Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Let her air out her heart

The first of my inter library loan books came in yesterday! After reading Chicken with Plums I knew I needed some more Satrapi. Embroideries is a super quick read, and I had it done in about an hour or so. Basically Marjane and her female relatives sit and girl-talk about marriage, men, sex, and life. I'm pretty fascinated by the culture in Iran, so this book was really interesting. Their whole culture is so different than ours, but I was really able to relate to some of the stories the women were telling.

"To speak behind other's backs is the ventilator of the heart."

I would recommend this book to any ladies out there. I'm not sure how the fellas would like it. The characters all get a chance to weave a story either about themselves or about someone they know. I think it illustrates how women bond really well.

"That's life! Sometimes you're on the horse's back, and sometimes it's the horse that's on your back."

Side note: Can you believe I've been blogging on schedule lately? I'm trying to make it my morning thing with my coffee.

Since this post is so short I'll give you an update on what I'm reading. Still working on Oblomov - just got to part three last night so I'm on the final stretch. I'm reading the Fatal Eggs by my man Bulgakov as my at-work read. I think I'm taking a pretty big break from the Complete Sherlock Holmes. I love the stories, but my motivation to pick that one up hasn't been there lately. I'm going home tomorrow for break and my brother's giving me the fourth Wheel of Time book. AND I'm waiting on a few more graphic novels to come in to the library.

What about you? What are you reading?

Monday, March 29, 2010

All men are dangerous

Since I started this series, I think I may have to see it through to the end. Whenever the end comes that is, because I think there are thirteen books so far and at least two more to come. My brother read all of these and I've been borrowing them from him. I blogged about the first book, the Eye of the World, if you recall.

The Dragon Reborn is the third book in the Wheel of Time series. This book was much more interesting to me than the last two; the characters were just fleshed out a lot more. Also Rand, who is the Dragon Reborn, is hardly in the book directly, which is fine by me because he became a diva super fast. Min wasn't in most of the book either, which was a bummer - she kicks ass and wears pants when all the other ladies are flouncing around in fancy dresses. She can "see" things about a person's future, which is cryptic but fascinating to see unfold.

This story spends a good deal of time on our three other ladies, Egwene, Nynaeve, and Elayne as they spend their time at Tar Valon, learning to use saidar (magic that can only be used by women) to become Aes Sedai, and getting mixed up in a giant mole hunt that sends them to Tear. Egwene is getting more annoying to me as she strives to make Nynaeve see her as more of an equal. They run into some Aiel, who are crazy fighters and looking for Rand.

The other boys from Two Rivers, Matrim and Perrin, are both on their own separate journeys that lead them eventually to Tear. Mat is healed at Tar Valon and quickly sets about being awesome, making money gambling and taking fireworks apart for fun. Perrin is much more broody; he is stuck following Morriane (Aes Sedai) and gets stuck with Faile, a woman hunter who teases him endlessly and makes him blush like crazy.

Rand is also making his way to Tear (since that is where the party is at) to reach Callandor, a sword that can only be touched by the Dragon Reborn. The Dark One is not too happy about this and many forces try to stop him.

If that summary seems confusing I'm sorry, but this is an epic fantasy novel of almost 700 pages. Jordan seems to borrow heavily from the Lord of the Rings, and in this novel the Arthur legend, but also makes it his own.

I think it is interesting that the "hero" of the saga, Rand, is the least interesting character to me at this point. I'm much more interested in everyone else. Matrim and Perrin are finally as fun to read as the girls.

"Any fool knows men and women think differently at times, but the biggest difference is this. Men forget, but never forgive; women forgive, but never forget."

If you like fantasy novels, I'm sure you've already read these. If not, they are worth a look.

Side note - the covers of these books are fantastically awful. The first one, the Eye of the World, appears to have Jerry Seinfeld riding a horse in the background and this one Perrin looks like Rambo with that bandanna on his head. Also Rand looks like he is wearing some blue jeans.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Chicken with Plums

Marjane Satrapi is best known for her Persepolis books, which are amazing. So when I saw that she had another graphic novel out, I quickly snatched it from the library shelf.

Chicken with Plums is about Satrapi's great-uncle, a musician who looses his will to live after his instrument is broken. The novel chronicles his last eight days as he slowly starves to death in his own home. We get glimpses of the past and of the future for his family. Soon it becomes clear how a man like him could give up on life.

This is a beautifully done story. I am remain enchanted by Satrapi. The art is detailed and well done and the story flows very well. This was a very quick read, perfect for a lazy afternoon.

I've been on a graphic novel kick lately and am enjoying it immensely.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Biting the Sun

Biting the Sun by Tanith Lee was suggested to me by my cousin's husband. He raved about it and I had a bit of trouble tracking it down. I special ordered it through work and it took forever to get in. From the first line, I knew this would be interesting:

"My friend Hergal had killed himself again..."

This is a futuristic society, Four BEE, where pleasure is everything. The world is run with the help of a lot of robots who are there to make sure the humans are as happy as can be. There is a lot of slang used in the book, which has a helpful glossary at the beginning. Young people, or Jang, are encouraged to steal and get married as many times as they wish. They can change their body after a certain period of time to whatever they wish - guy, girl, and look however they want. And if they don't want to wait for the prescribed time period, they can always kill themselves and get a new body that way.

Our main character (who remains unnamed) steals, takes drugs, kills herself, returns to life in a new body she has designed to be incredibly beautiful, eats exotic food, has sex with pretty much everyone she knows and yet is unfulfilled. She's mostly female, but does spend a few stints as a guy.

"I can hardley remeber the laughing and the running now and the playing an dthe dancing but I remember the happiness, the happiness like a wound, that bleeds the life spark."

The narrator (who I called Ooma - or darling) tries her best to make herself happy. She tries to be an adult and get a job, tries to have a child, but remains hopelessly unhappy. Ooma has a great connection with a pet she steals; he is wild and mean but she cannot help but cart him everywhere she goes. She eventually takes an expedition out to Four BAA and then to the wilds of the desert, which turn out to be too domestic for her. Ooma continues to push boundaries until the government finally cannot take anymore.

"Do not bite the sun, traveller, you will burn your mouth."

This book was fascinating. The characters kept changing in appearance over and over and even the other characters had a hard time telling who people were at times. There was humor and heartache. Two characters have a hard time because one loves the other for her essence and the other remains transfixed on outward appearances.

I was so surprised that this book isn't talked about more. As far as dystopias go, this was a really good book. The slang was a lot easier to get around than A Clockwork Orange, so I didn't have much of a problem with that.

Note: this book was originally published as two works, Don't Bite the Sun and Drinking Sapphire Wine, but has since been combined in this volume.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

rocks is an acquired taste

I haven't posted in a long time and I'm sorry for that. I've started graduate school and a new job so my life has been a little hectic lately. But I want to be sure I'm making time for this! With all of my text books, I wanted to read something light and fun so I immediately turned to Pratchett.

Wyrd Sisters is another Discworld book, a fantasy that will make you laugh until you think you might pee your pants. This one parodies Shakespeare's Macbeth and Hamlet. We start out with the murder of the king and his transition into being a ghost. Three witches, including Granny Weatherwax who was a big part of Equal Rites, are given his son to hide away so that the new king, the Duke, doesn't kill him. They give him to a travelling band of actors to raise until the time is right.

"She walked quickly through the darkness with the frank stride of someone who was at least certain that the forest, on this damp and windy night, contained strange and terrible things and she was it."

The witches try their best not to interfere with politics, but somehow get pulled into it. The Duke is suffering from some major Lady-Macbeth-itis and his wife is hellbent on killing anyone who doesn't get with her program.

"The duke had a mind that ticked like a clock and, like a clock, it regularly went cuckoo."

These books are nothing but fun and the characters are what make them that way. They each are so realized and delightful. Even the cook, who has no speaking lines, has a personality that comes across clearly.

I'm hooked on this man's books. Thankfully there are about a million of them.

As I said above, I've been super busy with school and it has cut into my reading time. However, I am working on a few things at the moment (slowly but surely), such as Oblomov by Goncharov, The Dragon Reborn by Robert Jordan and the Fatal Eggs by Mikail Bulgakov (which I hope, hope to finish by the weekend).

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again.

This is a book I see on a lot of book lists but didn't really know anything about. I found a cheap paperback the other day and decided to give it a whirl. I was hooked on this thing like no body's business. I couldn't read it fast enough.

"I am glad it cannot happen twice, the fever of first love. For it is a fever, and a burden, too, whatever the poets may say."

The little lady narrator of this tale is not named (a trend lately in the books I'm reading) but she meets and married a man named Maxim de Winter and goes off to live at his estate, Manderly. Our narrator is obsessed with the image of Maxim's first wife, Rebecca, who died at sea nearby.

Our narrator's stress is so high you can't help but feel it yourself. She is constantly second guessing herself and is never sure how to act around the staff that is supposed to be catering to her. Added in is Mrs. Danvers, who runs Manderly and was Rebecca's personal maid. She does not make things any easier for the new Mrs. de Winters.

"I wanted to go on sitting there, not talking, not listening to the others, keeping the moment precious for all time, because we were peaceful all of us, we were content and drowsy even as the bee who droned above our heads. In a little while it would be different, there would come tomorrow, and the next day and another year. And we would be changed perhaps, never sitting quite like this again."

Mrs. de Winters does her best to fit in to her new surroundings, even though she was not raised in such a high social class. She loves her new husband but does not always know how to be the wife he needs.

There is a huge twist in this book that blew me away. In conclusion, this book is on reading lists for a reason. Highly recommend.