Now I remember…

…what I read or tried to read in October.

Raising the Rent by JL Merrow – a reworking or expansion of a previously published short story.  Not impressed; there was very little reworking done and if you’ve already read the original, it’s not worth the price.

The Boy with the Painful Tattoo by Josh Lanyon.  There was nothing wrong with this book in terms of Lanyon’s writing.  But I think Lanyon has become an author I used to love rather than being one that continues to work for me, so he’s off the auto-buy list now.  [Reading Fair Play in November cemented this for me. Done.]

Burn for Me, the start of a romance-y series by Ilona Andrews, came out in October too, but it’s still sitting on my Kindle.  I’m just not really motivated to read it.  But I will be reading her novella in the Night Shifts anthology that’s recently out.

Someday I will finish Ken Dryden’s The Game and Jeremy Scahill’s Dirty Wars.  I’m telling myself that I can’t read Hockey Confidential until I’ve finished at least one of them.

Leave a comment

Filed under Book related

Post-Turkey Day SBD

It’s been a while.  Maybe the longest I’ve gone between posting since I first started blogging way back in 2005.  (I had to go look that up. Now I feel positively decrepit in internet years.)  There was some crappy stuff going on in the romance field that piled onto my general ennui with respect to fiction; it seemed easier to just not post at all.  I wouldn’t say that I’ve got my reading or blogging mojo back, but I actually felt the urge to write about books today so…

October reading?  There may have been some but I can’t recall.  November was mostly ~meh~ too until the holiday weekend when I finished two books.

First, I read As You Wish, Cary Elwes’s memoir of the filming of The Princess Bride.  I love that movie and will watch it whenever I see it on cable.  I used to have a VHS copy but it is long gone.  Over the holiday weekend, we (The Biochemist, The Chemist, and I) settled down in the den/TV room to watch it but found that we couldn’t – VHS copy only but no player, and it wasn’t streaming for free.  Anyway, As You Wish isn’t particularly brilliant in terms of narrative, but it gave a peak into the filming process and also Goldman’s feelings about the book and the option/screenplay’s troubled history before Rob Reiner talked Goldman into giving him the rights.

Second, Ben Aaronovitch’s Foxglove Summer — book five of the Rivers of London/Peter Grant series.  I have immediate gratification issues, so I ordered a copy from Amazon UK.  I really like Peter’s voice and Aaronovitch’s style, but dear godlings was the copy editing bad in this book.  Dropped or missed punctuation all over the place, relationships changing back and forth (grandfather then father then grandfather again), etc.  I probably need to do a little poking around the author’s website to see if there is a defined arc or series length; it might help me reconcile where this book fits.  It felt pretty disjointed relative to earlier installments.

On the plus side, readers learn a bit about The Nightingale and Ettersberg, and to see magic outside of London.  (I actually like the London-based stuff better, in terms of the history, but I’m assuming this is another perspective on the whole “magic really wasn’t dying” thing that has been mentioned in earlier books.)

A couple of my favorite passages:

‘So ghosts and magic are real?’ he said.

I’d had that question enough times to have an answer ready. ‘There are things that fall outside the parameters of normal policing,’ I said. I find you get two types of police, those that don’t want to know and those that do. Unfortunately, dealing with things you don’t want to know about is practically a definition of policing.

‘So “yes”,’ said Dominic.

‘There’s weird shit,’ I said. ‘And we deal with the weird shit, but normally it turns out that there’s a perfectly rational explanation.’  Which is often that a wizard did it.  (page 35)

 

‘Why does everyone call him the Nightingale?’ I asked.

‘Because he was so singular, so extraordinary – or so the seniors said.  Of course most of us didn’t believe a word of it, but we used it as a nickname – irony, or so we thought.’

He was looking in my direction, but his gaze was somewhere back in time to his young self.  My dad does the same thing when he talks about seeing Freddie Hubbard with Tubby Hayes at the Bull’s Head in 1965 or being at Ronnie Scott’s and hearing Sonny Rollins solo live for the first time.

There were so many questions I wanted answered, but I began to fear that he was drifting off — or worse.

‘You should have seen him at Ettersberg,’ he said softly. ‘It was like standing before the walls of Troy.  Aias d’amphi Menoitiadei sakos euru kalupsas hestekei hos tis te leon peri hoisi tekessin, but Ajax covered the son of Menoitios with his broad shield and stood fast, like a lion over its children.’  (page136; diacritical marks missing due to my inability to add them.)

There’s a third quote that I like best but it is a serious spoiler for book four so I’ve left it out.

Unrelated:  Chicago was lovely for the holiday, if a little chilly on Thursday.  The Chemist made a turdork (duck stuffed with turkey breast and chorizo) that was delicious.  He also made a salted caramel chocolate cake (crushed animal cracker base with inches of ganache, basically) for dessert.  (And breakfast the next day – cake for breakfast is a valid life choice, okay.)  It was lick-the-plate good, and I’ve asked for the recipe.   Lunch at Revolution Brewery one day, AHL hockey on Saturday followed by amazing pumpkin gnocchi at Letizia Fiore, and lots of couch potato-ing for the NCAA, NHL, and NFL.  The only bad part was the trip home — delayed 2 hours for lack of flight crew and then with a dog on the flight that barked for a solid hour.

Leave a comment

Filed under Book related

This and that

My reading for the month was up, relative to the rest of my reading this year.  In addition to the books I read at the beach, I finished K.A. Mitchell’s short Just A Little Bad, which I liked as a supplement to other books in that series (it wouldn’t stand on its own).  I’ve heard a lot of good things about the Phryne Fisher mysteries, so I downloaded the first (Cocaine Blues) when it was on sale for $0.99; I found the narrator’s tone/voice to be not to my taste (it read as a combination of ennui and contempt for the world to me).  Also tried Rachel Bach’s Fortune’s Pawn, because it too has gotten raves.  Eh, maybe I’ll circle back to it someday but I haven’t felt engaged enough to get past the first chapter.

I did manage to re-read Whispers Underground, my favorite of the Rivers of London series so far, and will be re-reading Broken Homes next in anticipation of Foxglove Summer, which is due out in November.  But first I’m trying Sayers’ Strong Poison.

~~~

I think the romance blogosphere knows about the defamation complaint filed by Elloras Cave against Dear Author.  I went to the clerk of court’s website and downloaded a copy of the complaint (which is free, if you’re interested).  I am…not particularly impressed by the memorandum of law in support of the TRO request, but I don’t know enough about defamation/slander/libel/etc. to have an informed opinion about its substance.  I do agree with the general consensus that the suit looks like an attempt to gag criticism generally by targeting a higher profile community member.

~~~

An IKEA Kallax shelving unit awaits assembly in my spare room.  And yet I’m pretty sure I’ll still have books in boxes.  This despite the continuing Book Purge.

3 Comments

Filed under Book related

Beach reads

The fall edition of the In Death series seems to come in the first or second week of September every year; invariably I’m at the beach, hunting for beach reads and succumb to the lure, even though I’ve stopped buying or bothering to borrow the February/March installment.  (What was it this year?)  Anyway, I cruised through Festive in Death on Wednesday.  It was okay at best: the murderer was predictable; Roarke acted as consultant (which just makes me cringe on  so many levels in terms of professionalism and chain of evidence, etc.); various interactions with their acquired family; “vital” appeared at least once; and various typos that should have been caught in copyediting were pretty glaring.  It was fine for an afternoon under the umbrella but nothing about it stands out from the series, unlike a few of the earlier books.

While it was raining on Monday, I read Dangerous Men and Adventurous Women.  I can see how it would have been groundbreaking when it was published in 1992, but now it reads as somewhat dated.  I found the “coded language” excuse for purple prose to be not particularly convincing, and would interested to read an update on the part of Kinsale’s piece regarding men on covers in light of the very common (now) male torso cover shot.  Several pieces seemed to be making the argument that romance heroines are drawn as “not like other girls”, which is frustrating because it turns out that in the end, romance heroines actually are just like other girls.

Apparently I am a pleb without taste, because I keep trying but just cannot get into the first Lord Peter Wimsey mystery, Whose Body?  The dialect or pronunciation as delivered in type to show education/class just makes me cringe, like other spoken dialect reduced to writing.  (This is a personal pet peeve — I hate it, regardless of who the author or character is.)  And I just don’t care about Wimsey enough to keep going: I don’t find him particularly interesting or engaging.

Meljean Brook’s Heart of Steel was a find in a B&N remainder bin, and I’m so glad I picked it up.  The heroine makes the book, and it worked so much better for me than the other Iron Seas books or serials.

The Golden City by J. Kathleen Cheney was an impulse purchase; the cover art caught my eye and the mention of “alternate Portugal” sold the book.  How often is Portugal a setting for anything other than Napoleonic War-set historicals – if even briefly?  The story itself was interesting and a good setup for a fantasy series, but I was disappointed with the Portugal or lack thereof in the story.  But for the use of Portuguese names, there was no particular sense of Portugal-as-place in the story; it could have been set in any turn of the 20th century post-colonial country in Europe.

It’s overcast and windy today, so I’m puttering around.  Maybe I’ll try to read the last book I brought:  Dunnett’s The Game of Kings.  I’ve tried several times to get into the Lymond Chronicles, and this time it’s either power through or give up permanently.

7 Comments

Filed under Book related

China Beach on DVD

I vaguely remember China Beach being on television when I was a kid but I didn’t watch it.  In fact, I’m pretty sure that the only episode I’ve ever seen is the series finale as a rebroadcast.

The first season is finally out on DVD; I’m not sure why it has taken so long, since so many other 90s shows have been released.  I’ve watched the first three episodes so far.

1.  A drama all about the women. Who talk about men sometimes but mostly about other things (so far).  It passes the Bechdel test with flying colors.  (I wonder if this show would get made today.  Doubt it.)

2.  The volume of alcohol consumed by the main character is significant; again, would a female protagonist be permitted to drink that much and still be cast in a positive light today?  Doubt it.  I like that no one is drawn as all good or all bad, no matter how naive or cynical they are.

3.  The cast is good and the soundtrack is excellent.

4.  The film quality is…not great.

5.  Next three episodes, please?

Leave a comment

Filed under Read or seen

Currently reading

A while back, someone somewhere on the internet noted that a scholarly work on L.M. Montgomery’s heroines, The Fragrance of Sweet-Grass, had been updated by its author.  Well, Anne of Green Gables was *the* formative series for me as a girl, so I wanted a copy.  And while browsing, The Blythes Are Quoted was recommended as well; it was edited or forewarded by the academic who wrote Sweet-Grass.  It was pretty clear that this was the full version of a manuscript that had been significantly redacted after Montgomery’s death and published as Road to Yesterday…which I have read.

This “new” version…well, there’s poetry from Anne and Walter, along with some dialogue from the Blythes, but so far the stories are the same and the poetic interludes are kind of ~meh~.  I don’t feel cheated, because it was made very clear before I clicked and paid that the contents had been previously published.  But I feel like my perspective on how the new edition may be fuller or better is…divergent from the editor, perhaps because I’m reading for pleasure while she read and edited as an academic.

Other than that, not too much going on with the reading, although I’m tempted to buy a copy of Carla Kelly’s new “Brand” book.  I liked the first of the series well enough, although I did not love it.  Actually, I should look for it and maybe re-read before buying the next book of the series.  Unless I got rid of it during The Great Book Purge of 2013?

Leave a comment

Filed under Book related

Magic Breaks – meh

The new Ilona Andrews book came out last week.  I read it.  It was fine?  I mean, I like their voice/style in this series — unlike other work they’ve done that didn’t really wow me.  But as I’ve mentioned in the past, the world building is kind of wobbly sometimes and some of the copy editing and proof-reading has been less than impressive given who their editor is at Ace.  (The lack of commas when multiple adjectives are used to modify a single noun drives me crazy.  And I love how the sword’s name changes might sword-fight.)  This book isn’t a *huge* surprise, plot-wise, but in some ways it feels a little forced, as if the characters as originally established have taken a hard left turn.  There were signals in earlier books but it all just feels heavy-handed to me.  Other readers’ mileage may (and does) vary.  But I think I’m finished with the series.

~~~

I went to today’s game against the Mariners on impulse.  \o/ to Nick Markakis for his lead-off, game-winning HR and his 1,500 hit as an Oriole.  The game was excellent, but two ancillary things are stuck in my mind.  First, I stopped at the team store, thinking I’d buy a t-shirt since the last merch I bought (for myself) was a Mike Mussina t-shirt; he’s long since retired from the despised pin-stripe team, which tells you how long ago that was.  There’s a ladies section full of poorly made, overpriced stuff.  An Orioles bikini?  Uh, no, I’d like a plain t-shirt, no player name or number, no pink, no sequins, and reasonably priced.  By reasonably priced, I mean priced at about the same amount that men’s apparel goes for rather than 30-50% more.  Ugh.

Second, I really am not comfortable with the singing of God Bless America and accompanying kudos to the military during the 7th inning stretch.  That song reminds me of being in middle school, learning about “manifest destiny” and not really getting it — people really thought their god gave them a right to own the country from sea to sea? what kind of bullshit propaganda is that? — and the sports/god/military combination feels really creepy and infringing on my freedom of religion while pushing a model of patriotism that I do not subscribe to.  Church and state are (in theory) separate, and I don’t want either of them interfering with baseball.  (Or hockey or tennis, etc.)

2 Comments

Filed under Book related