August 2010 archive

Sunday Reviews: Big Time Rush in Concert; Magic Under Glass

Today I bring you two reviews. The only unifying thematic element? Neither one is for things aimed at my actual age demographic. I’m sure, if you’ve ever read a single blog entry here before, you are really, really surprised to hear that.

Big Time Rush in ConcertI realized immediately the first time I saw Big Time Rush on TV that I was going to love them. Because I looooove boybands. Today they played a free concert in downtown Manhattan, and of course I went. It was free! And besides, I’ve never actually seen a boyband in concert before; when the last wave was popular, I was still a jaded, cynical high school student.1

So how were they? … Well, for a band, they’re an awfully good TV show. Actually, they were much better than I expected, but in fairness I didn’t have very high hopes. If nothing else, I’ll be walking around humming “Hey, hey, listen to your heart now,” for the next four or five days.

Magic Under GlassAnd then there’s more reading. (This would be #30 on the year.) Remember how a couple of posts ago I linked to Cindy Pon’s awesome book give away, featuring seven novels with protagonists who are characters of color? Guess what? I won!2

Magic Under Glass was the first of the novels I tackled. I first learned about it last year during its own cover controversy, and was really glad to have a copy with the lovely new cover. Overall, it was enjoyable, but I wish there had been more to it. You can check out the full review over at Active Voice.

  1. I wasn’t, actually, but I was a smart brunet with glasses and the only role model I had on TV was Daria. I didn’t know what else to be, and didn’t realize my love of pop music until college, when said boyband craze had already died down. My youth: so tragic.
  2. And she’s doing another amazing give away now! Hooray!

Recent Reading: Baseball, Romance, YA, and More Fantasy (#s 26, 27, 28, 29)

So the thing about traveling was that I was reading as we were on the plane, but I was too busy working to write about it. And then I waffled and decided I wanted to read more than write up book reviews, so I kept reading and now I’ve got quite a backlog. Here are the first four. Yay books!

he Baseball Codes: Beanballs, Sign Stealing, and Bench-Clearing Brawls: The Unwritten Rules of America's Pastime#26: The Baseball Codes: Beanballs, Sign Stealing, and Bench-Clearing Brawls: The Unwritten Rules of America’s Pastime by Jason Turbow and Michael Duca
A nonfiction baseball book that does exactly what it says. I find baseball’s place in culture really interesting (it’s the American studies major in me, really), and the whole culture within baseball is, too. This book does pretty much exactly what you’d expect from the title; it’s a look inside the baseball culture to explain the unofficial rules players follow. Things like when it’s unacceptable to bunt or steal a base, why pitchers decide to throw at players, etc.

There was lots of interesting stuff in this book, but it took me a long time to get through. As I’ve said before, I have problems with nonfiction because what gets me to pick up books is story and narrative, and by its nature this lacked… that. My favorite parts were the anecdotes about the rules in action, but it was also chock full of interesting bits and pieces.

It's In His Kiss#27: It’s In His Kiss by Julia Quinn
My sister loaned this one to me as a little light travel reading. It was so light that I finished it by halfway through the flight, and then promptly forgot about it entirely.

Basically, Gareth St. Clair is a bit of a mysterious rogue, estranged from his father and gossiped about in polite society. Hyacinth Bridgerton always speaks her mind and it’s made her less than popular. A diary in need of translation and a possible hidden treasure bring them together — will they fall in love?

Hint: yes, they will. There’s not much to this book, but it was a lot of fun. A+ vacation reading.

Don't Judge a Girl by Her Cover#28: Don’t Judge a Girl by Her Cover by Ally Carter
I reviewed the first two in this series awhile ago; in short, they’re delightful YA but I was frustrated because the second one was basically just a retread of the first. It had made me hesitant to read #3, but I did and I’m pretty glad.

It wasn’t the same story and an identical climax, thankfully. Instead of just girls in a boarding school spying on a boy they like, you’ve got girls trying to find off a mysterious secret society while worrying about a boy they like. The stakes were a lot higher, which was great, and the set up (one of the spy girls’ father is running for VP and they have to protect her on the campaign trail) is great.

Not so great: equal narrative weight is given to trying to protect her as is given to the “Does this cute boy like me?? I can’t tell!!” part of the plot. Which… no. Once again, Cammie (the protag) basically loses the ability to spy she’s been training to learn for years when faced with a boy she likes. It makes me make this face: :-/

Overall, though, fun book with an exciting (if reasonably predictable) dun-dun-DUUUUN moment at the end. I want the next book, but I can wait for it to be out in paperback.

Men at Arms#29: Men at Arms by Terry Pratchett
Discworld! I’m not a devotee, but I’ve been reading these occasionally since middle school. I know I’ve read some of the Watch-centric novels before, but this is the first one I can remember grabbing me.

You guys, I have a crush on Carrot. He’s so nice and handsome! He always remembers everyone’s names! I love, love, love the long-lost king who doesn’t want to be king (but is able to put swords both into and out of stones) gag. I love his sense of responsibility. I love his ability to be a great leader and that he’s decided to only every use that power for good.

And of course I enjoyed all the Discworldiness of it; Ankh Morpork and Death and CMOT Dibbler always make for good times. The plot is nothing to get excited about but it’s not like I read Discworld for the plot. So overall, quite enjoyable!

Oh, and “Bjorn Again” is the second-worst Discworld pun I’ve run across.1

  1. The worst, of course, being Felonious Monk.