Archive for the Books Category

A Desolation of the Soul.

Posted in Books with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on March 15, 2013 by urbannight

I’m about half way through book three of the Game of Thrones series.  Storm of Swords is the title, I think.  Or is that book four, which I have not gotten to yet?  It really doesn’t matter.  Half way through and I decided I needed a break.

I have a theory about what is going on in the books.  Everything is a direct result of the soul-deep unhappiness that each and every person is experiencing in the book.

No one has any control over anything in their lives.  Every single character is forced to marry someone not of their choosing.  So far there has been one exception to that rule and the foreshadowing is that the results of that are going to be very bad. 

No one is allowed to do or be who they want.  Everyone is born into a role and that is their place no matter what.  There isn’t even the option of declaring ones self for the church as there would have been in Medieval Europe.  The closest thing is volunteering for the Night Watch. 

The entire series is a collection of horrible events after horrible events.   Every time a book ends with any hopeful situation, it reverses itself at the beginning of the next book. 

Ultimately, the quest for power seems to be a quest to be able to take control of ones life.  But the only route to that is to also have control over everyone else’s lives.  Even then, with an absolute monarchy, even the ruler didn’t have total control over their life.  They may have absolute control over everyone else and can live mostly as they please, even the ultimate authority is forced to marry someone they might not want.

All the events in the books can be traced back to a few selfish choices that set up everything else.  A mad king who wants a pretty girl and rapes her, a set of too close twins who develop an incestuous relationship in childhood and live for each other as adults, and a petulant, unstable man who sells his sister in order to try to retake his ‘birthright’.  Even that last one goes back to the first one and might be an extension of that.

The reason I’m having to take a break, in the middle of a book, is because it is so very, incredibly, depressing.  It feels like no one is ever going to have anything go well for them and everyone is going to die.  So I need something a little more upbeat to read before I go back and finish that.

Strange Poetry Requests

Posted in Advertising, Art, Books, Writing with tags , , , , , on March 12, 2013 by urbannight

It’s been years since I’ve submitted any poetry anywhere.  So imagine my surprise, a few weeks back, when I get an email about my poem being published in a Best Poetry of 2012 book.  How bizarre.  Not only that, no where does it mention what poem I supposedly submitted that they want to add to their volume.  I delete the email.

Today, I get another email saying my poem will NOT be published because they haven’t received it yet.  How odd?  So what I get out of this is that they didn’t really have any poem and they are just trying to get people to submit poems they will put in this so-called ‘best of’ book and then get the people to buy the book.

So none of these poems will have been vetted by the publisher?  Send what you want, we have a page reserved for  you?  How bad is that book going to be?  They have a strange definition of ‘Best’.

Best = How many people can we hoodwink into sending us poetry and buying the results?

The Books of Oz

Posted in Books, Movies and Theatre with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on March 11, 2013 by urbannight

As a child, I read many of the OZ books.  Not all of them, the library didn’t have them all.  They might have had at one time.  They looked like they might have been part of a set, once upon a time. 

I was able to buy the entire set and related stories for 99 cents on a Kindle.  In the first few pages I learned a number of things I once knew and forgot over the years.

1. Dorothy and Toto are never threatened by the Kansas version of the Wicked Witch. 

2. The munchkins were taller than the Little People who played the parts. 

3. Judy Garland was far to old for the part and it does not work to picture her when reading the books.

4.  The Ruby Slippers were Silver.  Not red.  Probably not dramatic enough for a color movie.

5.  The good witch was a very old lady, no bigger than the munchkins, but not a munchkin. 

And that was just chapter one.

Obsession

Posted in Apartments, Art, Books, Entertainment, Food, Hobby, Life, Movies and Theatre, Photography, Science, Tea, Technology, Television, Travel with tags , , , , , , , , , , on February 7, 2013 by urbannight

I signed up for a Pinterest page.  I now understand how people say it can get obsessive and one can get lost in it.  Hopefully I will emerge from it soon. 

Things I’ve found on it:

Books, Movies, Food, Art, Decor, Homes, Style, Space, Science Fiction, Star Wars, Comics, Daleks, Tardis, Doctor Who, Nature, Scenery, and pretty much everything under the sun.

 

BOOKS BOOKS BOOKS, yep, I like books.

Posted in Books, Entertainment with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 18, 2013 by urbannight

I read almost every day.  But I do not spend ALL my free time reading.  I watch t.v. and stitch.  I spend a lot of time on computer games.  I cook sometimes.  And I go to movies.   Which means the number of books I’ve read in the First 18 days of 2013 seems amazing.  Some were re-reads.  So they went quickly.  And I often have more than one book going on at a time.  So I might read one book at lunch, one book at home, and one book in the bathroom.  I like a good long soak in the tub.

So here is what I’ve read in no particular order.

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The Bride Wore Pearls by Liz Carlyle. Historical  Romance.  Part of a series that I have not otherwise read.  Pleasant read.  Half-English/Half-Indian woman, some slight supernaturalish elements, not too complex.   I liked it.

The Lady Risks All by Stephanie Laurens.  Historical Romance.  The back of the book gives little away but it is very good if a bit to straight forward as well.  I quite liked it.

Guards! Guards! Terry Pratchett.  Reread.  Fantasy Humorist.  I ALWAYS recommend Terry Pratchett.  Introduces the Guards books.  A young, idealistic new copper who happens to be a six-foot tall dwarf.  A dragon.  A very rich virgin.  Colorful characters and very petty people who cause bad things to happen.

Never Seduce a Scot by Maya Banks.  Historical Romance.  Entertaining.  Amusing.  I normally don’t recommend romance novels to anyone other than people who only read romances.  But this was interesting enough to say sure, why not, give it a try.

The Ugly Duchess by Eloisa James. Historical Romance.  Cute.  Simple.  Clear Cut.  A charming little read.

Men at Arms by Terry Pratchett.  Second Guards book.  The Watch is getting bigger with the addition of Trolls, Dwarves, and even a werewolf.  Oh, lets not forget the talking doggy.  It doesn’t pay to spend too much time sleeping around the Unseen University.  Ambient magic can do strange things to animals around there.

Corbin’s Fancy by Linda Lael Miller.  Historical Romance.  Okay book.  The Corbin family had a bunch of interesting titles in this series but they are all really simple and straight forward stories.  Obvious with no surprises along the way.  Linda Lael Miller’s books seem to get less and less interesting as she continues to write.  She comes up with really interesting characters but boring plots.

Feet of Clay by Terry Pratchett.  Another Guards book.  The feminist movement hits the dwarven population, starting with one female dwarf who really doesn’t fit in, ends up in the watch, and starts wearing skirts and make up.  Of course other things happen, and a mystery is solved, and amusement is had.

Apocalypse to Go by Katharine Kerr.  Book four in a supernatural mystery series.  The main characters have gotten engaged in order to keep Nola O’Grady’s very religious family happy.  Ari, her Israeli boyfriend/bodyguard wants to get married.  Each book seems to move them a little closer to that eventuality.  Nola is technically in charge and that bothers him as he is used to being in control.  On top of it, he still isn’t totally comfortable with her psychic abilities.  They solve crimes across alternative universes.  The entire series is a good read.  Go now and buy it.

Jingo by Terry Pratchett.  Also another Guards book and also a reread.  How often does a Watch Commander get to start a war and arrest two armies?

The Key by Lynsay Sands.  Historical Romance.  You have to marry someone the king picks out, in order to save your mother, but you can control what happens next by wearing a chastity belt and keeping the key hidden.  Especially when your husband refuses to bath and only lets his people have one new plaid a year in order to save money and keeps a slovenly home.  While there is nothing terribly complex in this novel, and I wish there was, it is very funny and worth reading on humor value alone.

The Fifth Elephant by Terry Pratchett.  A very good book of Mr. Pratchett’s.  Again, a Guards book.  Yep, I pulled them all from the shelf and started rereading through them.

Okay, I’m getting really sleepy now.

Threadbare

Lord of Temptation by Lorraine Heath.  Historical Romance.  Middle book of a set of three. Only one I read.  I liked it.  It was good.  Made we want to go and read the first and third ones now.

Threadbare by Monica Ferris. Mystery  Monica Ferris is a great mystery writer and this series is about a woman who owns a needlework shop.  At the end of every book is a pattern in one form of needle craft or another.  This is a good book and well worth the read but there is only one thing bothering me about it.  She spends too much time plugging designers and mentioning specific patterns.  Sometimes this worked in the past books because it had a bearing on the story and the solution to the crime.  Now it is getting tedious.  It felt like to many product placements in a movie.

Thud by Terry Pratchett.  Okay, yet another Guards book.  Reread.  Highly enjoyable.  Somewhat darker.  I highly recommend it.

Snuff by Terry Pratchett.  The latest guards book out in paperback.  I finished it a couple days ago.  Really good.  Go now and buy a copy.  But you have to make sure you have read all the ones I’ve already mentioned for it to really make sense.  Or Thud at the very least.  And Jingo or else Willikins won’t make as much sense.

I have also read three romance novels on the Kindle.  Really fast, really short, and really simple romance novels that I won’t bother to name, even if they were good enough.  They were more like novellas.

The last is Time Traders by Andre Norton.  I didn’t realize she wrote science fiction.  I always thought of her as a fantasy novelist.  This was a very early book of hers.  There is some awkwardness in her writing that I’m not used to seeing because I was more familiar with some of her later work.  Even with this early work, you can never go wrong reading Norton.

That is 19 books completed since the start of the year.  I did not count any in progress books.  Just ones I’ve finished.  19 books in 18 days with a few days where I didn’t read and I never had any solid days of reading.  This is why I keep books.  I have to reread books.  Otherwise I can’t afford my reading habit.

Now I will put these away and reorganize my book shelves, finding a few other books to pull for rereading purposes.

50 Shades? I wouldn’t read it.

Posted in Books, Writing with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 11, 2013 by urbannight

Years ago, I used to do improve writing every day.  I would get home from work, turn on the computer and write.  I had a book, from which I got the idea, that gave a list of things to write about.  I did those sometime.  Other times, I developed a fun game where I walked into a room and glanced around.  The first thing I saw would become my subject.  I would have to write at least a page about the item. 

I’m thinking about it as I looks at my Pessimist’s, tear-away calendar.  Today’t entry is 50 Shades of Meh.  It calls the book unreadable and gives examples of the repreative nature of the book. One such example is that the author mentions that the protagonist ‘blushes or flushes’ a total of 125 times. 

I particularily like how the calendar writer tells us that the 50 shades book started as Twilight fan fic and when you compare 50 Shades to Twilight, Twilight ‘reads like Dostoevsky’ in comparison.

They give a sample sentence and I found that it made my head hurt.  Well, it was two sentences.  Let me share it with you.

“Anticipation hangs heavy over my head lika a dark, tropical storm cloud.  Butterflies flood my belly – as well as a darker, carnal, captivation ache as I try to imagine what he will do to me.”

I’m having trouble with the alliteration.  To much alliteration ruined a mystery series for me a few years back.  At first it was amusing and enjoyable.  But then it started to feel if the author was attempting to put it in just to see how many times she could do it in one novel. 

It isn’t too different from how the puns in Piers Anthony books were originally amusing, but latter books began to have so many puns sent in by readers that the stories themselves were getting lost.  And all the characters started to sound alike.  Not a good thing to have happen.

I also didn’t like going from tropical storm clouds to butterflies that fast.  My brain seizes up and I want to know which image I’m supposed to carry for what will follow.  The feeling of dark energy and movement and building tension inplied by the storm coulds or the sense of sunlight flashing off the wings of a flock of brightly colored butterflies. 

And what is with ‘darker, carnal, captivating ache’?  ‘A darker ache’ is all she needed to get the point across.  Without actually reading the books I am still able to know exactly what she means. 

If I had bought it, just from those two sentences, assuming they are typical of the rest of the book, it would have joined the handful of unfinished books I have.

Island of the Blue Dolphins.  Technically, I did finish it one time.  It took me four years.  It was the first one or two chapters that were so awful that I could never get past them.  I started it in grade school and finished in high school.  In college, I thought I would give it another try.  The rest of the book was really interesting.  Again, the beginning was so bad I actually got rid of the book.

Steamed.  A steampunk novel by a romance writer that utterly failed.  It was also a ‘travel to an alternate reality’ novel.  The male lead in his own world would have been a great story.  The female lead’s story in her world would have been a great story.  But the story she tried to tell with them together was horrible.

Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time series.  I stopped after book Seven.  I got totally disgusted.  The series was already dragging on too long, taking off on too many tangents.  He told us it would be seven books long.  At book seven, not only was it nowhere near done, he created a HUGE new tangent.  I never picked up another book in that series again.

So, no 50 Shades of anything for me.  I think I’ll resume my reading of early Andre Norton science fiction.  There are a few awkward elements to her early books.  But I really want to find out where Ross and the others end up.

When authors break all the rules and it doesn’t work.

Posted in Books, Entertainment, Writing with tags , , , , , , , , on November 20, 2012 by urbannight

Cover Art

Today’s blog is sitting in the Save Draft folder right now.  I finished my book on break and needed a book for lunch.  Lucky for me, today is the book sale and there were three paperback, fluffy novels.  I picked Janet Evanovich’s Wicked Business.  I’ve read maybe one or two of her stand alone books.  I’ve never read her long series.  I’m really not all that familiar with her work other than that she has been around for a while.  After the first two paragraphs, I had to come write up my thoughts already.

Opening paragraph.  The character describes herself.

Hi my name is Blankety Blank.  My hair is this color.  But it comes from a bottle.  My eyes are this color, the same as this relative.  I’m so tall.  My breasts stick out enough and I have a definite waistline.  I had a good, if average, childhood.  I learned a trade, met someone I didn’t marry, and inherited a house from a relative that died.

Yes, I paraphrased.  But that is the EXACT structure of the first paragraph.  This would have been so much more interesting if it came out as part of the story.  I’m not sure if this is book one or book two.  Even if it isn’t the first book, we don’t need an ‘info-you-should-already-know’ section.  Just put the needed bits and descriptions woven into the whole.

Paragraph two in a few words.  Life was good and I finally felt like an adult.

Paragraph three describes the two men who come into her life. 

Guy A is called This.  handsome, black hair over his ears, pale skin, dark eyes, and intentions that are darker.  Buy B is called That.  Big and scruffy, bit of a bum, an attitude, and charming.

Guess what?!?!  Dspite the different names and a pet monkey, she just told me that the to male leads in the book are basically Sam and Dean Winchester from Supernatural.  Really.  Even the second guy’s name started with a D. 

Oh, and Paragraph four: they are part of a loosely organized band of humans that are a bit out of the ordinary.

Maybe it is me.  Maybe is the fact I’ve watched Five seasons of Supernatural in about as many weeks.

I’m more than a little annoyed about the writing style. I’ve always heard good things about Evanovich and this is a let down.  I’m still going to read it.  Dang book cost me nearly 10$ and I still have part of lunch during which to read.

You know, I really have to add a bit here.  A few pages later, you find out that the two men are cousins.  One is a bounty hunter of a type.  The other just is.  The first is responsible for keeping the second out of too much trouble because he has a tendency to go dark side.  And all of the first’s dialogue sounds exactly like things Dean would say. So the whole ‘Supernatural’ knock off vibe is still going strong.