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013) On Jupiter Place by Nicholas Christopher, finished January 30

This burst of poetry is providing some nice results! Like Cynthia Cruz's book, this one dragged out for me at the end with its lengthier poem, but I found much to love here. His poem on Lois Lane is the superhero movie I've been waiting for.
three days


012) Old Boy, Vol. 2 by Garon Tsuchiya and Nobuaki Minegishi, finished January 29
two days
011) Old Boy, Vol. 1 by Garon Tsuchiya and Nobuaki Minegishi, finished January 28
maybe three days

I first read volume one almost ten years ago, but now all seven volumes were at my local library. Of course, I wasn't starting new books last year, but months later in January they were still there. (They are what is called iFLOAT---which means they stay at whichever branch a patron last returned them to.)

They're a breezy read filled with sex and threats of future violence, and I can't yet tell if they are Good Literature or not (I'm skeptical, but keeping an open mind).

Here's the set-up: A man's spent ten years locked up in a secret private prison for reasons he does not know. Now that he's out, he intends to find out. And wuite likely take his revenge. We'll see! Still five volumes to go! And they're all by my bedside, so I'll be getting to them soon. (Indeed, I'm already well into volume three. Wanna race?)


010) Summerlost by Ally Condie, finished January 27

Everyone seems to love Ally Condie, so I thought I would give her new book a spin.

If I taught junior-high English I would be tempted to teach this book for the same reason John Green's Fault in Our Stars tempts: the intertextuality teaches kids how to read well. It's not as blatant as Green's book but it's doing many of the same things (including some over-the-top symbolism near the end).

Okay. Enough of that.

The book plods a bit at times, but it has many more moments of lyrical beauty. And although some of the emotional beats seemed a bit undercooked, I prefer that anyday over being burnt.

In short, it's a pretty typical YA story---boy, girl, precociousness, a mystery, at least one bully---but it's a fine, fine example of its genre and we should all encourage her. Keep on, Ally! Guess i have to read Matched now!


009) Heat Wake by Jason Zuzga, finished January 24

Some nice lines in here and a couple striking juxtapositions, but overall a total mess of half-formed images. The longer poems are ... self-indulgent.
four or five days

Previously in 2017


Poetry on up


008) How the End Begins by Cynthia Cruz, finished January 19

007) Delinquent Palaces by Danielle Chapman, finished January 19

I took a couple poetry collections with me to an elementary school function to aid in my antisociality. Chapman's I started first and thus finished there. It had its moments, but never really grabbed me. My favorite section was the long, multipart "A Shape Within" which gradually revealed itself to be a walk through a city and, you know, faith and despair and stuff. It's already a bit fuzzy because I immediately started in on Cruz's, which I loved---especially the first half when the connections between poems were less formal. But the witty morbidity of all the pieces hit me where I live. And the casual plainness of the read was instantly appealing.

Both made me want to write, which is always a commendation.
one evening


006) Pilot by pd mallamo, finished January 19

I need to think about this before I write a real review. It has many marvelous qualities and it was also pretty irritating, so I'll work on correlating my reactions then probably write something longer for AMV.
over a month, which is kind of ridiculous, but we had a baby


005) Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel, finished January 16

I can make positive comparisons to Folk of the Fringe (especially) and The Road and Cell (to a lesser extent), but I think this is my favorite. It's nonchronological---it's home time, I guess, it's well after the apocalypse, but it makes daily life before the apocalypse as interesting and post, and both more interesting than the death of practically everyone itself. That's not possible of course, but the text gives more attention to the details of times less inherently car-crash compulsive which makes for a lovely balance.

Karen Valby, on the back cover, says that "The story feels spun rather than plotted" and this is true. I'm a bit tired, honestly, of the deliberate craftiness of much fiction---look-at-me cleverness as the author spins us through time and narrators. While this novel is doing much of this as well, it's honest. Spun, not plotted. Natural. And, as I said, it can take me from a postapocalyptic horror show to a normal day in pre-disaster Toronto without me being sad or impatient. Both equally interest me.

It's an astonishing accomplishment.
a couple weeks at most


004) I Hate Fairyland Volume 1: Madly Ever After by Skottie Young et al, finished January 14

I'm pro-cuteviolence, but nothing about this volume really excited me. It frequently cuts away from the big action pieces because that is "funny" sequencing, and the lead character is not that interesting. The world is interesting, but we never really get to learn about it before everyone in this part of town is dead. It's a bit tiring, a bit dull. Juxtaposing things that just don't go together! is not sufficiently clever to carry a book, I'm afraid.

two days

Previously in 2017


Starting the year off right!


003) The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss, finished January 12

Pull yourself up off the floor. Yes, I read a 662-page book in a week. Me. I don't think I've read a book with this many pages in this short a time since Harry Potter was new.

Like Harry Potter, this is the story of a boy with great parents (who are dead) who attends a school of magic. But other than the generic title of fantasy, a compelling readability, and a certain quiet artistry to the language, the books don't really have that much in common.

The Name of the Wind is one of those excellent novels that doesn't scream aloud I Am Literature and thus it can be easy to overlook the fact that it is.

I read this book because too many wildly enthusiastic people told me I must, that it was their favorite, that it would change my life. I don't think it did, but when three reasonable people make these claims during the twelve-month you're not starting new book, you begin the new year by picking it up. So I did.

But I couldn't renew it and so I considered just returning it as there was no way I was going to finish a book this length in the two weeks I had left.

Surprise surprise.

This is the first volume in an unfinished trilogy, and it is very much the beginning of something. One thing I don't understnad about the novel's boosters is how they can view it as a standalone object of excellence. I guess it is, but in some ways it's no more than chapter one of a Hardy Boys book. It is a beginning! I finely crafted and wildly fun first chapter, but this novel ends with a sense of anticipation, not completion. I think I would find that frustrating in a book that's changed my life. Or hopeful? I don't know. Anyway, meanwhile, the third volume is overdue. So I think I'll take a break before reading volume two. (Which is three-hundred pages longer and no one seems to like as much.)
a week give or take a couple days


002) F in Exams: The Very Best Totally Wrong Test Answers by Richard Benson, finished January 10

You know the thing: real wrong answers from students are compiled and put together. Not high-brow stuff but definitely laugh-out-loud stuff. At least, I did. It was the perfect for-reading-while-waiting-in-the-car-for-somebody book. Except I already finished it....
two days


001) States of Deseret by William Morris, finished January 10

So this was a copy-edit read and I'll be doing a couple more (and the book isn't even quite complete yet, given I haven't written the introduction yet), but I'm counting it and letting you know now: we have something special here. Put it on your must-buy list.
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final booky posts of
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Nine-year-old svithe


Middle Son surprised me by standing today to bear his testimony. I'm not sure about his exigesis, but it was a nice and well spoken bit of wordery and here's a rough transcription:
The scriptures are like Jonah and the Whale. he jumped in the water because he didn't believe in God then the whale saved him anyway and I think that's like the scriptures because you can not believe them and then you read them and see they're true anyway.

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Fresh Start Svithe


I pinch hit for the bishop today; the topic was fresh starts and this is roughly what I said to introduce the speakers.


I got new socks for Christmas. Later you should ask to see them because whatever you're imagining, you're wrong.

We also got a new baby this year. She's still less than two weeks old.

And today is a new year. I mean---there's no particularly astronomical reason today starts a new year---why not the solstice, twelve days ago? Why not spring? Isn't spring the symbol of new beginnings? Why now in the darkest and coldest part of the year, here in the Northern Hemisphere, are we noting a new year?

hope is born in darkness
faith is born in doubt
eternity is born in mortality

Let us march boldly forward together

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