Books, Thoughts

Off the Shelf: The Snow Queen

The Snow Queen (The Snow Queen Cycle, #1)The Snow Queen by Joan D. Vinge

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Snow Queen Arianrhod is determined to hold onto her reign of Tiamat & creates a clone of herself in order to ensure her power. Unfortunately, fate & politics that span galaxies intervene to create a foe just as formidable as Arianrhod herself.

I hate reduce a novel down for descriptive purposes, but this is eco-feminist Dune, even down to the preservation of religion for political purposes & genetic control. Despite those similarities, I was interested in seeing how Vinge recast Hans Christian Anderson’s fairytale into a sci-fi political thriller. I was pleased at how she kept the structure of the story & balanced the characters. She also ends the book with plenty of ambiguity as to what happens in the rest of the series. I do regret that some of the dialog is flat on the page & part of me does really wish Satoshi Kon could have made this into an anime, because the sprawling world that Vinge sometimes has to put on the back burner for her plot is equally intriguing. Still, a solid read & I’m keeping my eye out for the rest of the series.

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Books, Thoughts

Bookmark Monday (IV): Leather, oh my!

I was processing some donated books for work the other week & amid the ephemera tucked between the pages were two leather bookmarks. This was completely new to me; I’ve never really seen these kind, much less commemorative ones for a specific place.

found_bookmarks
Church & State

I’m not saying that leather is a poor choice for a bookmark; it just seems that with the finish & the embossing, the end product seems nicer & little pricey for just being left in a book that destined for the bargain bin.  No one’s come to claim them either; they’ve been sitting in the lost & found since.  Kinda sad, but then I’m prone to caring about things as if they were people.

And I must admit, considering that these are from a church & a military school, there’s a perverse part of me that wonders if its meant to do double-duty as a penance tool.

(Bookmark Mondays originated from Guiltless Reading.)

Guiltless Reading
Books, Thoughts

Off the Shelf: Fog (Losing Christina #1)

Fog (Losing Christina, #1)Fog by Caroline B. Cooney

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Christina is leaving her island home off the coast of Maine for mainland school. But she has hard lessons to learn when she discovers her headmasters have a singular focus on isolating & emotionally breaking down her friend Anya.

I loved this series as a kid & I picked it back up from my library after recently having a couple of sick days where I didn’t leave my bed. Cooney is fantastic with atmosphere & dramatic details that kept younger me reading. But the thing that was enjoyable to rediscover this time around was how horrifying certain parts of the story really were. I don’t mean the weird pain vampires & the spookies that accompany them; the process that Christina goes through having her world change as she grows up is heartbreaking. This protected kid who thinks her life has been full of wonder & adventure learns very quickly about poverty, group-think, conformity, & adult manipulation. It is easy to substitute the Shevvingtons’ supernatural motives into some other kind of exploitation or sociopathy & get thoroughly creeped-out as a result. Some of the usual rules of teenage love triangles & simplified prose style still apply, but there are some fascinating parts here.

Recommended for readers who like classic YA horror & those who’ve read the story before & are curious if it still holds up.

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Books, Thoughts

Off the Shelf: Paperbacks From Hell

Paperbacks from Hell: The Twisted History of '70s and '80s Horror FictionPaperbacks from Hell: The Twisted History of ’70s and ’80s Horror Fiction by Grady Hendrix

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I came across this book on display at a local Barnes & Noble & immediately swooped it up. I had just spent the afternoon at a nearby used bookstore taking pictures of weird & retro sci-fi covers–how could I not check this collection out?!

Author Grady Hendrix was merely another curious browser in dusty old book stores, trying to find the weirdest, most lurid forgotten paperbacks until his innocuous habit became a full-blown obsession with cataloging the explosion of horror novels from the 70s & 80s. His timeline kicks off with the publication of Rosemary’s Baby & ends with Clive Barker & the brief explosion of teen horror luminaries like R.L. Stine & Christopher Pike.

Hendrix is having way too much fun with this book, exploring the social anxieties of the decades & making a bunch of silly running jokes about how skeleton doctors are the worst doctors with equal enthusiasm. And if you are curious about his focus & are game to play along, you’ll have fun while reminiscing about some of those same mass market covers you probably saw in the supermarket while tagging along on your parents’ errands. In all seriousness, some of the books/authors that Hendrix outlines will tease you just enough that you’ll find yourself making a reading list against your better judgement. He’s convinced this reader to give V.C. Andrews a chance & to cause me to look at William Johnston’s Westerns with a skeptical glance. (I see you, weirdo, with your supposedly milquetoast jacket descriptions.)

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Books, Thoughts

Bookmark Monday (III): Bookmark Buying PSA

The holidays are here, everyone!  There will be lots of cool gifts out there for stocking stuffers or even just as small gifts from friends & loved ones.  Bookmarks are a fantastic example.  But as I was going through my bookmark box, I noticed a few at the bottom that, though lovely & given with good wishes, I have never used.

Three fashionable but impractical bookmarks
Bookmarks that tear the page instead of keep the place

All three of these have top pieces that are heavier that the rest of the bookmark, meaning they tend to sink down onto pages & tear them.  Especially if you are mainly a paperback reader, like me.  They are lovely to display as objects on shelves or clipped to card stock or stuck upright in a plant or basket.  But remaining in a book, even for a brief while?  Nooooooo.

However, if you do like the weight & durability of a metal or plastic bookmark, you can still find interesting ones that are in the classic rectangular shape without any edges or corners that could catch.  For example:

A stylish metal bookmark with a classic form & durability
A simple, elegant solution

Ahhhh, a wonderful straightforward marker that I can put in my book without any worry about what it will do to my pages.  So remember, this holiday season, go with a timeless style of bookmark so your bibliophile friends will worry less about their pages & remember more your thoughtfulness.

 

 

(Bookmark Mondays originated from Guiltless Reading.)

Guiltless Reading