Sometimes I read as if there is a freakish banshee after me and literacy is the only way to save myself. And who knows, maybe there is and maybe it is. Regardless, I've finished four (not overly challenging, I admit) books after I posted about At the Mountains of Madness and have discovered a couple of things:
  • Eating while reading is a bad idea for me. I continue to mechanically eat way past the point of fullness. Today I zoned out while reading and polished off a box of rice crackers. I don't even like rice crackers all that much.
  • My patience for Agatha Christie's cheating is beginning to wear thin. More on this later. (I still have a deep affection for Tommy, Tuppence, and Miss Marple though)
    ONTO THE BOOKS, we all say, enough of these boring lists. Hold your horses, I say, the list only had two points, clearly you have been brought up in a fast-paced, media-saturated society and have little to no attention span. "The medium is the message!" someone shouts but it doesn't have much to do with the conversation, they probably just wanted to sound smart. We all decided to get along.

   Shadows / Robin McKinley

   Sometimes I will be reading a book, watching a movie, or consuming some other type of media, and I'll say to myself, "I am enjoying this. However, I feel it would be more effective in a different format." This is one such book, and it would have made an amazing comic. As a regular all-print book it is very good, don't get me wrong, I merely feel that it would have been more effective as a comic book (do not say "don't you mean 'graphic novel'?" because UGH TO THAT and Alan Moore, the man himself, said that The Watchmen was not a "graphic novel" and was in fact a comic book, and if Alan says it, I say it too [in this one case and not many/any others]. Also: why change the name of something just to make yourself feel better about it? Just call it a comic book.)

   So! Maggie is an origami-folding, dog-training, algebra-taking, slang-talking teen (this is a YA novel) and life is all good until her dad dies and her mom remarries and her stepfather is shady. Literally shady! With many shadows. Maggie lives in future-North America, now called Newworld, and magic has been abolished. OR HAS IT????????? Read on to find out. It is a fun lil book and may or may not make you want to finally learn to fold something other than a crane or a dragon, which is basically a modified crane.

   It is written in first-person, and Robin McKinley should win a trophy for writing Maggie's voice to sound like a teenager actually would. There are tangents! There is slang! Best of all: there is little to no exposition. Want detailed background info on what exactly a cobey or a silverbug is? Too bad. How did the whole world get to this point? Read between the lines and figure it out as best you can. Are those actual dog-training techniques? Ask your friend who is a dog trainer, this book ain't giving it up. I appreciate this. Imagine for a moment that Katniss didn't explain what the Hunger Games were or how they worked: imagine the building tension as you continued to read and figure it out. Now take that feeling of "oh! that would've been great!" and apply it to Shadows. Thank you, Robin McKinley, for assuming that I am not stupid, and for making the effort to make a teen sound teen-like. It's downright refreshing.

The Never List / Koethi Zan

   Have you ever read a few similar books in succession and then said to yourself, "how did that happen? How did I just read four books about British ex-pats/explorers/space travel?" WELL, I started reading this and said to myself "I seem to be on a train of scary books, and this is no exception." And then I continued reading and said "I am uncomfortable with this situation" at some parts, and "there is no point at having this in the story" at some parts, and "aaagggggh, stop making bad choices" at some parts, and "being locked in a basement for three years must be a difficult situation to write about, because the mental state that would create is probably nearly impossible for anyone to understand" throughout the whole thing. Oh, and "just leave this to the police! THE POLIIIIICE" pretty often as well.

   This book sits pretty firmly at the two-and-a-half stars mark. It's not terrible, it's not great, it just is. There are tense bits and bits where I had to concentrate on suspending my disbelief, and I figured out the big twist at the end. It probably belongs with other run of the mill thrillers. Meh. Skip it, read something else. "Koethi" is a really excellent name though.

A Life in Stitches / Rachael Herron

   Non-fiction! I haven't written about much non-fic here yet! How exciting. Here is how to tell if you are the ideal audience for this book: do you enjoy knitting, want to learn to knit, like knitwear, or have strong opinions about yarn? This book is for you. I've been wanting to learn to knit for quite some time, and this short little number gave fuel to my knitting-fire, and I re-taught myself how to knit when I finished it.

And Then There Were None / Agatha Christie

   Oh, Agatha. You know I love you, I really do. This book, however, has put that love to the test. You've gotten cocky, you and your story-telling cheating. People told me it was the best Christie they'd read, and I trusted them. I trusted you! Granted: the scenes are set and the characters described in your usual spot-on fashion, and the creepiness of the whole situation is pervasive. And then it was poisonously insulting at the end. Stop doing that! Stop laying a billion red herrings in every scene! Stop withholding game-changing information! Stop it! Usually I am fine with not figuring it out. I don't really expect to with your books. Usually, however, I get to the explanation and the denouement and I say "how clever! If I had been very attentive, I could have gathered that information" (well, with Tommy, Tuppence, and Miss Marple at least. Not usually with Hercule. I get why you didn't like him, Agatha. But you made him that way) BUT THIS BOOK. Oh the frustration when reading the last chapter.