Month: June 2008

Book Review: Mimus

by Lili Thal and John Brownjohn (trans.)

Wow. Go check out this book.

I’ve seen a bunch of YA fiction that tries to introduce teens to more literary writing. Aside from The Book Thief, I don’t remember reading anything recently that manages to pull it off. Most of the time, the beginning looks promising, but the ending sucks, because it tries to get all transcendental and stuff. Not here. A perfectly ental, perfectly appropriate ending.

The writing is so good, I can’t even burn with jealousy.

Florin remembered how proud everyone at Mondfield Castle had been two years ago, when the chapel’s opaque horn window panes had been replaced with leaded glass. Compares to these heavenly windows, the ones at home were plain to the point of poverty.

How much money had Theodo paid for this splendor? Whose blood had he shed in order to acquire it?

Almost simultaneously he felt ashamed of this envious thought: extolling the beauty of Heaven was always pleasing in the sight of God.

The story’s about a naive prince who’s captured by a neighboring monarch and forced to become a jester. Note: Jesters are not clowns. The court jester is allowed to get away with the awful tricks he pulls because people think of him as a soulless beast, no more responsible than then monkeys living in the same tower. Florin, caught between his pride and the threat of his father’s torture and death, struggles to keep his humanity while the jester trains him to caper and joke in the face of humiliation. –You hear that phrase sometimes. “He Struggles to Keep His Humanity!” (echo, echo, echo). Nope. This is the real deal.

When Florin returned to the king’s bedside, he had to exert all of his willpower to stand up straight and hold his head erect. He had a frightfully distinct sensation that loose strips of skin were dangling down his back, and it was only with the greatest difficulty that he restrained himself from pulling down his costume and peering over his shoulder. At the same time he felt something warm running down his chin: blood from the lips he’d bitten while being whipped.

King Theodo eyed him lingeringly. Then he said: “You learnt a lesson down there. What was it?”

I haven’t seen The Passion of the Christ, but I’ve heard it was too gory. Earnest people nod earnestly about the movie and talk about how inspiring it was*. Almost everyone else says it was too gory. This book handles the same type of situation with love–not the cheap love that grandstands, but the kind that just lives it, daily, without expecting thanks or even acknowledgment–and humor as well as pain. Well done.

*I hope they aren’t considering copycat crimes.

Book Reviews!

Apparently, there was some kind of book-reading challenge going on over the weekend, or at least, that’s what Kate says. So here’s the score for YT:

…And part of a Magic Tree House book. And part of Lee Lofland’s Howdunit Book of Police Procedure and Investigations.

What can I say? I did a lot of yard work.

Over Hexed. I haven’t read a romance novel since I was a teenager, and even then, eh, whatever. Borrring. But Vicki Lewis Thompson passed this one out to everyone at the Pikes Peak Writers’ Conference, so I felt obliged to at least crack the spine.

Fun stuff. Merry. A wizarding couple gets the boot from their comfort-zone New Age town in New Mexico, ending up in Big Knob, Indiana. (Yes, it’s that kind of book.) While trying to make the spoiled-brat dragon guardian of the local forest shape up, they amuse themselves by helping a overly-pursued young man turn off his sex appeal. Two weeks, max. Promise. And yes, that’s the exact moment the woman of the guy’s dreams shows up, and he has to rely on…talking (!) to the woman to stop her from tearing down his childhood home to put in a big box retail store. As you may have guessed, hijinx ensue.

Okay, nevermind the debate between erotica and porn. What’s the line between romance and porn? My guess here is the ending, which focuses on relationships rather than sex itself. Nevertheless, I had to think about it.

The author has another series based on nerds, too. A Nerd in Shining Armor. Talk Nerdy to Me.

I probably won’t chase her books down, but I’ll probably pick them up when I see them, for bad days when I need a good laugh.

“I’m looking for an old-fashioned screw.” Sean Madigan knew he was in trouble as soon as the words were out of his mouth.

Desert Blood, 10pm/9c. This very well could be the world’s first YA Hispanic Mystery novel, I don’t know. When I picked it up and read the back, I immediately categorized it as one and dismissed it. But it kept showing up at our local writers’ group meetings, so I eventually picked it up and started reading. Twelve pages later, people were calling my name. “DeAnna…DeAnna…it’s time for your critiques. Are you ready?” Wha?

So when I met Ron Cree at the conference, I told him I planned to pick up the book, because I kept reading it when I saw it. He handed me over a copy, which totally floored me. Look, it’s the first time this kind of thing has happened to me, all right?

–But enough about how I got the book.

When the famous Nick Hernandez, star of the hit police action show Desert Blood, adopted Gus Gonzalez a couple of years ago, everybody said his career was going to tank. It certainly opened the door for even more nasty tabloid action than he’d had to face before. But now someone’s making threats against Nick and Gus, and Gus is having trouble sorting through all the plots and lies around him to find out who’s out to get him.

I have to say, I successfully did not suspect Gus. I suspected everyone else, and I had no idea who was guilty until the end. I finished the book in one straight sitting, too — just as soon as I thought about putting it down, there’d be another hook to pull me along.

In big, bold letters, the front-page tabloid headline announced that I’d been abducted by aliens: HERNANDEZ HEARTBREAK! ADOPTED SON TAKEN CAPTIVE ABOARD FLYING SAUCER…

I was sitting on the edge of my bed, scanning the details of my unfortunate abduction and wondering at the same time if I had a clean shirt to wear.

Azu Manga Daioh. I’ve read all the individual manga, but this is the first time I’ve READ THEM ALL IN ORDER! Squee! The girls of a Japanese high school face all the challenges life can throw at them, including an alcoholic, sadistic teacher whose only saving grace is her apathy; vicious cats; a child genius; a perv teacher; chopstics; and my favorite–hiccups. The same author as Yotsuba&!, another brilliant work of utter brillianceness.

Hell House. Another one-sitting book about the worst haunted house ever. Spoooky. Not perfect, but very nearly so. I read the first few pages, was hooked, realized I was hooked, and asked myself how the hell I’d been sucked in so fast. So I backed up and noticed the first sentence:

It had been raining hard since five o’clock that morning. Brontean weather, Dr. Barrett thought. He repressed a smile. He felt rather like a character in some latter-day Gothic romance. The driving rain, the cold, the two-hour ride form Manhattan in one of Deutsch’s long black leather-upholstered limousines. The interminable wait in this corridor while disconcerted-looking men and women hurried in and out of Deutsch’s bedroom, glancing at him occasionally.

Yes, that’s right. Mr. Matheson had the incredible chutzpah to start his story with “It was a dark and rainy night…”

Color Palette Personality Test

What colors should you include in your house? This personality test lets you know.

–Actually, it worked pretty well for me. I got “mosaic and tapestry” first and “water beads” second. Our house pretty much reflects that. Although it does make me wish for purple tapestry curtains for the living room.

Now Showing…

Wealthy postal worker and goofy daughters seek sunken treasure in sinking vacation home
Starring Bruce Willis and Catherine Zeta-Jones

Random Movie Generator.

via Randy

Joke of the Day.

Ray made this up by herself, y’all:

–Why did the dinosaur cross the road?

–To squish the chicken.

Board Game of Doom!

A chica at work looked at me and said, “Oh, you just reminded me of this board game a friend of mine has…”

Mwahahaha!

(That’s the name of the game. I wonder why she thought of me.)

Book Review: Angel of Death

by Alane Ferguson, a YA forensic mystery.

That’s right, a YA forensic mystery, with all that implies, like details about dead bodies that you probably think your YAs shouldn’t be exposed to. Neither do a lot of the people in the book, but Cameryn has more problems with her personal life than she does watching an autopsy. Cameryn’s the coroner’s daughter in a somewhat-fictionalized Silverton, Colorado. She wants to get into forensics when she grows up…actually, she’s into forensics now, with a part-time job as her dad’s assistant. One of her teachers dies mysteriously…really mysteriously.

The prose is decent, the characters believable, the plot realistic, the mystery okay but not hard (if I can figure it out, it’s not hard, as anybody who knows my fight record with Agatha Christie can attest) — but it’s the forensics that shines. Details that made me wince and gag and drop any illusion of ever really wanting to be a M.E. nevertheless left me impressed with the skills involved and the powers of observation the main character brings into play (except in her personal life). But hey. Nobody’s perfect.

(Caveat: This is the second book in the series. I picked it up at the Pikes Peak Writers Conference, and all the first-books were out. The first is The Christopher Killer.)

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