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AJ, Destroyer of Things.
02 February 2012 @ 11:13 pm
It's that time of month again, where I regale you with what I read. Last month's reading included 10 books. My goal is 120, while I am also reading 52 books from around the world. Those will be delineated with an asterisk.

01. The Three Musketeers*, Alexandre Dumas.

It's no Monte Cristo, but the adventures of D'Artagnan and his friends the three Musketeers of the title are entertaining. And the character of Milady is as fascinating as it gets in fiction. I rather wish (SPOILER ALERT FOR 200 YEAR OLD BOOK) Dumas hadn't killed her off, because she was a formidable foe. And I don't like the way she went out, it wasn't true to who she was.

02. Wishful Drinking, Carrie Fisher

Fisher's hilarious memoir of her substance abuse, her movie star family, and of course THAT MOVIE (George Lucas ruined my life is the title of one chapter!) kept me literally laughing out loud the entire time I was reading it. Can't wait to read more of her books.

03. Transition: The Story of How I Became a Man, Chaz Bono

A memoir of an identity search, Bono tells us how he always felt uncomfortable in his own skin. While his writing can come off as a little sexist, I think it's also his way of working through his issues with women and his shifting paradigm. I found it a fascinating read.

04. Bossypants, Tina Fey

I expected laugh-out-loud with this one. I didn't get it, but it also didn't disappoint. She reminded me of how much I loved (and still do) love improv. And I like that she didn't sugarcoat the glass ceiling for women in comedy. Highly recommended.

05. The Secret Diaries of Miss Miranda Cheever, Julia Quinn

Julia Quinn writes good romance. Holy crap does she ever. Her heroines are Jane Austen-esque, but not in a rip off sort of way. And when she rips those bodices, dayum isn't the word! It's nice and refreshing to read a girly book that doesn't tax my feminist sensibilities.

06. Among Others*, Jo Walton

I will copy and paste my review from Goodreads because I think it sums this book up:
This book is the book for those little girls who grew up reading science fiction and fantasy, who were a bit outside of their peers, who were loners. This book is for me. And I loved the great use of historiography -- I have a wishlist chock full of scifi writers I hadn't even heard of thanks to this book. I know this year is young yet, but this is the best one I've read.

07. The Virgin's Lover*, Philippa Gregory

I keep trying and hoping that Gregory will recapture the magic from the first parts of this series. I am so disappointed -- there was a lot that could have been done with Robert, Amy, and Elizabeth. Instead she went for cliches. I wanted nothing to do with any of them after the first 30 pages.

08. Miserere: An Autumn Tale, Teresa Frohock.

A debut novel, this is the story of another world between ours and Hell. Lucian betrayed his lover to save his sister, but she didn't want saving. When he encounters the young Lindsay and saves her from Hell, he is given a second chance. A taut and gripping read, with just the right mix of fantasy and reality. I couldn't put this down. I couldn't believe this was a debut, because it was so intense and polished. Definitely worth a read.. It was my 2nd 5 star book of the year.

09. Some Dream for Fools*, Faiza Guène

The story of a young Algerian immigrant in France as she goes about her day to day life and struggles to keep food on her plate and her brother out of jail. I actually found this pretty funny -- I think that Ahlème is a very relatable character. Guène's characters are sparkling, and the scenes she spins are a great look at the underbelly of France.

10. 4000 Years of Uppity Women: Rebellious Belles, Daring Dames, and Headstrong Heroines Throughout the Ages, Vicky Léon

Like the women in war book I read in December, this book celebrates both well and lesser known women. I was happy to find a lot more emphasis on women outside of Europe and 20th century North America. They're short bits on each woman, but Léon has a bibliography for further reading.

Right now I'm working through 2 books: Smilla's Sense of Snow, Peter Hoeg, and World Without End, Ken Follet. They're slow going because they are long, and I will probably switch on and off from another couple of books in the interim. IN the mean time, you only have til 23 March to read THE HUNGER GAMES, dammit.
Current Mood: curiouscurious
Current Music: Crowded House - Whenever I Fall (Acoustic) | Powered by Last.fm
AJ, Destroyer of Things.
14 November 2011 @ 08:01 pm

AJ, Destroyer of Things.
01 November 2011 @ 09:21 pm
Hey, it's that Time of the Month again where I post...book reviews!

(Pretty much all I do these days is read. Also, I guess spend time with the boyfriend type person. He's pretty cool. I guess.)

Also, hey, if you have a few extra bucks and love to help sick kids and me, please feel free to sponsor me as I do a 5k walk for St. Jude's Children's Hospital. I've raised over 300 so far, but I would love to do more. Any amount is welcome and cherished! <3

Anyway, onto the books.

92. From Dead to Worse, Charlaine Harris.

Yet another Sookie Stackhouse book. I think this was the one with the fae war, and you guys know how much I LOVE fairies. (read: not so much).

93. Snow, Orhan Pamuk

A moving novel set in nearly modern-day Turkey, about a poet. It's told in a strange sort of first person that takes some getting used to, but it is incredibly well done, just like everything else I've read by Pamuk.

94. Dead and Gone, Charlaine Harris

Maybe this one was with the Fae War. Whichever it was, it was awful.

95. Dead in the Family, Charlaine Harris

I think she's wrapping up the series because she can't come up with any more "dead" puns. It's getting a little boring, what with Sookie fixated on Eric and ugh.

96. The Other Tudors: Henry VIII's Mistresses and Bastards, Philippa Jones

This was slightly historically inaccurate, and a lot of it was farfetched on the part of the bastards' supposed parentage. It was good to read about people I didn't know a lot about like Baron Hundson, Henry Carey.

97. Dead Reckoning, Charlaine Harris

Holy crap, what a long series ;)

98. Deadline, Mira Grant

The second book in the zombie thriller series by Grant, this edition was nearly as thrill packed as the first and has stuck with me far longer than the first did. Warning: graphic zombies and a surprising game changer.

99. Tomorrow Sucks, edited by Greg Cox

Science fiction based vampire stories. Most of these were actually pretty good! A lot of obscure writers taking on different aspects of the vampire legend and setting them in a science-fiction background.

100(!!!!!). A Partisan's Daughter, Louis de Bernieres

I'm a big fan of de Bernieres -- Corelli's Mandolin was one of my favourite books for the longest time (it still is!), and I spotted this one at Goodwill for a buck, so I snapped it up. I wasn't disappointed. It was a he-said, she-said tale of an unlikely friendship that ends in a surprising and yet not surprising way. Well worth the read.

101. Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children, Ransom Riggs

Riggs takes vintage photos of strange poses and odd arrangements and composes an intriguing story around them. I really liked that the young man at the centre of the story wasn't an annoying little boy who is all WOE IS MEEEEEE. I was surprised by the twist, and I really liked the way the story unfolded. I look forward to a potential sequel!

So what are you reading? I'm right now finishing a collection of vampire short stories called "Louisiana Vampires." Again, it's a mixed bag, but some of them are spot on.
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AJ, Destroyer of Things.
13 September 2011 @ 12:07 am
I usually like to write about the Chilean September 11, but I came across this amazing poem on Tumblr and thought it was important to share it with you. It's long, but I'm not cutting it.

Emmanuel Ortiz (born 1974)'s poem, Moment of Silence:

Before I start this poem, I’d like to ask you to join me

In a moment of silence

In honor of those who died in the World Trade Center and the Pentagon last September 11th.

I would also like to ask you

To offer up a moment of silence

For all of those who have been harassed, imprisoned, disappeared, tortured, raped, or killed in retaliation for those strikes,

For the victims in both Afghanistan and the U.S.

And if I could just add one more thing…

A full day of silence

For the tens of thousands of Palestinians who have died at the hands of U.S.-backed Israeli forces over decades of occupation.

Six months of silence for the million and-a-half Iraqi people, mostly children, who have died of malnourishment or starvation as a result of an 11-year U.S. embargo against the country.

Before I begin this poem,

Two months of silence for the Blacks under Apartheid in South Africa,

Where homeland security made them aliens in their own country.

Nine months of silence for the dead in Hiroshima and Nagasaki,

Where death rained down and peeled back every layer of concrete, steel, earth and skin

And the survivors went on as if alive.

A year of silence for the millions of dead in Vietnam - a people, not a war - for those who know a thing or two about the scent of burning fuel, their relatives’ bones buried in it, their babies born of it.

A year of silence for the dead in Cambodia and Laos, victims of a secret war … ssssshhhhh…. Say nothing … we don’t want them to learn that they are dead.

Two months of silence for the decades of dead in Colombia,

Whose names, like the corpses they once represented, have piled up and slipped off our tongues.

Before I begin this poem.

An hour of silence for El Salvador …

An afternoon of silence for Nicaragua …

Two days of silence for the Guatemaltecos …

None of whom ever knew a moment of peace in their living years.

45 seconds of silence for the 45 dead at Acteal, Chiapas

25 years of silence for the hundred million Africans who found their graves far deeper in the ocean than any building could poke into the sky.

There will be no DNA testing or dental records to identify their remains.

And for those who were strung and swung from the heights of sycamore trees in the south, the north, the east, and the west…

100 years of silence…

For the hundreds of millions of indigenous peoples from this half of right here,

Whose land and lives were stolen,

In postcard-perfect plots like Pine Ridge, Wounded Knee, Sand Creek, Fallen Timbers, or the Trail of Tears.

Names now reduced to innocuous magnetic poetry on the refrigerator of our consciousness …

So you want a moment of silence?

And we are all left speechless

Our tongues snatched from our mouths

Our eyes stapled shut

A moment of silence

And the poets have all been laid to rest

The drums disintegrating into dust.

Before I begin this poem,

You want a moment of silence

You mourn now as if the world will never be the same

And the rest of us hope to hell it won’t be.

Not like it always has been.

Because this is not a 9/11 poem.

This is a 9/10 poem,

It is a 9/9 poem,

9/8 poem,

A 9/7 poem

This is a 1492 poem.

This is a poem about what causes poems like this to be written.

And if this is a 9/11 poem, then:

This is a September 11th poem for Chile, 1971.

This is a September 12th poem for Steven Biko in South Africa, 1977.

This is a September 13th poem for the brothers at Attica Prison, New York, 1971.

This is a September 14th poem for Somalia, 1992.

This is a poem for every date that falls to the ground in ashes

This is a poem for the 110 stories that were never told

The 110 stories that history chose not to write in textbooks

The 110 stories that CNN, BBC, The New York Times, and Newsweek ignored.

This is a poem for interrupting this program.

And still you want a moment of silence for your dead?

We could give you lifetimes of empty:

The unmarked graves

The lost languages

The uprooted trees and histories

The dead stares on the faces of nameless children

Before I start this poem we could be silent forever

Or just long enough to hunger,

For the dust to bury us

And you would still ask us

For more of our silence.

If you want a moment of silence

Then stop the oil pumps

Turn off the engines and the televisions

Sink the cruise ships

Crash the stock markets

Unplug the marquee lights,

Delete the instant messages,

Derail the trains, the light rail transit.

If you want a moment of silence, put a brick through the window of Taco Bell,

And pay the workers for wages lost.

Tear down the liquor stores,

The townhouses, the White Houses, the jailhouses, the Penthouses and the Playboys.

If you want a moment of silence,

Then take it

On Super Bowl Sunday,

The Fourth of July

During Dayton’s 13 hour sale

Or the next time your white guilt fills the room where my beautiful people have gathered.

You want a moment of silence

Then take it NOW,

Before this poem begins.

Here, in the echo of my voice,

In the pause between goosesteps of the second hand,

In the space between bodies in embrace,

Here is your silence.

Take it.

But take it all…Don’t cut in line.

Let your silence begin at the beginning of crime. But we,

Tonight we will keep right on singing…For our dead.

EMMANUEL ORTIZ, 11 Sep 2002.

(Link to the tumblr post I found it in.)
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AJ, Destroyer of Things.
20 August 2011 @ 12:58 am

Two songs?

Two songs.

01. Primavera in Anticipo (It is my Song) - Laura Pausini (feat James Blunt).

02. Try Whistling This - Neil Finn

Simply beautiful songs.
Current Music: Neil Finn - Try Whistling This (Live)