Mothwing
31 October 2014 @ 08:02 pm
Books round-up: October  
82.

Heppermann, Christine: Poisoned Apples: Poems for You, My Pretty
Feminist fairy tale poetry, a really enjoyable combination. The subjects often address issues of body image and self-worth as well as eating disorders, sometimes a little unsubtle, often times enjoyable through the lens of fairy tales. Some experiences are too US America specific to resonate with me, others seem truly universal.

81.

Abedi, Isabel: Isola
Only read this book if its in your library, or don't, because you already know it and the cardboard characters never really come to life.Read more... )

80.

Rothfuss, Patrick: The Slow Regard of Silent Things
More later, I have to reread this a couple of times to savour it. For now: The only thing that spoiled my reading experience of this beautiful volume was the author's constant need to apologise for this story which isn't run-off-the-mill and normal. This is incredible to me, and wrong - more of an apology would be needed for a story that is yet again the same as any other story.
This wasn't, and it was beautiful. I could have done without the frame story of Auri waiting for Kvothe, as I'd have loved to hear more about her time before the beginning of the plot of the Kingkiller Chronicle and her relationship with the masters. As it is, it remains a charming and saddening insight into her wonderous world in the belly of the university.

79.

Snicket, Lemony: Shouldn't You be in School?
I really enjoy this new series, though not as much as I did the ASoUE.

78.

Jung, Marius: Singen können die alle!: Handbuch für Negerfreunde
Sometimes cynical, sometimes funny account of racism in Germany by a black comedian. He talks about his youth growing up as the black child of white middle class parents, his experiences as an actor in a country that still doesn't really realise not all of its inhabitants are whitee and white wannabe saviours.
I don't agree with the fact that political correctness is a bad thing, though I agree that it should not be the only underlying reason for changing one's behaviour.

77.

Harris, Joanne: Gospel of Loki
I like this modern version of the Lokabrenna, which works as a prequel to Runemarks, though some details are different. The contemporary phrases that crop up annoyed me vaguely to the and I didn't see their point. They didn't endear the characters to me, if that was the idea.
Loki is as entertaining and human and as a prequel he couldn't have been much different, though I'd really like to see a Loki that does not suffer from this civilising softening. It makes us understand the characters as humans, but in their original context they were different, revered as forces of nature and arbiters of life a and death. they were also human, of course, but they were still fundamentally different. The difference seems to have home lost and turns gods into powerful mortals, superheroes. In the words of the novel, named and tamed.

76.

Strandberg, Mats; Bergmark Elfgren, Sara: Zirkel
This is the first book in a long, looong time that I found that is:
1.) centred more or less exclusively on female teenaged characters,
2.) whose main plot isn't a love plot,
3.) who don't get raped.
Read more... )

75.

Elsberg, Marc: Zero
The book seems more hurried and breathless than
his last one and less convincing. It is still an entertainingly fast-paced thriller, but the plot has its holes. Especially the random underground chases in Vienna and New York were too much, and while the concerns it raises about tech and choice are valid, it doesn't always do that in a very subtle way. I am also not overly keen on the ableism and the way neuroatypical people are portrayed here.

74.

Carey, Jaqueline: Kushiel's Dart
I really enjoyed this book, and the world, and the fact that there was not as much slut-shaming and whorephobia as might have been expected in a book in which the main protagonist is a prostitute. The world's religious system is believable and interesting and the characters lovable. I don't recall it passing the Bechdel test, but there are several strong female characters and some of them are queer.
I did not like that there are no romantic relationships between women, hardly any sadistic or dominant women, no sadistic/dominant women who aren't evil, no romantic relationships that aren't heterosexual. One toe outside the box and then straight back in

73.

Boie, Kirsten: Ringel, Rangel, Rosen
Read more... )

72.

Beagle, Peter S.; Gillis, Peter; De Liz, Renae; Dillon, Ray: The Last Unicorn
I have to admit that I've only read the book two or three times and have seen the movie version so often that I have no memory of how well the book version translates into the movie, which is one of my favourites. So I was not so much worried about the book as I was about my memories of the movie, but it translates, as I suppose this book does into all possible media. The short passages of text seem well-chosen, although as I mentioned I don't remember the text well-enough to judge, but my gut says they are.
The artwork is stunningly beautiful and I could stare at some of those panels for hours. The one thing that bugged me was that Schmendrick and Molly have undergone a serious makeover and the way the human unicorn looks is scary because she is so thin.

71.

Brosgol, Vera: Anya's Ghost
I heard from this via Graphic Novels 4 Girls and really liked it. Anya and the difficulties she faces as a Russian immigrant ring true, although it is strange to me that she doesn't speak Russian at home, though I do understand that would be inconvenient for story purposes. I'd have liked seeing more interactions between Siobhan and Anya, but I can see that it wouldn't have fit into this very compact tale.
I was also positively surprised by this graphic novel as a graphic novel - it's good to see that there are diverse and positive role-models for younger girls at least, even though I find it hard to see the same applying to the "mature" end of this genre, which features gratuitous boob and gore panels more than truly mature topics.

70.

Green, John: Looking for Alaska
The over-the-top love that my students have for this book shows me that I'm probably missing out. But I just don't understand it. I see very interchangeable, uninteresting characters involved in things that I, as a teenager, would have had no interest or part in in their situation because it seems designed to make things worse for them (no matter how bored or depressed, taking up drinking and smoking was never that attractive to me). Though the signs of characters' mental health issues are there in places, they don't ring true to me. The romance plot is superficial and only shows once more how mundanely boring "Pudge" is.

69.

König, Tim: Ich bin ein Kunde, holt mich hier raus
I'm so embarrassed to have read that, even though I did get the audiobook at a very reduced price. It's really bad.
Read more... )

68.

Pratchett, Terry: Dragons at Crumbling Castle.
Adorable short stories presented in a way that I can see children liking as much as adult fans.
 
 
Current Mood: happy
Current Location: Germany, Bremen
 
 
Mothwing
30 September 2014 @ 12:14 am
Books round-up: September  
66.

Vernon, Ursula: Dragonbreath
I bought this because I like Ursula Vernon's drawing style and thought this might be fun to have in our class library for my ESL students. While the drewings did not disappoint I'm not sure that my ESL students will understand the language well enough for them to be reading this book, and the ones who do might find this a bit too juvenile. The ones old enough to have past the mortal coolness threshold would benefit from trickier stuff, so I am not sure what to do with this apart from giving it to my wife, who adores all dragons.

65.

Lowry, Lois: The Giver.
The experience of reading about this dystopian future of a society which has embraced Sameness and assigned spouses, children and jobs and a very strictly regulated, safe life devoid of choices ages well.
I think it makes sense that I loved it when I was eleven, but I am not sure that my students would still enjoy it as much as I did. I'm also very apprehensive about the movie adaptation, because Jonas looks quite a bit older in that one, so I am rather sure that Gabe did not make the cut and they'll focus more on Jonas and his budding lust for Fiona.

64.

Harris, Joanne: Runemarks.
Completely blew my mind in some parts and bored me in others. What a wild, unpredictable ride! The characters were fun, though I didn't really far for those not Maddy, Loki, Skadi or Hel. I didn't like Maddy's relationship with her believed biological faster, it seemed too distant to be entirely realistic to me. I'm also not too find about the axe someone seems to have tho grind with Christianity.

63.

Kirkman, Robert and Moore, Tony: The Walking Dead Vol.1: Days Gone Bye.
You probably have to like comic books to get like this. In this one, zombies and people with breasts or with muscles do things that ordinary people with intact brains (living or dead) most likely wouldn't do.
The artists don't look at women the way they do at men. Men have various looks and have diverse features, women have large breasts and make-up in spite of the apocalypse (no, female eyes don't naturally look like that). They can't draw fat women worth a damn, too, but, er, points for trying. All in all you get 2D male characters and 1D female characters (with DD breasts, though). You also a really oddly placed gratuitous sex scenes out of nowhere with full-page female nude panels and female characters reflecting on the fact that she is only staying with her partner because he's so good at sex. Sure, sure.
So, all in all, you get the picture of
the target audience is and why I'm not it. If something contains enough sex and gore to make the target audience adults I expect the content to be more mature, too, and less concerned with "Yay, boobs!" or "Cor, all the brains are gooing out! Yeuch!".
All in all, I'm fairly surprised, butt his has nowhere near the depth or emotional impact of Telltale's rendition, something which I also missed in the TV series.

62.

Gaiman, Neil and Vess, Charles: Instructions
I love this poem, and I really enjoy the illustrated version.

61.

Pritchard, John: Going to church: a user's guide.
Interesting tidbits on the stages of faith, and the different kinds of vicars and churches.

60.

Kerman, Piper: Orange is the new Black.
I like the non-dramatic nature of this account. What does bother me still is that it takes this white middle class woman to make people care about the prison system and prison life. I can't BELIEVE what they did to Piper's and Pennsatucky's relationship in the TV series, for example. It makes much  more sense in the book.
I also loved the chapter on Mother/Daughter surrogate constellations in prison because that sort of bonded hierarchy is very in keeping with what I've observed in (obviously far less restrictive) women-only groups."
I'm not surprised, but still confused why the TV series would eroticise and dramatize Piper Kerman's stay to this extent. Of course lesbian sex sells, but if it wasn't part of Kerman's day-to-day reality in prison the way it is in TV OITNB, why force it in?

59.

Ngozi Adichie, Chimamanda: Americanah.
I had a long review written for this, but it disappeared. The short version: Culture, continents, integration, finding yourself and race in Africa vs. race in the USA, this book had everything. I didn't really like the ending, which I found a little too convenient, but overall, it is a great read.

58.

Vermes, Timur: Er ist wieder da (and Christoph Maria Herbst as a narrator)
In this critical comedy Hitler is back in 2011 and finds fans on YouTube and on TV. This is a dangerous book, although I think that it does nail certain trends that do open people up to extreme movements and how prone people still are to fall for rhetorically clever extremism that is not too on the nose and can blend in.
It's also not unhelpful to see that people you find funny can be responsible for horrible, terrible crimes. I would like to believe that this helps people to realise that you have to have a differentiated, critical view and really listen instead of making but based blanket statements of "Vegetarians who like children can't do wrong", "I've known that guy all my life he would never" up to "well maybe it wasn't all bad".
However, in the current climate that glorifies villains and their sop stories to explain away their crimes and instead swerved to humanize the criminal and take away any focus on the victims, who often stay faceless.

57.

Wiedmann, Anna and Daniel: Fuck you, Kita!: Eine unglaublich wahre Geschichte.
Teacher and person doing "something with media" have a child, search for a place in one of the kindergartens, find out what a hassle that is and how crazy kindergartens can be these days, and recont episodes of their daily lives as new parents.
Read more... )

56.

Rowell, Rainbow: Fangirl
Shy young woman goes to colleague, is shy, finds friends delivered to her dorm room, meets young men, falls for young man, dates young man. Oh and also she's a twin and her father's mentally ill and her mother left her when she was eight. I really enjoyed those second bits about the main character befriending her much more interesting roomie, or the complex relationship she has with her absent mother, or her twin. I did not enjoy (read before) fanfic, which sadly showed up too much for my liking. Or the bits about her love life.
Read more... )

55.

Benni-Mama: Große Ärsche auf Kleinen Stühlen
The mother of toddler talks about her attempts at trying to provide her son with one of the rare places in Berlin's kindergartens. She only succeeds in getting him into a Kinderladen, the kindergarten of a parents' initiative who funded their own. There, she encounters helicpoter parents, parents overly invested in their children's diet, as she puts it: "The only normal people in a kindergarten are the children." It's meant to be funny, and is, but the gender norms are really scary. If this book can be trusted, the default is still that the mums are the ones that bear the brunt of the work.

54.

Bridges, Robert (ed.) Gerard Manley Hopkins: The Complete Poems
I have to admit that I skipped the platonic dialogue. This is a very readable edition of the poems which I had hoped would feature more annotations.
Read more... )

53.

Wales: A Nation in Verse.
To start of with something positive: this collection of poems has the always pleasing Welsh dragon on its cover.
Read more... )
 
 
Current Location: Germany, Bremen
 
 
Mothwing
18 May 2013 @ 02:04 am
Book Challenge  
Read a lot on the trip to Munich, two bus tours of over ten hours took care of that, and even without that I love listening to audio books while walking around the city during breaks.


20.

Terry Pratchett, Good Omens
Angel Aziraphale and Demon Crowley have been stationed on earth on opposite sides for so long that they've not only become quite fond of earth, but also become something like friends. When Crowley is asked to plant the Antichrist in a family to bring about Armageddon the two change plans to try and stop it. However, it soon turns out that the baby that they believed to be the Antichrist isn't. While they set out to find the real one, professional descendant Anathema Device prepares to stop Armageddon with the help of the prophecies of her ancestor witch Agnes Nutter. She is helped by modern Witchfinder Newton Pulsifer and soon discovers that she is closer than she first thought.
I've re-read this book at least once a year ever since I was sixteen years old, and whenever I feel down. I love the characters, and though I notice the problems (casual racism, classism, gender issues, slightly flat magic) it is one of my favourites for the characters and how the authors see humans.

19.

Terry Pratchett, Feet of Clay
In the main plot, Samuel Vimes' life has become busy after his marriage to Lady Sybil Ramkin as well as his promotion elevated him to knighthood. The Assassins guild keep trying to kill him, people are killed gruesomely and there does not seem to be any trace of them left on the scene, and as though this is not enough, Lord Vetinari, benevolent tyrant of Ankh-Morpork, is poisoned.
One of the books that I keep re-reading when I feel down.

18.

Nella Larsen, Passing
Two black women, Clare and Irene are able to pass as white in twenties Chicago. While Irene does not rely on this in daily life and avoids confrontation with racism wherever possible Clare is married to a white racist who does not know that she is not white. Both women navigate their identities and personal happiness differently until the discovery of one has disastrous consequences.
I spotted this novel when I looked for books on passing and was surprised to find out it was so old, published in 1929. It's a fascinating insight, but also depressing.

17.

Donna Jo Napoli, Hush - An Irish Princess' Tale
Shortly before Melkorka's family is trying to avenge an offer of marriage by a Viking trader by her father she is captured by Slavish slavers together with her eight-years-old sister. Worried that anyone'll find out about their royal birth they keep silent to keep their secret.
The tale tells the story about how Melkorka became a slave and travelled to Iceland. I quickly grew fond of the characters, but it's a very depressing read. The first sexual assault of a thrall happens about 20% in, she starts having fond feelings for the rapist who purchased her at about 70%. Fuck that.
 
 
Current Mood: amused
 
 
Mothwing
11 May 2013 @ 10:06 pm
Book rec: Gossamer Axe  
16.


Gael Baudino: Gossamer Axe
An Irish mortal-turned-immortal harpist-turned-guitarists forms a Heavy Metal band to rescue her lover from the realm of the Sidhe.
When I first heard the premise for this book I found it hard to take seriously. It sounded heard to pull off, to say the least. And yet, Gael Baudino somehow does it. Yes, the book becomes a bit preachy at times and silly at others, but it mostly works, and she always pulls it back so that it does. The main character is thoroughly enjoyable because she is competent, confident, and purposeful in what she does. The biggest hit with me was the author's music theory framework for her magic system, it's not often that you read about anyone using phrygian mode anymore.
 
 
Current Music: Yngwie J. Malmsteen - Black Star
Current Mood: surprised
Current Location: Germany, Bremen
 
 
Mothwing
06 May 2013 @ 09:37 pm
Book challenge  
15.


Mildred Taylor, Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry
Mississippi in the thirties told from the POV of nine-years-old Cassie Logan. In many ways, Cassie is lucky, growing up on land owned by her family with her father working for the railroad to make ends meet and her mother as a school teacher, but that does not mean that they are unaffected by the Great Depression and the terrorist activities of those of her white neighbours who are members of the KKK.
Reading about racism through the eyes of nine-year old Cassie is both heartbreaking and scary at times because she often doesn't envision consequences of her or others' actions that older readers are doubtlessly aware off. It works well and makes this book really scary at times. The characters are all fleshed-out and lovely, and the language Taylor really brings them to life for me. I really enjoyed this book.
 
 
Current Mood: busy
Current Location: Germany, Bremen
 
 
Mothwing
17 March 2013 @ 10:20 am
Book challenge 2013  
Backdated, because who cares.

I am not convinced I'll do much better this year, as the main reasons why I didn't make it last year still exist and I'm down to barely two books a month. Also, I'm rereading so many books that I am not sure whether to count them or not.

7.

Jim Butler, Storm Front
See my longer account on the book here. The short version: I did not like it much because of the misogynistic male character, though I wasn't that thrilled about the world either. And I thought you couldn't go wrong with a wizard private detective!

6.

Kirsten Boie , Skogland
A shy girl takes the place of a princess after winning a casting show.
Not sure about this one yet. So far, I've only met one of the two main characters and she is very likeable. Maybe this goes onto the potential books I might read with my fifth grade, though.

5.

Nora K. Jemisin, The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms
I'm not very far in - so far the heiress of a slightly dilapidated Northern kingdom called Yeine Darr travels to the court and is named one of the potential successors of the current ruler, her grandfather, who disowned her mother for marrying a commoner. Various of her cousins are also interested in ruling the Hundred Thousand Kingdoms and thus she is thrust into a power struggle in which both gods and mortals play a role.

4.

Terry Pratchett, Carpe Jugulum
The Lancre coven is up against a group of modern vampires, an indecisive Omnian gets in an ax fight with vampires and a crisis of faith.
This goes well with Small Gods because of what Granny Weatherwax and Mightily Oats have to say about relativism.

3.

Terry Pratchett,Small Gods
While the Omnian church is powerful and is busily being spread by the sword and the inquisition, their god finds himself incarnated into a small tortuous and sets out to find out what happened to his church with his one remaining believer.
Terry Pratchett once said in an interview that he got very positive reactions on this book both from Christians who consider this an incredibly pro-Christian book as well as from atheists who think this is a very anti-Christian book. This makes sense, because most atheists I know have issues with the OT rather than the NT, and this is a very pro-NT and a very anti-OT-book.

2.

Patrick Rothfuss,The Wise Man's Fear
Kvothe leaves the university, becomes a court musician, sleeps with a sex fairy, is a Nice Guy(TM), kills lot of innocent people, takes a roat trip, and is a douche bag.
I'm torn on many parts because they piss me off, especially how the main character treats women. Pacing is a little off, but the author's language and world are still interesting enough to keep me interested.

1.

Patrick Rothfuss,The Name of the Wind
An intelligent boy of varied talents called Kvothe grows up in a group of traveling performers in a renaissance European world, loses his parents to demonic fairy creatures, becomes a street urchin and a thief, gets his way into university, and starts searching for the forces who killed his parents.
I love this book because of the world building and the impeccable pacing of the narrative. The author is incredibly good at language and style. His main character is a bit of an annoying tit, but if you can get over him, this is a really rewarding and fun read.
 
 
Current Music: Spektrum - Florence and the Machine
Current Location: Germany, Bremen
Current Mood: okay
 
 
Mothwing
27 December 2011 @ 04:42 pm
Bookchallenge round-up  
I can't seem to get the hang of keeping track of these challenges. Since my last entry was once again in May I can't remember what I read this year, especially the ones that I borrowed from the school library, but these are the ones that I could either remember or could piece together from my Amazon account. HTML

I left out re-reads if I read them more than once this year and some books by Terry Pratchett, and as always everything I read for school. 

25-52 )
 
 
Mothwing
14 April 2011 @ 06:16 pm
Die unendliche Geschichte  
Nothing new on the hospital front, so I've resorted to a family remedy to hard times: books by Michael Ende.

I had always suspected that it must be hard to do justice to Michael Ende's prose, but until I discovered the audiobook I never realised how trite things can sound in English that are so beautiful in German.

However, some parts are still remarkably well done.

"Wer niemals ganze Nachmittage lang mit glühenden Ohren und verstrubbeltem Haar über einem Buch saß und las und las und die Welt um sich her vergaß, nicht mehr merkte, daß er hungrig wurde oder fror -

Wer niemals heimlich beim Schein einer Taschenlampe unter der Bettdecke gelesen hat, weil Vater oder Mutter oder sonst irgendeine besorgte Person einem das Licht ausknipste mit der gutgemeinten Begründung, man müsse jetzt schlafen, da man doch morgen so früh aus den Federn sollte -

Wer niemals offen oder im geheimen bitterliche Tränen vergossen hat, weil eine wunderbare Geschichte zu Ende ging und man Abschied nehmen mußte von den Gestalten, mit denen man gemeinsam so viele Abenteuer erlebt hatte, die man liebte und bewunderte, um die man gebangt und für die man gehofft hatte, und ohne deren Gesellschaft einem das Leben leer und sinnlos schien -

Wer nichts von alledem aus eigener Erfahrung kennt, nun, der wird wahrscheinlich nicht begreifen können, was Bastian jetzt tat."

And the English version: 
"If you have never spent whole afternoons with burning ears and rumpled hair, forgetting the world around you over a book, forgetting cold and hunger--

If you have never read secretly under the bedclothes with a flashlight, because your father or mother or some other well-meaning person has switched off the lamp on the plausible ground that it was time to sleep because you had to get up so early--

If you have never wept bitter tears because a wonderful story has come to an end and you must take your leave of the characters with whom you have shared so many adventures, whom you have loved and admired, for whom you have hoped and feared, and without whose company life seems empty and meaningless--

If such things have not been part of your own experience, you probably won't understand what Bastian did next."
Drives me nuts that they call the place "Fantastica", though. Why change that name?
 
 
Current Mood: blank
 
 
Mothwing
26 November 2010 @ 10:21 pm
Book challenge  
I did not write entries for the books I read this year, so this'll have to be from memory and it'll be very incomplete.

59 books I can remember reading this year )

It's become pretty obvious that I don't have as many long train rides anymore as I used to.

Next on the reading list: 

- Boy2Girl  by Terence Blacker- a story of a boy who cross-dresses as a prank. Sounds horrid and is on the reading list for our 6th graders.
- Ich hätte Nein sagen können by Annika Thor - a book about mobbing, also on the reading list for our 6th graders.
- Notes on a Scandal by Zoe Heller,
- Ambereye, by Gill McNight. Here's hoping my fears about the quality lesbian werewolf fiction are unfounded.
- Wit'ch Star by James Clemens. Found this at a sale at the local library. Not sure about this because it's the sixths part of a six-part-series and I only have this one, but might be worth dipping into.
- Die vollkommene Ehe - Eine Studie über ihre Physiologie und Technik by Hendrik van de Velde. Surprisingly open German sex ed from the 1920ies.
- The Female Eunuch by Germaine Greer if I ever have the patience.
- Middlemarch, by George Eliot. This'll be the third time I start that novel.
 
 
Current Mood: calm
 
 
Mothwing
22 January 2009 @ 10:51 pm
50 book challenge 2009  
4.
Going Postal, Terry Pratchett.
I decided to re-read it to find out whether I really like Spike. I am still not sure.
 
3.
 Making Money, Terry Pratchett
I wonder whether I should be worried about the fact that Spike is growing on me.

2.
 
Homosexualität und Crossdressing im Mittelalter, Stefan Micheler (ed.)
Very interesting indeed. Apparently, there were several cases of crossdressing in the middle ages, even though only a comparatively small number was documented. Women usually cross-dressed to get around being raped at war times, and men cross-dressed to avoid being killed. Women also cross-dressed to make an army appear bigger, and men to get out of warzones.
Homosexuality between men was frowned upon, though there are only few documents. Most of them are monastic documents. They have homosexuality as one sin among many and don't single it out, even though that changed as monastic tradition in Europe changed. In the beginning, they were places in which individuals who wished to isolate themselves to get more deeply in touch with god lived, each of them wanting to remove themselves from company, looking for loneliness. That changed in later years, when people started entering monasteries as children rather than adults. That shifted the structure of monasteries - suddenly, they needed to provide structure substituting families for the pueri oblati, and meant that rules to cull sexual innuendos among growing males were kept rare. This was achieved by introducing dormitories (younger brothers were placed between two older brothers) and rules about physical contact (monks were required to keep one cubit apart at all times) and nudity (outlawed - monks were encouraged not to look at their own naked body and to bathe in shrits). Active homosexual behaviour was punished  heavily (by exclusion from the monastery), and "passive" homosexuality faced seven years penance.

1.
A Time Traveller's Guide to Medieval England, Ian Mortimer. 
I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book. The set-up, the individual chapters, the topics, the time frame he chose - all is really good. The only thing that seriously bothered me and made me an increasingly frustrated reader is that this book is aimed exclusively at male time travellers. All the examples in which he attempts to write interaction have people adressing the traveller as "Sir", and the way he describes women makes it obvious that they are strange beings worth observing. It drove me up the wall, and I can't believe that someone who, like Mortimer, can put himself in the shoes of deeply religious plague-stricken peasants from the fourteenth century can find it so very hard to put himself in the shoes of female peasants. I suppose that one could argue that time-travellers to the fourtheenth century would be advised to appear as male as possible to avoid trouble, but I seriously doubt that he had this in mind.

 
 
Current Mood: tired
 
 
Mothwing
29 July 2008 @ 05:27 pm
Reading Autumn Term, by Antonia Forest  
Crocky and I are reading Autumn Term by Antonia Forest together at the moment, taking turn with reading out loud and doing crafty things or playing games while the other is reading. It's a great way to spend the holidays, and I love reading books with her.

45.

Autumn Term, by Antonia Forest.
It's one of the Faber Children's Classics, and it is utterly awesome. Even though I had the feeling that it must have been published a hundred years before it actually was published, it is a really enjoyable read.

It describes the first term at school of the twins Nick and Lawrie, who join their four older sisters at an all-girls boarding school. Instead of immediately making IIIA like all their sisters did, they are downgraded to the Third Remove because they were not able to learn a lot at home due to various illnesses. Their attempts to shine like their siblings generally end in dismay, until one of their friends decides to write, direct and produce a stage-play for the school's open day, The Prince and the Pauper, in which the twins receive main roles and which earns them a lot of recognition.

The plot is not really the main reason to enjoy this book, but the all-girls boarding school thing got me, as well as the absolutely wonderful characters and the author's style.The interaction between the sibling is very spot on, the language is pretty, the characterisation is subtle and the characters are lovely. Even though I can't say I am interested in Lawrie and Nick a lot, it's still fun reading their exploits, even though I am more interested in their siblings, especially Kay and Rowan.

Both of us have a literature crush on Rowan, enough of a crush to try and get hold of the the other copies through our library system from Great Britain, because all the other instalments are out of print and to get them I'd have to pay £90 for the first edition paper backs.

We were so endeared by the interactions and the characters that we started awarding favourability points for the characters and started plotting in this chart with reference to the scene which scored each character points as favourites.
It became very obvious very early on that Rowan was going to win by a LOT.

CharacterPoints
GilesII
Peter
RowanIIIIIIII
Ginty (Virginia)
Anne
Karen (Kay)IIII
Laurie (Lawrence)
Nick (Nicola)  
Tim (Thalia)I
MarieI
FatherI
Ms KeithI
Ms JenningsII


Quotes )

So, the book is a real gem, as boarding school novels go, and I do not understand why the other instalments had to sink into obscurity that they are out of print while this one has become a classic.
 
 
Mothwing
20 June 2008 @ 01:21 pm
50 book challenge  
38.

A Series of Unfortunate Events - The End, by Daniel Handler.
I am still not sure what to make of this ending. There seem to be some loose ends, but I daresay that it's possible to assemble clues from the series to fill in the blanks. I don't really know what to make of the dilemma that the last book's end presented me with, though, and I like that. It seems that the series itself leaves the heroes in this grey zone between heroes and villains, and that is a really awesome thing to do at the end of a series for young readers. I also loved learning more about Count Olaf's backstory, curiously enough.

37.

A Series of Unfortunate Events - The Penultimate Peril, by Daniel Handler.
Another better novel. It's awesome to finally meet the sister of the fictional author of the story. The added information on the main plot were really worth the read, although I had a hard time justifying the actions of the children towards the end of the series. It seems very hard to do, and even though I feel that the plot means to make them remain in the roles of heroes, their actions rather show that they have become, in fact, villains. I'm really curious how the last book deals with that.

36.

A Series of Unfortunate Events - The Grim Grotto, by Daniel Handler.
Another great instalment that was fun reading. Especially the introduction of yet another grey zone between heroes and villain made this book really awesome for me.

35.

A Series of Unfortunate Events - The Slippery Slope, by Daniel Handler.
I loved this one, really loved. The way the romance sub-plot is not played out as something of utmost importance, finding out about V.F.D, the continued use of the Swinburne-quote - I loved it. Finally, the overall plot has gathered some momentum, and the style continues to stay awesome. I also stopped being aggravated by the lack of realism in the baby's behaviour.

34.

A Series of Unfortunate Events - The Carnivorous Carnival, by Daniel Handler.
This book was really interesting. It's slightly depressing that this is really the first one which is so thoroughly entertaining and quite suspenseful at times, although I couldn't say whether or not this wasn't already the case in the eighth book, which was out at the time and which I had to skip.

33.

A Series of Unfortunate Events - The Vile Village. by Daniel Handler.
Yay! Finally! Plot! The return of the useless guardian is even made bearable by that.

32.

A Series of Unfortunate Events - The Ersatz Elevator, by Daniel Handler.
This book had one of the most annoyingly unrealistic scenes of the entire bloody series - the baby climbing up the elevator using her teeth. No creative licence in the world can make that ok. Also, the reappearance of the one evil-and-one-incompetent-guardian-thing makes this boring. The glimpses of an underlying plot of the series makes it worth the read, though.

31.

A Series of Unfortunate Events - The Austere Academy, by Daniel Handler.
I really enjoyed reading about the Triplets, although the more blatant moments of children's literature and the resulting lack of realism and sense were annoying again. I liked that there seems to be plot on the horizon there somewhere. Can't wait.

30.

A Series of Unfortunate Events - The Miserable Mill, by Daniel Handler.
Yawn. Also, the less realistic things are getting annoying. I still enjoy the Snicket parts and the style, but the children's book literature moments get on my nerves.
 
 
Current Mood: awake
 
 
Mothwing
03 June 2008 @ 11:57 am
50 book challenge  
29.

A Series of Unfortunate Events - The Wide Window, Daniel Handler.
I hated this one with the passion of a hundred flaming suns. Why? Because of the fact that one of the brats thought that the henchman of the sinister Count Olaf whose gender is unclear is the "scariest", and apparently because of that alone, and because they called hir an "it".
The "hooked arm" and "wooden leg" things were bad enough, but this one was really over the top, as it seemed to be the only reason for the person to be horrible.

28.

A Series of Unfortunate Events - The Reptile Room, Daniel Handler.
Even as a young child I would have found Mr Poe too aggravating to believe. I do wonder about the dedications of the books, though, and I've come to like the tone. On the whole, the backstory of Lemony Snicket is far more interesting to read about and think about than the children's predicament. The two layers of the story work very well together.
Maybe it's only because I've gotten used to them, but the characters seem rather likeable all of the sudden, and although I still find it very difficult to actually sympathise with them, they do seem likeable.

27.

A Series of Unfortunate Events - The Bad Beginning,  Daniel Handler.
I think I'm only reading the series because I couldn't resist the temptation and irresistible appeal of the cover and design of the books.
I have to say that I hated the movie, but that was mostly due to the presence of Jim Carey whom I really can't abide. I think that the Eternal Sunshine and The Truman Show were the only movies which feature him which didn't make me aggressive and nauseous in equal parts.
Something about the books strikes me as incredibly phoney, which may well be the attempt to stuff as much Gothic-novelesque imagery into this book as humanly possible combined with the language. It's like a Tim Burton movie in book form for early readers.
The language of the narrator annoys me slightly, but I think that I would have enjoyed the books as a young child, before the missing logic would have gotten on my nerves.
 
 
Current Location: Universität Hamburg, Germany
Current Mood: awake
 
 
Mothwing
18 March 2008 @ 12:01 pm
Book challenge  
17.

The Red Badge of Courage, Stephen Crane.
Blegh. This is one of the coming-of-age stories we really can do without.

16.

Far from the Madding Crowd, Thomas Hardy.
I love this book. It is the second of Hardy's books I ever read, in a small cottage in the Brecon Beacons, and in spite of the prominence of the love plot, I always loved this book. Gabriel Oak is one of the most likeable characters I ever read about, and his and Bathshebas love plot one of the most interesting, too.
Why can't all couples in all love plots be like this? I liked it such a lot during my teenage years that I am worried that if I reread it now, it will be worse than it is in my head.

15.

Pompeii, Robert Harris.
Watch the manly, grieving widower battle the forces of bisexual promiscuity (although the terms are apparently interchangeable in this book) and see the world's first volcano with moral awareness who spares the innocent.
In spite of the fast-paced account of the final hours of the city this book does not live up to my expectations at all. This could have been so much better.