reading

D is for Death Scenes

adult_human_skull_-_asian_male_thumbnail__60388.1530765307.500.659Death scenes should be meaningful, yes? I think so. If not meaningful, they should at least be memorable. They stick with you. Maybe you return to it, over and over again in some fashion.

These are some of the most memorable death scenes I recall.

  1. Charlotte from Charlotte’s Web. I read this book over and over again in childhood. The death of Charlotte – the first time I heard it, it was very shocking. Less shocking, obviously, the second and third and fourth time I reread it. But I think her death is one of the reasons why I reread this book so often.
  2. Sergeant Bothari from the Miles Vorkosigan books. He was both a rapist, and if I remember the books right, a victim of rape. He was a torturer and also mentally disabled. He also protected Miles throughout his childhood. Yet I feel his death was just. Perhaps his life is a tragedy, always heading that since birth.
  3. Henry from The Time Traveler’s Wife. I had a lot of problems with this book, but for some reason Henry’s death sticks out in my mind. Henry loses his feet and then is shot to death while time traveling by his wife’s brother. His death seems more memorable to me then the whole book.  Which is a bit odd, I suppose.
  4. Rue from the Hunger Games. Really, there were a lot of deaths in this series, but who can forget this scene? And how important it was to the rest of the series?
  5. Dorothea from Black Jewels. Anne Bishop does revenge really, really well. Dorothea is enemy number one in this series and her death was perfect.
reading

C is for Characters

Characters! Sometimes you read a book more for the characters than the plot. Lots of times, in fact. If the characters suck, oftentimes I stop reading.

If some characters come out in a new book, I would read it and I don’t really need to know anything else. Do you have favorite characters like that?

Five of my favorite characters:

  1. Eve Dallas from the In Death series by JD Robb
  2. Daemon from Black Jewels series by Anne Bishop
  3. Miles Vorkosigan from Vorkosigan Saga by Lois McMaster Bujold
  4. Mercy Thompson from Mercy Thompson series by Patricia Briggs
  5. Meg Corbyn from The Others by Anne Bishop

 

reading

B is for Books

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photo: David Flores

B is for Books

So . . . books. Libraries are closed, bookstores are closed. But! Books can still be ordered online and downloaded from your favorite platform. Ebooks from libraries are a thing.

Including the Internet Archive. It seems the Internet Archive has more recent books. I have known of the Internet Archive existence for quite some time, but I thought it had only old books, books that are so old they are in the public domain.

It seems that is not correct. They announced a national emergency library (http://blog.archive.org/2020/03/24/announcing-a-national-emergency-library-to-provide-digitized-books-to-students-and-the-public/) where they are allowing more recent books to be borrowed. The same item can be borrowed by multiple people at the same time.

I had the impression – somehow! – that the National Archive held only old books. I supposed that is because I have only ever gone looking for old books on it. Alice in Wonderland, The adventures of Tom Sawyer, a book on the birds of India someone wrote when they traveled to India during the British Raj, old dusty books like that.

I wasn’t even aware they had any other kind of books even available. I suppose I wasn’t paying attention, but I am shocked. Shocked they had recent books available at all, let alone that they decided to make some kind of national emergency library.

 

fantasy · reading

Pandemic in Priory of the Orange Tree

I’ve been reading The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon. It’s a long book, almost a thousand pages, and a bit slow at times.

It has many things I like – dragons, magic, myth, great characters. It has what feels like centuries of history.

But the thing that stands out in my mind right now is that this world remembers a past pandemic. In one city, outsiders or those harboring them can be killed or imprisoned. Because maybe they carry the disease.

Even privateers were not willing to land there; they rowed their charges only close enough that they could wade in, because of the risk of getting the disease.

There is a lot to focus on because there is a lot going on in this story. But the thing that has caught my attention is this ancient pandemic. In the story so far, it feels like it was over a long time ago. I could be wrong, but I am still pretty early in the story.

It is just – centuries later, people still react to some people as though are carrying the disease. It must have been quite terrible while it was happening.

It makes me wonder how this current coronavirus will affect the future. It is quite terrible now and things only promise to get worse in the coming weeks.

Well, we have to survive it first, and I am sure this country will survive it. How much damage will be sustained – that is the question. The very question. A lot of damage – economic, health – and I wish I knew how it would change the world.

It is a bit anxiety-inducing, to not know really how much damage the novel coronavirus will leave behind.

 

reading

What are feminine length nails?

I am rereading A Vampire’s Claim by Joey W. Hill.

There is a line in it that goes:

Her nails were a feminine length with clear polish, the elegant tips drawing attention to the grace of her hands.

It really makes me wonder how long this lady’s nails are.

It is a minor thing, I suppose, and I don’t really remember caring or even briefly wondering the first time I read this book. But for some reason it’s standing out for me today.

Are her nails super long? Medium length, not long, not very short?

I can argue that every woman has feminine length nails, no matter that they are long or short or medium.

Mostly I suppose I picture my own nails, whatever length they are at the time.

fantasy · General · reading

Rereading The Cloud Roads

I was rereading the Raksura book two days ago: The Cloud Roads.cloudrods

It is even more amazing then I remembered.

I missed things the first time I read it and didn’t remember other things. But it held up very well to a rereading, especially after such a long time.

The things I loved the first time – the world-building, the characters, the description, the action – were just as amazing as the first time. Really.

This time I lingered over a quiet scene when it was the two of them, Moon and his queen. Moon has just killed a Fell and learned something that hit him very hard. More, his queen overhead and he really didn’t want her to. Their interaction afterward really is quite touching.

I think I didn’t spend so much time on it before, because I was entranced by the world.

I still am. But I read this first book a long time, and that leaves space to focus on other aspects of the story. And there is plenty to focus on. It is a lot more then the world building – and the world-building is amazing.

General · reading · Teaser Tuesdays

Teaser Tuesday: Spymaster

Welcome to Teaser Tuesday, the weekly Meme that wants you to add books to your TBR, or just share what you are currently reading. It is very easy to play along:

• Grab your current read
• Open to a random page
• Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
• BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
• Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers! Everyone loves Teaser Tuesday.

My teasers:9781466877955

Merchant ships from all over the world passed through one of the Aligoes’ two major  channels. Although the channels provided the fastest means of travel, they were unfortunately subject to an odd natural phenomenon known as “tides,” because the magic of the Breath ebbed and flowed much like tides in an inland ocean. During ebb tide, the magic decreased to the point where a ship could be in danger of sinking. During high tide, the magic increased, touching off wizard storms that – ironically – could also sink a ship.

–Spymaster: Book One of the Dragon Corsairs by Margaret Weis and Robert Krammes

fantasy · General · reading

Last Raksura book

In a post on John Scalzi’s blog, Martha Wells announced that The Harbors of the Sun will be the last book the Raksura series.

I can’t begin to express how much that disappoints me. I love the Raksura books. They are original, so creative and so mind-blowingly fantastic. I love the descriptions, the story.

I want to be there half the time, be the main character. One of the characters, anyway.

And now there won’t be anymore.

the-cloud-roads-martha-wells-cover-sketches

Book Review · Non-Fiction · reading

Reading Thinking Machines by Luke Dormehl

21lqxs1I am half done with Thinking Machines: The Quest for Artificial Intelligence and Where it’s Taking us Next by Luke Dormehl.

The half I have read is pretty interesting – the history of AI. Expert systems, neural networks and so on.Very interesting.

AI is mostly neural networks now, and I don’t suppose the sort of systems I think of expert systems as AI, even though though it though started out there. (I thought of it as normal programming, I suppose.)

It talks about who some of the early researchers of AI were and the problems they ran into, the problems they solved. I knew about Turing and a few others. I don’t suppose I will remember the names now, either.

It describes how popularity of AI waxed and waned over the decades, with the resulting hit to research dollars.

But now it is somewhat in the present and that is far less interesting. I think perhaps that is because I have heard a lot of what it talks about in the news, so I know a little bit already.

This is a book meant for the lay reader. It describes some AI concepts, but only at a high level, doesn’t get into too much detail. Which is fine. More detail is not needed to understand what the book is saying.

But it is pretty interesting all the same!

fantasy · reading · science fiction

List of Favorite Fathers

Today is Father’s Day. Which got me thinking about the fathers in the books I read.

If I had to pick three fathers from the books I have read, what would I pick?

After some thought I came up with these:

  1. Aral Vorkosigan from the Miles Vor series by Lois McMaster Bujold. He has his own book and is the father to one of most amazing characters I’ve read. Fathering Miles has to be a difficult task – he was born disabled and is wilful and is hardly ever as careful as he should be.
  2. Saetan Daemon SaDiablo. He is the father of three main characters in the Black Jewels series by Anne Bishop – one my favorite series ever.
  3. Moon from the Raksura books by Martha Wells. This is one of the most creative series I’ve ever read and well-written, too. The guy had a few kids when the last book starts and they had been trying for the last couple of books. So that was nice. I would have liked to see more interactions with the kids – but I don’t suppose babies and adventures go together very well.

 

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