Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Book Report Catch Up

Would you believe that I moved one thing on my desk and found all the notes I was looking for? I guess I'm not as disorganized as I thought. That meant I didn't end up doing much housework, other than a ton of laundry and finally getting all the boxes of Christmas stuff back in the garage (something that kept getting put off due to extreme cold, rain and deadline). I also vacuumed the Christmas tree area, using the nifty new vacuum cleaner I got for Christmas (yes, Mom and Dad, I did get it put together and I did use it, and it works. It might even be almost sort of kind of fun to use).

I haven't done a book report in a while, so here's some of my recent reading:

Going back to December, there was Predator's Gold by Philip Reeve, the second in the future post-apocalyptic steampunk series. I think I liked this one better than the first book (probably because it's less bloody -- more of the main characters survive this time). Our heroes get stuck in the frozen north after an airship battle, with the bad guys in hot pursuit -- only they're not actually the ones being chased. I like the story and characters in this series, but there's still something about the writing style that baffles me. It's classified as young adult and the main characters are teens, but there's some very adult stuff going on and yet the writing style feels to me more like something out of a children's book. I kept forgetting that the main characters were 18 because they came across as more like 11, and all the secondary characters seemed to belong in a children's book. I like children's books, so this isn't a problem, but it does get a wee bit disconcerting when it's very obvious that the two main characters are sleeping together and I have to keep reminding myself that they're 18 and not 11. I need to get the next in the series now.

The rest of December was either re-reads or books I don't really want to talk about because I can't recommend them.

I started the year with Moving Pictures by Terry Pratchett, an older Discworld book that was still new to me. Basically, the motion picture industry arrives on the Discworld and hilarity ensues. Since I've had some dealings with Hollywood, I found a lot to laugh at here. There's one image near the end that had me laughing out loud for about five minutes, and I halfway suspect that the entire plot was reverse engineered to get to that image.

Then there was A Company of Swans by Eva Ibbotson. An Edwardian teenager realizes that the best-case scenario for her life is to escape her father's oppressive home by marrying the stuffy scholar picked out for her by her father, so she runs away to join a ballet company setting off on a tour of Brazil. She has a personal mission while she's there, to find the whereabouts of a boy who once lived at a nearby manor and who's believed to have gone to Brazil, on behalf of the lonely boy who lives at the manor now. While she's in Brazil, she meets a mysterious young Englishman who has become wealthy in the rubber trade. Meanwhile, her father has sent her would-be fiance to track her down and bring her back. I had to get over a minor cognitive dissonance to really enjoy this book because the set-up, with the proper girl running away to an exotic place, secret identities and hints of hijinks with a will, made me think of the Madeleine Brent romantic adventure books, and I kept waiting for a big action or chase scene where the heroine manages to rescue the hero by using her special skills. But it's really just a historical romance, without much adventure, and it works just fine on that level if you aren't expecting the adventure. This was put out by a teen imprint and shelved in the teen section of the library, but I didn't think it was really a "teen" book. The main character is 18, and while it's pretty clear the romantic leads have sex, it isn't graphically described, but aside from that, it's not that different from most "adult" historical romances. It was originally published in the mid-80s, when there really wasn't a "teen" category, just adult books and children's books, so I wonder how it was shelved then. It's probably wise to put it in teen now, as it's got a lot of appeal for teens who don't want to read about typical teenage stuff, while I think a lot of historical romance readers would be disappointed by the lack of steam. So, if you like historical romance but don't necessarily need pages of graphic sex scenes and aren't really into inspirational romances (usually the only option for historical romance without graphic sex), this would be a good option. If I hadn't already been in ballet classes, I'd probably be wanting to sign up after reading this book. I was looking for more books by this author, and it looks like she's done a lot of children's fantasy, which could be fun.

But since I was hoping for a Madeleine Brent-style story with this book and didn't get it, I found a couple of actual Madeleine Brent books at the library. Unfortunately, I never seem to remember the titles of these books, remembering them as just "the one in China" or "the one in Australia," etc. I thought I'd found a couple I'd never read because the titles didn't ring a bell, but then they started sounding vaguely familiar as I read them. I read Merlin's Keep (aka The One in Tibet) and The Long Masquerade (The One in Jamaica), and they were good for a rainy afternoon.

Finally, I re-read Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett. I've been wanting to re-read this for a while, but I never found it in the library. I'd have checked the online catalog, which would say it was there, but then I wouldn't find it. I discovered why when checking for more Eva Ibbotson books: They shelve it in the teen section now (I know it wasn't there the first time I checked it out). I really wouldn't consider this a teen book, so I'm not sure how they came up with that classification. Yeah, one of the main characters is 11, but he's the Antichrist (or, he's supposed to be, but there was kind of a mix-up). Actually, my library has a lot of non-teen books shelved in the teen section, like the Naomi Novik Temeraire books, which have nothing teen-related in them at all. I suppose they could be putting teen-appropriate adult books in that section to encourage teens to read, and I think that's a great idea, but maybe they should also keep copies in the adult section because it makes it difficult to find books when you're looking for something you know was published as adult fiction and it's not shelved in the adult section. I'd never have thought to look for some of these books in the teen section.

Anyway, Good Omens reminded me that I have The Best of Queen on cassette (and not just because all tapes left in a car for any length of time turn into The Best of Queen), and I really need to get it on CD so I can listen to it in the new car.

And now to get back into the new project. I re-read what I've written so far, and while I've seen places where it can be improved, I still really like it.

No comments: