Book #30! I hit my goal! *and there was much rejoicing*

The Rope Trick by Lloyd Alexander

I nabbed this book via PaperbackSwap. I was interested in what Lloyd Alexander could do with a female protagonist after reading pieces of his more “boy-oriented” Pyrdain and Westmark series. What I got was a hardback in near perfect condition and really lovely tale. There are maybe one too many narrative coincidences, maybe one too many tales told by one character about other characters, but I forgive that, as I often do with this kind of book. None of the characters are particularly detailed, but our protagonist, Lidi, is determined and a little stubborn, and there’s enough romance that, well, *I* would have liked it as 10 year old. Maybe in a year or two I’ll give this book to Hailey for Christmas. Style-wise, I envy the simplicity of Alexander’s writing. I just don’t know how to get there myself…


I might as well do my 2007 book summary, since it’s very unlikely that I’ll finish another book before Monday.

Books read: 30
Distinct authors: 25
Authors new to me: 13
Male to Female:  14:11
Rereads: 4
Non-fiction: 6
“Young adult”: 6

I have stats for 20 books via Amazon.com’s text stats. 
Averages per book:
F-K Index: 6.5
Words: 63,377
% of complex words: 8.25
Syllables per word: 1.4
Words per sentence: 12.9

Favorites of 2007: It’s between The Rope Trick and Robert Bloch’s American Gothic.  How’s that for a pairing.

Books acquired in 2007: 52
    From PaperbackSwap: 27
       Already “swapped” away: 1
    Gifts: 1
    Gaming: 6
    Textbooks: 4
(I suspect my tags aren’t what they should be.)

Two Short Reviews

Book #29 – In Maremma by David Leavitt & Mark Mitchell

Nice little memoir, though a little scattered.  Not a consistent whole, but very pleasant in its anecdotes.  I especially enjoyed the bit about taking ones olives to be pressed.  Not much else to say about it really.

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Watched The Bourne Ultimatum.  It was as good as expected though the shaky camera work bugged me in one scene.  Either that or my eyes just got used to sweeping over the screen as the movie went on.  It was a surprisingly short movie, but ended just where it should.  I hope they don’t make more.  They don’t need to.

Book #28 – Renfield: Slave of Dracula by Barbara Hambly

This was an impulse buy at the library book sale.  I’m occasionally interested in what other people can do with the Dracula mythos, but this book really didn’t do much.  Refield isn’t very compelling and the entirely of the story lacked any tension.  To put it in terms of ‘craft,’ this is what I don’t want to do with my writing.

Book #27 –  New Moon by Stephanie Meyer
(Now *officially* tying last year’s number of books read.)

Not as good as the first in the series.  I got a little annoyed with the main character being dense about a few things.  That may be because she’s a young character or it could be that Meyer is relying on a trope of romance fiction that I particularly don’t care for.  I still have to admire the clarity of the writing.  It’s something I wish I could do better.

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The terribly exciting what I did today, erm, yesterday:

  • Writing    00:27:47
  • VOTS    00:17:42
  • Online Reading    01:27:40
  • Online Personal    01:12:12
  • Housework    00:14:42

Not counted here was a short run / trip to CVS, putting up my outdoor lights, going out to watch men’s league (which was fun, but cold), and reading.

There’s a 90% of rain tomorrow. 😀

I read New Moon via a library PDF download.  I hate reading that much on my computer.  Time to go curl up with a real book now.

Book #26 – Between Good and Evil by Roger L. Depue with Susan Schindehette
(Somehow I managed to miscount how many books I’ve read this year…despite keeping a list…)

The full title of this book is Between Good and Evil: A Master Profiler’s Hunt for Society’s Most Violent Predators.  Which is a mostly inaccurate and luridly tabloid title.  I picked up this book on a whim at the library sale a couple of weeks back.  Occasionally, “true crime”  piques my interest and I’ve always found profiling to be an interesting subject.  From a work point of view, I thought that such a book might shed some light on modern investigative techniques.  I expected, from title, that the book would present case studies of famous crimes and how they were solved by profiling techniques.  There might be a book like that in existence, but it isn’t this one.

Roger Depue served as the director of the Behavioral Science Unit of the FBI when profiling came to prominence.  Between Good and Evil is a history of profiling as a technique, an autobiography of Depue, and Depue’s meditation as a man of strong religious faith on the nature of good and evil.  The ‘good’ and ‘evil of the title are not meant to be the figurative tabloid versions, but real deal as concrete as the chair I’m sitting in.  Without debating Depue’s beliefs and philosophies, it made for an interesting read.  Depue is a man who has lived one jam-packed life, and it’s impossible not to find that compelling.

Book #26 – The Almost Moon by Alice Sebold

It seems that as much as people liked The Lovely Bones they dislike The Almost Moon.  I read The Lovely Bones back in 2003 after it had been popular for quite a while.  Though literary fiction, it was getting notice in the fantasy/horror circles and that always intrigues me.  What I found was a great book.  Even better in an amazingly frightening and grim way was Sebold’s memoir Lucky.  In both, “characters” don’t act in  smart ways.  Situations are not easily compartmentalized or neatly bound.  Whether this is or is not more lifelike really isn’t the question.  That it is the reality Sebold gives us consistently is what matters in the context of her books.*  Therefore, I can’t fault her main character in The Almost Moon for doing the things she does.  And I think readers have forgotten that that is the fictional world Sebold gives us.  The Lovely Bones was grim, but hopeful.  The Almost Moon is simply grim and I can deal with that.

*In contrast to many other books, movies, TV shows where characters act rationally, logically, and with intelligence…until it’s called on them to be stupid for the sake of plat.  Consistency one way or the other is all that I ask.

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Hey look, I’m one book away from tying last year’s Number of Books Read.  I might actually *gasp* make my goal of 30!

But for now, I think I’m going to put on a movie and vegetate.  My hands and feet ache today, probably due to the high pressure in the Valley.  I’d really like to go play some disc, but alas I don’t think Eric would get back in time to play, or even want to after several days of playing multiple games per day.

Book #24 – Twilight by Stephanie Meyer

This is a very popular book.  It been here and there in genre blogs and it was even recommended to me by someone I know!  The next Harry Potter, some mutter.  Young adult.  …  vampires! …  What am I doing reading this book???

Okay, it’s time to come clean.  There was a period when I was in high school that I read *lots* of vampire fiction.  It’s partly Anne Rice’s fault, of course, and partly my mother’s.  You see, when she was that age Dark Shadows was on TV.  It was daytime TV, and during the school year, my mom would have my grandmother tape the episode’s sound with a tape recorder.  This was back before VHS, don’t you know.  So, my mom adored Interview with a Vampire.  We shared reading tastes and together we stripped the library bare of vampire fiction.  And vampire movies too.  Once in high school after an afternoon orthodontist appointment my mom and I went to see a matinee of  Francis Ford Coppola’s Bram Stoker’s Dracula.  But, things change.  Anne Rice went down very odd and boring paths with rock star Lestat.  Forever Knight disappeared from our satellite TV.  My mom and dad and I had some problems and I went to see  Interview with a Vampire with my friends rather than my mom.

Still…  The first author autograph I ever got at a con was from Chelsea Quinn Yarbro…

Which brings me to Twilight.  I didn’t have high hopes, but I figured I’d put it on hold from my digital library.  My “copy” became available last week.  I read the first bit and wasn’t impressed.  I forgot I had it until Thursday when I was cleaning out folders.  I started to read again, it had been recommended to me, after all.  And I was totally sucked in.  Just utterly.  These high school hijink should bore me, I thought, yet they didn’t.  The writing is clean in a way I wish mine was.  Transparent.  The story is simple and solid, though I did find the ending contrived.  That disappointed me a bit after such solid beginning.  I winced at the sudden lack of competence in the heroine.  Still, the book, it was good.  Entertaining, and sometimes that’s more than enough.

So excuse me, it’s time for me to go put New Moon on hold.