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.

 

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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Book Review · General · reading

Book Review: Dragon Spawn by Eileen Wilks

I read Dragon Spawn by Eileen Wilks a few months ago. Every since, I have been quite speechless. It is hard to describe my disappointment.

I normally really look forward to this series. Dragon Spawn was no different.

But then I read it. It started out alright – lots of action and characters that I really like. It seemed like it was moving fast.

Then it ended. Just ended. Nothing was resolved, none of the problems mentioned in the beginning, none of the conflicts ended.

It is okay if one or two or even three of the conflicts are not resolved by end. This is a long-running series and that is just the nature of the beast. You have to leave something dangling for the next book. But this book resolved nothing.

It felt more like the middle of the book rather then the end. I feel like someone chopped the book in half and decided to publish in pieces.

I have no words for how much of a disappointment this book is. I really don’t. I have spent some time trying to say and I can’t.

I will read the next book, if only to find the next book. But I can’t really recommend this one. Until the next one comes out and I find out if there is an ending.

General · reading

Is It Harder to Be Transported By a Book As You Get Older?

The Sunday Bookends asked this question on June 9, 2016.

Both writers answer yes, but for different reasons.

Me, I also would say yes.

I think it is harder to find books you love – truly, deeply love – as you get older.

Maybe that’s because you get more cynical as you get older. Maybe it’s because there is less time to sit down and truly just let yourself get lost in a book. Maybe it’s because everything is so much newer when you’re younger and books you read later never quite measure up to the first book that made you go: whoa.

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transported by a book on wondrous adventures

I do know all my favorites and many of the authors I go back to again and again come from a particular period in my life. The same 2-3 years, in fact.

The books I usually compare my own writing against, the kinds of characters I want to create, the kind of description I want to do, all of these things come from books I read as a teenager.

It isn’t that books I read later sucked – they didn’t. I discovered new books and new titles afterward. I have raved about them here. I reread quite a few regularly; I keep a look out for when their new books come out.

But, with two or three exceptions, most of the books that influenced me, I read as a teenager. I think that first reaction of OMG, Awesome Book, So Good, So Very Very Good, happens more often when you’re younger and have read fewer books. Afterword: Oh, yes,  like that other book.

First times only happen once.

What do you think? Is It harder to be transported by a book as you get older?

 

reading · Teaser Tuesdays

Teaser Tuesday: The Tell-Tale Heart

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

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:

I loved the old man. He had never wronged me. He had never given me insult. For his gold I had no desire. I think it was his eye! yes, it was this! He had the eye of a vulture –a pale blue eye, with a film over it. Whenever it fell upon me, my blood ran cold; and so by degrees –very gradually –I made up my mind to take the life of the old man, and thus rid myself of the eye forever.

– THE TELL-TALE HEART by Edgar Allan Poe

reading · science fiction

Surprising Tid-Bit In Apprentice in Death

I finished the latest In Death book, Apprentice in Death. It is the 43rd book in the series and that is pretty cool. I hope they finish the movie soon. Who knows what is going on with it?

There is a high school named after Hillary Rodham Clinton. 

I don’t think she has any high schools named after her in the present, but it’s interesting that she does in the future this book lives in. I mean, lots of famous people have schools named after them. But it gave me quite the jolt to see it in this book.

She may have schools named after her, no matter how this election goes. But I suppose it is more likely if she wins.

It is still sort of surprising to see it there in Apprentice in Death, mentioned all causal-like.

 

 

fantasy · reading

Teaser Tuesday: Dancer’s Lament

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

 

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! 

They began their dance. Each spun like a top, gathering speed. The blades began to flex, arcing round the women like whips indeed. Even as they spun, the dancers curled round each other, seeking openings. Now and then, utterly without hint or warning, their blades lashed out, snapping and whistling.

– Dancer’s Lament by Ian C. Esslemont

 

Really enjoying this so far!!!

General

On Genre and Shelving

This week I went to a library that did not have a separate science fiction shelf. (Or a 657ipiseparate mystery shelf.)  Instead the library put science fiction sticker on the spine and shelved the books in alphabetical order by last name.

I was displeased by this arrangement. I wanted all the science fiction books in one place so I could look at them all at once. I didn’t want to wander through half the library looking for science fiction/fantasy books.

I suppose if I had time to look through all the shelves and was willing to be distracted by interesting covers, it would have been excellent arrangement. But I didn’t have much time, I just wanted a quick look at their science fiction/fantasy selection and see if something looked good.

I may go back if I have a few hours to spare. And can I say how odd it was to see literary classics and science fiction books on the same shelf. Which may have been the point.