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Tasseled Booklikes

A little corner to complement my book blog at tasseled.wordpress.com

Currently reading

The Axe
Sigrid Undset
The Count of Monte Cristo
Alexandre Dumas, Robin Buss
Gone with the Wind
Margaret Mitchell
The Coming of Conan the Cimmerian
Robert E. Howard, Mark Schultz, Patrice Louinet
Katharine of Aragon: The Wives of Henry VIII
Jean Plaidy
Wolf Hall (Thomas Cromwell, #1)
Hilary Mantel
The Arabian Nights: Tales of 1001 Nights, Volume 1
Malcolm Lyons, Ursula Lyons, Robert Irwin, Anonymous
The Long Ships (New York Review Books Classics)
Frans G. Bengtsson
The Song of the Dodo: Island Biogeography in an Age of Extinction
David Quammen
Oxygen: The Molecule that Made the World (Popular Science)
Nick Lane
The Name of the Wind (Kingkiller Chronicle, #1) - Patrick Rothfuss A well-written wet dream of a thirteen year old boy. I would have been annoyed by this book more, if it wasn't written so damn entertaining. But c'mon, Kvothe is such an incredible overachiever, I thought my face would get stuck in a perpetual cringe. Nobody is that amazing! Also, all women he meets are universally beautiful and have a thing for him. Um, no. And if Denna was so tired of men following her, she'd be staying clear of them, instead of jumping from one boyfriend to another... And let me put this out there - I felt really bad for the draccus. The end.
The Universe Within: Discovering the Common History of Rocks, Planets, and People - Neil Shubin I have a bit of a nerd crush on Shubin, having now read both of his books this year. What I like about his writing, is that it is as smart and informative as it is accessible. I don't know about your average Joe, but I do not have a degree in evolutionary biology, astronomy, or tectonics, so it was sure nice to find an author who can really explain the tricky details. I've read explanations of Carbon 14 dating of fossils in both this book and Nick Lane's Oxygen, and I only really got Shubin. Lane went right over my head, like a supersonic jet.

Compared to Your Inner Fish, the author's first book, The Universe Within has a broader scope. Sometimes Shubin steps aside to weave in relevant stories of great scientists, and it takes a page or two to connect the dots, but the desirable "a-ha" moment never seems to miss the reader. The first few chapters that deal with formation of our planet and life in general, as well as chapter nine that talked about human evolution were of the most interest to me. There are a few theories and topics that I would love to expand my knowledge on a little further: the great conveyor belt of the bedrock, life in pre-historic Antarctic, a single male ancestor of all Native American people, and the mysterious civilization of Natufians. Thankfully, the book also contains a fascinating and very extensive section with notes and further reading suggestions, with the help of which I have already added several other scientific works to my shelves.

I cannot wait to see what else Mr. Shubin publishes.
The Fortune of the Rougons  - Émile Zola, Brian Nelson A thoroughly engaging and lyrical novel at the same time.
A beautiful exposé of corrupt morals and dirty ambitions.
Zola has swept me away.
Now, onto the next part.
Post Office (Trade Paperback) - Charles Bukowski My first Bukowski, which is not going to be the last.

The novel is ridiculously funny and incredibly sad at the same time. Henry Chinaski by a turn of fate ends up wasting twelve years of his life in a post office among overachieving supervisors and strange company policies. I think anyone, who has ever had a dead-end job can relate to many situations that Chinaski is exposed to. What is tragic about his character is his total lack of will to escape such life. Instead he invests his efforts into booze, horses and easy women. I don't normally go all feminist on books written more than twenty years ago, because I take these annoyances as a product of time, but Bukowski's portrayal of his character's relationships knocked the rating down a star for me. Chinaski just floats around from girl to girl, moving into their places, laying around, drinking and eating their food, and taking very little responsibility for the impact he has on their lives. But to his credit, he never gets vindictive towards women who leave him, remembers that he has a daughter and whats to be a part of her life, and lets his lovers choose for themselves what they want from life.

Maybe I'll revisit the book in twelve years and see how useful my own time on earth will be.
Metamorphoses - Denis Feeney, Ovid, David Raeburn Ovid is a naughty, naughty man. Oh, and a pretty awesome poet, that too... I think I will be reading his entire bibliography one day.
Spartan Gold  - Clive Cussler, Grant Blackwood If Nathan Drake and Lara Croft got married and went on a Dan Brown-ian adventure across Europe with an Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull villain on their heels and a Penelope of Criminal Minds as a research assistant to aid them, the result would be Spartan Gold. Not an award-winning literature by any stretch, but a fun non-stop action summer read I can't say I regret getting myself into. I'll be picking up the sequel for sure.
Jaws - Peter Benchley It would have been a five-star book, if the finale wasn't so lackluster. Seriously shark, after all that you're just gonna go ahead and die like that?
Fight Club - Chuck Palahniuk In the immortal words of Robot Chicken - What a Twist!
A Breath of Life (New Directions Paperbook) - Clarice Lispector - The book is obviously written by a dying person as reflection of life, which makes it hard for a reader like me, who lacks worldly experience to relate to it.
- The book has no plot, it is a book about nothing. instead, the narrative is pure stream of consciousness about feelings and associations.
- There is some interesting gender confusion when it comes to narrator. The "author" is implied to be a man, but Lispector's own voice sometimes breaks through and occasional feminine pronouns are used.
- I really liked "The Jewel" part, where Angela draws associations between precious stones and emotions.
- The author states in the beginning, quite straight-forward, that the book is not for everyone to enjoy. In fact it was specifically written very confusing and full of personal references to weed out curious onlookers. Only selected few are supposed to really "get it".
- I'm gonna be honest about it - I didn't get it.
- I wonder why the New Directions editors elected to publish this book second in the series, since logically it should come forth and last.
Gunnar's Daughter - Sigrid Undset, Sherrill Harbison, Arthur G. Chater What an amazing tale of love and hatred, and vengeance at price of happiness. An instant favourite.
The Black Company - Glen Cook I just couldn't get into the book, unfortunately. A lot of interesting things happened, but I couldn't get emotionally attached to characters, so nothing they got themselves into really touched me. I don't care about the typical nobody being singled out by a powerful entity thing and it rarely work for me. I did like the fact that Cook stayed away from archaic language and stuck to a very consistent narrative, unlike Nine Princes in Amber and On a Pale Horse that I've read earlier this year. Okay book, I just wish I cared about it more.
It - Stephen King Things I had a bit of an issue with:
- After much build-up, Tom disappointingly dies in the background. Same with Audra, as she gets kidnapped by Tom and BAM! their scene is done. I wish we get to see what happened from their perspective instead of Pennywise just providing the information
- I still don't see how underage sex fit into the plot.
- Whatever happened to the power of seven? I guess they didn't need Stan and Mike (Beverly too, since the grown up her did no fighting whatsoever)
- We never got a chance to see the real form of It, since the spider was just another mask
- Who is this Other? I get the Turtle, but what's up with that Other?
- Beverly's younger self was much gutsier, braver, more independent. Why did she turn into such a shriveling mouse?

Things that I loved:
- The story. Period. It was awesome!
- The characters were beautifully fleshed out; every one had a distinct voice and a life of their own.
- Pennywise is so damn scary, I am now terrified of going to the basement to do laundry by myself. But you get to overcome your fears along with the characters, as you learn to accept them for what they are - just empty fears
- Writing was great. I got to remember what it feels like to be a kid again. I actually related to the characters.
- The major and minor villains are so convincingly hateful (for good reasons) that you just want to reach out into the book and slap them. That goes for Tom, Henry, Butch and Eddie's mother.
Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon, Vol. 1  - Naoko Takeuchi, William Flanagan - I have fonder memories of the show
- Tuxedo Mask comes off as a creep, kinda
- The plot is a bit disjointed and rushed
- Overall, pretty meh, but has a great nostalgic value
Mockingjay - Suzanne  Collins Really slow book at first, but the last 1/3 was extremely well-done. Collins knows how to write action. I'm taking a star away for the dragged out beginning (really didn't like the sequences in District 13) and Collins's avoidance of climax scenes. It bothered me that every action scene ended with Katniss waking up in the hospital and finding out that the battle was won after she passed out. The romantic bit was wrapped up a bit too neatly, but I'm glad it wasn't dwelled upon too much. All in all, this one really surprised me. Thanks, Michelle!
Near to the Wild Heart - Clarice Lispector, Alison Entrekin, Benjamin Moser Lovely book.
On a Pale Horse - Piers Anthony The writing is terrible and action scenes are as corny as they can get. But... I am giving an extra star for original concept (Death as an office assumed by a mortal) and unique world (blend of science fiction and fantasy), as well as another star for the first few gripping chapters. If the writing didn't go downhill from there, this book would be an instant favorite. Anthony introduced too many loopholes to make his character get out of unbelievable situations that after a while it began to look ridiculous.