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Forum nameReading Challenges, 2010
Topic subjectAna's 2010 readings
Topic URLhttp://www.fmwriters.com/community/dc/dcboard.php?az=show_topic&forum=505&topic_id=19
19, Ana's 2010 readings
Posted by anavicenteferreira, Sat Jan-02-10 06:53 AM
I managed 71 in 2009 (a few were quite small) so I'm going for 50.
75, 1. Hearts West - Chris Enss
Posted by anavicenteferreira, Wed Jan-06-10 01:04 AM
Hearts West: True Stories of Mail-Order Brides on the Frontier
Chris Enss

115 pages

I really enjoyed this book. I bought it as research for a future project, but ended up losing myself completely in its pages.

As the subtitle states, the book is composed of several stories of women and men who met through correspondance during the second half of the XIXth century and the first two decades of the XXth. Each chapter tells a different story with a few of them dedicated not to specific couples, but to people or institutions that helped bring those couples together. There's a good selection of stories, they cover people in different situations and not all of them have happy outcomes.

I loved that the book includes a lot of material from the time: journal and letters excerpts; personal ads; newspaper articles; photographs and prints. It also includes a rather detailed bibliography (which non-fiction books don't always seem to do anymore) that I think will be of good use to me when I'm in full research mode for the project I mentioned.

Also, the book really opened my eyes to how many preconceived ideas I still held about life in the West and the role of women in the expansion.
310, 2. They Do It With Mirrors - Agatha Christie
Posted by anavicenteferreira, Sun Feb-07-10 03:55 PM
Jogo de Espelhos (They do It With Mirrors)
Agatha Christie

176 pages

I generally love Agatha Christie, and I tend to read her books in one sitting, but that didn't happen with this one.

It's a Marple novel, and I generally do prefer other detectives (it just frustrates me that part of the solution is based on those comparisons with someone on St. Mary Mead), but I don't think that's enough to explained why this book failed to captivate me the way others have.

I think part of it was that I just didn't care about the characters all that much. I especially didn't care at all about the victim, since he practically just walked in and got killed, and there was very little to know about him. I also didn't especially care for the person they were supposedly all trying to protect: she's one of those older ladies Christie writes somethimes, very nice and very vague and very ethereal.

Also, it seemed to me that Christie's tendency to write mostly dialogue was taken a bit too far on this one, and instead of a fast-paced but rich reading, which is her usual, we're definitely entering "talking head" territory.

So, this one might actually be a rarity among my Christie collection: a book that I won't be rereading.
369, 3. Messiah - Boris Starling
Posted by anavicenteferreira, Wed Feb-17-10 07:39 AM
Not exactly making headway. Am reading a lot less than usual this year. Too unfocused.

Messias (Messiah)
Boris Starling


It's the summer of 1998 and superintendent Red Metcalfe has a lot to deal with. Not only is he hunting with a serial killer who appears to select his victims randomly, he still has to cope with his failing marriage and his own hauting past.

The narrative is constructed in three lines: the investigation, the events surrounding Metcalfe's brother arrest and the serial-killers musings. These are woven quite skillfully, maintaining a good level of suspense throughout the book, until they come together in a rather gruesome but satisfying finale.

I mostly enjoyed the book, it was an entertaining read and I appreciated the author's handling of the multiple narratives. Nevertheless, the suspense of it was a bit spoiled for me because I figured out who the killer was half-way through it. Unfortunately, this wasn't due to my superb reasoning but to a lack of judgement on the author's part. If you spend most of the book paying attention to no one but the investigator and suddenly take a great interest in the actions and thoughts of a secondary character, you've pretty much spelled it out for the reader.
374, 4. Rosemary and Rue - Seanan McGuire
Posted by anavicenteferreira, Sat Feb-20-10 07:56 AM
Rosemary and Rue
Seanan McGuire

Urban Fantasy
358 pages

October Daye had enough problems as it was: not only is she a changeling (her mother is a Daoine Sidhe), which makes her a second-class citizen in the Faerie world and forces her to all sort of concealments in the human world, but her ex-husband and her daughter refuse any kind of contact with her (that will happen when you can't explain to your loved one taht you were missing for 14 years because someone turned you into a koi). When her friend Eve is murdered and curses her to find her killers under penance of death, Toby is forced to put on her investigator's shoes and to reenter a world she had sworn off when her enchantment had been broken. She will come upon such an elaborate web of intrigue, secret agendas and lies that the only people she seems able to trust are old oponents.

I loved this book. I was a little hesitant at first. From the blurbs I read, I knew the book must be a mixture of fantasy and hard-boiled, two genres I enjoy a lot but that seemed to have the potential to make a big mess when put together. I couldn't be more wrong. The narrative is consistent and concise, the characters are well-rounded and believable and the story is intriguing.

I was especially fascinated by the excellent job the author did of building a realistic main character. Let's face it, the woman's name is October Daye, she's half-fairy, she has a certain air of Legolas about her and she behaves like Humphrey Bogart minus the Y chromosome; it's a cocktail that you'd expect to turn out strange at least, or most likely awful. But McGuire shows such skill in handling her ingredients that the result is someone so believable you wouldn't be surprised to find her on the street.

That said, the next two books in the series are already on my shopping list.
434, 5. Soulless - Gail Carriger
Posted by anavicenteferreira, Tue Mar-02-10 03:00 AM
Gail Carriger
Orbit Books

373 pages

In an alternative Victorian age, vampires, werewolves and ghosts have risen out of obscurity and are duely integrated in London's society. Alexia Tarabotti, spinster by way of a too dark complexion and an Italian father, is atacked by a vampire who seems to ignore she is a pretenatural, one of the rare soulless humans who are immune both to vampires and werewolves. Accidently, Alexia kills the vampire and temperamental Lord Maccon of BUR (Bureau of Unnatural Registry) is forced to intervene.

the dead (or is it re-dead?) vampire wasn't created by any of the local hives and vampires and werewolves unassociated to any hive or pack are disappearing throughout England. The Supernaturals seem to believe Alexia is somehow to blame; after all, pretenaturals have in the past used their immunity to exterminate their kind. Against the will of Lord Maccon, Alexia takes it upon herself to find out what's happening.

Alexia Tarabotti is a fascinating character: independent, inteligent and sarcastic; perfectly comfortable in her role as someone who is slightly aside from society, but also insecure, marked by too many years of having her insuficiencies constantly blisted. Lord Maccon e Lord Akeldama, werewolf and vampire, rough Scotsman and frenchified dandy, are perfect counterpoints, framing Alexia's conflicting facets. Then there's Professor Lyall, Lord Maccon's Beta, serene and competent and probably ruthless. I suspect I'm a bit infatuated with Professor Lyall, which is rather disconcerting.

Soulless is one of those books you end up reading in one go because you simply must find out what happens next. The writting is light and witty, but by no means inconsequential or vacuous. the characters are rich and well-structured and the details, especially where it comes to the steaampunk aspects of the story, are visually stimulating. I can't say the resolution of the mistery came as a complete surprise, but the book is more comedy of manners than crime novel. There was only one thing I didn't like: No one explained the octopi.
593, RE: 5. Soulless - Gail Carriger
Posted by bonnieann, Tue Apr-06-10 09:09 PM
Glad to hear you liked it, and more about it. I just put it on hold at the library after a friend recommended it as something "fresh" in paranormal.
440, 6. Self-Editing For Fiction Writers - Renni Browne, Dave King
Posted by anavicenteferreira, Thu Mar-04-10 08:02 AM
Very very good. Again, review must wait.
570, 7. The Doctor Wore Petticoats - Chris Enss
Posted by anavicenteferreira, Sat Apr-03-10 03:57 AM
Review later
571, 8. 21 Day Consciousness Cleanse - Debbie Ford
Posted by anavicenteferreira, Sat Apr-03-10 04:00 AM
I generally like Debbie Ford's books a lot, and I enjoyed this one, there are some very useful suggestions and practises, but I couldn't finish the Cleanse. The emphasis on the Abraamic notion of God is too strong and for those of us who follow other paths it becomes too distracting.