books but not the Earthsea Cycle for some reason? I know we had this quartet at some point but it must have been loaned to someone and never come back. I'm not sure what to say about these except that they're beautifully written, you need to go with flow and you need to be in the mood for fables more than fantasy and it's interesting to see how easily skin colour can be changed in high fantasy and whites become the foreigners so why doesn't it happen more often?

Pangur Ban The White Cat (Pangur Ban Celtic Fantasies #1) by Fay Sampson - DNF

Thin children's novel picked up at a sale for light reading. Main characters were so unpleasant that I gave it up after two chapters - yes, they were meant to learn from their mistakes but since those mistakes were a) trying to kill a cat and accidentally killing a fellow monk who was defending the cat (but still blaming the cat for his killing!) and b) trying so hard to pursue the man who killed her brother that she drowns her horse in the pursuit even knowing the horse was out of its depth - yeah, I really didn't give a shit about the two humans, I just felt deeply sorry for the cat who was stuck with two people who wanted to kill him.

The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster

Utterly delightful and I can't imagine why no one gave me this as a child.

The Animals of Farthing Wood (Farthing Wood #1) by Colin Dann

Thirty-five years later and the environmental message is still depressingly on point. But it's a good adventure story and I laughed out loud as the animals rushed out of the church.

Corsets & Clockwork: 13 Steampunk Romances edited by Trisha Telep

Mixed bag, as with all anthologies but I enjoyed a lot of them. 'Romances' imply HEAs to me though and these ... er, not necessarily.

Non-fiction - new

Champagne: How the World's Most Glamorous Wine Triumphed Over War and Hard Times by Don & Petie Kladstrup

A bit scattered to start with but once it reached WWI, it was amazing and horrifying. The utter devastation of Reims and Champagne in general was so ghastly (reading about the Germans' deliberate destruction of the Reims Cathedral right after reading about Joan of Arc seeing her king crowned there made me feel sick) and yet the most celebratory of wines continued to be produced there. And the amazing way the population went underground to live in the limestone caves to escape bombing. I'd like to read a more comprehensive history of both champagne and Champagne.

Fiction - rereads

Tiger Eyes by Judy Blume

As an Australian, Judy Blume was not a formative author for me but the one book of hers I did read was a favourite. When I saw a trailer for the movie adaptation a while back, I quite literally nearly fell off my chair in shock - Wolf was being played by a Native American actor! It's rather sad how genuinely surprised I was by that ... I found the DVD at the library a few ago and it's a pretty good adaptation, I think. There's a bit more romance between Wolf and Davey but it worked well. However I was distracted because it had been so long since I read the book and yet so much felt familiar to me but I couldn't quite remember what had happened only in the book. Having read the book again (and loved it and cried), I'd like to watch the movie again (and cry again.)

What I'm reading now

Dark Continent: Europe's Twentieth Century by Mark Mazower

What I'm reading next

Mum just discovered two Christmas presents she managed to knock under the bed while wrapping others - Parks and Rec S1 and The Enchantment Emporium by Tanya Huff - and somehow didn't realise they weren't with the other presents she gave to me. (This is not really surprising. She completely forgot about the Marvel Encyclopedia she bought for me back in November - I had to remind her - and the same thing happened the year before with a handbag. She hides them too well and doesn't make lists, I guess.) I think the Huff book may be next for fiction!


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