Tag Archives: fallintoreading

Fall Into Reading 2012

Fall into Reading 2012Katrina at Callapidder Days is once again hosting Fall Into Reading – a totally low-stress reading challenge that takes place between September 22nd and December 21st. The only requirement is:

  • Create a list of books you’d like to read or finish this fall.

I’ve got a couple other reading events going on in September and October—R.I.P. VII (Sept & Oct), FrightFall Readathon (Oct. 1-7), Dewey’s 24-hour Readathon (Oct. 13th)— so some of these books will be doing double duty.

Galleys (with publication dates):

  • Shelf Life: Fantastic Stories Celebrating Bookstores, edited by Greg Ketter (Oct. 3) – Pg. 71/306 Finished
  • Two and Twenty Dark Tales,  Georgia McBride (editor), Michelle Zink (editor) This book’s format (in the eGalley) put me off.
  • Shoggoths in Bloom by Elizabeth Bear (Oct. 31) – Was archived before I could get to it.
  • What We Saw At Night by Jacquelyn Mitchard (Jan. 8)

For R.I.P:

Research for next novel (all of which could count for R.I.P. too):

  • Behind the Scenes With the Mediums by David P. Abbott
  • The Right Way to Do Wrong by Harry Houdini – pg. 15/96 Finished
  • Hiding the Elephant : How Magicians Invented the Impossible and Learned to Disappear by Jim Steinmeyer

Plus, keeping up with my weeklies: a short story, a poem, a section of Poetic Edda, and keeping up with Tor’s Fire & Ice read-along.

This list of books is greater then my reading speed, but lists are more of a general guideline than an actual reading list. And undoubtedly, I’m going to get distracted by some other shiny book* that happens along. (And maybe if I finish rewrites on Luck for Hire by the end of October, I might start work on the next novel for NaNoWriMo. Which would cut into my reading time.  But that’s just crazy talk…)

But, yay! It’s fall! (Even if it is 101+F outside.) Enjoy it while it lasts!

Other Shiny Books

  • The Last Greatest Magician in the World: Howard Thurston versus Houdini & the Battles of the American Wizards by Jim Steinmeyer – added on 9/24 – a shiny book that happened to be available through the library online.
  • Carter Beats the Devil by Glen David Gold – added on 9/25 – loaned to me by Ken after he saw my post on the Jim Steinmeyer book.
  • Every House is Haunted by Ian Rogers – I have a chance to read the ARC of this book; publication date is Oct. 15th. Finished

Fall Into Reading Wrap-Up

Tomorrow will have 3 seconds more daylight than today. What does that mean? Among other things, that Fall Into Reading is at an end. Where did autumn go? I don’t know, but luckily it will be back in nine months. 😉

I have to thank Katrina at Callapidder Days for the challenge, the weekly questions (which I didn’t participate in nearly often enough), and the wrap-up questions below!

Fall Into Reading 2011 Summary: Finished 5-ish Books! (I counted the comics and graphic novel as one book.) 5 short stories.

Did you finish reading all the books on your fall reading list? If not, why not? I didn’t finish everything on my original list. I knew I wouldn’t!  I’m a slow reader and I play too much EverQuest 2. And also…

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 books. The next shiny one that comes along gets all my attention. I ended up reading two books that were not on my original list.

What was your favorite book that you read this fall? Least favorite? Why? I’m going to have to go with A Game of Thrones as my favorite. Despite his faults, Martin creates a compelling world and I appreciate that he’s an author that wants to tell a story without being nice about it. Least favorite would have to be Farthing. It bored the heck out of me.

Did you discover a new author or genre this fall? Did you love them? Not love them? Both Erin Morgenstern and Randsom Riggs were new to me. I liked the books well enough, but I probably won’t go out of my way to read more of their works.

Did you learn something new because of Fall Into Reading 2011 – something about reading, about yourself, or about a topic you read about? Not sure I learned anything new, but it reiterated that I’m really bad at sticking with a reading list! It does make me really *want* to stick to a challenge, though. Maybe in 2012.

What was your favorite thing about the challenge? I like breaking up experiences into smaller pieces. It will be nice to remember Fall 2011 for the moody, fantastical books I read. Having demarcation points is important to me. (And ultimately, that *is* something I’ve learned about myself .)

Continue reading

2011 TBR Moratorium

It’s time to call a moratorium on 2011’s To-Be-Reads and wipe the slate semi-clean.

The Dispossessed by Ursula K. Le Guin – This was February’s Women of Science Fiction pick. I believe I didn’t get to it until my plane ride to Omaha in late April. I didn’t hold my interest for more than a few pages. This is probably a re-list on Paperback Swap.

Indigo Springs by A. M. Dellamonica  – This was August’s Women of Fantasy pick. Started this book. It wasn’t bad, but I got distracted by other things. It’s been too long, so I’m going to pull the bookmark on this one and shelf it.

Jo’s Girls ed. by Christian McEwen – Got maybe 1/3 through this anthology. I’ll probably write a blog post about the nature of tomboys in literature at some point, but I’m not sure I’ll finish this book. Too many other better things to read at the moment. Leaving the bookmark, but shelving it.

Last Call by Tim Powers – I’m currently reading this and plan on finishing it by the end of the year.

The Flight of the Eisenstein by James Swallow – Started it, but kept getting sidetracked by Women of… lists and trips to the library. Pulling the bookmark (I’m on page 3 or so) and keeping it around.

God Emperor of Dune by Frank Herbert – *sigh* I still haven’t gotten to the fourth Dune book. Keeping it around.

People of the Book, edited by Rachael Swirsky & Sean Wallace – I read the first two stories in this anthology as a pallet cleanser between Farthing & Miss Peregrine’s and whatever I chose to read next. I’ll probably dip into this anthology from time to time as I read short stories in the new year.

Haven’t gotten around to the following and am going to re-shelve them. All would have been re-reads.
Haroun and the Sea of Stories by Salman Rushdie
The Call of Stories by Robert Coles
The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

In 2011, I learned that I’m not very good or very happy with set reading lists. Again I marvel that I made it though 7 semesters of English lit classes. Of course, it was my habit in college to revert to Star Trek novels during dead/finals week. Call it my rebellion against Clarissa and Victorian poetry.

Book # 20

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

A mysterious island.
An abandoned orphanage.
A strange collection of very curious photographs.

I’ve been seeing this book around. Blog posts, reviews. This and that, here and there. While trolling deals on Amazon, I wondered if this would be a good book to buy my niece for Christmas. Since I was unsure, I figured I’d give it a read.

The first third of the book intrigued me. After the death of his grandfather, Jake is left searching for the truth about his grandfather’s flight from Poland during WWII and the wild fairy tales that Jake was told as a kid. Were monsters just his grandfather’s replacements for the Nazis? How literal are the stories of the ever-sunny orphanage? What is the bird in the loop? I could see some interesting possibilities and, considering the dark tone of the first third of the book, I hoped that the story would continue down that path.

Unfortunately, this book can be carved into thirds, likewise: interesting potential, utterly predictable, shoe-horned conclusion that will lead to sequels.

Spoilers, perhaps, follow.

If you think about the title, Miss Peregin’s Home for Peculiar Children, you will find that it bears a striking resemblance to a phrase from another genre. In the middle third of this book we are treated to the expected hi-jinx when Jake meets the peculiar children. There’s Budding Romance, and the wheels of Impending Doom are set in motion. Of course in the last third, things must go wrong. My main contention is that the bad guys, wraith and hollows, are vaguely fleshed out in a way that lends itself to ease of if-needed revision in potential sequels. Add to that the concluding action is unnecessarily cinematic. If we’re dealing with fantastic elements in a real setting, it’s important to be *real* in reality. Pistols have an effective range. Large objects displace water. I’m just sayin’.

Aside from the story potential shown in the first portion of the novel, the best thing about Miss Peregrin’s is its main character. Yes, Jake is the semi-cliched “not special” kid that is integral, but that’s a pretty basic trope of the genre. Rigg’s gives Jake enough vulnerability that he’s not arrogant, but enough teenage devil-may-care that he’s not a putz. Alas, he’s not compelling enough to get me to read any potential sequels.

Book #19

A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin

This is a re-read. I meant to get through a slew of re-reads this year and haven’t. I decided to start a re-read of Martin’s Song of Fire and Ice series for a couple of reasons.

One, I had bought A Feast for Crows (book 4 of the series) when it came out and never got around to reading it. It’s not that I decided I didn’t want to read it, it’s just that other books got in the way. I’m a slow reader (I think I’ve mentioned) and while I don’t have a terribly short attention span, I find it difficult to spend thousands of pages in a story, go away from it for several years, and then step back in. All while other stories are waiting to be read.

Two, the TV show. I have a fascination for retellings. Translations, cover songs, books to movies (and movies to books) are all interesting to me. What gets kept? What gets truncated or removed? How does form or language affect the telling or even the story itself? Interesting stuff for a writer. A Game of Thrones, the TV series, is a good adaptation. It streamlines the story, and it is a story (like The Lord of the Rings) that needs streamlining. Gone are the paragraphs describing the details of everyone’s heraldry. Gone are the lineages. Do these things add to the story? Well, yes. They add detail and scope to the world. Do they hinder the narrative? Well, yes. Sometimes in Martin’s writing it’s hard to pick out the important details. In a visual adaptation, it only takes a few minutes to show these things. As viewers we are left with a vivid world where only the important people get close-ups.

Three, Tor.com is doing a read-through. Actually, Leigh Butler isn’t finished with A Game of Thrones, but I went ahead a week ago and finished on my own. Even if I don’t read Bulter’s Eep!-and-Sqee! review of chapters, the read-through keeps me reading steadily. Not the fastest way to read books, but I’m not the fastest reader (as I think I’ve mentioned).

In all, the book isn’t quite as good as I remembered. Some of the characters are a tad bit caricature. Some of the institutions are a little less than realistic. There are lots of names and lots of details and occasionally these detract from the story. Still, I’ll dive into A Clash of Kings with a sense of enjoyment when the time comes.

Short Stories #14 & #15

“Requiem Duet, Concerto for Flute and Voodoo” by Eugie Foster

Read this back in September and didn’t get around to posting about it. That shouldn’t reflect on this story. In fact, part of the reason I didn’t post about it immediately is that it touches on a sensitive thing going on in my life.  It’s a lovely tale; urban fantasy, I suppose, but not in the usual way one might think. As always, Foster does a fantastic job of dropping us within the setting and a culture.

“Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes” by Michael Bishop

I’m shooting to read a short story daily during November. I have a fairly long to-be-read list and the internet is absolutely bursting with free fiction if you know where to look. Heck, right at the top of this page is a story from DailyScienceFiction.com!

Bookmarked “Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes” because I confused David G. Hartwell with John Hertz. It was the beanie that threw me off. While enjoyable enough, I’m not sure that I really get this story. I can see some symmetries, but I”m not a fan of switching POVs. For me, it just gets in the way of telling the story. Maybe I’ll give it a second read in the future and see if time gives me some perspective on it.

Read-a-thon Summary; Books #17 & #18

Read-a-thon Recap:

Stayed up ~22.5 hours
Read 510 pages.
Consumed 777 mg of caffeine.

Which is more reading time and pages read than in the spring with less than half the caffeine! Actually, the mid-round Guinness was probably the best thing because it relaxed my achy neck and shoulders.

Finished two books. The Night Circus is an electronic book. I read about half of it on my Sony Reader and half of it on my computer’s monitor. Sounds strange, but sometimes I find the Reader unwieldy. Plus my posture is slightly better when reading from my desktop computer.

Book #17 – Old Friend from Far Away: The Practice of Writing Memoir by Natalie Goldberg

Goldberg reiterates many of the tenants that she laid down in Writing Down the Bones (timed free writing, especially), but this book geared more specifically toward someone considering writing a memoir. There are plenty of writing prompts and some advice on structure and philosophy.

This isn’t a book that’s meant to be read straight through, but I did without stopping at the prompts. To some degree, I didn’t feel this was a book for me. Not just because I’m not interested in writing a memoir, but because it’s another book aimed toward the beginning writer. It’s not that the advice offered isn’t good, it’s just that the timing for me is bad. There isn’t much for the writer who has been at it for a while. There isn’t much anywhere for the writer having a crisis of faith.

In the end, though I might write down some of the prompts (it’s a library loan), Writing Down the Bones is still the better book to me.

Book #18 – The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

I don’t usually read a book when its popular. Don’t get me wrong, I’ll read a popular book, but generally not the year it’s released. Maybe in a couple years, when it’s readily available at the library or the used bookstore. Maybe the same year if it’s a long awaited sequel, but I don’t usually read from the current bestseller list. The Night Circus has been popping up among different circles of my friends and it is a bit up my alley, so I decided to give it a read.

When I say this book is “up my alley,” I mean that Ray Bradbury’s Dandelion Wine and Something Wicked This Way Come are among my favorite novels. Carnivale hasn’t been bumped off my top ten TV shows list.  Morgenstern has big shoes to fill when it comes to phantasmagorical traveling amusement parks; she doesn’t quite succeed in reaching that echelon.

The book starts out  written in second person present tense, which set me on edge. I’m an old fogy,  apparently, when it comes to POV. Luckily, the second person aspect is a gimmick used at the beginning and the end and at a couple points during the book to time-travel the reader, as it were. The rest of the book is in third person, present tense. I didn’t find that too annoying; just tiring. It’s like the action is too immediate, or maybe I’m semi-consciously time shifting the prose to past-tense and my brain gets fatigued. While the prose isn’t ornate, it’s detail heavy. I’m not surprised to find that Morgenstern is an artist as well as a writer. Her writing is very visual, but sometimes everything is just a little too eccentric.

I’ve read someone refer to this book as a salve to Harry Potter withdrawal. Since I haven’t read any of the Harry Potter books, I can’t speak to that.  For me, The Night Circus seems a little like The Prestige crossed with Buffy, the Vampire Slayer or Angel. The plot is a tad melodramatic. There are lovers, who may be enemies, who are kept apart because their love might be too much or it might save them all. There are innocents caught in the crossfire and fallout. While I was in the story, I was caught up in it.  Morgenstern does do a great job of pulling the reader in. Now that I’m done with the story, I have to admit that it was fun but, like many beloved Joss Whedon shows, somewhat hokey. The Night Circus doesn’t have the creepy wonderment of Bradbury or undeniable  loyalty-to-friends themes of Whedon, but it is a nice read none-the-less.