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