Monthly Archives: June 2012

Throwback Thursday (06/28/12)

Throwback Thursday is a weekly meme hosted by The Housework Can Wait and Never Too Fond of Books!

Noting that book blogging onften focuses on new releases, here’s how Throwback Thursday works:

  1. Pick a book released more than 5 years ago.
  2. Write up a short summary of the book (include the title, author, and cover art) and an explanation of why you love it.
  3. Link up your post at The Housework Can Wait or Never Too Fond of Books.
  4. Visit as many blogs as you can, reminisce about books you loved, and discover some “new” books for your TBR list!

I’m not typical for a book blogger. Most of what I read is already over five years old, though I’m trying to be a little more current. But I do like the spirit of this meme. I’m going to repurpose it bit and use it import some book-related posts from my previous journal.

Strange Wine: Fifteen New Stories From The Nightside Of The World by Harlan Ellison

From Harlan Ellison, whom The Washington Post regards as a “lyric poet, satirist, explorer of odd psychological corners, and purveyor of pure horror and black comedy,” comes Strange Wine.

Discover among these tales the spirits of executed Nazi war criminals who walk Manhattan streets; the damned soul of a murderess escaped from Hell; gremlins writing the fantasies of a gone-dry writer; and the exquisite Dr. D’arque Angel, who deals her patients doses of death… (via Goodreads)

My original post from June 1, 2001, (with commentary):

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My copy of this book has a history.

One of the few things I remember from the spring semester of 1995 is buying this book. I had taken a walk, this was before I had moved permanently to Lincoln, to find a bookstore on F Street. None of the other bookstores had anything I wanted. It seemed like such a long walk then, from campus to F Street. I’d thought that I’d live in that neighborhood 3 years later and walk that distance at least once nearly everyday.

The bookstore was small, one of those places that specialized in books on mysticism and spirituality. They sold crystals and incense and soothing tapes of music. And they had a small used section of genre books. There on the shelf, lo and behold, was a book by Harlan Ellison. A rare find indeed. (Remember, this was 1995. I couldn’t order up any old book I wanted from Amazon.com.) I slipped it off the shelf and opened the cover. The book was a first edition for $70. That was a lot of money to me back then. I was working in the dishroom, living on financial aid. And really, it’s still a lot of money for a book. (I wouldn’t actually pay that much for a book now.) But… I didn’t flinch when I had to buy chemistry books for more. Books that I would hate, books that would cause me grief, books that I would sell back the moment I didn’t need them anymore. What was $70 for something I would keep and cherish?

The publication date on the book was 1979. I decided I wouldn’t read it until 1999 when the book was 20 years old. An odd thought, buying an expensive book and then not rushing home to read it. So the book sat on my self and traveled with me. To Omaha and back to Lincoln, to the house on Q Street, to my Lincoln Mall apartment, to my F Street apartment so near to where I bought it, and then to Arizona. And in late 1999, I began reading it. Halfway through, I put it down. Short stories are hard to read. They’re short and I wanted more. I wasn’t quite in the mood to read it, even though I had promised myself I would. But yesterday, looking through the stacks in the back room I picked up again. And just finished it today. And it is worth the $70 I paid.

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Why should you read it today? There’s no voice in speculative fiction like Harlan Ellison’s. He’s not fluff. His stories are going to make you think. As Ellison says in the book’s introduction “reading is the drinking of strange wine…drinking strange wine pours strength into the imagination.” This book contains some lesser known stories that haven’t been over-anthologized. Not a light read, but a worthy read.

Book # 16

A Clash of Kings by George R. R. Martin

As I said to quite a few people while reading this book, Martin lulls you with a thousand tiny little details and then STUFF HAPPENS! That makes for an interesting reading experience if you make it through the heraldry and genealogy.

One thing that I really like about Martin is his use of oblique storytelling. Not every battle and council meeting is shown. Instead, Martin opts for sometimes showing the aftermath only, using his characters to relate what happened, usually in conversations with other characters. This is a good thing for the TV show. Battles are expensive to film. (Unfortunately, I think the HBO show has resorted to conveying information from character to character before, during, and/or after a sex act…)

Unfortunately, I remember why I kinda lost interest in the series during the third book. I’m not quite a fan of where many of the characters ended up at the end of A Clash of Kings. I’m going to continue reading the series, but we’ll see if A Storm of Swords can pull me along this time and toss me into A Feast of Crows.

Notes on A Game of Thrones

Format: Hardback
Procurement: Purchased, most likely, at Bookmans
Bookmark: “Go on Adventures” corner bookmark that I made from an old birthday card.

Book #15

Modern Fairies, Dwarves, Goblins, and Other Nasties: A Practical Guide by Miss Edythe McFate by Lesley M. M. Blume, David Foote (Illustrator)

This was an impulse check-out. I saw it while I was browsing for fairy tales and said, “Why not?” Children’s books can be clever and entertaining. I’m still kicking myself for never reading any Roald Dahl or Lloyd Alexander as a kid. Unfortunately, this book annoyed and disappointed me.

Modern Fairies, etc. has two components. Warnings and information on fairies in the modern world, specifically the fairies of New York City, and didactic tales featuring children that know no better than to deal with the fae. The annoying part was the nature myth aspect of most of this book. Too many times the warnings or tales passed off fairies, etc. as the reason for natural occurrences. Now, even if I put aside my skepticism (this is of course a work of fiction), I still don’t know why so many of the tales involve nature after spending effort on trying to be set in current day NYC. This book is not what it claims to be, really. Or, at least, not what I thought it could be–a light kid’s book about truly urban fairies. That was disappointing.

The warnings weren’t too bad. In fact, occasionally Blume’s writing is really lovely. The tales were pretty unremarkable. They weren’t quite witty or ridiculous  enough. In structure, it felt like a handful of short stories with some filler in between, with the filler being the better ingredient. I will give the book props for not presenting these fae as sparkly Disney tinker-bells. They’re generally untrustworthy and often ugly.

Format: Kindle Cloud Reader
Procurement: Greater Phoenix Digital Library

It’s Monday, What Are You Reading? (06/25/12)

This Week I’m Reading:

EDIT:

Of course, this afternoon Ready Player One by Ernest Cline became available for check out from the GPDL. I’ll be reading that this week as well.

Three-Ten to Yuma and Other Stories by Elmore Leonard

From America’s premier storyteller comes this collection of seven classic western tales of destiny and fatal decision, featuring the story that became the basis for the 1957 western film classic, “3:10 to Yuma,” which starred Glenn Ford. (Goodreads)

I need a litte break from fantasy. I requested it from the Greater Phoenix Digital Library and it became available this morning.

Dark Waters by Shannon Mayer

The bonds of family are stretched to the breaking point as legendary monsters, a deadly prophecy, and soul swallowing fears threaten to destroy them. Magic, secrets, sensuality and mind numbing terror all rolled into one to keep the pages flying.(Goodreads)

Won this over the weekend from a read-a-thon drawing. Not usually my thing, but it sounds a bit interesting.

Short Story of the Week:

“21st-Century Girl” by Adrian Tchaikovsky (via Nature) and/or
“Odd Jobs” by Matthew S. Rotundo (via Buzzy Mag)

The Usual:

Already caught up with this week’s Poetic Edda and Minorities. And two chapters of…well, I decided that I wanted to watch the second season of  A Game of Thrones and finished A Clash of Kings. This puts me months ahead of the read-through. The funny thing is that I’ve kind of gotten used to reading a couple chapters a week and will probably move on to A Storm of Swords.

What I Read Last Week:

Took part in the Wicked Wildfire Read-a-thon from Wednesday through Sunday. In addition to finishing A Clash of Kings by George R. R. Martin, I finished Modern Fairies, Dwarves, Goblins, and Other Nasties by Lesley M. M. Blume, From the Dust Returned by Ray Bradbury, and read through roughly 25 issues of Marvel’s Ultimate Comics series. Reviews of all those will be posted in the next couple weeks.

What I Gave Up On:

Ted Dekker just didn’t work out for me. The book I checked out from the library was a 2-in-1. I read the first few pages of both Thr3e and Obsessed and neither really caught my interest.

Also, as quickly as it set in, my fairy tale obsession passed.  I returned My Mother She Killed Me, My Father He Ate Me: Forty New Fairy Tales last night after only reading three stories from it. Also, it was the only one of my recently checked out library books that was in Adobe format. I seem to have firmly moved to the Kindle cloud app.

#WWReadathon Challenge #6

Kriss @ Cabin Goddess Reviews is hosting a Beach Soiree

(Welcome to my Mary Sue. )

THE CHALLENGE

  • Your perfect beach (from a book, or a place or a cover)
  • Your perfect date (provide a link to cover or book)
  • in your preferred swimwear (description, or link to image or cover)
  • With your first choice of books to read (title with link to book or to cover)

What do I think of when I think of Beach Soirees? I think of…murder.

I grew up in Nebraska and had never seen a beach until my 30s, but I had dreamt of Silver Strand.

Welcome to Silver Strand Beach, San Diego, CA. Close to Coronado, but lacking the glitz. The sea-weedy berms that line the beach give the area a feeling of secrecy and privacy. Who knows what’s happening just out of view on the other side?

The others in attendance at the soiree are shocked when the body washes ashore, but not him. Nothing shocks him.

This was the best I could do without going all Cumberbatch.

Regrettably, Watson did not make the trip. The beach is no place for a deer stalker and a great coat. Holmes and I are pretty much a pale, pasty pair. Neither of us are in the mood for a swim when the game is afoot!

He opts for a button up shirt and shorts and I accompany him to the morgue in an activeware dress a sensible shoes.

I actually own this book. It is seriously cool.

When Holmes points out, within minutes of seeing the body, that the cause of death was obviously a gunshot wound and not a shark attack, I realize I’m going to need some reading material to help me catch up.

While Holmes is generally brilliant, he doesn’t spend nearly enough time mindlessly surfing the internet. If I hadn’t been procrastinating and watched the skateboarding championships one afternoon (the only thing left on ESPN3 that wasn’t baseball), I would have never suggested that the substance on the man’s pants was curb wax and not candle wax.  That of course was the key to solving the Case of the Sunken Skater Boy.

Back at the soiree, Holmes handed me frothy pint of Guinness (fetched of course by the ubiquidous cabana boys). “Good show, Nabity,” he said to me. “Good show.”

 

Spring Reading Thing Wrap-Up

Did you finish reading all the books on your spring reading list? If not, why not?

I did not finish all the books on my initial list, but I did pretty well regardless.

I kept up with the Clash of Kings read-along as well as my weekly short story and weekly poem goals. I did indeed finish People of the Book: A Decade of Jewish Science Fiction and, with the help of the Bout of Book read-a-thon, read all of the available Nebula nominated short stories, novelettes, and *novellas*. Thus far, I’ve only read one story from the Millhauser collection. His writing hasn’t clicked with me.

From my list, I  read:

  • Bad Luck Officer by Suzie Ivy
  • Heaven – The Afterlife Series I  by Mur Lafferty
  • Chocolate & Vicodin by Jennette Fulda
  • Through Darkest America – Extended Version by Neal Barrett, Jr. (Still in progress)

I didn’t get to The Italian Secretary by Caleb Carr and I gave up on Moby Duck: The True Story of 28,800 Bath Toys Lost at Sea… by Donovan Hohn.

Did you stick to your original goals or did you change your list as you went along?

I’m a magpie when it comes to reading. Any shiny thing sets me off in another direction.  Books that I read that weren’t on my list:

  • The Two Sams by Glen Hirshberg
  • The Woman in Black by Susan Hill
  • The Pirates!: And Adverture with Scientists by Gideon Defoe
  • Asgard Stories: Tales from Norse Mythology by Mary H. Foster & Mabel H. Cummings
  • The Snowman’s Children by Glen Hirshberg

What was your favorite book that you read this spring? Least favorite? Why?

One of those shiny things that distracted me was the short story “The Muldoon” by Glen Hirshberg from The People of the Book anthology. It is the creepiest thing I have read in a long time and it set off a Hirshberg binge. My favorite book of spring was The Two Sams, an anthology of his short stories. Since I didn’t finish Moby Duck, it is obviously my least favorite. I really wanted it to be more science and less travel log.

Did you discover a new author or genre this spring? Did you love them? Not love them?

Of the distinct authors I read, Donovan Hohn, Susan Hill, Gideon Defoe, Mary H. Foster & Mabel H. Cummings, and Glen Hirshberg were all new to me. Glen Hirshberg is the only one I’m utterly taken with. It was also good to get back to some subtle horror.

Did you learn something new because of Spring Reading Thing 2012 – something about reading, about yourself, or about a topic you read about?

SRT 2012 reiterated that I don’t do too well with reading lists, but I shouldn’t beat myself up about it. If I just go with the flow, I get more reading done. I’m also pleased to find that I can still really like a specific author. It’s been a while since I’ve wanted to consume everything written by a particular author. It’s hard to do sometimes as a writer. Ego and the critical eye both get in the way.

What was your favorite thing about the challenge?

Even though it’s been a decade since I moved from Nebraska to Arizona, I still like things that delineate seasons. Spring Reading Thing girds me for the long summer to come.

#WWReadathon Day 1 Challenges

Challenge #1 – Something Wicked This Way Comes…

Hosted by Rebecca @ Kindle Fever

“A wildfire is quickly coming your way! What thing(s) do you grab when you only have a few minutes to make it out?”
(I’ve saved any people or pets in there already!)

Angel Island Wildfire  photo by John H. Kim on Flickr

I’d pop out the data drive from my husband’s computer. It currently houses all my writing backups. (Okay, realistically, I’d have him do that because I would just end up grabbing random computer parts. It wouldn’t take long, his computer sits on the table, open-cased.) I’d also grab any backups and documents I have stored in the refrigerator. And my wallet. ID and a credit card might come in handy. Sadly, books really wouldn’t be on the top of this list. I have some old ones, I have some signed ones, but the important part of books are the stories in them. I don’t have any that don’t exist somewhere else. Come to think of it, I’d grab the couple things I’ve had published from off the shelf. Those might actually be had to find. And maybe I’m a little bit vain.

Challenge #2 – Slake Your Thirst

Hosted by Kimberly @ The Caffeinated Book Reviewer

Share your favorite drink recipe and the cover of your favorite/most anticipated summer read!

I will dub my drink of choice the Lemon Cherry Zoom. And since there is some controversy about mixing alcohol and energy drinks I will echo Kimberly — Always enjoy responsibly! The Lemon Cherry Zoom is simple: In an 18-20 oz glass, add lots of ice, 1 oz-ish of cherry vodka (UV is my brand of choice), and a 16 oz can of Rockstar “Recovery” (the yellow lemonade kind).  Stir. Drink. Personally, I wouldn’t drink a second one. No matter how easy it goes down, the energy drink ingredients alone would wig me out.

My anticipated summer read is Shadow Show: All-New Stories in Celebration of Ray Bradbury. I haven’t ordered this book yet, it hasn’t been released yet, but it’s been in my Amazon shopping cart for months now. (I did just sign up to win it on Goodreads. Fingers crossed.) It’s a great collection of writers celebrating a great writer.