31 October 2010

One Versus Many

Don't worry, this is not a 'The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few' post! *grin* But, writing A Piece of String earlier this week got me to thinking about the standalone novel versus the series. Which do you prefer?

I'm actually on the fence with this one... If you read a standalone and love the world-building and the characters and...well, everything, then you automatically want more and end up trolling the Internet for any information on a potential sequel (with the subsequent despondency when you realize that there is no sequel). I did this earlier this year when I read Tigers & Devils (Sean Kennedy) [expounded in Rainy Days and Mondays] and I do it every time I re-read To Ride Hell's Chasm (Janny Wurts). In the former novel I want a sequel (desperately!) so that I can spend more time with the characters (whom I love); in the latter I want to explore more of the world-building, which is fascinating!

With a series, I get to go back again, and again...and again. And that's a good thing (see above), right? Mostly... There are definitely some series I think should have stopped a looong time ago. Series that are going...nowhere. I think with for a series to work you need something new served up with the familiar...you need the connection (for example, characters and/or an overall plot arc) across the series but you also need to be hooked and engaged anew with each novel, whether it is with new characters or with the development of old characters. I think Nalini Singh does this very well with her Psy-Changeling series.

So, standalone or series...or does it depend? And is there a standalone novel that you think should have a sequel...or two?

28 October 2010

I Love My Pillow

At the end of last year, a very good friend of mine, the lovely cyphomandra, lent me one of her favourite manga series - Banana Fish (Akimi Yoshida). The premise of the series is as follows:
1973, Vietnam - an American soldier goes mad and guns down his buddies. Since then, the only words he has uttered are 'Banana Fish'...
Twelve years later, in New York City, police investigate a series of puzzling suicides and a dying man gives a charismatic young gang leader named Ash Lynx a vial of a mysterious substance.
I've been reading the 19 volumes s l o w l y over the past year - cyphomandra has been lending them to me in 'lots' (for want of a better word). This was my first introduction to manga (although I've since been introduced to yaoi manga by the fantastical Kris of Kris 'N' Good Books) and I honestly wasn't sure what to make of it...and how to adjust to the style and learn to notice not just the words but the images, which convey so much. (Yes, when starting this series I forgot the saying 'A picture is worth a thousand words'.) But, slowly but surely, the plot and the characters have crept under my skin....until last night, when I finished the main story (leaving two short stories in the final volume for today). I never thought that I would be so invested in the characters of a manga series that I would finish reading and want to either cry my heart out into the pillow or beat my pillow up in frustration....or both. (Yes, my pillow is very hard done by :) The connection between the two main characters was...so strong, and so apparent...in what they did and didn't do, in what they said and didn't say. It was...perfect in all of its human imperfectness because it accepted everything that each character was. No rose coloured glasses. Just acceptance...and love. *tries very hard not to cry again*

But, somehow, without realizing it, I was invested. There I was last night...on the edge of my seat...well, the bed...desperately turning the pages. Without giving to much away (although I think the previous paragraph might have already let the cat out of the bag :) the ending was...not what I expected. AT ALL! It's not that I feel cheated out of a happy ending, because life isn't fair, but...I wanted one. So desperately! I felt the characters deserved one. And...in a completely illogical way (but logical in my world)...I feel if the characters can survive all that they did and have a HEA, well, then...there is hope for me.

I read the two short stories late this afternoon, one set before the main story, one 10 years after. And the latter had me choked up and then crying...again. I've decided this is a keeper series, and even if there are 19 volumes I'm going to buy them! And I'm going to buy them backwards, which I know is a very non-OCD thing to do, but...I need the books that made me cry first.

So, have you ever finished a book/TV series that so moved you that you wanted to cry into your pillow...or scream in rage and beat your pillow up...or both?

26 October 2010

A Piece Of String

I stated reading a new book this morning - Seanan McGuire's Rosemary and Rue. It's the first of (to date) three books in the October Daye series. Although I knew going in that the series currently totalled three books, I have no idea how many books the author has planned for the series. And I'm wondering whether that should worry me. I've read all over the blogosphere of bloggers who won't start reading a series 'until the author has finished it'. Is that because they don't want the wait between books or because they want to know what they are getting themselves into? How committed does a reader have to be when starting a book?

A good example would be JD Robb's In Death series. I started reading it knowing there were over 20 books in the series (although now there are over 30 - JD Robb is very prolific :) At the time the sheer number of books in the series didn't bother me, but I was only just discovering the various genres and the online blogs, and my TBR list had yet to spiral out of control. Would I start it now? I don't know. I've never picked up a Sherrilyn Kenyon book (apart from Night Play, which I read because I wanted to read about a heroine that wasn't a size zero). I've heard lots of people rave about the series, but...for me there are just too many books. And this isn't a conversation about standalone books and series - that's (hopefully) later this week *grin* but more about how many books (in a series) are too many? When does the size of a series start to impede your desire to read it?

So, I guess the question I'm asking is not 'how long is a piece of string?' but...'how long should a piece of string be?'.

24 October 2010

The Hand Thing

I have a thing. A thing that makes me melt (don't worry, I'm not talking about that *grin*) in a gooey kind of way. (Think ice-cream :) And it's all to do with hands, or rather a hand, and where said hand is positioned. Hmmm. A picture is worth a thousand words (and far more interesting that wading through my babble), so I give you North & South (specifically from 2.35 minutes) [Video selected in honour of the lovely KristieJ of Rambling on Romance]. (And I apologise for not embedding the video, but I'm not actually sure how to do that....yet.)

So, did you watch it? When the hero cradles the heroine's head in his hand while kissing her. That is the thing that makes me melt. If I see a kiss like that I'm usually fast becoming a puddle on the floor. I think it's seeing all the implicit power and strength in the hero's hand directed into such a tender gesture.

So, what things make you melt (visually or in the printed page)?

Edited to add: Kristie - the lovely Richard Armitage is going to be in The Hobbit (as Thorin Oakenshield [leader of the Company of Dwarves]) and, if the filming is still happening here *crossing fingers* will be coming to New Zealand!

20 October 2010

Kiss of Snow (Nalini Singh)

Kiss of Snow is the tenth book in Nalini Singh's Psy-Changeling series. And the anticipated publication date is July 2011! Thank you so much to the lovely Kerry from Saving My Sanity for the heads up about the cover!

17 October 2010

What Ya Watching?

The Commonwealth Games is over for another 4 years *sob sob* so I will have to wait until 2012 (and the London Olympics) before I can re-immerse myself in multi-sport heaven *grin* Can I just say, however, that the final event - the gold-medal netball match between New Zealand and Australia - was a doozy! (And if you have never watched a netball match, you can watch the double extra time here.) I know the teams (and the umpires) can't hear you if you are yelling at your TV, but that sure doesn't stop me from trying, particularly in this match :) Does anyone else yell at their TV while watching sport?

Without sport dominating my week, however, I can get back to my eclectic TV watching... In between the gymnastics and swimming (among other events) I finished watching Season 2 of Fringe. All I have to say is: Bring on Season 3!!! Glee has also started (I think Glee is one of those shows you either love or hate - who apart from me is hanging out for the Rocky Horror Picture Show episode?) as has Stargate Universe (which is far more character orientated that the previous franchises - YAH!) And the DVDs of Season 2 of Supernatural and Season 3 of Criminal Minds also lurk. YIKES! I didn't realize I had so many TV shows on the go! And I haven't even counted Project Runway and New Zealand's Next Top Model (yes, the ANTM franchise has reached here :)

So, what ya watching?

13 October 2010

Counting

I know I've written some weird posts, but...this one is kind of out there (although if, like me, you exhibit OCD tendencies it may appeal :)

I know that many of us in the blogosphere record our TBR or BR (Been Read) lists online, through handy sites such as GoodReads, LibraryThing and Shelfari. But, I have a problem. I've just finished reading the Burning Up anthology...well, not exactly. I've just finished reading the Whisper of Sin (Nalini Singh) and Here There Be Monsters (Meljean Brook) novellas; neither Angela Knight's nor Virginia Kantra's novellas appealed (and I'm trying to listen more to what I want to read rather than reading by rote). And there is the crux of my dilemma. How do I record the reading of half of a book (so to speak)? With previous anthologies I have listed the anthology as a whole as a DNF in my monthly update, but referenced those novellas I did read. But...the OCD part of me has been twitching (in increasing intensity) at the thought of not counting the novellas. If I've read four this year does that equate to a whole book and, if so, how do I record it? *stumped* And where does all this leave my various reading challenges?

In all honestly anthologies rarely appeal (as far as purchasing goes). I'm too likely to run into a novella I'm not interested in (and then I begin to question the expense). In fact I only own two anthologies - Dreams Made Flesh (Anne Bishop) and On the Prowl. The former because it consisted completely of Black Jewel novellas (of varying lengths) and the latter because I fell in love with Charles & Anna - how could I not?

So, I'm curious, how do you, if at all, record the reading of novellas/anthologies?

Edited to add: Because I'm an idiot I've somehow managed to upset my wrists (my RSI has flared again), so instead of visiting y'all *sad* and commenting wildly, I will be sitting on the couch with an ice pack on my wrists. Hopefully they will settle overnight and I'll be back online tomorrow night. (And before you ask, I wrote this post before my wrists packed a sad :)

07 October 2010

Overwhelmed

Sometimes I get overwhelmed...by circumstances over which I have no control (e.g. family [although the jury is still out] and incompetence [I refuse to rant or this post will end up completely OT]) and by circumstances to which I cede control. Among the latter is my TBR list. Yesterday I read the following statement written by the lovely Mariana from Hips Like Mine:
Lesson learned: read what I want, even re-reads, when the mood strikes.
Why do I always forget that lesson? Why do I cede control over what I read to my TBR list and end up stressed and overwhelmed by something (reading) that is meant to be relaxing and enjoyable? Is it just me?

I'm currently reading:

* Rapscallion (James McGee) [historical suspense]

* Warhost of Vastmark (Janny Wurts) [fantasy]

And waiting in the wings:

* Kushiel's Dart (Jacqueline Carey) [fantasy]

* Rosemary and Rue (Seanan McGuire) [urban fantasy]

In other words, I'm surrounded by books and feel like I'm drowning. I don't think it helps that everything I'm reading ATM seems to be fantasy - I think I need to shake things up a little. So, my cunning plan? To read something else entirely! Well, not exactly. I'm going to try and reach the end of the sixth chapter of Warhost of Vastmark by tomorrow, and then read the Whisper of Sin (Nalini Singh) and Here There Be Monsters (Meljean Brook) novellas from the Burning Up anthology. Then I'll go back to Rapscallion and Warhost of Vastmark and (hopefully) finish both. That will leave me with Kushiel's Dart, Rosemary & Rue, the remaining volumes in the Banana Fish (manga) series and The Secret Tunnel (James Lear) *dies* I think I just need to focus on one book at a time and ignore the rest or I will seriously panic.

So, do you ever panic over your TBR books?

Alive

I'm alive. But...I currently feel beaten down by everything - does that make sense? I'm also rapidly coming to the conclusion that I am my own worst enemy; I seem pathologically unable to allow myself to relax and just...be.

And as my thoughts are all over the place ATM all I have to say is that I am enjoying the Commonwealth Games coverage. So, what have you been up to?

03 October 2010

Books 2010: September Update

Total to date: 92 books (nine books this month: fantasy [two books]; historical romance [one book]; m/m romance [three books]; yaoi manga [three books])

The 2010 Support Your Local Library Reading Challenge total to date: 33 books (two 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) - this month!]

The M/M Romance Challenge 2010 total to date: 16 books (three books this 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?

* Lord of the White Hell (Book I) [Ginn Hale]

Currently reading:

* Rapscallion (James McGee)

* Warhost of Vastmark (Janny Wurts)

And the books I'm most looking forward to reading next month: Lord of the White Hell (Book II) [Ginn Hale]

So, what did you read last month?

Edited to add: Apologies for being AWOL again. My concentration is shot ATM - I hate family visits - and so reading and blogging are... *pulls hair* I just need to get myself to Tuesday afternoon...