Friday, January 30, 2009


I leave for London tomorrow. I can't believe it. I know that I'll be there as a sort of academic fact but I don't believe it in reality. I've got pretty much everything taken care of. I need to get some pounds probably some time on Sunday. Hopefully I can figure that out with Alice. And I need to call the bank and make sure they set up the right thing on my debit card. But other than that, I'm pretty much set. I've looked at the route I need to take to get to my orientation on time and it all looks feasible. So...I'm prepared and yet I'm not. It's a very strange feeling.

London blog post about leaving.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Brief update

I'm now on Twitter. I'm not exactly sure what I'll use it for, but I think it'll be for random little updates, possibly book or travel related. Anyways.

ALSO, I leave for London on Saturday. SATURDAY. I will try to knock out a few reviews and such before then, but I'm not promising anything. I will get some up sooner or later.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Where have I been?

Moving into a new house in the same city, with the help of a number of church friends. We couldn't have done it without them.

Spending time with friends. Watching "Life is Beautiful" (wonderful movie), playing Quiddler, talking.

Sleeping. Very important.

Unpacking and organizing. Also important, if not quite so much fun.

So, what with all of that and getting ready for London, I don't know how often I'll be posting. I'll try to be somewhat regular, but I'm not promising anything!

Thursday, January 08, 2009

The December Book list

The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde: A re-read. Always fun. Highly recommended for all of you bookworms out there.

Dancing Shoes by Noel Streatfeild: Not my favorite Streatfeild, but all of her books are comfort reads for me, so I’m not complaining.

Ender’s Shadow by Orson Scott Card: Reviewed here.

Silhouette in Scarlet by Elizabeth Peters: These books are definitely a guilty pleasure, but such a fun one! I think this is the one where John is introduced, but I could be wrong.

The Moon and the Face by Patricia McKillip: A sci-fi ish two book series by Patricia McKillip. Interesting but probably not my favorite books by her.

Ballet Shoes by Noel Streatfeild: I love, love, LOVE this book. Not so wild about the movie (although it’s okay).

Ombria in Shadow by Patricia McKillip: This, on the other hand, was beautiful. Absolutely one of my favorite McKillips.

Alanna: The First Adventure by Tamora Pierce: I read these in middle school and haven’t read them since. I thought I might as well give them another try. Major eh. I think it’s really Pierce’s writing style which tends to consist of short little scenes that aren’t very well connected. Also, I get tired of Young Girl Overcoming Oppressive Society by Proving She’s Just As Good as the Men (although Tortall is strangely enabling for an Oppressive Society).

Party Shoes by Noel Streatfeild: I don’t think I’d ever read this one but I ended up really enjoying it. While it maintains the shoes theme, it’s distinctly different than Theatre Shoes or Ballet Shoes.

Trojan Gold by Elizabeth Peters: Another awesome one. I can’t help it, I just love these books. John! Schmidt! Vicky!

The Queen of Attolia by Megan Whalen Turner: I think we all know how much I love these books by now, so I’ll just leave it at that.

In the Hand of the Goddess by Tamora Pierce: Second in the Alanna series. I was massively confused at the beginning because I had assumed that it would pick up immediately after the end of the first book. Nope, it started a year later. Despite my abiding love for Jon, I just couldn’t like this book very much.

Night Train to Memphis by Elizabeth Peters: This book was pure gold (erm…). I mean, the other ones I enjoyed. But this one! Schmidt! The pure awesomeness that is Schmidt blew me away. I laughed myself silly in parts. And did anyone else catch the Busman’s Honeymoon reference?

The Throme of the Erril of Sherill by Patricia McKillip: A children’s book. Not particularly my favorite, but nothing wrong with it.

The Man in the Brown Suit by Agatha Christie: Sigh. This is one of those comfort reads that I pick up when life is a howling wilderness. Can’t help it, I love this one. Although I quibble about the hero a bit more than I used to.

Destination Unknown by Agatha Christie
The Hollow by Agatha Christie
Nemesis by Agatha Christie
Poirot Investigates by Agatha Christie
The Mystery of the Blue Train by Agatha Christie
The Murder in the Vicarage by Agatha Christie:
Oh gosh, I read so many Christies. I’m just lumping them all together. Besides Poirot Investigates which was decidedly EH, these are some of my favorite Christie novels and I enjoyed them ALL.

After Many Days by Lucy Maud Montgomery: Short stories. It’s not my favorite collection but it was to hand.

Winter Rose by Patricia McKillip: Lovely McKillip. One of those slightly dream-like stories that she’s able to weave so well. Also has a GORGEOUS cover painting. I envy her the cover artist.

The Richleighs of Tantamount by Barbara Willard: Slightly weird and lovely story of four children accidentally cast adrift in their ancestral home. Nuanced and beautiful.

The Collected Short Fiction of Ngaio Marsh: These were very fun! I’ve had a soft spot for Inspector Alleyn for several years and I’d never read any of these short stories. Several non Alleyn stories as well.

Unexpected Magic by Diana Wynne Jones: I’d read most of the short stories in this collection before, but the novella Everard’s Ride was new to me, and I loved it! It actually reminded me a bit of The Richleighs of Tantamount which I’d read just before.

Sylvester by Georgette Heyer: Mmm, Georgette Heyer. And I’m very fond of Sylvester, containing as it does an account of the trials of a young author.

The Foundling by Georgette Heyer: I like this one as well, mostly for Gilly who is probably the most sympathetic Heyer male ever.

Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones: I love Howl. He would drive me insane within a week, but I love him. And I love Sophie even more.

A Christmas Book by Elizabeth Goudge: I admit that I sort of skimmed this one because most of the selections were just excerpts from longer works and I’d rather read the longer works, thank you very much.

Ain’t Nothing but a Man by Scott Nelson: Nelson tells of his struggle to find information on the real John Henry. Fascinating story, and it would be especially valuable to anyone interested in the process of historical research.

The Dark Lord of Derkholm by Diana Wynne Jones: I’m in the process of getting my sister hooked on Diana Wynne Jones. She liked Howl but I’m hoping that Dark Lord did the trick. Then I had to read it myself, naturally. Hilariously funny and yet deeply serious at the same time.

The Chaos King by Laura Ruby: I read The Wall and the Wing earlier this year and I was hoping this was a sequel. It was. Despite all appearances, Gurl and Bug’s troubles have not disappeared. What with the sudden loss of the Professor, snotty classmates, the trials of fame, and numerous misunderstandings, they have a lot to deal with.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Christ is born!

Glorify Him!

Troparion and Kontakion (hymns) for Nativity

Thy Nativity, O Christ our God, has shone upon the world as a light of wisdom, for by it those who worshipped the stars were taught by a star to adore Thee, the Sun of Righteousness and to know Thee, the Orient from on high. O Lord, glory to Thee.

Today the Virgin gives birth to the Transcendent One and the earth offers a cave to the Unapproachable One. Angels and shepherds glorify Him; the wise men journey with a star. For to us is born a young Child, the pre-eternal God.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

2008 in books, part two

Part one here.

A Certain Slant of Light by Laura Whitcomb. I can’t quite decide if I liked this book or not but it certainly stuck with me. And the writing was excellent. Some adultish content.

The Other Wind, Tales From Earthsea by Ursula LeGuin. Two new books about Earthsea. Both of them are very worthy additions to the series. And Tales from Earthsea is worth reading just for the introduction.

Anansi Boys by Neil Gaiman. My first Neil Gaiman. I enjoyed it a lot—more than either Fragile Things or American Gods (which I didn’t finish). Definitely some adult content.

Larklight by Philip Reeve. A wild, wonderful book which includes giant spiders in space, a house named Larklight, and space pirates. All set in an alternate Victorian universe. Great fun. I need to get a copy of the sequel, Starcross.

The Green Glass Sea by Ellen Klages. A beautiful, thoughtful YA novel about the community of scientists at Los Alamos during World War II. Told from the point of view of two young girls, it brings up big, serious questions without ever feeling preachy or impossible.

A Tiny Step Away from Deepest Faith by Marjorie Corbman. The journey of a teenager from a sort of pantheism into Orthodoxy. Simply but very well told.

Farthing by Jo Walton. Set in an alternate universe where Britain made peace with Hitler’s Germany. Jews are mildly persecuted. It combines the atmosphere of a good 1940’s-50’s murder mystery with a chilling depiction of what might have happened. Really wonderful book, with some adult content.

The Doors of the Sea by David Bentley Hart. An examination of the problem of evil in the world from an Orthodox perspective. I found it very persuasive. Personally, I would like to see a few more citations from the early Fathers, to round out the picture from an Orthodox point of view. But overall, an excellent explanation.

Ender’s Game, Speaker for the Dead, Ender’s Shadow by Orson Scott Card. These were all amazing. I started Xenocide, the third in the Ender series and found it much less so. Of course, it was also finals week. At any rate, these three books are all fascinating and complex and beautiful.

The Penderwicks on Gardam Street by Jeanne Birdsall. A children’s book which reminded me of the Melendy series by Elizabeth Enright and the Bastable series by E. Nesbit. Excellent, even more so than the first book (The Penderwicks).

Chalice by Robin McKinley. I loved this book, which I think you probably already know. Of course, it’s by Robin McKinley, who is right up there on my grand list of Favorite Authors. But it’s also a lovely story of hope and struggle in the face of overwhelming odds. And it has bees. Several people have complained that it ended a little quickly, and I can see that. But I loved it so much overall that I didn’t mind that as much.

Patricia McKillip. One of my new discoveries. She kept getting recommended so I thought I should check out her books. And lo, they are many and wonderful. She often has this extreme dream-like quality to her writing and stories which I really love. I could easily see this turning some people off, however, so she probably isn’t for everyone. My favorites follow:
The Changeling Sea
Alphabet of Thorn
The Book of Atrix Wolfe
Harrowing the Dragon
The Riddle-master of Hed, Heir of Sea and Fire, Harpist in the Wind
Ombria in Shadow
Winter Rose

Dragonfield by Jane Yolen. Short stories by Jane Yolen. I don’t think I’ve read anything by her since middle school, but I got this book semi-accidentally during my read-through of Patricia McKillip because she (Patricia McKillip, that is) wrote the introduction. A good short story collection is a wonderful thing, and that’s exactly what this one is.

The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman. Well, technically I didn’t read this. But I listened to Neil Gaiman read it, and that was just as good, if not better. I loved lots of things about it, one being that Silas’ full identity is never revealed. I mean, you’re given lots of hints, but Gaiman never actually comes out and says it. If you know that particular mythology you’ll pick up on it; if you don’t, you won’t lose anything. Definitely fantasy, slightly dark, entirely wonderful.

At the Corner of East and Now by Frederica Mathewes-Green. One of my new favorite books about Orthodoxy. As I said in my original review, you can read this as someone with a vague interest in Orthodoxy or you can read it as someone who’s grown up Orthodox and either way you can find something interesting and helpful in it.

The End of the Affair by Graham Greene. This is one of those embarrassing “I had to read it for school but I still loved it” books. There are lots of those in my past. At any rate, I thought this was beautiful. It wouldn’t be for everyone—it definitely deals with an adult situation—but it will go on my list of Excellent Books.

2008 in books, part one

Every year my goal is to read 365 books. I have actually made this goal in the past. This year was annoying because I’m so close! 359 books. Unfortunately, I wasn’t quite able to make it, mostly because of October and November.

The Tale of Despereaux by Kate DiCamillo. A beautiful, elegantly written story. If you have a prejudice against books with pictures in them, ignore it. Read this book. Highly recommended for everyone.

Book of a Thousand Days
by Shannon Hale. I loved Goose Girl by the same author but wasn’t as wild about the other books in that series. Book of a Thousand Days is entirely different and beautiful. Highly recommended.

Rowan Farm by Margot Benary-Isbert. Some years ago I read The Ark, by the same author, and loved it. I knew there was a sequel but I could never manage to get my hands on it. And then when my library system had a copy, I hesitated. What if it wasn’t as good? What if I wasn’t able to enjoy The Ark any more? Life would be tragic. Then I read this and thought how silly I was. Of course Margot Benary-Isbert would write an excellent sequel to an excellent book. Silly me.

I, Claudius by Robert Graves. I enjoy books about history, especially the ones that make it come alive for me. I’d never done much reading about Roman history, but this book more than made up for it. Boy, you couldn’t top some of the crazy things they did if you tried!

Sorcery and Cecelia, The Grand Tour, The Mislaid Magician by Patricia Wrede and Caroline Stevermer. When I originally reviewed these I said they were like Jane Austen with magic, but now I see that I was wrong about this. They’re really like Georgette Heyer with magic. Quite excellent, especially the first two.

Court Duel and Crown Duel by Sherwood Smith. These feel a little campy, or something, but I can’t help really enjoying them. Meliara is a great narrator, able to somehow be adventurous without ever feeling like she’s just a guy in disguise.

East by Edith Pattou. I enjoy a good fairy-tale re-telling. One of the ones I’d never seen done was “East o’ the Moon, West o’ the Sun.” Edith Pattou did a marvelous job in this book.

The Silver Branch by Rosemary Sutcliff. I love The Eagle of the Ninth, so when I found out that there was a sequel (of sorts) I leapt with joy! Rosemary Sutcliff is wonderful and so is this book.

Keturah and Lord Death by Martine Leavitt. One of my new favorite books. Beautifully written. Somehow it’s never dark, even though it deals with some very heavy subjects. Also, has a gorgeous cover.

His Majesty’s Dragon by Naomi Novik. Actually, I read most of the others in this series as well, but I think the first book was my favorite. Delightful series. Best described as Patrick O’Brian WITH DRAGONS which, believe me, was two points in its favor from the beginning. I should break down and read the last book or two but I don’t want to because I’ve seen the plot summary and I know it’s going to be painful.

Diana Wynne Jones. I read almost all of her books during 2008. Below are the ones I particularly recommend. If you like fantasy, give her a try. She writes both hilarious (Chrestomanci), heroic (Dalemark Quartet) and something in between (Dark Lord of Derkholm). My favorites follow:
Dalemark Quartet
Dark Lord of Derkholm
Howl’s Moving Castle
The Merlin Conspiracy
Fire and Hemlock
Mixed Magics
Unexpected Magic

Georgette Heyer. An, um, guilty passion of mine. Yes, I admit it. I love her books. I’ve read practically all of them now. The usual sort (the ones I enjoy) are frothy Regency romances. Nonetheless, they are quite clean and great fun. An Infamous Army is a little more than that, since it tells the story of the battle of Waterloo. It had me crying and laughing, in that order, on the same page.
Devil’s Cub
Friday’s Child
Lady of Quality
The Black Sheep
The Nonesuch
The Grand Sophy
The Foundling
The Talisman Ring
An Infamous Army

Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke. One of my favorite books from 2008. Clarke’s ability to create a believable world which includes real historical facts and a system of magic, a history of that system of magic, AND a fascinating and wonderful story amazes me.

The Wall and the Wing by Laura Ruby. Beautifully written story of a girl named Gurl who can become invisible and a boy named Bug who can fly. I really enjoyed this one and its sequel, The Chaos King.

Saturday, January 03, 2009

Coming soon

The December book list and 2008 in books. They're almost done and will be up hopefully early next week.