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.

 

General · reading · Teaser Tuesdays

Teaser Tuesday: Sustenance

My next read!

Teaser Tuesday is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Books And A Beat.

teaser

Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

• 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!

My Teasers:

51jdkq422bzl-_sx331_bo1204203200_More bad news from the States: the Committee continues to wreak its havoc, pursuing their policy of forcing those who disagree with their political positions to lose their jobs, their positions in their communities, and any chance of following their established professions in the United States of America, all in the name of freedom. The press has supported their hysteria, increasing the air of crisis that continues to grow, joining the repressive elements in the government in continuing to denounce citizens of Communistic inclinations, without any proof of wrongdoing beyond rumor and innuendo.

– Sustenance by Chelsea Quinn Yarbro

reading · Teaser Tuesdays

Teaser Tuesday: Of Noble Family

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of A Daily Rhythm. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

• 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! 

My Teaser:

In short order, the assembled ladies worked through the ordinary pleasantries, establishing that it was uncommonly hot for this time of year, that they were thankful that they had coldmongers on staff who could use glamour to make the air cooler, and then moving on to admiration of the newly arrived chest of tea. Nothing was so cooling, was the general consensus, as a cup of strong tea on a hot day.

– Of Noble Family by Mary Robinette Kowal

reading

Have you ever made a new friend because of a book? (or books)?

Have you ever made a new friend because of a book? (or books)? (http://adailyrhythm.com/ asks this random question today and I’ve decided to answer it.)

Yes, I have. 

My book club is filled with new friends.

So is twitter! Well, all my twitter friends were new once and most of my twitter is filled with book talk.

So, yeah. It’s really nice to have friends to discuss books with!  *waves hello to all of them*

reading

Thoughts on: Dorsai! by Gordon R. Dickson

I just finished reading Dorsai! by Gordan R. Dickson. This is an older military science fiction book, first published in 1959.

Note: this is not a review. I will probably do one of those next week. This is just a question I had at the end of the book.

In this world, people have contracts, contracts traded by companies and governments.

The woman in the book, Anea, has a contract that the main character describes so:

It was nothing more — and nothing less — than a five-year employment contract, a social contract, for her services as companion in the entourage of William, Prince, and Chairman of the Board of that very commercial planet Ceta which was the only habitable world circling the sun Tau Ceti. And a very liberal social contract it was, requiring no more than that she accompany William wherever he wished to go and supply her presence at such public and polite social functions as he might require. It was not the liberalness of the contract that surprised him so much — a Select of Kultis would hardly be contracted to perform any but the most delicately moral and ethical of duties — but the fact that she had asked him to destroy it.

Despite that last line, I have to say I assumed she was an expensive, high-class escort. I mean, William dangled her as bait to manipulate other guys, letting them believe they could have her. (But he intended to keep her for himself.)

Plus, she is a paid companion. To me that is short hand for a classy, exclusive call-girl.

But, at the end, there is something about eventual marriage to William, and I am thinking maybe she wasn’t an escort at all. That, plus the single line about “liberal contracts” and “most delicately moral and ethical of duties” makes me think she was never a call-girl. Paid companions with non-liberal contracts might be call-girls.

But now I am confused. What was her job? Girlfriend? Hostess? Housekeeper? A friend that you pay for? (Why would anyone pay for friendship?)

What are the “most delicately  moral and ethical of duties” of a paid companion? I can’t make heads or tails of it.

General · reading

N is for Notorious

I am picking the word Notorious for this year’s Hugo awards.

It’s going to go down in history. All the people associated with it will likely be remembered for years to come. So, yeah, notorious.

I am hoping this doesn’t break the Hugo forever and ever. I am hoping it doesn’t set the tone for next year’s; I don’t like the idea of years and years of infighting, arguing and partisan politics. Just like real politics in this country, yeah? I disapprove of this mirroring of life and art.

That will destroy the Hugo.

If they don’t want that, all sides will have to cease and desist by next year. Because if one side does something, the other will have to respond. I cannot believe it will result in anything but the destruction of the Hugo.

I dread it.

But the Hugo will happen this year, because it isn’t destroyed yet. It had better happen next year, too, hopefully, with less drama. (I am not hopeful.)

And the awards haven’t even been awarded yet! I suspect this will all get worse when the winners are announced.

For those of you don’t know what Hugo are and what this present drama is about, there are plenty of blog posts on the topic. Plenty. The internet is overflowing with them.

fantasy · General · reading

K is for Kill

I finished reading The Emperor’s Blades by Brian Staveley recently.

It got me thinking: A lot of books have characters who kill. Maybe not easily, maybe not often, but in the course of the book, they kill sooner or later. Some do kill easily.

Some of them take killing more seriously: Anita Blake, Dexter, Valyn from The Emperor’s Blades and a quite a few others in the same book. Quite a few from other grimdark fantasy, too. (I like that word: grimdark.)

Someone like Anita Blake only turned into a killer later in the series; she didn’t start out killing very easily.

Dexter has been a serial killer since early childhood. Maybe he had kind and gentle feelings when he was born, but maybe not.

Valyn is a soldier. And, yeah, soldiers of all ilk kill. That is their job. And he is not without the gentler feelings. But he kills when he must.

But I wonder if, after lots of betrayal and treachery, if he manages to keep any of his gentler feelings.

I am dreading that he won’t. I don’t want to watch turn him an emotionless killer. I don’t think he will ever turn into Dexter (he doesn’t have quite that much childhood trauma!) but still. I am sort of dreading reading the next book.

reading

F is for Famous Books

So . . . there are a lot of famous books out there. Some are more the type you read in high school English classes, some you see on the New York Times bestseller list, some win awards, and some were first published decades ago and are still in print; everyone you know is reading it or plans to; there is a movie or TV show based on it.

Do you read famous books? 

I, sadly, haven’t read too many of these books. Most of the ones I had to read in high school English class were boring; most of the books on the New York Times bestseller list are not to my taste; I only really follow science fiction and fantasy awards, but I have read very few the winning novels; I haven’t read too many old books, because lots of times they’re written in a long, winding style and that just annoys me.

Sometimes I think I should read more famous books, because more people are likely to have read them (So I think anyway. How could famous books stay famous otherwise?) and if people around me get into random conversations about them, I will be more able to participate.

Also, to better understand, what about the book makes it famous. This is why I read Twilight and I still haven’t arrived at an answer. But! I can talk about it now and tell people exactly what I thought of it. So that’s a plus.

But more often I look at my reading options and think: this book looks so much better than the more famous one. I want to read it so much more and I don’t actually have to read this much more famous book. So I don’t.

I think this is why lots of people (anyway, most people who don’t read science fiction or fantasy. Sometimes even people who read science fiction or fantasy.) have never heard of half the books I read.

What about you?

Book Review · reading

B is for Book Review: The Color Purple

The Color Purple was my pick for #nanoremo, the month where you read that literary classic you’ve always wanted to read but somehow never actually got around to reading.

I have to add, this is the first time I’ve picked a real literary type classic (I usually pick a more genre-ish classic).

This book is very popular and there is a movie, and so I knew some things about it. Namely:

  • The main character suffered sexual abuse in childhood
  • The main character is black.
  • The book is written as a letter to God.

I had somehow forgotten that it takes place in the south. I never knew that it was written in the dialect of the main character and not in standard English. And I never so much as guessed that the main character was lesbian. I mean, really! No one told me! It wasn’t in the movie trailers.

The dialect made The Color Purple a challenge to read, not least because I don’t know many people who talk like that. But I got used to it. It only took me a couple dozen pages to stop stumbling over the grammar.

Later, when the sister started writing to her, the proper grammar was a shock.

So . . . there were moments that stood out.

One thing that stands out for me is how she stopped getting her period as a teenager. She talks about girls who bleed have babies and then she says she stopped bleeding. She was relieved, and considering her step-father, that isn’t surprising. But it’s a shock – never get your period again, never have a child. Well, she had two by that point. Even so.

The other moment was when she realized her children were NOT also her siblings. It was so emotional, so intense.

In fact, there were lots of emotional, intense moments in this book, so many they are impossible to list. For such a short book, it was packed.

Overall, it was a pleasure to read. I am really glad I picked this book. I thought it might be hard to read, but it wasn’t. (I’ve read harder books. This wasn’t even in the top five.)