30 September 2010

Press Pause

This post is, to all intents and purposes, an extension of a recent post entitled Three's Company.

In Three's Company, the lovely Chris from Stumbling Over Chaos commented that she tries to read a single book at a time, but if it's long and angsty she reads at least one short and fluffy book in the middle. And this approach is one that the lovely Mariana from Hips Like Mine also takes.

I tend to be very OCD about books...well, about everything *grin* I like to start a book and then finish it before moving on to another. (I know in Three's Company I mentioned reading more than one book at the same time, but that is definitely not the norm.) However, what Chris and Mariana mentioned feels slightly different. It's actively pausing with one book to pick up another rather than juggling two (or more) books at once. And it does feel like more of a pause, as the intention is to go back to the original book once...you've rested/reset your brain, right?

I think it's brilliant. Next week I hope to start Kushiel's Dart, all one million pages of it. (Yes, I exaggerate, but it if my Big Book Challenge book and it feels...ginormous!) And I'm completely petrified. Not just by the size of the book but by the complexity of the writing and the world-building. And then there is my OCD about pronunciation. I need to have a name flow through my head - if I stumble while reading a sentence I have to read the sentence again....and again and again. Did I mention the OCD? (Hope I haven't scared you all with that admission :) And Kushiel's Dart sure has some complicated looking names! So, I think I'm going to reward myself... What is fair? An ebook per 200 pages? Should the ebook be a novella? (And yes this means it will no doubt take me ages to read Kushiel's Dart, but I theoretically have until 31 December to meet my Big Book Challenge (although the book will be due back at the library
in 4 weeks :)

I'm waiting for someone to point out that if I don't want to read Kushiel's Dart no one is forcing me to. And this someone is right :) But...I do want to read it, but...being that it's so big it
feels like it will be a slog *ducks*

So, do you 'press pause' while reading? And is it to reward yourself or just to read something a little different?

28 September 2010

Random Thoughts

Caveat: I don't mean any disrespect to anyone with the following post, so I apologise in advance if I cause offence - it is not my intention to do so.

All these thoughts have been whizzing through my head this week. In no particular order:

* You know when you try to hunt for something you really need and you start to work yourself into a completely tizz trying to find it? It's only after you've found it that you realize that you had previously laid your hands on said missing object (that not found would lead to the end of the known world) during the hunt, but you were so worked up you didn't see it!

* I was thinking about the US military's 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' policy on the drive home yesterday. (I heard the word uniform while listening to a CD that the lovely Chris from Stumbling Over Chaos sent me [thank you Chris!] and my mind wandered :) According to Wikipedia:
Unless one of the exceptions from 10 U.S.C. § 654 applies, the policy prohibits anyone who "demonstrate(s) a propensity or intent to engage in homosexual acts" from serving in the armed forces of the United States, because "it would create an unacceptable risk to the high standards of morale, good order and discipline, and unit cohesion that are the essence of military capability."
And that got me to thinking (not about the policy itself, because I have a very strong opinion on that) about whether the Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy is applied to other occupations (e.g. fire, paramedics, police) in the US? Because...don't all of those positions require high standards of 'morale, good order and discipline, and unit cohesion'? And don't those who serve in the fire and police departments and as paramedics regularly put their lives in the hands of their colleagues? So...what's the difference?

* Sometimes, when you're as flat as a pancake, having a puddy tat on your lap (especially when said puddy tat isn't a lap cap at all) makes a huge difference.

* I'm sure somewhere there is a math equation that explains why, when your holiday is fast approaching, time s l o w s!

So, what's been on your mind this week?

26 September 2010

Gutless

I had a phone call over the weekend. From a family member. Part of me was expecting the phone call; part of me was hoping not to ever have this particular conversation again... I'm not completely surprised by my response to what was asked - I reverted to type and caved. The only positives (from my side) in the whole conversation were that I raised two separate 'issues'. However, they were non-negotiable as far as the family member was concerned. And I caved on those too. I'm gutless. Completely gutless.

And before you ask, I'll be fine. I just...I just wish I could really escape into my books. Not be in the real world. Do you ever wish you could be anywhere else but here?

23 September 2010

Blocked

Earlier this year I wrote a post entitled Baggage in which I ranted (which is the more accurate, if not the most polite term :) about a particular book that I had serious issues with. In that post I wrote the following:
Do I want to read another book by this author? Yes. Because I am very sure that my issue with the book is due to who I am...and what baggage I bring with me when I travel into the realm created by the author.
At the time my answer to the question I posed seemed...obvious. And yet, even 6 months later, I can't bring myself to pick up another book by this author :( I have heard wonderful things about her writing and have read glowing reviews, but I just can't seem to take that first step. It's like I'm blocked. Every time I think of taking a chance I remember my original issues and walk away.

So, I'm curious (aren't I always *grin*) - have you ever had an issue with a book that has resulted in you being unable to pick up another book by the same author, even if that author is loved by many?

21 September 2010

Three's Company

For those of you who do remember the US TV series Three's Company (originally Man About the House in the UK), I hope I haven't thrust the theme song deep into the recesses of your brain...for those of you who have no idea what I'm talking about...be thankful!

Anyway, the reason why the theme of Three's Company sprang into my head is that I am currently reading three books...yes, concurrently. Three fantasy books - The Ships of Merior (Janny Wurts), Traitor's Moon (Lynn Flewelling) and Lord of the White Hell (Ginn Hale). Interestingly I'm in the last 100-150 pages for all three books...

The other reason 'three' is on my brain (a la Sesame Street :) is because I've kind of gone backwards on my healthy eating and exercise plan...and instead of reaching my target weight I'm almost 3 kg (6.6 lb) - 2.9 kg (6.4 lb) to be precise - away from it! I'm not surprised - I've been devouring sugar like it's going out of business. (I'm mixing my metaphors something rotten, aren't I?) My theory is that my body is making up for the lack of sleep by consuming sugar...no idea if my theory is sound, but I'm sticking with it. So, I'm trying to sort the sleeping issues out...I just need to explain to my cat that feeding time at the zoo is not 2.30 AM...or 4 AM or any other AM before 6.30!

So, getting back to the book side of life - are you a one book gal (or guy :) or do you often have more than one book on your plate at a time?

16 September 2010

Clearing The Decks

After writing something along the lines of 'clearing the decks' twice this week I decided to do a little digging. According to the Free Dictionary:

Clear the decks 1. Lit. [for everyone] leave the deck of a ship and prepare for action. (A naval expression urging seaman to stow gear and prepare for battle or other action.) An attack is coming. Clear the decks. 2. Fig. get out of the way; get out of this area.

You see, sitting at home grinning at me (the covers are so pretty the books are definitely grinning :) are Lord of the White Hell Books I & II.

When Book I arrived I thought I would dive right in, but then I heard rumours of a cliff-hanger ending, so I decided to hold tight until Book II arrived, which it has. And here's where the 'clearing the decks' phrase pops up. I've heard how amazing these books are and I wanted to dedicate some quality time to them. (Quality time meaning no distractions - chores, people, other books, etc.) I haven't done that for a while - dedicating quality time to reading a book. I tried to do it with the later Harry Potter books - it kind of worked...when family remembered (eventually) that I'd asked not to be disturbed for the weekend.

So, when you're anticipating a book, really anticipating it, do you clear the decks so that you can devote time/space to it? Or do you just read in snatches regardless of what it is?

13 September 2010

The Forgotten

Last month at Dear Author I was lucky enough to meet the lovely Meoskop of It's My Genre, Baby. Meoskop recently reviewed The Sevenfold Spell (Tia Nevitt) and her review mentioned Robin McKinley, which got me thinking of one of my all-time favourite Robin McKinley books - The Blue Sword.

And thinking of The Blue Sword got me to thinking (I have no idea why) about another book from my teenage years - Elizabeth Marie Pope's The Sherwood Ring, which was first published in 1958:
Newly orphaned Peggy Grahame is caught off-guard when she first arrives at her family"s ancestral estate. Her eccentric uncle Enos drives away her only new acquaintance, Pat, a handsome British scholar, then leaves Peggy to fend for herself. But she is not alone. The house is full of mysteries — and ghosts. Soon Peggy becomes involved with the spirits of her own Colonial ancestors and witnesses the unfolding of a centuries-old romance against a backdrop of spies and intrigue and of battles plotted and foiled. History has never been so exciting — especially because the ghosts are leading Peggy to a romance of her own!
Elizabeth Marie Pope also wrote The Perilous Guard, which is a re-telling of Tam Lin set in Elizabethan England. And all of this got me to thinking about the forgotten books. The ones we loved when we were younger. I had a notebook in which I listed my favourite books. (I'm sure I still have it.) An early keeper list you might say *grin* And yes, there are still a few books from yesteryear that I have yet to purchase. One is Madeleine Polland's To Kill A King about a young Scottish girl becomes involved in a plot to kill William of Normandy. (She also wrote Children of the Red King, which I loved.)

My library finally did away with their copy...I so wanted it! I think I may have to just hunt down a copy before it is too late. Come to think of it, there is a strong streak of romance through each of the above books...maybe I started reading romance earlier than I thought?

So, what forgotten keepers do you have tucked away?

08 September 2010

Show & Tell

I will admit to not really knowing much about reviewing. Not much at all. And this is going to be proven beyond a shadow of a doubt by the following two sentences... One thing that always strikes me when I read book reviews is this phrase 'show not tell'. But what does it mean?

Earlier this week I finished reading A Fostered Love (Cameron Dane). Something that frustrated me with this book (and if I'm honest with a number of other books) is the lack of a why... If I'm reading a romance then I assume that the main characters will fall in love. Often they will say they are in love...or think it. But very rarely do we ever know the why - why have they fallen in love? I'm not expecting a bulleted list (although considering my OCD tendencies I wouldn't say no *grin*), but just an inkling of some sort. Or is love completely indescribable? Without an attempt at the why I feel...unfulfilled WRT the emotional connection between the characters. Interestingly, I read an Amazon review that compared A Fostered Love with one of my 'speak to me' keeper book - By Degrees (JB MacDonald). And yet I found them completely different. In By Degrees the why...while not explicitly stated...is vividly portrayed. And the love between the main characters feels...real...centred. Perhaps because it develops slowly, over months, and wasn't...condensed. (I must confess to not being a fan of condensed love...does that even make sense?)

I had another issue with A Fostered Love - the sex scenes. I actually wanted less of them! They felt...mechanical in a way, a step-by-step guide - I really missed the emotional connection between the characters. For me that's the most important thing in a sex scene. The characters don't have to say it, but I want to feel that love within the physical act. And in A Fostered Love it just felt like it was missing. Don't get me wrong, I really enjoyed A Fostered Love (and am looking forward to the sequel). I just...couldn't put my finger on the problem until now. I want to see the falling-in-love process, not suddenly have it presented to me - all wrapped up in a big shiny bow. Isn't half the fun of a present unwrapping it...trying to work out what it is, rather than just seeing it? The anticipation? Or maybe that's just me...

Apologies if I rambled incoherently... Then again, you may be used to it by now *grin*

05 September 2010

Ah, Who Are You Again?

Do you ever start reading a book and wonder who the characters are? And why they are where they are and for what reason? When I read Sea Glass (Maria V Snyder), the sequel to Storm Glass, last month I couldn't for the life of me remember who all the characters were. It didn't help that two of the characters had swapped bodies...and after finishing the book I still wasn't completely sure why they swapped...

I'm not a fan of information dumps, especially the 'in the previous book' kind. But...I'm coming to think that they are not all that bad. *shock horror* If there is a huge delay between the publication or reading of books in a series, then 'info dumps' surely fill in the gaps. And if the plot is incredibly convoluted it's nice to have a brief run through of all that has gone before, especially when the plot is all in the detail *grin* Right? But where is the line between just enough and too much? And do you prefer your information in snippets or a downpour?

Edited to add: Am still hanging in there - thank you all for your support. Am sure I will feel more myself once I get some sleep...which I'm working on :) And thank you for all your enquires WRT the Christchurch earthquake. Watching such a disaster on TV and knowing it happened...in a way just down the road...really brings home how vulnerable we are...

03 September 2010

Books 2010: August Update

Total to date: 83 books (six books this month: contemporary romance [one book]; fantasy [two books]; yaoi manga [two books]; young adult [one book])

The 2010 Support Your Local Library Reading Challenge total to date: 31 books (three books this month)

The 2010 Big Book Challenge total to date: one book (I'm aiming to read my chosen book - Kushiel's Dart (Jacqueline Carey) - next month!]

The M/M Romance Challenge 2010 total to date: 13 books (no change from last month)

A list of all the books I've read to date (from 01 January 2010) can be found at GoodReads.

Favourite book of the month?

* Stalking Darkness (Lynn Flewelling) [Seregil & Alec - I'm so excited about their developing relationship!]

Currently reading:

* The Ships of Merior (Janny Wurts)

* A Fostered Love (Cameron Dane)

And the books I'm most looking forward to reading next month:

* Lord of the White Hell I & II (Ginn Hale)

So, what did you read last month?

Edited to add: Apologies for being AWOL this week. It's been...a rough week, although I honestly can't put my finger on why. Hopefully I'll find my balance this weekend and be back lurking around your blogs :) Because I miss you all!