laceblade: Sasuke and Ponyo; Ponyo w/light over her head, expression gleeful (Ponyo: It's a light!)
laceblade ([personal profile] laceblade) wrote2014-06-26 07:57 pm

Reading Wednesday on Thursday

X-Men: War Machines - This plot was...something about an international INCIDENT in a fictional Eastern European nation. Our Heroes engaged in fights, & some rote lines were spoken. Yawn.

One Bird - I bought this book a few months ago, during Frugal Muse's going out of business sale.
I read most of Mori's books as a kid. Since I grew up in Green Bay, her fiction was readily available, as she taught nearby at St. Norbert's.

One Bird has some similarities to her more famous Shizuko's Daughter in that it's about a Japanese high school girl coping with an unhappy home life. In One Bird, Megumi finds a role model in Dr. Mizutani, who shows her how to rehabilitate sick birds.

The book spends a lot of time on the impossible choices women had to make due to the unfair societal expectations people had based on gender, even with this being 1975. It's an interesting insight and commentary. I really enjoyed how Megumi's support system eventually allows her to challenge the virtual prison she's been placed in, disallowed from visiting the mother who's left her for the next seven years.

Most of all, though, I appreciate Mori's writing. Her prose is cutting, just as visceral for me now at 28 as it was when I was 10 or so, reading this the first time.

Sweethearts - I really loved reading about Jenna's relationship with her childhood friend, Cameron.

Jenna's transformed herself, but never forgotten him or the impact he had on her when she was still unpopular and had no other friends.

There's a lot of tension when he shows up - she and her mother and shifted upwards in terms of class, she has a boyfriend, & a group of friends.

Cameron & Jenna's relationship felt real to me.
It makes me wonder what it'd be like if people with whom I used to be close to showed back up & I tried to fit them in with my life as it is now.

I guess it's hard to write about this one! Anyway, I've been tracking down Sara Zarr's novels, & loving each one. I particularly enjoy how important class is, is each protagonist's viewpoint and story.

The Housekeeper and the Professor - A housekeeper & single mother comes to keep house for a retired mathemetician suffering from a memory problem: while he can remember everything up until 1975, his current memory only lasts for 80 minutes.

There's a romance for numbers here, as well as the quiet creation of a found-family.

I liked it quite a bit, although I probably won't reread it.

The Lady Elizabeth - It's nice to read this after Weir's other historical fiction novels about Lady Jane Grey & Katherine Grey/Katehrine Plantagenet. Elizabeth learns how to play the game, & *wants* to play the game.

This book covers Elizabeth's life from birth up to Mary I's death.
I don't have much to say about it. Weir's prose is very readable and engrossing, but at the same time not particularly memorable.
Having read this, I'd love to read more about her reign.

Tokyo on Foot - I reserved this because Gerard Way tweeted about it.

A French twenty-something spends six months living in Tokyo because his girlfriend has an internship. While there, he sketches every day with colored pencils. This isn't a normal sketchbook - he shows detailed maps of each neighborhood in Tokyo, prefaced with a picture of that neighborhood's koban (police box).
Sometimes, he sketches the labels that come on expensive fruit, or copies of receipts from cafes, tickets that get left when he parks his bike somewhere he shouldn't, the contents of a cup noodle meal, etc.

This made me remember a lot of little details from my own trips to Japan, especially the "thousands" of potted plants that appear outside many people's houses/store fronts.

A couple of comments made me uncomfortable - overtones of transphobia, and also a couple comments about fat people (showing a group of high school girls & then saying "There's always one fat one") left me cold, preventing this from receiving a higher rating. He has some other observations of people that feel a little mean-spirited, too, :/

The Dubious Hills - Also purchased when Frugal Muse was going out of business.
This is a beautiful fantasy novel, one in which people consume many pots of tea, plan for childcare, prepare food, & herd cats. It contains the type of mundane details that I wish more speculative fiction would include.

The premise is that wizards eliminated war by parceling knowledge among the members of a community so that they have to rely on one another to navigate through life. One person teaches, one person experiences pain, one person knows plants, etc. Then, the wolves come.

In her review, Jo Walton said this book expands the possibility of what fantasy can be. It really does.

The Silkworm - As with The Cuckoo's Calling, I find the Cormoran Strike novels less condemning than The Casual Vacancy (essentially an evisceration of the white middle class), but still focused on issues of class, wealth, inequality, & human nature.

Rowling's prose is masterful, the vocabulary in particular.
I love the protagonist's reflections on fame. (His estranged father is a rockstar.)

Strike is a veteran, & had part of his leg blown off in Afghanistan. His disability is something that never goes away, is never forgotten by the author. It affects his ability to perform his job, how he travels, how other people perceive him.

I find the Strike novels almost as difficult to put down as the Harry Potter books.
While I rarely by hardcover books brand new as soon as they come out, I did with this one & I don't regret it. I can't wait for the next one.
wintercreek: Bare feet in the grass. ([misc] summer is not a season for shoes)

[personal profile] wintercreek 2014-06-27 05:08 am (UTC)(link)

That's one of the items on my to-read list that I have not. Been. Able. To track down. May I borrow it some time?