Friday, June 26, 2015

Review:: The Eyre Affair, by Jasper Fforde

Title: The Eyre Affair
Author: Jasper Fforde
Series: Thursday Next, #1
Format: Hardcover
Rating: ★★★★☆

I loved this book more than I thought I would as I was reading through it. Much of it was rather predictable (at least to me), but that didn't tarnish its charm in the slightest. It didn't depend on suspense to make the story enjoyable, and actually managed in some ways to use this to a greater thematic advantage. Spoilers in the review.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Review:: Ender's Shadow, by Orson Scott Card

Title: Ender's Shadow
Author: Orson Scott Card
Series: Ender's Shadow, #1
Format: Hardcover
Rating: ★★★☆☆

I remember being excited as a kid when I saw this in the "New" section at one of the University of Texas libraries. I remember my mother and I thinking it was pretty decent. And that's the feeling I get from it now. It's okay, but doesn't stand up to the later Ender books, like Speaker for the Dead or Xenocide. It also deals with religion very differently, which isn't surprising to me.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Nostalgia Review:: The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, by Douglas Adams

Title: The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
Author: Douglas Adams
Series: Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, #1
Format: Hardcover
Rating: ★★★★☆

Still good?

Okay, this might not quite count as a nostalgia review because I pretty regularly reread this book and fall asleep to the audiobook. But I haven't actually read it properly in a few years and I wanted to reread the series before I read the book Eion Colfer wrote.

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy was one of my favorite books as a kid and a young adult. I also loved the text adventure game and the radio dramas. Basically, if it involved this series, I ate it up. The re-read wasn't exactly what I was expecting. I don't remember it being so short and I remember some of the passages differently for some reason. However, one thing was clear: this is still an amazing book.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

48HBC:: And we're done!

I wasn't able to post this last night because... a puppy showed up! Might give more details on that, but it meant I could read... but blogging was a bit more difficult.

I ended up getting 6 more hours done since I last posted, which means my final tally was... 36 hours!

I didn't manage to finish Magic Kingdom for Sale/Sold but I can tell you that it in fact is a lot better than his other books. I almost finished, and will probably finish it soon. But the review will likely not be coming until I go through all the posts in the queue anyway.

Books I ended up reading include:

Ender's Shadow, by Orson Scott Card
Deathless, by Catherynne M. Valente
The Eyre Affair, by Jasper Fforde
The Stainless Steel Rat Wants You, by Harry Harrison

and most of Magic Kingdom for Sale/Sold, but not quite.

I'm still a little bummed that's all I got read, but again... this readathon has really taught me a lot of things. Like, when I'm super ill or in a lot of pain, I can read. Even if I can't read as quickly. So I'm actually kind of glad about the timing.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

48HBC:: The 30 Hour Mark!

This readathon has really done good for me. I am now at the 30 hour mark, and while I'm still having a bit of trouble with retention, I got out a piece of paper and folded it, so I could read line by line. It's not completely eliminated my need to regularly re-read passages, but it's certainly helped.

Last night (or rather, this morning for me) as my partner was putting on my braces, they also helped me assemble a "short list" stack and put numbers in a cup, so I wouldn't have to spend time thinking about what I was reading.

And apparently the random number picking just seems to be giving me re-reads that I've been meaning to do for some time. Now, these aren't comfort re-reads... they're books I haven't read in almost a decade, for the most part. Info on what I'm reading now after the cut. This gets kind of lengthy and I wasn't sure where the best place to cut it was.

48HBC:: The Stainless Steel Rat Wants You

27 total hours at this point (in seven minutes), and i have managed to finish a book in a reasonable, if not speedy amount of time! granted, the stainless steel rat books aren't really that long. they'd probably be considered a novella in this day and age.

for those who don't know, this series was one of my favorites as a kid. unfortunately, most of the books are out of print. the first three were reprinted together in the adventures of the stainless steel rat and the three prequel books were reprinted in a stainless steel rat trio, but unfortunately that leaves out four of the books as well as the choose your own adventure book.

i'm doing a re-read and i'm on the fourth book. i've already reviewed the first three as "nostalgia reviews" where i re-read a book i haven't read in a long time, to see if it's still good:

and now we have the stainless steel rat wants you:

48HBC:: Another Book Down

i finally finished the eyre affair and it's now 8:30am. that means 12.5 hours today so far + 11 hours yesterday or 23.5 total.

at first i was really upset that it took me over 10 hours to read it. my speed was majorly slowed down by comprehension and difficulty retaining what i'd read. worse than yesterday. i found myself having to re-read most pages 2 or 3 times... and sometimes 4 or 5.

but the truth is... the 48hbc has taught me something invaluable.

normally when i'm in this state, fuzzy on pain meds, braces on almost every joint, and only one usable hand that still isn't entirely functional, i tell myself a story. i tell myself that i'm too braindead to read. so i watch mindless television, which makes me rather unhappy.

48HBC:: Slowing Down the Posts

unfortunately today ended up also being a high pain day. i've had to brace my wrists, ankles, and knees as well as immobilize my right shoulder with a sling. pain meds are making me fuzzy again, but the amazing  part is that i lost no reading time. my wonderful, amazing, understanding partner braced me up  while i was reading.

so much love.

but my posts will probably slow down because typing with one hand that is braced is rather difficult. i will probably check in between books still though. wish me luck!

Friday, June 19, 2015

48HBC:: A Second Book Down

It's now 10:15pm, which means I've done 2 hours and 15 minutes so far today. A total of 13 hours and 15 minutes. I'm a bit frustrated that in all that time I've only read two books, but my focus is starting to get better now, so maybe my reading speed will catch up.

I have now finished Deathless, by Catherynne M. Valente, which was absolutely wonderful. Perhaps the thing I loved most about it was how she was able to write rich, complex prose that still managed to adhere to fairytale writing like repetition and archetypes. I'm not quite sure if it's a 4-star or a 5-star for me, so I'm guessing it's better to go with ★★★★☆. If it had been a five-star book, I feel like I'd be more assured about it.

Next, I'm going to be reading The Eyre Affair, by Jasper Fforde:

This is another book I've been wanting to read for some time, so I'm pretty excited to read it. I've heard such wonderful things about it. Again, though, I know very little about it. I try to not know that much about a book before I read it. It just makes the reading experience so much better.

48HBC:: Breakfasted and Ready to Go!

Alright! I have slept, breakfasted, and am about to get started again. Hopefully I will finish Deathless soon, and will likely check in after that happens. Not sure what book I'm going to read after Deathless, so hopefully I won't lose time due to choice paralysis. I thought I'd picked out a short-list, but apparently not.

So, here we go: 11 hours total, starting again now at 8pm.

48HBC:: Time for Some Rest!

I'm over halfway done with Deathless, despite constantly having to re-read chapters. And now I've broken out in hives. It's apparently that kind of day. So I figure now is a good time to take a break and get some rest. I'm going to have to take some Benadryl, which will more than likely knock me out anyway.

Lately, I've been listening to Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy audiobooks as I fall asleep. Obviously I won't count that towards my reading time (which is now 11 hours!) but I'm currently on The Restaurant at the End of the Universe which has made for lovely sleepy time.

I'm really loving Deathless. It's complex and rich and the prose is simply gorgeous without pretension or being overly ornate. It's also full of fun quotable quotables like, "Honestly is such a nasty habit, dear. Like biting your nails."

I almost wish I'd waited to read this until I was doing a bit better wrt my health. Maybe I'll do a proper re-read when I'm a touch more "with it."

48HBC:: 9 Hours In

I need to eat soon, but I figure I can just throw some Trader Joe's GF waffles in the toaster and cut a grapefruit and call that food. Reading more sounds so much better than making real food... which if you know more than my taste in books, says a lot right now. (Cooking: my other beloved hobby.)

Focus is still really tough. I'm about 80 pages into Deathless right now, which is nothing close to my normal reading speed. I keep finding that I'll read a few paragraphs and then realize I have no idea what was said and have to go back until I find something familiar. I'm even just having trouble thinking. Super brain fog.

However, I am really enjoying Deathless in spite of my difficulties. The prose is gorgeous and I always appreciate books that involve folklore, but shift away from the stock standard Western European folklore. There are plenty of books that adopt it, especially British folklore. So dealing with something else is a breath of fresh air.

Not that I don't enjoy British folklore sometimes.

Anyway, I should get back to reading. I'll probably check in at the 11 hour mark, so at 1pm-ish.

48HBC:: One Down, ??? to Go?

I've now finished Ender's Shadow and the last 60 or so pages were actually pretty hard to plow through because my brain just wouldn't focus. I had a lot of feelings about it, but will probably put off writing most of my reviews until Sunday. Why? Well, my 48 hour period will end at 2am on Sunday, and I figured this means I would be able to cram in more reading time, and less blogging time.

However, while I won't be doing my reviews until later, I will give you my ratings.

Ender's Shadow? ★★★☆☆

I am now slightly over 7 hours in. Now that I've finished Ender's Shadow I'm going to read Deathless, by Catherynne M. Valente.

I've really wanted to read this one for a while, despite knowing pretty much nothing about it. (That makes sense. I promise. It's actually not that uncommon for me.) And well, the fact that the promotional blurb on the front is by Cory Doctorow, I'm even more excited to read it. I'm going to try to check in again at 11am, or 9 hours in. Wish me luck!

48HBC:: 6 Hours Done!

Originally, I was going to post at 4 hours in, but then I got distracted reading. Oh noes! So, I'm six hours in, and have not managed to finish my first book. This is a bit disappointing (just personal disappointment) but it makes sense. My pain is bad enough still, since I posted about how it's been difficult, and the meds I'm taking to manage the pain so I'm functional enough to do anything make me really fuzzy.

But this is one of the reasons I'm so happy with the 48 Hour Book Challenge. Unlike a lot of book challenges, it doesn't focus on number of books read or number of pages read. It simply looks at time commitment. And I'm hoping to commit a lot of time. Not just for the challenge, but for my own personal happiness and well-being.

It's been too long since I've been able to read properly (or close to properly) and considering it's one of the few things that keeps my mood stable, that's really been keeping me from turning the corner. But now that I have a reason to focus and read-read-read, it's easier to push myself to do the things I need to do to get out of this vicious cycle.

I'm almost done with Ender's Shadow and I'm glad that I read it after so recently finishing the Ender Quartet. While it deals with a lot of the same themes, there are some marked differences. Part of me feels that it being written later in his career might have contributed to this; his later writing seems to have a different focus. But it's been too long since I've heavily read any of his books... partially because it's somewhat difficult to reconcile liking his writing whilst finding him as a person so upsetting.

But as I've mentioned, a lot of the things discussed in the Ender Quartet heavily seem to contradict his personal beliefs. Which is pretty confusing for me... Frex, a man with such vitriol for the gay community wrote a book that is almost entirely about not acting in hate against those who are different because you may simply not be understanding where they are coming from. I really just don't get it, how Orson Scott Card could have written a book that speaks to me as much as Speaker for the Dead.

Anyway, I'm almost finished and I'm hoping to check in more than every 6 hours in the future. But it's so easy to simply get absorbed in a book instead.

48HBC:: Starting... Now!

Well, it's 2am on Friday and so I'm going to get started with the 48HBC (because my sleep schedules make so much sense). I'm going to be starting off with:

Ender's Shadow, by Orson Scott Card. I recently re-read the Ender Quartet and I figured, why not go along and read the parallel books?

Now, I know, I know. Orson Scott Card is a pretty awful human being. But for the most part, his books are nothing like his blog posts. I'm not about to heavily monetarily support him by purchasing his books new at a book store, but hey, I'll check out his book from the library. Chances are, looking at the state of this book, they won't be purchasing a new one any time soon.

...unless I damage it. So I better not damage it.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

News and Stuff: The Good News/Bad News Game

So, let's start with the bad news:

Lately, my health has (once again) been getting the best of me. My pain has just been too great to read or do anything, really. Even when I can hold a book, I can't focus enough. I tried audiobooks a bit, but couldn't focus well enough for them, either. And anything to help alleviate that level of pain only makes my focus issues worse.

Combine that with someone very close and dear to me getting back from Hawaii and trying to get their things together and the house shifting because they are moving in with me and I'm just too exhausted to think.

Honestly, I think the (wonderful) trip I took to Texas really took a lot out of me too, especially as I had to survive on crutches for the most part, not my wheelchair. And crutches are really, really bad for me.

But, the good news!

One, my partner-person is back from Hawaii. Missed them a lot.

Two, I seem to be coming around the bend. So more reading soon!

Three, I'm doing the 48 Hour Book Challenge from Mother Reader! Sooooo... lots of posts, very, very soon!

And now I am clearly out of exclamation points.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Review:: Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore, by Robin Sloan

Title: Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore
Author: Robin Sloan
Format: Hardcover
Rating: ★★☆☆☆

Reading this as a person who lives in the Bay Area, I found most of the book very jarring. The strangeness of the local references kept knocking me out of my suspension of disbelief. The strangeness of the book not really being that strange made for a slightly boring read. It was okay, but nothing more.

Friday, June 12, 2015

Nostalgia Review:: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, by J.K. Rowling

Title: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone
Author: J.K. Rowling
Series: Harry Potter, #1
Format: Paperback
Rating: ★★★☆☆

Still good?
...kind of.

In my book club guild on HabitRPG, someone posted a challenge to re-read all the Harry Potter books. I grew up alongside, Harry Potter. The final book was published when I was 18 or 19. I really was the perfect age for these books. I made friends over these books. I loved these books. So how do they stand, now that I'm an adult? It was good... but not great.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Review:: The Signal and the Noise, by Nate Silver

Title: The Signal and the Noise: Why So Many Predictions Fail - But Some Don't
Author: Nate Silver
Format: Hardcover
Rating: ★★★★☆

I'd been meaning to read this book for a while. Nate Silver talking about predictions, big data, and our limitations sounded so up my alley I couldn't even. But then I forgot and read other things. And can I say how glad I am that I picked it up? The mathematics in the book was pretty easy to grok and the ideas laid out are definitely worth perusing. It's also a pretty simple read, for not feeling entirely popsci. (Although, let's be honest: it's popsci.)

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Review:: A Wrinkle in Time: The Graphic Novel, adapted by Hope Larson

Title: A Wrinkle in Time: The Graphic Novel
Author: Madeleine L'Engle
Adapted by: Hope Larson
Format: Hardcover
Rating: ★★★★☆

Unfortunately, most of the stars here are coming from the source text, which as I've said before, is a Very Important Book for me. I found the adaptation highly faithful in a lot of ways, but not adding much. The art was fine, but underwhelming, and I don't know. It just didn't feel like the graphic novel version served any purpose. That's not to say you shouldn't read it.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Review:: The Colour of Magic, by Terry Pratchett

Title: The Colour of Magic
Author: Terry Pratchett
Series: Discworld, #1
Format: Hardcover
Rating: ★★★☆☆

I'd poked a bit at Terry Pratchett's work in the past, but then decided I had better things to read. His fanbase, honestly, was one of the biggest turn-offs for me. (The more you overhype a book, the less likely I am to like it. Please, give me reasonable expectations.) But I figured now was a good time to get started.

The Colour of Magic was a fun read, but not really that remarkable. (Yes, I know it's not a good introduction to the series, but I'm neurotic and read things in publication order.) It reminded me a bit of a fantasy mashup of Douglas Adams' wittiness (although not as acute) and Harry Harrison's self-awareness and whimsy (although again, not as acute). Mostly, I felt like it was Harry Harrison doing fantasy.

Monday, June 8, 2015

Review:: Homeland, by Cory Doctorow

Title: Homeland
Author: Cory Doctorow
Series: Little Brother, #2
Format: Hardcover
Rating: ★★★★☆

While I understand Doctorow's writing isn't for everyone, it's perfectly tailored towards me. Little Brother is one of my favorite books. While Homeland is still good, I felt like it kind of missed the mark in a lot of ways. But it was still fun to read a hacker tale set in the Bay Area, as a Bay Area hacker.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Nostalgia Review:: The Stainless Steel Rat Saves the World, by Harry Harrison

Title: The Stainless Steel Rat Saves the World
Author: Harry Harrison
Series: The Stainless Steel Rat, #3 (Publication Order)
Format: Paperback
Rating: ★★★★☆

Still Good?


After frustration with other time travel books (think Blackout/All Clear) I'm reminded that time travel stories can be fun. Granted, The Stainless Steel Rat Saves the World is pointing out how ridiculous time travel stories can be half the time... so maybe it's not the best example.

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Review:: Heartless, by Gail Carriger

Title: Heartless
Author: Gail Carriger
Series: Parasol Protectorate, #4
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Rating: ★★★☆☆


I read Heartless in an airport, which was perfect because it certainly kept me from being bored whilst waiting for my flight. Unfortunately, Gail Carriger seems to have picked the mystery plot train back up, which meant I got to spend most of the book going "yup, red herring, red herring."

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Review:: The Satanic Verses, by Salman Rushdie

Title: The Satanic Verses
Author: Salman Rushdie
Format: Trade Paperback
Rating: ★★★☆☆

Rushdie's prose is just so beautiful sometimes I don't know what to do with it. Tack on magical realism, and you should have a book I loved. Unfortunately, somewhere The Satanic Verses falls slightly short of that mark. The plot, which seemed to be set up for intricacy, felt more disjointed in places than seamless. I also had an incredibly difficult time relating to any of the characters.