Some bad book choices

I’m in a mood.  A reading mood, but it’s not the kind of mood that only means I want to read.  This is the kind of mood that means I’m hyper-critical of what I’m reading.  I picked up three books from the library yesterday, all books that had been recommended to me or that had appealed to me on some trip to a bookstore or something.

I put the first one down after 24 pages.   All of the exposition was in dialogue between a brother and a sister, and it was SO. PAINFUL.  They clearly both remembered a thing that happened, but they had to talk through every detail in a way real people would NEVER DO.  It’s like this radio commercial I HATED in Virginia for Warman Home Care (you know, like warm and caring? UGH) where a wife says to her husband, “you know how you’re worried about your dad getting older and living by himself and how he won’t be able to take care of himself but how we can’t do it either?” and every time I heard it, I cringed because NO ONE HAS THAT CONVERSATION!  People use shorthand!  They refer to conversations they’ve had before without going into every detail.  Good writing would remember that and use references like clues to pull the reader in.  This book was like that commercial and it was so irritating.  And then the author tried REALLY HARD to make sure you knew how old the characters are now and were then.  On one page, he said straight out that one character was 33, the sister was two years younger than that character, and the brother was three years older.  Got it.  Okay.  A few pages later, the narration explicitly says that a certain event happened 23 years previously.  At that point, I did the math – brother was 13, sister was 8.  I’m with you.  Then, at the bottom of the SAME PAGE, the brother asks the sister, “so, how old were we when that happened?” and she says, “well, I was 8, so you must have been 13.” OH MY GOD I GET IT.

I quit after that.

I picked up my next book right after that and nearly put it down after seven sentences.  The main character, making dinner at home with his family, was julienning an onion.  The pretentiousness oozed off the page.  Are you a chef?  No.  Is this book about food or cooking?  No.  THEN YOU’RE CHOPPING THAT GODDAMN ONION.  On the next page, we learn he lives in a brownstone.  A page later, we learn that he’s going to his local bar, steps away from his brownstone.  Then he goes to Whole Foods with his canvas bag, which is just blocks away from his brownstone.  Guess what, guys?  Mr. Perfect lives in a brownstone.  I’m kind of glad he got kidnapped.

For reasons, I don’t understand, I’m still reading this book.  I’ll finish it tonight, and I can move on to a book where the Queen is a vampire.  I’m expecting better from the paranormal.

Still trying to do too much

I signed up for another thing.  I couldn’t help myself.  I joined the Legislative Task Force committee within our chapter of NOW.  I am going to try to keep my participation to a minimum, though.  Really.  I mean it.

And now, after talking my head off at that meeting, I have no more words.  I’m going to devote my brainpower to my book.  Book club is next Tuesday, so I need to get cracking.

Challenge

I went to the library today, and now I have six books to read in three weeks.  Can I do it?

Don’t be ridiculous.  Of course I can do it.  Have you met me?  I can do that with both hands tied behind my back.

I did it!

I finished The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry this morning, and I am ready to go to my new book club tomorrow evening.  It was a nice book, sweet, about nice people and a bookshop.  What’s not to like?  After I finished that, I finished Abaddon’s Gate (the book I kept putting aside, through no fault of its own – it was very good), and then I started Court of Fives.  I did all of that before noon today (while hanging out at a coffee shop I can walk to from the house), and then I went to the grocery store, read a bit more at home, ran outside for the first time in 5 weeks, and now I’m making a sweet potato pie to take to Wendy (riding instructor) like I promised I would back at the holiday party.

It has been a very productive day off.

Read like the wind

I saw a flyer today for a book club called Eugene Book Talk that meets once a month.  The flyer was old (the books were for October and November), but I’ve read one of them (The Snow Child) and liked it, so that’s a good sign.  On impulse, I emailed them right then and there, and the person running the account (no name except for the name of the book club) responded right away. S/He said they’re still active, and since they couldn’t meet in December, they’re meeting this Tuesday to discuss The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry.

I looked it up, downloaded the sample, enjoyed the first couple of pages, and now I have a mission.  I put aside the book I’m in the middle of (again – I put it aside for Temeraire book 8 when the library e-book became available), and now I have 49.5 hours (from right now) to read the whole thing.

It’s a good thing I don’t have to work tomorrow.  If it’s interesting enough, I think I’ll make it.  THEN we’ll see how I feel about joining a book club again.

Faulty memory

John and I started watching The Man in the High Castle (Amazon Prime) a few days ago.  We got hooked fast, and we basically binged it all weekend.  We started Season 2 today.

The thing is, I know I read the book, and I know I didn’t particularly like it (I’ve felt that way about every Philip K. Dick book I’ve read), but I don’t remember enough about the plot to have any idea just how much the TV show differs from the book.  I imagine it’s quite a bit different, but in what ways?  I have no idea.  And now that we’re hooked on the show, I don’t want to re-read the book (or even google a plot summary) because I want to avoid spoilers.

Maybe I do read too fast (as I have been accused).  Or maybe I just don’t remember details of books I don’t love.  Of course, since I’m so spoiler-conscious, maybe it’s just as well I don’t remember the book much.

Mixing genres

I finished a book on Sunday set in the early 1800s, and about halfway through a scene about Napoleon coming back from exile, I caught myself expecting a mention of the British Aerial Corps and how Temeraire and Capt. Laurence were going to swoop in and defeat him.  The novel I was reading does NOT have dragons, but dragons will be forever linked with Napoleon now.

Dragons make history fun.

In case there was any doubt about how I prefer to spend my time

End of the year musings?  Sure, let’s be like everyone else.

There are plenty of reasons to call 2016 the worst year in recent history (TRUMP and the untimely deaths of Bowie, Prince, Carrie Fisher, Alan Rickman, George Michael, Anton Yelchin, and so on), but personally it wasn’t so bad.  It feels like forever ago, but we moved to OR in 2016, John got his rec pilot’s license, he’s in a band, I’m riding, Emily had a baby, Corey and Christine got engaged, and I got a new job (same company) that lowered my work stress by 50% at least.

I discovered Temeraire and Captain Laurence and time-traveling historians and the Others and a ton of other new books and series to love and…WOW.  Well, I have to declare 2016 a good year for me, despite the rest of the world, because I read nearly twice as many books this year as I did last year and four times as many as I read in 2013.  (There are advantages to keeping a book list.)  Yay for more reading time!

Reading bliss

I FINALLY bought a Kindle Paperwhite, and I got the BEST case for it, and I am VERY happy.  My poor Samsung tablet was dying and couldn’t make the long plane trips anymore, and every time I got unlucky and got a seat without an outlet (like on 7 out of the last 8 flights I’ve taken), it died on me midflight.  I was packing backup physical books in my carry-on to make sure I wouldn’t be left without reading material, and you know?  That stuff gets heavy.

Now I have a Paperwhite (so does John), and I’m a happy camper.

kindle

Winning the book lottery

I’ve been on a roll lately, book-wise.  I have liked every book I’ve read in the past three weeks (ever since giving up on The Lake House).  Some of that was planned: two of the seven books were sequels, so it was pretty much a given that I would like them.  One (Word Puppets) is a collection of short stories by an author I’ve heard a lot about but had never tried.  Her short stories were really good (yay!), so I’ll be reading more of her.  The next book (Serpentine) was recommended by a couple of the authors I follow on Twitter – young adult, fantasy/Chinese mythology – very good.  I found the other three just browsing in Powell’s.  It’s riskier than going on recommendations, but one of those turned out to be pretty good (The Girl With All The Gifts), and the other two are why I’m writing this post because they were SO FREAKIN’ GOOD.

Illuminae is told through documentation found by a researcher trying to piece together what actually happened out in space after a planet was attacked, so the format is all letters, emails, chats, transcripts of videos, interviews, etc.  It was funny and it totally captured my imagination.  I didn’t want to put it down, and when I had to, I was thinking about it.

Then I read His Majesty’s Dragon, and – THANK EVERYTHING – it is the first in a nine-book series.  It’s set in pseudo-1800s Britain, with the British Navy and a war with Napoleon and DRAGONS.  The dragons and their riders (!) make up the air force, basically, and it’s like a mash-up of the Patrick O’Brien novels and the Pern novels (!!), and it makes me very happy.  Like, the-world-is-a-better-place-with-these-books-in-it kind of happy.

I started the second book in the series last night.  I’m so happy.

I brought it on myself

As you know, I loved The Silvered, and I was worried about my next book because of it.  So either I was right to be worried about that, or I talked myself right into not enjoying my next TWO books.  First, I picked up The Scorch Trials, which is the sequel to The Maze Runner.  The first book was fine, but this one had no real plot, which drives me crazy.  I got about halfway, told John I was going to put it down, and then finished it two hours later.  It was a quick read, but not especially enjoyable.  I might watch the movies.

Then I picked up The Lake House.  I had my doubts before I started it because her other four books are all very similar.  The structure is basically identical, although the details are different.  I’ve enjoyed all four, to a certain extent, but when I picked up this fifth one, I felt tired.  Oh, look, there’s a mystery in the past.  Oh, look, there’s a person in the present having problems.  Oh, look, this person in the present is going to mixed up in figuring out what happened in the past and somehow solve that mystery AND their own problems.  I gave up on it pretty quickly.  I’m sorry, Kate Morton.  I thought The Secret Keeper was really good, and I’m happy the book club chose to read it while I was a member.  That’s as far as I can go.

Thankfully, it only took two books to get me out of that very unpleasant hole.  I started a collection of short stories by Mary Robinette Kowal, and those have been really good so far.

I’ve decided it was the books, not me.  I chose badly twice in a row.  It’s still my fault (I chose the books), but it’s less obnoxious than blaming it on my mood.

Some books should never end

I have already declared my love of Tanya Huff (space marines!) in this space, but I think I need to say it again.  I just finished a stand-alone fantasy novel that I really really really enjoyed.  Like, I didn’t want it to be over.  I want more of it.  I want it to be a series, Ms. Tanya Huff, please ma’am.  It reminded me of Sherwood Smith’s Inda books, a fantasy series (ahem) I also liked a ton.  The Inda books take place in a world I don’t want to leave when the books end.  The characters stay with me, and now I’m feeling the same way about The Silvered.  It’s about mages and a version of werewolves, and yes, Mom and Margaret have both just lost interest, but I couldn’t put it down even as I wished I could slow down and never finish it.

Now, sadly, it’s over (I stayed up late last night to get to the end), and I’m putting off starting another book because I’m not ready.  My next book is going to be a disappointment, through no fault of its own (I hope), and that’s not fair to it.

I can’t believe I actually want it to rain

I checked the weather on Friday and saw that Sunday was supposed to be a rainy day, so we arranged our weekend in such a way that we could take advantage and stay inside and cozy all day.  A rainy day, especially a rainy fall day after such a dry sunny summer, is the perfect justification to have pancakes for breakfast while watching lots of TV and then to curl up and read under a blanket for the rest of the day.  The pancakes and TV watching went as planned, and then it was time for the reading and blanketing.  It was still raining, so I headed for the papasan chair, but by the time I got there the rain had lessened. Like, it’s barely sprinkling and the sun is trying to peek out.  I need it to keep raining!  Yes, I like the sun, and yes, I’ll miss it terribly if it disappears for the next six months like I keep hearing it will, but when the sun is shining I feel compelled to go outside and enjoy it because it’s going to go away and that’s not how I was planning to spend my day.  If the sun is out, I have to go to the grocery store.  So please, sun, go back behind the clouds and let the rain come.  Just this once.

I’m going to regret that plea.

The right kind of Saturday

Rough outline of today:

  • Slept in all the way until 9!  Of course, it was 2am when we went to bed.
  • Rode our bikes about 4 miles to a good bagel place.
  • Spent 2-3 hours sitting outside said bagel place with bagels and coffee, reading our books.
  • Rode 4 miles back home.
  • John worked on fun computer things, and I ran (outside again!).
  • Heading out to drink and play video games at an arcade and local bars for Will’s birthday.

We’re walking over to meet everyone (it’s about a mile and a half away, and we don’t want to have to drive home), so we have to get moving, but I plan to have time to write tomorrow.  I hope everyone else’s Saturday has been as pleasant as ours!

Vacation reading plan

Yes, I have a vacation reading plan.  I finished my last library book Sunday night, so Monday I picked my tablet up again (Kindle app) for the first time in months.  I’ve got my tablet with me for most of my reading needs (plane, nighttime, plane again), and I picked up a couple of used paperbacks before we left as backups for poolside reading and in case my tablet’s battery dies on the plane (which is entirely possible – I will be looking for an actual Kindle soon).

This is all assuming I’ll be doing a lot of reading, which is actually less likely than normal.  Yes on the plane and in the airports during our multiple layovers, but will we spend much time at the pool when we have Universal and Disney to explore (and wedding stuff to do)?  Probably not. Will we be exhausted when we get back to hotel room at night?  Probably.  BUT.  I like to be prepared.  I can think of few things worse than having downtime and no book to read.  Hence the plan.

Inspiration, or lack of it

Some days I have ideas, some days I don’t.  Today I had something half-baked about feeling inspired by Neil deGrasse Tyson to read The Martian and Saturn Run, both realistic science in space stories, and something even less than half-baked about not caring much about Spiderman because I couldn’t think of the name of the editor who’s always demanding pictures of Spiderman.

None of that is really anything, and that probably means I should just keep quiet for a day, but hey – I have to live inside my head.  I might as well share some of it with you, even if it is less than thrilling.  Heh.  As if anything I write is thrilling.

John liked The Martian, I’m enjoying it right now, and Saturn Run was really good (thanks, Erik!).  And….that’s all I got.

I did it!

Goal met!  Two books finished as of 6pm today.  I can never complain about that kind of weekend, not that I complain about weekends much anyway.  I’m more likely to whine about having to work tomorrow, but lucky for you, I’ve already done my whining about that for the evening.  Instead, we’re finally ready to start the Peter Capaldi seasons of Doctor Who.  The first episode with a new Doctor is always jarring.  I’m bracing myself for change.

Conflicting interests

We went to the library yesterday, and I came home with five books.  My plan for the weekend was/is to get through two of them before work Monday morning.  I’m 80% of the way through the first one, and if we weren’t heading to Cottage Grove tonight for games with Will and Christina, I’d probably get 20% through the second one before bed.  Damn fun times with friends trying to sabotage my reading goals!

Sunday reading

I spent about four hours in a coffee shop five blocks from our house just reading.  I could have done that at home, but it was nice to be around people.  Then I came home and kept reading.  Then we watched three episodes of Happy Valley and got all disturbed, but then I went back to my book.  I cannot complain about today.  Or this weekend, in fact.  All of my weekends should go like this, although maybe with less disturbing TV.