28 March 2007

Books Read Since My Last Post

There were actually several more, but I wanted those to be separate posts.

• Carpe Demon, Julie Kenner

Amusing mystery-fantasy that is described as "Suppose Buffy the vampire slayer grew up, had a family, then hid her past?" Kate Connor was once a demon hunter, now she's a stay-at-home mom whose husband is running for public office. Demons haven't bothered her for years: now several of them are after her at once. This is just fun, especially if you were once a "Buffy" fan.

• Huck's Raft: A History of American Childhood, Joseph Kett

Scholarly but absorbing history of childhood in America. for those of you who think today's American children have no childhood, this look into the past will assure you that there was once much worse fates: miniature adults in the colonial world, apprenticeships, pioneer hardships, child labor.

• Proven Guilty, Jim Butcher

The latest in paperback in Butcher's Harry Dresden series. As always, Harry is in trouble, but this time it involves a horror convention and the daughter of a close friend. When the story's over...well, let's say something has been added to Harry's life.

• PC Annoyances, Steve Bass

This is a re-read, a book I got off the remainder shelf. The links and tips are still quite useful. Thankfully it guided me through getting rid of all those wretched headers in Eudora 7.

• No Uncertain Terms, William Safire

Twelfth in the series of books taken from Safire's On Language column. I found this one at Daedalus Books in Odenton, Maryland, during vacation last year. I hadn't bought a Safire compilation in a dog's age since the price of a new volume had skyrocketed back in the 1990s. Very, very enjoyable as always, especially the "Bloopie" awards.

• Dewdroppers, Waldos, and Slackers (A Decade-by-Decade Guide to the Vanishing Vocabulary of the Twentieth Century, Rosemarie Ostler

Another Daedalus find. An entertaining read for an linguistic aficionado, although it might bore others. I've read books on the same subject with more lively writing. Also, one chapter surprised me: after the author includes Star Trek words influencing English in the 1960s, there was no corresponding section on the number of Star Wars terms in the 1970s (except for the obvious "Star Wars" defense system). Where was "Use the Force" and other SW vocabulary that entered the language?

• Al Capone Does My Shirts, Gennifer Choldenko

Moose Flanagan and his family move to Alcatraz Island in 1935, where his father has taken a combination electrician/guard job in the hope that a nearby special school will "cure" his sister Natalie, who today would be classified as autistic. His mother clings to this hope while Moose must adjust to a new school, the machinations of the warden's daughter, and taking care of his sister. Very readable and touching story of a family coping with a "different" child in the 1930s, against the backdrop of the infamous prison.

• Grails: Quest for the Dawn (anthology)

After having been burnt by several SF or fantasy anthologies in the past few years, this was a pleasant surprise. I notice from at least one review that they were disappointed that all the stories were not about "The Holy Grail." Rather, "grail" is used in a larger sense as some ideal, whether relating to Arthurian fantasy or not. As always, some of the stories are better than others, but on a whole I enjoyed it.

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