Reading progress notes

Latest book: “Dead Witch Walking” by Kim Harrison

OK, I started this book back in June. Then I set it aside for HP 6, HP 7, moving to Arizona, job interviews, TD 209, and selling my condo. I checked it out from both the SF and Tempe libraries. But my lack of progress had to do as much with lack of motivation to pick it back up as busy-ness. Not that it’s a bad book. It has interesting characterization and a well-realized supernatural mythology, but when I set it down to do other things, it just didn’t “call to me” to pick it back up. Hence finishing it at the end of September.

Don’t take my word for it, though. If you like Buffy or HP or other supernatural series, pick this up and give it a try. Me, I think I’m looking this year, in the books I read, for the book I want to write. And I want to write a book where the supernatural is hidden and in the shadows, rather than right out in the open, which is the crux of the mythology of Harrison’s series. Hidden subcultures are a strong kink of mine. Would I read another in this series? I might. It depends on what it’s about.

“A Wizard of Earthsea”, Ursula Le Guin
“Proven Guilty”, Jim Butcher
“Dreamchild”, Hilary Hemingway and Jeffry P. Lindsay
“Guilty Pleasures”, Laurell K. Hamilton
“The War for the Oaks,” Emma Bull
“Shifter,” by Judith and Garfield Reeves-Stevens
“Neverwhere,” by Neil Gaiman
“The Time Traveler’s Wife” by Audrey Niffenegger
“Eye of the Daemon” by Camille Bacon-Smith
“The Color of Magic” by Terry Pratchett
“Waking the Moon” by Elizabeth Hand
“Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows” by J.K. Rowling
“Dead Witch Walking” by Kim Harrison

Eye of the Daemon

Latest book: “Eye of the Daemon” by Camille Bacon-Smith

OK, this book was totally cheating, as I’ve not only read it before, it’s been sitting on my shelf for years now. But I was having interlibrary loan issues, and needed something to read in the interim. Plus, a lot of this “book-a-thon 2007” is about exploring themes in fantasy novels that interest me, and revisiting a book I’ve already read for its themes fits that bill.

And how.

Suffice it to say, this book really pushes my buttons.

I’ve been thinking a lot about “story kinks” as the term is understood in the fanfic community–why we are drawn to the particular stories we are, whether as writers or readers. “Kink” here is understood in a broader sense than merely sexual, any story element that draws you in with such an inexorable power that you find yourself writing or reading stories with that element over and over whether you realize it or not. Among my many “kinks”–(1) parent/child relationships, particularly when the two finally meet after the child is an (near) adult, (2) aliens-among-us, (3) the experience of being part-human, part-alien (where by “alien” I don’t necessarily mean extra-terrestrial, but anything not commonly associated with the natural inhabitants of Earth we see in our daily lives), (4) supernatural families, especially special gifts/experiences being passed down through the generations, (5) a young person only discovering belatedly that they are half-alien or of some sort of supernatural origin, which finally makes sense of the weird/bad experiences they’ve had in their lives, (6) strong women characters who are not merely bit-parts or recurring (may be less of a kink than a prerequisite), (7) characters of invitation, (8) stories of the supernatural that take place in the real world, (9) secret identities/secret sub-cultures, (10) ordinary people becoming champions/messiahs, which may or may not include destiny/prophecy/previous foreknowledge of this as an element.

how any of this is related to ‘Eye of the Daemon’-spoilers

Reading progress notes

Latest book: “The Time Traveler’s Wife” by Audrey Niffenegger

[gratuitous girly moment]

*sob* *sniff* *it’s so romantic!!1!*
[/gratuitous girly moment]

I actually got this book done faster than books half its size I’ve been reading because it was so engaging. Despite the title, this book is equally about both the time traveler and his wife and their relationship which starts, from her perspective, when she was six, and from his, when he was 28. I’m not sure what I expected when I ordered this on interlibrary loan; it was just a title on my list of book recs. I think I had images of a stiff, slightly eccentric scientific HG Wells-type and his patient, loyal Amy Catherine. But Henry and Clare are normal, contemporary people (Henry is in fact my age, punk rock tastes included), and Henry’s time-traveling isn’t by choice, it’s due to a genetic condition. He involuntarily jumps to other places and times significant to his life and the life of his close family and friends whenever he is under a lot of stress and has lots of touching moments and dangerous encounters in his travels (made worse by the fact that only his body shifts in time, not his clothes or any personal items).

Despite the time-traveling element, then, the book is not really a science fiction story so much as an exploration of the relationship and lives of two contemporary people.

spoilers

Reading progress notes

My plan to do more reading more regularly this year is not going as prolifically as I’d hoped, for a lot of reasons. But at least I’m still doing it.

Latest book: “Neverwhere,” by Neil Gaiman

Which I swear I’ve read before. It’s been sitting on my already-read shelves for years, and if you’d asked me what it was about, I’d have told you it was about an ordinary Londoner who one day falls through a rabbit hole and ends up in this semi-magical underground London. Which is, indeed, what it’s about.

And, in fact, the only reason I decided to read it “again”* is it closely fits the genre and themes of the books I’ve been concentrating on this year, and in such a prototypical way that I would often refer to “Neverwhere” as an example of “the sort of book I want to read–and write” in my LJ posts and comments. Richard Mayhew is an ordinary human “character of invitation” who stumbles upon a hidden supernatural world on our contemporary Earth and ends up being a champion of that underworld in a supernatural struggle of good and evil.

(* I also decided to read it again because when I finished my previous book, I was on my way to Arizona and didn’t have time to wait for the inter-library loan to send me a different book from my reading list.)

But after about the first chapter, the specific events started losing that familiarity of having been read before. Which makes me suspect I read the first chapter of this book at some point in the past, and then something happened in my life and I put it down and forgot about it. It’s not the sort of book I would have stopped reading because I didn’t like the book (as was the case with “American Gods.”) I do like the book. Did.

So Gaiman really is English, is he? Because I was sitting reading this thinking, “pretty good grasp of British humor for an American.”

“A Wizard of Earthsea”, Ursula Le Guin
“Proven Guilty”, Jim Butcher
“Dreamchild”, Hilary Hemingway and Jeffry P. Lindsay
“Guilty Pleasures”, Laurell K. Hamilton
“The War for the Oaks,” Emma Bull
“Shifter,” by Judith and Garfield Reeves-Stevens
“Neverwhere,” by Neil Gaiman

Guilty Pleasures (LK Hamilton)

Latest book: “Guilty Pleasures” by Laurell K. Hamilton

This book was kind of scary. In a good way, I mean. And not really what I expected at all. I knew it was contemporary horror, so I figured it was something resembling The Dresden Files or Buffy. Which it was. Except I didn’t expect it to be so…dark. From what I’d heard, I’d expected Hamilton’s book to be the kind of horror that’s so sex-drenched it takes the edge off things that *should* be scary to anyone that’s sane. And with one of those wise-cracking snarky protagonists like Harry Dresden or Buffy. Only I didn’t find it particularly sexy at all, and Anita Blake doesn’t do much snarking. None of this is in the way of criticism, mind you. I like a heroine who takes her situation seriously and is intelligently frightened by it and keeps her head and gets the job done. And having her be genuinely menaced by “friend” and foe every other page doesn’t inure you to the dangers she’s in. The book’s not long enough for that. Plus, the main character is herself pretty dark. Re-animating the dead for a living? How icky is that? In an intriguing way, I mean.

The one thing I was not fond of in the Blake-o-verse: the fact that everyone’s aware of vampires and other supernatural creatures. When it comes to my fictional “kinks”, I want a world where the supernatural is considered debunked and its dangers lurk in the shadows, only known to a select few. In other words, I want a fictional word that by all appearances is the scientifically skeptical world we all live in. Because I read these kinds of books (fantasy, horror) so I can imagine that the supernatural exists around me in the world I see everyday. And I don’t live in Anita Blake’s America. I know that for certain.

I had another book from my shelf lined up to read next, but after getting to the third page, I realize it’s *yet* another vampire story where the whole world knows vampires exist. I think I’ve had enough of that for the time being. I will have to consult my recs list for the next book up.

“A Wizard of Earthsea”, Ursula Le Guin
“Proven Guilty”, Jim Butcher
“Dreamchild”, Hilary Hemingway and Jeffry P. Lindsay
“Guilty Pleasures”, Laurell K. Hamilton

Dreamchild

What do people do when they’re done reading a book they’ve purchased?

(1) Do you put it on the shelf like a trophy, “See, I read this!” perchance to read again?

(2) Or, if the book was all right, but not really your thing, do you donate it to a library or second-hand store, or trade it in for credit at a used bookstore, hoping it will end up with someone who might like it better?

(3) Or maybe the thing is absolute drivel and you can’t believe someone actually killed a tree to bring it into the world. So you take the book and say, “No more trees shall die on thine account! I cast thee into the recycle bin!”

(4) Or maybe the damned thing is so offensive, it’s not even worth that, and you dump it right in the trash hoping it ends up smooshed with dog shit in some landfill where it will ROT!!!?

Well, this last book I finished yesterday, “Dreamchild”, almost got the number #4 treatment. It wasn’t a badly written book, it was even sort of intriguing. It was definitely pulp fiction–someone’s take on the whole Roswell/Dreamland/alien/Majestic mythology, explored from the POV of people involved in the whole aliens-are-among-us events in different ways. So I was eating it up like movie popcorn until they introduced the villains of the piece, the Evil Lesbians. Oy. Basically, these two women are conspiring to kill the aliens who are, as it turns out, the saviors of mankind, and killing any humans that get in their way/whom they need as Guinea pigs. Eventually, one of the pair (’cause they’re usually a pair who of course use remorseless killing as foreplay) sees the error of her ways and betrays her lover. The only reason this drivel isn’t going in the trash is they didn’t take the Evil Lesbian cliche to its usual end point and get the redeemed woman together with a man.

But it’s already in the recycle bin.

Now I’m hankering to watch “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” and Steven Spielberg’s “Taken” to get the taste of this out of my mouth.

Next up on the list: Laurell K. Hamilton. I know, I know, but it’s early Hamilton, and I’ve never read her before.

“A Wizard of Earthsea”, Ursula Le Guin
“Proven Guilty”, Jim Butcher
“Dreamchild”, Hilary Hemingway and Jeffry P. Lindsay

Proven Guilty

Finished The Dresden Files “Proven Guilty” yesterday (which reminds me, note to self: remind brother to tape first TV ep tomorrow!!!!). I have to admit, I do love this book series. The action! The snark! The supernatural coolness! The morally ambiguous arciness! Thanks to buffyannotater for reccing it.

I am moving on now to a book called “Dreamchild” by Hilary Hemingway and Jeffry P Lindsay. It’s one of those little paperbooks I found in the basement of some used bookstore somewhere–either Guerneville or Santa Cruz–that’s been sitting on my shelf for a while. I thought I should read those before getting into any of my flist recs.

This weekend, I’m in. Polishing up TD 206, contemplating talking to the Mom about the Phoenix thing. And at some point, starting my L Word season 4 reviews. But right now, I’m off to Walgreens. Later, dudes.

Books of 2007:

“A Wizard of Earthsea”, Ursula Le Guin
“Proven Guilty”, Jim Butcher