Maira's Books

In January of 2005 I started this blog as a record of books I’ve read as I was afraid I would forget what I have read. I have often referred back to my own blog to remember a book's contents or see what I have read by an author. I have enjoyed passing my books on to friends or recommending books to read. I know I have missed recording some, but in general I try to keep up with what I have read or listened to.

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Location: Kalamazoo, MI, United States

I am a librarian at Waldo Library at Western Michigan University.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Wakefield by Andrei Codrescu (2004)

Picked this up in the humor section, but thought it wasn't engaging enough for a long trip, but ended keeping it, because of the East European slant. There was only one place that I found myself laughing out loud - when Wakefield tries to find an outlet in an airport to charge his phone, and finds every one of the miserably small number of outlets already used to charge phones, computers, i-pods and all sorts of electronic devices. I have definitely developed a talent for finding outlets in strange places.

Our alienated hero Wakefield is visited by the Devil, and they strike a deal that he has to find a fulfilling direction in life within a year. Wakefield travels around the country as a motivational speaker, who never prepares speeches, but meets with some of the people and then does a stream of consciousness type speech I rarely found amusing, but most probably do. He travels to unnamed cities, but they are pretty easily identifiable as New Orleans (his home), Chicago and Seattle. He has a Russian taxi driver buddy back home, he is now divorced from a Romanian woman, and ends up meeting various other East Europeans along the way.

The other part I thoroughly enjoyed was the mention of librarians descending on his home town for a national conference. Since there was an American Library Association conference in New Orleans in 2006, I was convinced that this was what he was talking about, though I didn't catch any references to the devastation from Katrina in 2005 - well, it turns out the book came out in 2004, so pre-Katrina and pre-ALA conference. Oh well, maybe he just thought he would use us for some laughs - that I highly appreciated.

All in all I stuck with the book and found it enjoyable in enough places to maybe try something else by the author.

Kushiel's Dart by Jacqueline Carey (2001)

Looked interesting, so I picked it up for listening, but found I couldn't listen to this because the plot was too complicated - a new fantasy world, supposedly based in a European like territory, mostly France and some England, but all the names were new, the political intrigue a big part of the book, and I just couldn't keep the names straight aurally. Plus I had a hard time listening to the S&M erotic places while driving. Rather than try to explain it myself, I'll quote from the Wikipedia: "In Jacqueline Carey's Kushiel's Legacy novels, an anguissette is one of Kushiel's chosen mortals, picked to "balance the scales" against those who impart suffering without compassion. Anguisettes feel pain and pleasure as one. Additionally, the wounds of those who bear Kushiel's Dart always heal clean."

I did get hooked into the plot, so I went and bought the book, so I could follow the story of the two children who were trained by nobleman Anafiel Delaunay to observe, listen, speak numerous languages, read plenty of books and become his eyes and ears in the world. Phedre, the Kushiel's Dart is the main character, and I like her spunk if not her amorous liaisons. I like her best friend, a gypsy named Hyacinthe, and her body guard Joscelin. It seemed to recreate historical Europe, and as in all good fantasies of this nature, culminated in a huge battle.

I found that this series has a cult following, with many people puting Phedre's tatoo from the book cover on their backs or bodies. Bonded servants in the book would get paid for their services and with this money they would start paying for pieces of a tatoo that started at the bottom of their spine. When it reached their neck they would be free.

I am not likely to follow up on this series, unless I forget the parts I didn't feel comfortable with.

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Hour Game by David Baldacci (2004)

Note to self: Do not listen to abridged versions of Baldacci. This was my stay awake book as I drove through the night home from Toronto, and it did the trick, but Baldacci's plots are way too complicated to be condensed. This was the second King and Maxwell book, where they are trying to find and stop a serial killer, who emulates different historical serial killers with each murder. Too many bodies in this one, bute I still like the characters, the town.