082) Death and the Penguin by Andrey Kurkov, finished November 13
My parents bought this book for me last Coast Guard Day (it had been on my wishlist on the recommendation of Nick Hornby). And although I was excited to read it, I was also prepared to be disappointed.
And I remained prepared all the way through. And that anticipation grew as the book progressed and I could see more and more ways for the book to ultimately disappoint me. And then I finished it. And holy crap. I wasn't disappointed. Not in the least. In fact, I want to read Penguin Lost. I even want to read other unrelated Kurkov books like A Matter of Death and Life.
Seriously. I cannot tell you how many times this book took turns that looked guaranteed to ultimately suck, and then did not suck. I'm not sure I'm explaining well how amazing this was. And I'm even more sure that I'm not selling you this book.
Part of the problem? Telling you about the book will set you up to expect a book that is disappointing and sucky. Even though it won't be. As Hornby said, why not just write on its cover DO NOT BUY THIS BOOK. Seriously.
But it doesn't suck.
Trust me on this.
a few months
(the first cover is mine; click any to read someone else's review)
081) Variant by Robison Wells, finished November 12
First, yes, this book is as much fun to read as everyone's been saying. I allowed myself to be propelled through it as quickly as any book of late. And sure, it's YA so the page count doesn't reflect the small pages and larger type and wider margins, but still: I don't read 384-page books this quickly anymore. So there's that.
Second, what a brilliant setup! And just when you think he's discovered a new and better way to instill paranoia, he ups the paranoia by a factor substantially larger than five.
So. Nonstop excitement (and not of the gratuitous variety where it's just in stuffed willynilly). Well drawn characters (though those characterizations are totally undercut by new information --- bold move). Well integrated twists.
My only complaint is that I hate books that end on cliffhangers (no matter how excellent the cliffhanger). If I'd known, I might have waited for the other books to come out first.
But I have no regrets!
two days and thirty-six minutes into the next
080) Tom Sawyer Abroad by Mark Twain, finished November 10
This is the first of the post-Huck Finn Tom Sawyer books. Tom Sawyer was a great kids' book. Huck Finn is the leading candidate for Great American Novel. Tom Sawyer Abroad is . . . . Let's call it a step backwards.
It's another kids' book ala Tom Sawyer. Tom and Huck and Jim accidentally stow away on a balloon that's four parts Jules Verne and fly to the Sahara, losing their grumpy undeveloped inventor/captain into the ocean en route. Which is the first of many moments that comes and goes and leaves the reader thinking what?
The story is short and ends absurdly abruptly. Takes some Dr. Doolittle-esque turns, doesn't seem to take reality as seriously as the previous books, and so on. Much of the book is spent with Tom playing the straightman to Huck and Jim's comedy act. While funny (make no mistake: I lolled frequently), it's a good thing this book was supershort.
079) The Devil Colony by James Rollins, finished November 9
Read my take here.
a couple weeks
078) Anya's Ghost by Vera Brosgol, finished November 7
Starts off as one thing and becomes another so swiftly and perfectly that it's dizzying and an utter joy. I do think the final resolution came to easily --- definitely needed one last turn before closing --- but aside from that pacing issue, this book is brilliant.
If ghosts are going to be like this, let those who say ghosts are the new vampire/zombie be right.
(two not-quite-sequential pages)
Previously in 2011 . . . . :
077) The Best American Comics 2011 edited by Alison Bechdel, finished November 5
076) The Complete Peanuts 1977-1978 by Charles Schulz, finished November 3
075) Ghost Story by Peter Straub, finished October 27
074) Duncan the Wonder Dog by Adam Hines, finished October 23
073) Poem Strip by Dino Buzzati, finished October 15
072) No Arm in Left Field by Matt Christopher, finished October 18
071) Hamlet by William Shakespeare, finished October 18
070) The Canterbury Tales adapted by Seymour Chwast, finished October 12
069) A Stainless Steel Rat Is Born by Harry Harrison, finished October 4
068) Monstrous Regiment by Terry Pratchett, finished September 27
067) Modern Masters Volume Sixteen: Mike Allred by Eric Nolen-Weathington, finished September 19
066) iZombie: uVampire by Chris Roberson and Michael Allred, finished September 15
065) Knight and Squire by Paul Cornell and Jimmy Broxton, finished September 12
064) Alice in Sunderland: An Entertainment by Bryan Talbot, finished September 21
063) Blacksad written by Juan Díaz Canales and drawn by Juanjo Guarnido, finished September 5
062) 21 by Wilfred Santiago, finished September 4
061) Bone by Jeff Smith, finished August 29
060) Walt Disney's Mickey Mouse: Race to Death Valley by Flody Gottfredson, finished on a date that's a little hard to identify exactly
059) Shakespeare Wrote for Money by Nick Hornby, finished August 18
058) Take Time for Paradise by A. Bartlett Giamatti, finished August 11
057) The Shining by Stephen King, finished August 9
056) I Don't Want to Kill You by Dan Wells, finished August 6
055) Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs, finished August 2
054) Moneyball by Michael Lewis, finished July 12
053) Madman New Giant Size Super Ginchy Special by Mike Allred et al, finished approximately July 9
052) The Influencing Machine by Brooke Gladstone and Josh Neufeld, finished July 8
051) Wilson by Daniel Clowes, finished July 6
050) Timequake by Kurt Vonnegut, finished July 1
049) Housekeeping vs. The Dirt by Nick Hornby, finished June 25
048) The Light Princess by George Macdonald, finished June 22
047) Half a Life by Darin Strauss, finished June 17
046) Babymouse: Cupcake Tycoon by Jennifer L. Holm and Matt Holm (siblings), finished June 16
045) Ender in Exile by Orson Scott Card, finished June 10
044) Writings from The New Yorker 1927-1976 by E.B. White (edited by Rebecca M. Dale), finished June 7
043) The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. Le Guin, finished May 31
042) Unnamed book by unnamed client (MS POLICY),
finished May 27
041) Scott Pilgrim's Finest Hour by Bryan Lee O'Malley, finished May 14
040) Scott Pilgrim Versus The Unverse by Bryan Lee O'Malley, finished May 14
039) Scott Pilgrim Gets It Together by Bryan Lee O'Malley, finished May 13
037) The Code of the Woosters by P.G. Wodehouse, finished May 11
036) Scott Pilgrim Versus The World by Bryan Lee O'Malley
035) Scott Pilgrim's Precious Little Life by Bryan Lee O'Malley
034) The Complete Peanuts 1975-1976 by Charles M. Schulz, finished May 1
033) Asterios Polyp by David Mazzucchelli finished approximately April 27
032) Golden Gate by Seth Vikram, finished April 20
031) Batman: Year 100 by Paul Pope, finished April 18
030) The Polysyllabic Spree by Nick Hornby, finished April 9
029) iZombie: Dead to the World by Chris Roberson and Mike Allred, finished April 2
028) A Sense of Order and Other Stories by Jack Harrell, finished April 1
027) Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead by Tom Stoppard, finished March 30
026) The Black Dogs by Ian McEwan, finished March 21
025) Stitches by David Small, finished March 20
024) Arkham Asylum: Madness by Sam Kieth, finished January 19 or 20
023) Hamlet by William Shakespeare, finished March 18
022) Red Rocket 7 by Mike Allred, finished March 10
021) Missile Mouse: Rescue on Tankium3 by Jake Parker, finished March 10
020) The Hotel Cat by Esther Averill, finished February 28
019) Wonderland by Tommy Kovac and Sonny Liew, finished February 21
018) Redcoat by Kohl Glass (MS POLICY), finished February 18
017) Best American Comics 2010 edited by Neil Gaiman, finished February 12
016) Little Bee by Chris Cleave, finished February 10
015) Travels with Charley by John Steinbeck, finished February 2
014) Cursed Pirate Girl: The Collected Edition Vol. I by Jeremy Bastian, finished January 31
013) Sweet Tooth: In Captivity by Jeff Lemire, finished January 30
012) Sweet Tooth: Out of the Woods by Jeff Lemire, finished January 30
011) Essex County: The Country Nurse by Jeff Lemire, finished January 30
010) Essex County: Ghost Stories by Jeff Lemire, finished January 29
009) Essex County: Tales from the Farm by Jeff Lemire, finished January 29
008) Magdalene by Morah Jovan, finished January 27
007) Knightfall Part Two: Who Rules the Night by a slew of DC folk, finished January 23
006) Bayou by Jeremy Love, finished January 17
005) Mr. Monster by Dan Wells, finished January 10
004) The Red Badge of Courage by Stephen Crane, finished January 6
003) The Mystery of the Dinosaur Graveyard by Mary Adrian, finished January 5
002) Batman - Judge Dredd: Judgment on Gotham by John Wagner and Alan Grant and Simon Bisley, with lettering by the famous Todd Klein; finished January 4
001) Batman: Venom by Dennis O'Neil et al, finished January 2
I generally like to credit translators and George Bird did an excellent job bringing the penguin out of Russian. Props.