Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Post-vacation post

I now have my new kitten! She was a bit scared at first, but once I broke out the jingle ball toys she got over that. She's already got me Googling ways to keep cats from playing with electrical cords, but, other than that, we're getting along fine so far. Of course, she's only actually been with me for a few hours, but watching her attack jingle balls gives me good feelings. We even played something that sort of resembled fetch.

I figured that, in addition to kitten stuff, I'd also write about my vacation reading. With all the niece-watching I did, I ended up having plenty of time to read (and massive amounts of time for TV watching, which may have reawakened my addiction to House).

Here's the stuff I managed to finish:
  • Evan Can Wait (book) by Rhys Bowen - I mentioned this author and her Constable Evans books as read-alikes for M.C. Beaton's Hamish Macbeth books, but I had never actually read any of Bowen's Constable Evans books. I decided to fix this, and it was a good decision. I can now say from personal experience that the Constable Evans books are definitely good read-alike suggestions for those who liked the Hamish Macbeth books. In this particular book, Evan Evans has the annoying task of watching out for a bunch of people filming a documentary about the recovery of a WWII plane. The most insufferable of the documentary people is murdered, and Evan must figure out who did it. The case ends up being tied to a bit of local history about some paintings that had been hidden in the slate mines during WWII.
  • Evanly Bodies (book) by Rhys Bowen - I loved Evan Can Wait, so I figured I'd try another Constable Evans book. These two books, by the way, were the only Constable Evans books I could get hold of at the library right away, but it doesn't appear to matter much which book in the series you start with. Like Beaton's Hamish Macbeth books, all you end up missing out on is a little character history. In Evan Can Wait, Evan was stressing out about his girlfriend and whether she might want to go back to her ex-husband. He hoped to marry her but hadn't asked yet. In this book, the two of them are newly weds. Evan has to deal with what appears to be a serial killer who targets husbands, stressful changes at work, and a Pakistani family whose daughter runs away and may be in danger.
  • Ready or Not (book) by Meg Cabot - This is the only YA novel I read during my vacation, and I almost didn't finish it. I got it because I remembered that Cabot is very highly regarded over at Forever Young Adult, but it didn't instantly grab me, so I almost quit after the first 20 pages or so. The end of my vacation swooped in, I only had three days left to read anything, and this was the shortest book in the pile of library books I hadn't read yet, so I decided to finish it - good decision. Samantha (aka Sam) has a lot to deal with in this book: she finds out her new life drawing class involves drawing naked people (in particular, a naked guy, her first naked guy ever); David, her boyfriend and the President's son, asks her to go to Camp David with him and his family, which she is sure means that he wants to have sex, something she's not sure she's ready for; and her conflict about sex and losing her virginity spills over into all sorts of other areas of her life. For those who are worrying that all this thinking about sex means that there's a graphic sex scene, rest assured that that's not the case. Reading about all of Sam's worries made me wish I could help talk her through them - she's an extremely likable character.
  • Dream Gold: Knights in the Dark (manga, vol. 1) by Tasurou Nakanishi - In this volume, the main characters join a group in which each individual is dedicated to finding a mysterious treasure hidden somewhere in the city. While this one wasn't necessarily bad, it didn't grab me at all. I have no interest in reading any other volumes of the series. Something about it reminded me a little of GetBackers, only the characters in GetBackers are more interesting.
  • Otomen (manga, vol. 1) by Aya Kanno - I liked Aya Kanno's Blank Slate and wanted to try this series. Happily, the library had volume 1. Unfortunately, I could find no other volumes on the shelves - I loved this volume, and definitely plan on reading more. The only issue I can see is that this could end up being a one-note series that gets stale quickly. In this volume, Asuka appears to be the proper manly ideal. What others don't know about him is that he secretly likes girlie things, like handicrafts, cooking, and cute animals. He falls in love with a clueless girl who likes macho stuff and meets a guy who starts off as his romantic rival and becomes something like a friend. What Asuka doesn't know is that this guy is actually a manga artist and author who's been basing his hit shojo series on Asuka's life. In case this description hasn't already made it obvious, this series is nothing like Kanno's Blank Slate. Kanno is a brave person to tackle such completely different tones.
  • The Kindaichi Case Files: The Gentleman Thief (manga, I didn't write down which volume this is) story by Yozaburo Kanari, art by Fumiya Sato - I've liked other Kindaichi Case Files volumes I've read, although not enough to seek them out and buy them. A mysterious thief called the Gentleman Thief has been stealing works of art and altering their real-life subjects (for instance, stealing a painting of a tree and then clipping the tree to look like the thief's symbol). None of this is very sinister until the Gentleman Thief targets a particular artist who became famous after painting a portrait of his daughter as he imagined she would look like years later. Several paintings are stolen, several people are killed. This was a nice, interesting mystery - I had fun trying to figure out who the killer was. I like the art style, too.
  • Millennium Snow (manga, vol. 1) by Bisco Hatori - A terminally ill girl meets a vampire who could save her life and make her live a thousand years just by drinking her blood. Unfortunately for her, he doesn't want to. If I remember right, this series is very brief, and I can see why. As a vampire romance (or werewolf romance, if you count the guy who shows up later in this volume), it's not very good. The supernatural stuff isn't very prominent, and the romance didn't prompt any fangirl feelings on my part.
  • What Happens in London (book) by Julia Quinn - This one was a very good choice for a vacation read. It was fast-paced and fun, and the suspense bits didn't get very dark. When I picked it up, I had no idea that it involved characters first introduced in The Secret Diaries of Miss Miranda Cheever, the only other book by Quinn I've read. I found this one to be much more enjoyable than that one - for one thing, the hero was much less of a jerk. This particular book features Miranda's friend Olivia, who has more suitors than she knows what to do with, and not a single suitor who cares to look past her pretty face and figure out what she's really like. The courtship through windows was wonderful, and I loved the proposal.
These are the books I didn't finish:
  • In a Gilded Cage (book) by Rhys Bowen - I didn't dislike this book, but it didn't really grab me, either, and that just won't do for vacation reading. I much prefer Bowen's Evan Evans books.
  • The Black Gryphon (book) by Mercedes Lackey - This was the very first book by Lackey that I ever read - I was a teenager on a gryphon kick. I've since read this many times. I took it with me to read on the plane and did not allow myself to read it at all once I got myself a stack of library books. That's pretty much the only reason I didn't finish it.

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