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Núvols
Núvol d'etiquetes, Núvol d'autors, Mirall d'etiquetes
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S'ha unit
Mar 17, 2007
About My Library
You can find my favorite fiction tagged as "pure genius." I also have a WikiThing page, which was never more than a work in progress, but which fell to the wayside at some point when I was writing my doctoral thesis.

My library doesn't reflect all the books I've read, nor even necessarily all the ones I've enjoyed. I went through a home fire several years back, which means I lost quite a few of the books I loved dearly. Some have been replaced, but most have been left missing because I'm usually more interested in reading something new than in rehashing an old fave. With the exception of a very few books tagged as "lent to..." or in the collection "read but unowned," any book that is listed in my catalog is physically present in my home, my office, or my spouse's office.

My rating system corresponds to letter grades - 5 = A, 4 = B, 3 = C, 2 = D, and 1 = F. In other words, 1's & 2's were really bad (and consequently, not many of them remain in my library for very long); 3's were average; 4's and 5's I really enjoyed.
Memberships
Autors preferits
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                    [brt_text] => More like Master Misogyny. 

I thought the total lack of substantive female characters in the first book was a red flag, but I was enjoying the adventure enough to ignore it and continue to the second book.

This was a mistake.

The first time you see the woman in this installment, she's being tortured, with an aim to "break" her. When you finally meet a second woman who seems like she's going to be part of the regular cast, she's mute.

This isn't even subtle, folks. Don't waste your time (or your money).
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                    [brt_text] => I have mixed feelings about this cookbook, primarily because I don't know who its target audience is.

I would not recommend this book to someone who is new to the vegetarian or vegan lifestyle, or who is "trying it out" to see if it is something they could or would do long-term.  That's because I wouldn't want someone considering a plant-based diet to think that this is the only kind of eating available to them.  The recipes in this book are very plain, boring, run-of-the-mill stuff, much of it nearly flavorless.  They seem more likely to drive someone away from a commitment to plant-based living than to attract someone.

I similarly would not recommend this book to a seasoned vegetarian or vegan cook.  The recipes here are very simple, and any experienced cook could come up with them on their own.  I would consider these "base" recipes, recipes upon which a cook might build in order to create more flavorful, more enjoyable dishes.

The only audience I can think of for whom this book might be appropriate would be for a teenager or young adult who is already committed to plant-based living, but is new to cooking for themselves and so largely inexperienced in the kitchen.  Maybe a student who is moving out of the house for the first time.  Such a person might appreciate the simplicity and ease of the recipes and the relative availability of the ingredients called for without being turned off from the plant-based lifestyle due to the lack of creativity of the recipes contained.
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                    [brt_text] => This was, so far, my favorite of the Gentleman Bastard series.  It seemed like it was the absent piece that had been missing from the previous two books - finally bringing in that last thread of the story arc that had been nagging at me from the back of my mind.  I gobbled this up much faster than the previous two, and was left at the end regretting my decision to violate my first rule of fiction (Also known as the GRRM rule: "Never begin reading a series before the entire series is complete and published!").  Now I'm left hanging in the wind, craving more from this author and this story-line, and who knows for how long!

(Really great stuff, this is the book that sold me on the series for good).
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                    [brt_text] => Another great offering from Scott Lynch.  Lots of adventure, characters I actually care about, strong women in lead roles - all of the things I look for in my summer fiction reading.  I wasn't as huge of a fan of this installment as the first, if only because the story line got a little absurd.  This didn't keep it from totally absorbing my attention, though, and I had ordered the third book online before finishing this one.
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                    [brt_text] => This book was great fun.  I was engrossed from the very beginning, and my interest never wavered.  I was invested in the characters, and happy to see strong female characters throughout the cast.  I picked up the second book within minutes of finishing this one.
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                    [brt_text] => All he could think about was the taste of the sauce.  If the manifest of ingredients on the bottle had been legible, it would have read something like this:
Water, blackstrap molasses, imported habanero peppers, salt, garlic, ginger, tomato puree, axle grease, real hickory smoke, snuff, butts of clove cigarettes, Guinness Stout fermentation dregs, uranium mill tailings, muffler cores, monosodium glutamate, nitrates, nitrites, nitrotes and nitrutes, nutrites, natrotes, powdered pork nose hairs, dynamite, activated charcoal, match-heads, used pipe cleaners, tar, nicotine, single-malt whiskey, smoked beef lymph nodes, autumn leaves, red fuming nitric acid, bituminous coal, fallout, printer’s ink, laundry starch, drain cleaner, blue chrysotile asbestos, carrageenan, BHA, BHT, and natural flavorings.

I tried to like this book.  I tried so hard.  Reading it on vacation, with nothing else to occupy my days but a pool and a beach, and a chair for me to read it in, after three days I gave up a little over halfway through, right around the beginning of “Part the Second”.  I typically read a book a day on vacation, and the fact that after three days I was only ~260 pages into this one was a sure sign that something was wrong. I was not engrossed.  I was easily distracted.  Facebook and email were calling to me more than the book was – and I hate my smartphone when I’m supposed to be “off”.

I’m not even sure I can say what went wrong here.  Glimpses of what I would call Stephenson’s characteristic humor (i.e. the quote above) were few and far between, and sadly missed.  Although the plot seemed… interesting? There was something missing in the execution.  There were all kinds of technical descriptions of the nanotechnology, and I’m certain that this book was eons ahead of its time as far as science fiction goes, but the story line was plodding and I couldn’t bring myself to care about any of the one-dimensional characters.

So utterly unlike Stephenson, who is generally one of my favorite authors.  Usually so intelligent, biting, and funny, here … he just fell far short of my expectations.
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                    [brt_text] => “Know this,” she said.  “I will use every bit of Craft I have learned, every drop of strength that I have in me to defeat this monster.  But if I stand alone, I will surely be defeated.  If we stand and fight together, we have a chance to rid ourselves of the High Lord and those who serve him.  Many of us won’t survive this fight, but our children – ” Her voice broke. It took her a moment to continue. “But our children will know the freedom we paid so dearly to give them.”

Thus does Dorothea open this final round of the Black Jewels Trilogy, with a call to arms for all of Terreille to rise up against Kaeleer and the Dark Court which Jaenelle has established there.  As immigrants flood into Kaeleer looking for a brighter future and an escape from the corruption Heketah and Dorothea have brought to the Craft in Terreille, secret armies amass waiting to claim Kaeleer for themselves, and still the Dark Priestess and her puppet scheme to bring Jaenelle under their own influences.

The weakest of the three novels, Queen of the Darkness still packed a good punch.  Most lacking from this episode was Bishop’s tendency towards insightful character development: Throughout the trilogy, Heketah and Dorothea had both felt incredibly one-dimensional, and this novel – by pushing them to the forefront of the action – really brought that out.  The complexity and depth which characterizes the rest of the main cast just wasn’t there for these two, and it made them stand out as the least believable characters in Bishop’s world.

I nevertheless couldn’t put the book down, wanting so badly to know what would happen to this great cast of characters that I’d come to know and love.  Even at the trilogy’s finish, I was saddened to not have more to read.  I really enjoyed these books, and will almost certainly be tracking down more of Anne Bishop’s work.
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                    [brt_text] => First Tribune quietly cleared his throat. “Prince Saetan Daemon SaDiablo, you stand before the Council requesting guardianship of the child Jaenelle Angelline.”

Heir to the Shadows picks up right where Daughter of the Blood left off.  While Saetan and the rest of his family search the Twisted Kingdom for the remnants of Jaenelle’s soul, Hekatah unravels a new plan to drive Daemon there himself, while Dorothea’s pawns on the Council work their own magic trying to wrestle Jaenelle away from her new home.

A nice reprieve from the dominant sexual themes of the first novel, Heir to the Shadows grounds its darkness in psychological rather than sexual exploitation and manipulation.  Although I didn’t find the storyline here as compelling as in Daughter, there was enough interest and investment left over from the first book to still drive me through this sequel without so much as a break for air.  I read it in a day and couldn’t wait to pick up the trilogy’s conclusion.  Books like these are the reason I refuse to read a series until I have all of the books within my possession.
                    [br_workcode] => 16209
                    [br_stamp] => 1406643186
                    [books_id] => 76618788
                )

        )

    [77763923-3] => Array
        (
            [type] => 3
            [stamp] => 1406569008
            [data] => Array
                (
                    [br_bookid] => 77763923
                    [brt_text] => “I’m not going to control her, Cassandra.  She’s Witch.  No male has the right to control Witch.”
     Cassandra studied him. “Then what are you going to do?”
     “Love her.  That will have to be enough.”

This was both a hard book to read, and a hard book to put down.  When I first began it, I was intrigued, but after putting it away for a night I found that the next several nights I had no interest in reading it.  I was turned off by the sadomasochistic erotica and didn’t see why it had to play such a central role in the book.  Once I picked it back up again, though, I read it right through – as well as the rest of the trilogy – within a weekend. I can’t remember the last time a book (or series) so effectively distracted me from all of my other responsibilities.

Jaenelle is a young witch born in a society where gender roles are reversed from our own – although not for the better.  Men are subservient to women, but in fighting to maintain control, strong women are also targets for the weaker who yearn for power.  Considered both troublesome and utterly lacking in any skill with Craft, Jaenelle is an embarrassment to her family and spends a great deal of her time locked away in a home for disturbed girls, at least until she meets some friends who are able to see her for what she truly is.

Daughter of the Blood is a very powerful novel.  With strong character development and a compelling story arc, you can’t help but be drawn into this incredibly dark and perverse (yet eerily recognizable) world.  Bishop is masterful in her depiction of power dynamics, and although I could have done without the erotic focus, the story (it turns out) could not have, or at least would not have been so robust otherwise.  I was hanging onto the edge of my seat right up until the last page, when I immediately reached to the table to pick up the next book in the series.
                    [br_workcode] => 16197
                    [br_stamp] => 1406569008
                    [books_id] => 77763923
                )

        )

    [97466593-3] => Array
        (
            [type] => 3
            [stamp] => 1405956532
            [data] => Array
                (
                    [br_bookid] => 97466593
                    [brt_text] => I lived in the deep south for 15+ years, including 8 years in New Orleans.  To think, I spent that entire time believing that I didn’t like soul food.  It was too meat-heavy.  Grits tasted like paste (I thought).  And collard greens were slimy and gross.  As it turns out, I was both right and wrong.  Soul food is often meat-heavy, but it doesn't have to be.  I didn’t like instant grits, but fresh, well-sourced grits cooked properly are delicious (I’ve found a great place in South Carolina that ships them).  And collard greens are slimy and gross, when they’re overcooked or otherwise not prepared correctly, but they can also be delectable when thrown into a gratin or a hearty gumbo.

Discovering Bryant Terry’s Vegan Soul Kitchen was like an awakening for me.  All those foods that I thought would just never be a part of my repertoire are suddenly fixtures in my kitchen.  We don’t cook with this book every night – we’re lucky if we use it once a week.  Largely, that’s due to how complex and time-consuming many of the recipes are.  And despite his attempts to tamp down the fat, many of the recipes are also still very high-calorie, which makes these meals more appropriate as once in a while treats rather than weeknight staples.  Despite these caveats, though, we love this book.  Savory Triple-Corn Grits and Cajun-Creole-Spiced Tempeh Pieces with Creamy Grits turn out to be two of my favorites, as are his Fried Green Tomatoes with Creamy Celeriac Sauce and Gumbo Z.  For each recipe, there is a little narrative, and also a suggested soundtrack.  The music recommendations are some of my favorites – often they bring me back to New Orleans, but they always put me in the mood for some good food.  We have yet to try everything in here, but we’re steadily working our way through, and I can’t think of a single recipe we’ve tried that has been a disappointment.  Perhaps best of all is that these recipes are completely different from anything else we make, so we can always count on VSK for a refreshing change of pace.
                    [br_workcode] => 7546681
                    [br_stamp] => 1405956532
                    [books_id] => 97466593
                )

        )

)

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