Monthly Archives: August 2012

Throwback Thursday (08/30/12)

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!

Rope Burns by F.X. Toole

From my original entry, 09/30/08:

From the back of the book:
“F.X. Toole was a trainer and licensed cut man in the world of professional boxing. He was seventy when Rope Burns, his first book, was published, and had been writing and battling rejection letters for forty years. He died two years later, in 2002.”

Something to keep in mind next time I’m I bemoan being in this profession a mere 10-ish years with more paper incoming than outgoing.

My edition of this book was put out to coincide with he release of the movie Million Dollar Baby. Toole wrote the short story/novella and it’s included in this collection. And while it is a very good story (and the movie was faithful to it), “Rope Burns,” for which the collection was originally entitled, is the crown jewel of the book. Toole weaves the story of a black Olympic-hopeful boxer and his white trainer against the background of the LA riots.

Toole’s writing is solid. He knows his stuff and he does a wonderful job of putting actions into words. From a craft point of view, I’m going to spend some time in the future picking apart his fight scenes. I’m terrible with action and there’s much to learn. My one criticism of the collection was that some of the details surrounding the fight business are repetitive. It was a relief to hit “Rope Burns” which is more about the fighters and less about the fights.

Why read it today? I agree with the blurb from Dan Rather: this is “not just fight fiction at its finest, it is excellent fiction, period.” What was said about documentaries/non-fiction last week pretty much goes for fiction too, in the end. Good fiction should take you into a world you don’t think you care about and make it compelling. Which is why “I don’t read that genre” should never be an excuse for not at least giving a book a try.

R.I.P. VII

I’ve been in a certain mood lately. It started sometime last week after a few days tolerable Arizona summer temperatures and a fairly impressive, if brief, nighttime thunderstorm. The three episode Dexter marathon. AddingThe Italian Secretary and 77 Shadow Street to my TBR list. Rewatching Sherlock and dusting off my Conan Doyle anthology. Or maybe it stretches back to earlier in the month when I bought Lunar Park, or to my very nature. Whatever the case, I’m in the mood for horror and mystery. Enter R.I.P. VII.

R.eaders I.mbibing P.eril is a reading event hosted by Stainless Steel Droppings, lasting from September 1st to October 31st and focusing on mystery, horror, gothic, thrillers, the supernatural and all manner of things that go bump in the night.

I’ll be participating at a couple of levels:

Read four books that fit R.I.P. My reading pool:

  • 77 Shadow Street by Dean Koontz
  • The Italian Secretary by Caleb Carr
  • Lunar Park by Bret Easton Ellis
  • Let the Right One In by John Ajvide Lindqvist
  • Courtney Crumrin, Volume 1 by Ted Naifeh
  • Hannibal Rising by Thomas Harris
  • The Descent by Jeff Long

  • Sherlock Holmes, various stories
  • Much of Shadow Show and associated Ray Bradbury tales probably apply.
  • Two and Twenty Dark Tales edited by Georgia McBride & Michelle Zink
  • Not ruling out Poe

There’s Dexter to watch and Sherlock to pine for. Eventually  American Horror Story will return (though I’m not sure it will during the span of this event). I even want to catch Elementary when it premiers because,  well, Sherlock Holmes is Sherlock Holmes. Speaking of which, there’s Murder Rooms as well. Good stuff all around.

It’s Monday, What Are You Reading? (08/27/12)

I’m still hung over from a Bout of Books. Continuing to reading last week’s picks, but here’s what I added over the weekend.

This Week I’m Reading:

77 Shadow Street by Dean Koontz

The Pendleton stands on the summit of Shadow Hill at the highest point of an old heartland city, a Gilded Age palace built in the late 1800s as a tycoon’s dream home. Almost from the beginning, its grandeur has been scarred by episodes of madness, suicide, mass murder, and whispers of things far worse. But since its rechristening in the 1970s as a luxury apartment building, the Pendleton has been at peace. For its fortunate residents—among them a successful songwriter and her young son, a disgraced ex-senator, a widowed attorney, and a driven money manager—the Pendleton’s magnificent quarters are a sanctuary, its dark past all but forgotten.

But now inexplicable shadows caper across walls, security cameras relay impossible images, phantom voices mutter in strange tongues, not-quite-human figures lurk in the basement, elevators plunge into unknown depths. (Goodreads)

Came across 5 Contemporary Horror Novels You Must Read ASAP yesterday. Which means that there was one book I was kinda sorta interested in. I haven’t read any Koontz in a few years and I’m always up for haunted hotel.

The Usual:

I’ve already finished up my “usual” reading aside from the chapter of A Clash of Kings.

What I Read Last Week:

Read “The Girl in the Funeral Parlor” by Sam Weller from Shadow Show and “The Swan” by Ray Bradbury. The former is a nice echo of the latter. “Wolf Trapping” by Kij Johnson, not quite as good as some of her stories, but still solid. Poem o’ the week was “The Staff and Scrip” by Dante Gabriel Rossetti. Great throw-back to courtly love literature.

Friday Free-for-All (08/24/12)

In the wake of a Bout of Books, I haven’t been in the mood to read on the internet. My Google reader has been pretty much ignored most of this week with occasional fits of  marked-as-read.

From this week, Girl XOXO is doing a reading challenge. And I’m going to do it too:

GOALTo read books set in each of the countries that won a GOLD MEDAL in the 2012 Olympics, or written by authors from these countries – all prior to the start of the next Olympics scheduled for August 4, 2016. (Girl XOXO)

That ends up being 50 countries. 50 books in four years? I can do that, right?

Africa

  • Algeria
  • Ethiopia
  • Kenya
  • South Africa
  • Tunisia
  • Uganda

Americas

  • Argentina
  • Bahamas
  • Brazil
  • Canada
  • Colombia
  • Cuba
  • Dominican Republic
  • Grenada
  • Jamaica
  • Mexico
  • Trinidad and Tobago
  • United States of America
  • Venezuela

Asia

  • People’s Republic of China
  • Iran
  • Japan
  • Kazakhstan
  • North Korea
  • South Korea
  • Uzbekistan
Europe

  • Azerbaijan
  • Belarus
  • Croatia
  • Czech Republic
  • Denmark
  • France
  • Georgia
  • Germany
  • Great Britain
  • Hungary
  • Ireland
  • Italy
  • Latvia
  • Lithuania
  • Netherlands
  • Norway
  • Poland
  • Romania
  • Russian Federation
  • Serbia
  • Slovenia
  • Spain
  • Sweden
  • Switzerland
  • Turkey
  • Ukraine

Oceania

  • Australia
  • New Zealand

From a couple of weeks back: The Wall Street Journal had an article on the metrics being gathered by connected ereaders. On one hand, I love this concept. That your ereader could keep track of how much you read (both in words/pages and time spent), how fast you read, what books are “easy” reads, etc. appeals to the part of me that loves to know, in numbers, how things are. As a writer, my feelings are mixed. Yes, I’d love to know, especially in the draft process, where a reader might lose interest in what I’ve written, but I also see the potential for publishers to be a little too concerned about formula that creativity might be stifled.

From the beginning of the month: Jeff O’Neal on prequels, sequels, and extended universes. Which kind of asks, is fandom a bad thing? What might we miss out on by spending time on more Star War or more Star Trek or more Sherlock Holmes? Some of fandom is habit. It’s saying, “I’ll go see the next X-Men movie because it’s an X-Men movie, even though the last one wasn’t worth $7 or two hours.” That’s very much like finishing a terrible book just because you always finish books. There should be a moment of re-evaluation every-so-often. I’ve put books down. Just because a TV show might have held my interest for five seasons doesn’t mean I owe it my time if the sixth if awful. And I’ve also rewatched episodes of Doctor Who when my Netflix queue had 200+ other thing in it. Spend time on the things that are good and enjoyable, don’t worry about the rest.

Throwback Thursday (08/23/12)

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!

Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers by Mary Roach

My original post from 01/20/05:

I don’t remember who recommended this book to me. I have a feeling it was some horror writer some where that mentioned a good book about “what happens when one dies.” This book covers the squishy details of decomposition as well as many other things. Roach handles the subject with a lot of humor, which I appreciate, though some might see her as a tad bit irreverent. Personally, I learned a lot, and Roach was fairly investigative about the subjects presented. I have to give her kudos for debunking some urban legends, something I’ve been thinking about taking up as a hobby myself. Informative and morbidly entertaining. Right up my alley.

Why should you read it today? If you’re a writer of anything that might involves a dead body, this is a good starting resource. It’s not as comprehensive as a book like Death to Dust, but it’s accessible and as humorous as death can be. If you’re a reader, it’s compelling and interesting. Good non-fiction, like good documentary film, should make you interested in a subject you wouldn’t have thought to be interested in. Mary Roach is us, tossing herself into the situation and finding the out the good details things.

Book #23

Kiss of Steel by Bec McMaster

Vampires! Werewolves! Steampunk London! Wait a minute, didn’t I just review this book?

Kiss of Steel was actually my first foray into steampunk novels. I started it before Soulless and before the short story anthology that I haven’t reviewed yet, but didn’t finish it until last week.  Part of this was due to the time constraints on the other books–library books that needed to be returned–and part of the delay was because this book didn’t quite pull me along as well as it might have.

Portions of this novel really shined. There are a few scenes between Horonia and Blade that were charming and funny, but they felt like set pieces that were being linked together by the rest of the plot. I also rather liked Bec McMaster’s vampire lore: infected humans are changed into powerful blue bloods that slowly devolve into bestial vampires. The infection part seems to be the main reason that this book is set in a “steampunk” London. The infection is virus and Horonia seeks to find a cure, or vaccine, based on her deceased father’s research. I believe that the same sort of plot could be achieved within Victorian/Edwardian era science. The other steampunk elements are very few. There are some automatons and that’s pretty much it. This seems to be more  Victorian set paranormal romance than true steampunk.

I will admit to not being much of a romance reader. The sex scenes in Kiss of Steel seemed somewhat ill-placed. Again, I had the feeling of these having been written first and the rest of the plot being constructed around them. After a (spoiler free) very serious thing happens, Horonia goes to presumably talk to Blade about the dire thing and they end up having fairly happy  sex before she even mentions it. That just doesn’t seem right.

This isn’t a bad book, but it’s far from being great. I see that it’s “Steampunk London #1” and I kind of wish that wasn’t the case. I think McMaster has some promise, but I wonder how much a writer can improve while writing the same characters in the same world.

Format: Mass-Market Paperback
Procurement: Goodreads Give-Away; ARC courtesy Sourcebooks, Inc.
Bookmark: July 18th Valley Metro bus pass

It’s Monday, What Are You Reading? (08/20/12)

This is a great way to plan out your reading week and see what others are currently reading as well… you never know where that next “must read” book will come from!

This Week I’m Reading:

Lake Effect: Tales of Large Lakes, Arctic Winds, and Recurrent Snows by Mark Monmonier

This is from NetGalley. Looked interesting, and when is better to read a book about snow and arctic winds than in August. I’m hoping that it will be somewhat “popular” in its tone and not strictly dry science. Anecdotes may not be science, but they certainly help describe science.

Doctor Who Dave Gibbons Collection by Pat Mills, Steve Moore, Steve Parkhouse, Dave Gibbons (illustration)

Industry legend Dave Gibbons illustrated a classic run of Doctor Who comics, and this oversized book collects them all And in full color Gibbons-drawn strips began appearing the very first issue of Doctor Who Magazine (then titled Doctor Who Weekly), starring the Fourth Doctor as portrayed by Tom Baker, and Gibbons continued as the primary artist until issue #69, a Fifth Doctor tale. This volume also features an introduction by Gibbons, along with early Doctor Who sketches from the master. (Goodreads)

Another one from NetGalley. Already about 40 pages in.

Short Story of the Week:

“Wolf Trapping” by Kij Johnson over at Apex

The Usual:

A poem, a section of Poetic Edda and a chapters of A Clash of Kings.

What I Read Last Week:

Took part in Bout of Books 5.0. Finished up Kiss of Steel, finally, as well as the steampunk anthology I was working on and We Need to Talk About Kevin. Reviews will be coming, probably in that order.