elizabear: (Default)
Lifted from a comment in another LJ.


At Boskone, one suggestion was that an SF protagonist wins conflict by being smarter, better prepared, or having better tools, while a fantasy protagonist wins by being a better person -- sometimes more magic or destiny, sometimes more morality or friends.
elizabear: (Default)
Lifted from a comment in another LJ.


At Boskone, one suggestion was that an SF protagonist wins conflict by being smarter, better prepared, or having better tools, while a fantasy protagonist wins by being a better person -- sometimes more magic or destiny, sometimes more morality or friends.
elizabear: (Default)
If you like the tv show Castle, I recommend picking up the meta-tie-in novel, HEAT WAVE by Richard Castle. It's like reading an extended episode of the show, and made me laugh and smile while reading it. The book flaps are well worth reading, too.

Even if you don't watch the show, it's an amusing light romantic mystery. Won't take you long to read it, and it's fun.
elizabear: (Default)
If you like the tv show Castle, I recommend picking up the meta-tie-in novel, HEAT WAVE by Richard Castle. It's like reading an extended episode of the show, and made me laugh and smile while reading it. The book flaps are well worth reading, too.

Even if you don't watch the show, it's an amusing light romantic mystery. Won't take you long to read it, and it's fun.
elizabear: (Default)
And Another Thing ...
Book 6 of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, by Eoin Colfer



Eliz returns from the comfy reading spot about 10 minutes after picking up this book. She holds it so DSR can see the cover.

DSR: Don't read that. It's bad.
Eliz: Too late, I already tried.
DSR: I told you not to waste your time with it.
Eliz: You said it read like fanfic. You didn't say it was unreadable dreck.
elizabear: (Default)
And Another Thing ...
Book 6 of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, by Eoin Colfer



Eliz returns from the comfy reading spot about 10 minutes after picking up this book. She holds it so DSR can see the cover.

DSR: Don't read that. It's bad.
Eliz: Too late, I already tried.
DSR: I told you not to waste your time with it.
Eliz: You said it read like fanfic. You didn't say it was unreadable dreck.
elizabear: (Default)


Neil says:

Hello.

You're probably wondering what kind of book this is.

This is the kind of book that comes about when a friend phones you and says, "I'll be having a baby in a month. Would you write her a poem? A sort of prayer, maybe? We call her the Blueberry. . . ." And you think, Yes, actually. I would.

I wrote the poem. When the baby was born, they stopped calling her the Blueberry and started calling her Natashya, but they pinned up the handwritten Blueberry girl poem beside her bed.

I kept a copy at my house, taped to a filing cabinet. And when friends read it, they said things like "Please, can I have a copy for my friend who is going to be giving birth to a daughter?" and I wound up copying it out for people, over and over.
I wasn't going to let it be published, not ever. It was private, and written for one person, even if I did seem to be spending more and more of my time handwriting or printing out nice copies for mothers-to-be and for babies.

Then artist Charles Vess (whom I had collaborated with on Stardust) read it.
And somehow, it all became simple. I made a few phone calls. We decided to make some donations to some charities. And Charles began to draw, and then to paint, taking the poem as a starting point and then making something universal and beautiful.

On his blog he said, "Taking Neil's lovely poetic meditation on the inherent joys of a mother-daughter relationship and developing a compelling narrative impulse without robbing the poem of its highly symbolic nature was an interesting conceptual journey." Which I think is Charles for "It wasn't easy to make that poem into a picture book.” He did an astonishing job, but I still worried. I stopped worrying the day the assistant editor at HarperChildrens, who was herself pregnant, called me to let me know that she'd got the artwork in, and read it, and then started crying in the office.

It's a book for mothers and for mothers-to-be. It's a book for anyone who has, or is, a daughter. It's a prayer and a poem, and now it's a beautiful book.

I hope you enjoy it. I'm really proud of it. And I hope this means I don't have to copy it out any longer….

Neil
elizabear: (Default)


Neil says:

Hello.

You're probably wondering what kind of book this is.

This is the kind of book that comes about when a friend phones you and says, "I'll be having a baby in a month. Would you write her a poem? A sort of prayer, maybe? We call her the Blueberry. . . ." And you think, Yes, actually. I would.

I wrote the poem. When the baby was born, they stopped calling her the Blueberry and started calling her Natashya, but they pinned up the handwritten Blueberry girl poem beside her bed.

I kept a copy at my house, taped to a filing cabinet. And when friends read it, they said things like "Please, can I have a copy for my friend who is going to be giving birth to a daughter?" and I wound up copying it out for people, over and over.
I wasn't going to let it be published, not ever. It was private, and written for one person, even if I did seem to be spending more and more of my time handwriting or printing out nice copies for mothers-to-be and for babies.

Then artist Charles Vess (whom I had collaborated with on Stardust) read it.
And somehow, it all became simple. I made a few phone calls. We decided to make some donations to some charities. And Charles began to draw, and then to paint, taking the poem as a starting point and then making something universal and beautiful.

On his blog he said, "Taking Neil's lovely poetic meditation on the inherent joys of a mother-daughter relationship and developing a compelling narrative impulse without robbing the poem of its highly symbolic nature was an interesting conceptual journey." Which I think is Charles for "It wasn't easy to make that poem into a picture book.” He did an astonishing job, but I still worried. I stopped worrying the day the assistant editor at HarperChildrens, who was herself pregnant, called me to let me know that she'd got the artwork in, and read it, and then started crying in the office.

It's a book for mothers and for mothers-to-be. It's a book for anyone who has, or is, a daughter. It's a prayer and a poem, and now it's a beautiful book.

I hope you enjoy it. I'm really proud of it. And I hope this means I don't have to copy it out any longer….

Neil
elizabear: (Default)
Author Terry Pratchett is suffering from a rare form of early Alzheimer's disease, it has been revealed.
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/7141458.stm

"All other things being equal, I expect to meet most current and, as far as possible, future commitments but will discuss things with the various organisers," he said.

"Frankly, I would prefer it if people kept things cheerful, because I think there's time for at least a few more books yet."

He told fans the statement should be interpreted as "I am not dead".

"I will, of course, be dead at some future point, as will everybody else," he said.

"For me, this may be further off than you think. It's too soon to tell.

"I know it's a very human thing to say 'is there anything I can do', but in this case I would only entertain offers from very high-end experts in brain chemistry."
elizabear: (Default)
Author Terry Pratchett is suffering from a rare form of early Alzheimer's disease, it has been revealed.
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/7141458.stm

"All other things being equal, I expect to meet most current and, as far as possible, future commitments but will discuss things with the various organisers," he said.

"Frankly, I would prefer it if people kept things cheerful, because I think there's time for at least a few more books yet."

He told fans the statement should be interpreted as "I am not dead".

"I will, of course, be dead at some future point, as will everybody else," he said.

"For me, this may be further off than you think. It's too soon to tell.

"I know it's a very human thing to say 'is there anything I can do', but in this case I would only entertain offers from very high-end experts in brain chemistry."
elizabear: (Default)
Candy Girl / Diablo Cody
I disagree a bit with [livejournal.com profile] dsrtao, who said, "Nothing significant happens to Ms. Cody in a year which she spends working as a stripper in Minneapolis. She's a slacker when she starts, and a slacker when she ends." I think something significant does happen to her, and it's not good. She's fairly clued-in to the kind of life it is and how she'll be treated in it even before she gets started at age 24, but the reality of it wears her down physically and emotionally, makes her jaded, creates an addiction to cigarettes, and exposes her to degredation and danger. She starts stripping for kicks, but by the end it's only about the money and what she needs to do and how she needs to look in order to make the big bucks. She moves on to being a peep-show girl (this section contains the only truly revolting and nauseating portion of the book in the description of one regular customer's behavior) and a phone-sex worker. In the end she returns to "a square job", but I think she hasn't been "freed" by her experiences, but rather had a somewhat cynical part of herself turn into something as hard and polished as a tumbled stone. Personally, I'd find that a heavy and unpleasant load to carry around.
elizabear: (Default)
Candy Girl / Diablo Cody
I disagree a bit with [livejournal.com profile] dsrtao, who said, "Nothing significant happens to Ms. Cody in a year which she spends working as a stripper in Minneapolis. She's a slacker when she starts, and a slacker when she ends." I think something significant does happen to her, and it's not good. She's fairly clued-in to the kind of life it is and how she'll be treated in it even before she gets started at age 24, but the reality of it wears her down physically and emotionally, makes her jaded, creates an addiction to cigarettes, and exposes her to degredation and danger. She starts stripping for kicks, but by the end it's only about the money and what she needs to do and how she needs to look in order to make the big bucks. She moves on to being a peep-show girl (this section contains the only truly revolting and nauseating portion of the book in the description of one regular customer's behavior) and a phone-sex worker. In the end she returns to "a square job", but I think she hasn't been "freed" by her experiences, but rather had a somewhat cynical part of herself turn into something as hard and polished as a tumbled stone. Personally, I'd find that a heavy and unpleasant load to carry around.
elizabear: (Default)
You might notice some overlap between my books and [livejournal.com profile] dsrtao's; sometimes I recommend a book to him, and sometimes he recommends one to me. I like that [livejournal.com profile] dsrtao has a really good hit rate when he thinks I might like something, and a lot of the SF/fantasy I read these days are books or series he handed me.

In this segment, what these books all have in common is a mystery with magic or the supernatural. Again, some from late last year mixed with those read this year.

Grave Sight / Charlaine Harris
As [livejournal.com profile] dsrtao mentioned, an enjoyable light mystery with a heroine who can find dead people. The characters are realistic (read "flawed"), and the writing is good. This is "our world" with the lead character a one-off "freak power". Kind of puts me in mind of an adult 1-800-Where-R-You (a YA series about a psychic teen who can find missing people by Meg Cabot, author of The Princess Diaries). A quick check of Harris' website confirms this will become a series, and I'll be sure to check out the next one. I might also take a gander at her other series and see if I like those, too.

Urban Shaman / C.E. Murphy
I don't think I liked this as much as [livejournal.com profile] dsrtao did, but I don't regret the time spent reading it. I liked the lead characters a lot, but it was a tad myth-heavy for my tastes. Worth reading if you've read and liked any of the other books in this post. Looks like the first in a series, and I'll give #2 a try when [livejournal.com profile] dsrtao gets it from the library. Our world, with the supernatural powers being rare.

Dead Beat (The Dresden Files, Book 7) / Jim Butcher
I love this series, and the quality is still excellent even though Butcher is writing this series along with a high-fantasy series that we don't like as much. We even got my dad hooked on these, which he refers to as "Harry Potter for adults." Now I think we all know that Harry Potter *is* for adults, but I think dad means that even though the lead is a wizard named Harry, it's not for kids. Not as gory or as the Anita Blake novels by Laurell K. Hamilton, and Butcher's writing is holding up a lot better - I'm still reading his stuff, and dropped hers after book 5. Our world, with hidden witches/wizards, vamps, werewolves, etc.

Undead and Unreturnable / Mary Janice Davidson
Light and funny, vampires written in a chick-lit style. The series is bogging down a tiny bit here (this is #4), but the quality is still very high and I will definitely be reading #5. Very much our world, with closeted vamps and werewolves.

Every Which Way But Dead / Kim Harrison
Another series, and again the quality is really holding up here in #3. Lots of interesting stuff in this world, which is ours after a "turn" that brought the witches, vamps and werewolves out of the closets.

Kitty and the Midnight Hour / Carrie Vaughn
Less serious than some others on this list, but not as fluffy as the Undead and ... series. The heroine is a werewolf with a radio show, and the mystery aspects are good. Looks like the first in other series, and we'll be picking up the next one. Our world, where people don't believe the vamps and werewolves are real.
elizabear: (Default)
You might notice some overlap between my books and [livejournal.com profile] dsrtao's; sometimes I recommend a book to him, and sometimes he recommends one to me. I like that [livejournal.com profile] dsrtao has a really good hit rate when he thinks I might like something, and a lot of the SF/fantasy I read these days are books or series he handed me.

In this segment, what these books all have in common is a mystery with magic or the supernatural. Again, some from late last year mixed with those read this year.

Grave Sight / Charlaine Harris
As [livejournal.com profile] dsrtao mentioned, an enjoyable light mystery with a heroine who can find dead people. The characters are realistic (read "flawed"), and the writing is good. This is "our world" with the lead character a one-off "freak power". Kind of puts me in mind of an adult 1-800-Where-R-You (a YA series about a psychic teen who can find missing people by Meg Cabot, author of The Princess Diaries). A quick check of Harris' website confirms this will become a series, and I'll be sure to check out the next one. I might also take a gander at her other series and see if I like those, too.

Urban Shaman / C.E. Murphy
I don't think I liked this as much as [livejournal.com profile] dsrtao did, but I don't regret the time spent reading it. I liked the lead characters a lot, but it was a tad myth-heavy for my tastes. Worth reading if you've read and liked any of the other books in this post. Looks like the first in a series, and I'll give #2 a try when [livejournal.com profile] dsrtao gets it from the library. Our world, with the supernatural powers being rare.

Dead Beat (The Dresden Files, Book 7) / Jim Butcher
I love this series, and the quality is still excellent even though Butcher is writing this series along with a high-fantasy series that we don't like as much. We even got my dad hooked on these, which he refers to as "Harry Potter for adults." Now I think we all know that Harry Potter *is* for adults, but I think dad means that even though the lead is a wizard named Harry, it's not for kids. Not as gory or as the Anita Blake novels by Laurell K. Hamilton, and Butcher's writing is holding up a lot better - I'm still reading his stuff, and dropped hers after book 5. Our world, with hidden witches/wizards, vamps, werewolves, etc.

Undead and Unreturnable / Mary Janice Davidson
Light and funny, vampires written in a chick-lit style. The series is bogging down a tiny bit here (this is #4), but the quality is still very high and I will definitely be reading #5. Very much our world, with closeted vamps and werewolves.

Every Which Way But Dead / Kim Harrison
Another series, and again the quality is really holding up here in #3. Lots of interesting stuff in this world, which is ours after a "turn" that brought the witches, vamps and werewolves out of the closets.

Kitty and the Midnight Hour / Carrie Vaughn
Less serious than some others on this list, but not as fluffy as the Undead and ... series. The heroine is a werewolf with a radio show, and the mystery aspects are good. Looks like the first in other series, and we'll be picking up the next one. Our world, where people don't believe the vamps and werewolves are real.
elizabear: (Default)
The Secret History of the Pink Carnation / Lauren Willig
The Masque of the Black Tulip / Lauren Willig


These are perfect books for people like me, fans of breezy chick-lit and regency romances. The regency is set within a modern framework in the manner of the play ARCADIA and the book/movie POSSESSION, but there the resemblance to those serious works ends. The regency plots are fairly standard, a secret identity romance and a compromising leading to what-is-actually-a-love-match-but-they-won't-admit-it, but it's the characterization and writing style that lifts these up from being ordinary fare. They're best read in order, as MASQUE picks up about two hours after SECRET HISTORY ends. I will be buying copies of these (though I might wait for paperback), and I'm glad this local gal (Harvard grad student) is writing more in the series.
elizabear: (Default)
The Secret History of the Pink Carnation / Lauren Willig
The Masque of the Black Tulip / Lauren Willig


These are perfect books for people like me, fans of breezy chick-lit and regency romances. The regency is set within a modern framework in the manner of the play ARCADIA and the book/movie POSSESSION, but there the resemblance to those serious works ends. The regency plots are fairly standard, a secret identity romance and a compromising leading to what-is-actually-a-love-match-but-they-won't-admit-it, but it's the characterization and writing style that lifts these up from being ordinary fare. They're best read in order, as MASQUE picks up about two hours after SECRET HISTORY ends. I will be buying copies of these (though I might wait for paperback), and I'm glad this local gal (Harvard grad student) is writing more in the series.
elizabear: (Default)
Kiss me like a stranger : my search for love and art / Gene Wilder
I love Gene Wilder, so I was very interested in reading his biography. It was a little flat in its delivery, but was engaging enough to be worth reading. It was very humanizing, as he's not shy about admitting his flaws (including infidelity), and I recommend it to a) Wilder fans, b) Gilda Radner fans [one of his wives], and c) fans of Mel Brooks movies - there's a lot of insider info about the development and production of THE PRODUCERS, BLAZING SADDLES, YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN, etc.

Teacher man : a memoir / Frank McCourt
Having read ANGELA'S ASHES and 'TIS, I naturally migrated to the third installment of his memoirs. I heard stories of McCourt as a favorite teacher from my ex long before ANGELA'S came about, and that also naturally piqued my interest to read McCourt's point of view regarding his teaching career. Again, the author's voice comes across a little flat, but his growth and personal learning curve are interesting to me, especially as the daughter of an English teacher. McCourt skims over a lot of what was happening in his personal life during the time, but that's sort of the point - this is his biography of his life in the classroom, and it rarely leaves that setting. Recommended for completists, those interested in teaching, and those interested in a sideways portrait of the youth of New York City circa 1955-90.

Mozart in the jungle : sex, drugs, and classical music / Blair Tindall
Wow - reading this made me more glad than ever that I didn't pursue a career with my french horn! I have acquaintances who are professional musicians, but I'm distant enough from them that I wouldn't get detailed stories like this. It's an unflinching look at what it's like to try to make your living as a classical instrumentalist, and I'd categorize it again under "eye opener" both for a view into that life and as an diagram of how we've reached the sad state of arts education and funding today. Since she plays her oboe anywhere and everywhere she can, the book also contains insight into Broadway musical pit orchestras. For Boston Pops fans, she drops Keith Lockhart's name a couple of times in connection with casual sexual liaisons over the past few years, which might help explain Lockhart's recent divorce.
elizabear: (Default)
Kiss me like a stranger : my search for love and art / Gene Wilder
I love Gene Wilder, so I was very interested in reading his biography. It was a little flat in its delivery, but was engaging enough to be worth reading. It was very humanizing, as he's not shy about admitting his flaws (including infidelity), and I recommend it to a) Wilder fans, b) Gilda Radner fans [one of his wives], and c) fans of Mel Brooks movies - there's a lot of insider info about the development and production of THE PRODUCERS, BLAZING SADDLES, YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN, etc.

Teacher man : a memoir / Frank McCourt
Having read ANGELA'S ASHES and 'TIS, I naturally migrated to the third installment of his memoirs. I heard stories of McCourt as a favorite teacher from my ex long before ANGELA'S came about, and that also naturally piqued my interest to read McCourt's point of view regarding his teaching career. Again, the author's voice comes across a little flat, but his growth and personal learning curve are interesting to me, especially as the daughter of an English teacher. McCourt skims over a lot of what was happening in his personal life during the time, but that's sort of the point - this is his biography of his life in the classroom, and it rarely leaves that setting. Recommended for completists, those interested in teaching, and those interested in a sideways portrait of the youth of New York City circa 1955-90.

Mozart in the jungle : sex, drugs, and classical music / Blair Tindall
Wow - reading this made me more glad than ever that I didn't pursue a career with my french horn! I have acquaintances who are professional musicians, but I'm distant enough from them that I wouldn't get detailed stories like this. It's an unflinching look at what it's like to try to make your living as a classical instrumentalist, and I'd categorize it again under "eye opener" both for a view into that life and as an diagram of how we've reached the sad state of arts education and funding today. Since she plays her oboe anywhere and everywhere she can, the book also contains insight into Broadway musical pit orchestras. For Boston Pops fans, she drops Keith Lockhart's name a couple of times in connection with casual sexual liaisons over the past few years, which might help explain Lockhart's recent divorce.
elizabear: (Default)
Nickel and dimed : on (not) getting by in America / Barbara Ehrenreich
Like the four previous recommendations, this was a book I read and then passed on to [livejournal.com profile] dsrtao and my parents. I can't say that we *enjoyed* reading it - it's not a "fun" book - but I do think we're glad we read it. It's another eye-opener, and, even if you're already aware that you can't survive on minimum wage, this codifies all of the issues and presents them in a compelling first-hand account.
elizabear: (Default)
Nickel and dimed : on (not) getting by in America / Barbara Ehrenreich
Like the four previous recommendations, this was a book I read and then passed on to [livejournal.com profile] dsrtao and my parents. I can't say that we *enjoyed* reading it - it's not a "fun" book - but I do think we're glad we read it. It's another eye-opener, and, even if you're already aware that you can't survive on minimum wage, this codifies all of the issues and presents them in a compelling first-hand account.
elizabear: (Default)
from last year, but worth recommending:

- The tipping point: how little things can make a big difference / Malcolm Gladwell
- Blink : the power of thinking without thinking / Malcolm Gladwell
- Freakonomics : a rogue economist explores the hidden side of everything / Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner
- Animals In Translation : Using The Mysteries Of Autism To Decode Animal Behavior / Temple Grandin And Catherine Johnson


All of these books are great reads that can open your eyes to things going on around you that you weren't noticing or weren't thinking about, but probably should be. I really like books that make me go "Huh - I hadn't thought about that. How interesting!" We found all four worth adding to our library.


- Slam dunks and no-brainers words : language in your life, the media, business, politics, and, like, whatever / Leslie Savan
This one should have fallen into the above group, but didn't for some reason. It had really interesting bits, but I think it got redundant after the first third. I skimmed through the second half to get the highlights because I wanted to hear what she had to say, but it was beginning to be a chore to read the whole work. This might have been better presented as a series of essays or without quite so much depth in each of the sections - make the point, give some examples, and move on.
elizabear: (Default)
from last year, but worth recommending:

- The tipping point: how little things can make a big difference / Malcolm Gladwell
- Blink : the power of thinking without thinking / Malcolm Gladwell
- Freakonomics : a rogue economist explores the hidden side of everything / Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner
- Animals In Translation : Using The Mysteries Of Autism To Decode Animal Behavior / Temple Grandin And Catherine Johnson


All of these books are great reads that can open your eyes to things going on around you that you weren't noticing or weren't thinking about, but probably should be. I really like books that make me go "Huh - I hadn't thought about that. How interesting!" We found all four worth adding to our library.


- Slam dunks and no-brainers words : language in your life, the media, business, politics, and, like, whatever / Leslie Savan
This one should have fallen into the above group, but didn't for some reason. It had really interesting bits, but I think it got redundant after the first third. I skimmed through the second half to get the highlights because I wanted to hear what she had to say, but it was beginning to be a chore to read the whole work. This might have been better presented as a series of essays or without quite so much depth in each of the sections - make the point, give some examples, and move on.
elizabear: (Default)
Our UK edition of HP6 arrived yesterday, four days earlier than Amazon.UK's estimate. Yay!

I managed to get up to chapter 6 before [livejournal.com profile] dsrtao got home and took it over.

Ah well. At his regular rate of 150 pages/hr and his more copius reading time, I shouldn't have to wait too long to pick it up again.
elizabear: (Default)
Our UK edition of HP6 arrived yesterday, four days earlier than Amazon.UK's estimate. Yay!

I managed to get up to chapter 6 before [livejournal.com profile] dsrtao got home and took it over.

Ah well. At his regular rate of 150 pages/hr and his more copius reading time, I shouldn't have to wait too long to pick it up again.

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