Because I never read what I intend to…

So, this one time, I didn’t read the book I was supposed to…and regretted it.

Instead of jumping back in to Brandon Sanderson’s The Way of Kings like I said I would I slapped Terry Goodkind’s newest SOT series book, The Third Kingdom, into my ipod.  Why?  Because I am a dumbass.

Also, I intended to leave off this novel in order to go through the entire series from front to back.

But now, I am stuck remembering why Goodkind’s writing can rub me the wrong way at times.  It isn’t the story that bothers me so much, but the actual presentation of it through the writing.  Sometimes I feel like I am being:  A) tortured with unnecessary repetition; or B) lectured; or C) being held away from the action by narrative explanation instead of being in the action itself (the show v. tell factor).

Even though it irritates me at times, I still like the overall original series (Books 1-11) possibly because it was the first full-blown fantasy series I read.  I’m holding off on this second arc until it is complete before I make a judgment…

I swear I will get to Sanderson eventually…!

A few books down…more to go!

Dave Fearless and the Cave of MysterySo, yes, the other day I did hunker down and read Dave Fearless and the Cave of Mystery by Roy Rockwood on Project Gutenberg.  It was a very cute adventure tale for kids.

This book was the 3rd in the Dave Fearless series.  From what I saw on Goodreads, there seem to be at least 12 in all.  The author is actually a pseudonym for multiple writers working for the Stratemeyer Syndicate–a book publisher responsible for spawning several major book serials like Nancy Drew, The Hardy Boys, and The Bobbsey Twins!  [All of which I read as a kid…]

As a writer, there are writing choices that make my skin crawl:

They were two sturdy boys. The flavor of the briny deep was manifest in their bronzed faces, their attire, their clear bright eyes, and sinewy muscles. They had known hardship and peril such as make men resolute and brave. [Chapter 1]

and

“Well, all I’ve got to say,” observed Bob at length, with a great sigh, “is that it’s pretty tough.”
“I fancy,” responded Dave, in a set, thoughtful way, “it’s a case of three times and out. We fished it up–one. We’ve lost it–two. We must find it again–three. That’s all.”
“You’re dreaming!” vociferated Bob. “Say, Dave Fearless, you’re a genius and a worker, but if you mean that there is the least hope in the world in going back over a course of over a thousand miles hunting up men with a two weeks’ start of us–desperate men, too–scouring a trackless ocean for fellows who have to hide, and know how to do it, why, it’s–bosh!” [Chapter 1]

and

“Bob Vilett,” said Dave, with set lip and unflinching eye, “we are only boys, but we have tried to act like men, and Captain Broadbeam respects us for it. We have his confidence. He is old, not much of a thinker, but brave as a lion and ready for any honest, logical suggestion. Here’s a dilemma, a big one. You and I–young, quick, ardent–we must think for him. We have been robbed. We must catch the thieves. We must recover that treasure. Where’s the best and surest, and the quickest way to do it? Put on your thinking-cap, Bob, and try and do some of the hardest brain work of your life.” [Chapter 1]

and

In the first volume of the present series, entitled “The Rival Ocean Divers,” it was told how they one day learned that they were direct heirs of the Washington family, who twenty years previous had acquired a fortune of nearly a million dollars in China. This, all in gold coin, had been shipped in the Happy Hour for San Francisco. A storm overtook the vessel, which sunk in two miles of water in mid-ocean with the treasure aboard. [Chapter 1]

[This little announced recap goes on for several paragraphs and is followed by another similarly written one for the second book in the series!  All-in-all, this “aside” covers the second half of the first chapter.]

I stopped counting the writing choices that made me irritated after the first chapter.  There were too many.

However, the story moves at a fast clip from adventure to adventure in each chapter with Dave Fearless saving the day (with very little help from anyone else).  He should be dead (or murdered) half a dozen times over in this book alone.  I’m not sure how a kid manages to suss out the nefarious plans of the villains–who make a taunting Snidely Whiplash-like cameo appearance–and their cohorts (who play a much more central bad-guy role) with the greatest of ease.  He is always in the right place at the right time.  He can spot treachery in the night from his bunk at 100 paces.  He can fight a jaguar and kick it in the teeth while being tied to a tree.  He can find a small boat–complete with emergency food and water–in the middle of the Pacific Ocean after being swept off his ship in a storm.  He’s like a mini super-hero!

Was it fun?  Yep.  It was absurd and ridiculous, but it amused me for a few hours.

Who would like it?  Young kids just beginning chapter books.  Or anyone wanting a bit of outrageous impossibility in their reading material.

***

I also have finished Stone of Tears by Terry Goodkind this morning.

Dear library, you tempt me so…

Hi everyone.

I have yet to finish S&S, but I have a good reason:  the library called me.

Yep.  It did.  The little automated service called me up this morning to notify me that I had a book waiting to be picked up at my earliest convenience.

So, I went.

I am 29th out of 41 waiting for the print version of the book and so I am unlikely to see that for a while.  However, I was lucky enough to be the first to list the audiobook version in my book requests!  That means I got it as soon as it hit the library shelf…they just took it out of the box and shipped it to my local branch (which is not the branch for which it was originally purchased).

What will I be doing tonight?  Knitting socks and listening to this!  (As if I would do anything else…)

What do I know about this book?  Absolutely nothing other than what I read in the synopsis.  I have been avoiding any reviews or commentary about this because I want to make up my own mind first.  I’ll let you know how it goes!

Emma needs a good whack

Yes, I am well aware that I am still chipping away at Northanger Abbey–which, at the moment, I am finding much preferable to the Austen I began listening to on audiobook (Emma).

Good grief.

While I know I saw the Gwyneth Paltrow movie version–though I remember little of it now–I don’t remember having such a reaction toward Emma.   But, after beginning to listen to Emma on audiobook, I cannot stand this girl.  How in the hell does anyone think her charming?  I find her to be quite cruel and can see nothing of sensible value in her.  And why Knightly doesn’t slap her upside the head after she screws up Mr. Martin and Harriet…grrrr.

I really hope she changes significantly over the course of the novel!

Planning the remainder of the reading year

Inspired by Tuesday’s Top 10 List over at The Broke and the Bookish, I began to think about what I wanted to tackle or finish this fall…but that is way more than just ten!  So, what do I currently have slated on my agenda?

September reading:  playing catch-up

  • Finish Northanger Abbey.  Yes, I am an Austen in August slacker.
  • Get through Austen’s Emma and Sense and Sensibility on audiobook.  Sometimes I spend too much time on a computer and don’t have the down-time to pick up a novel or my Kindle.  Since audiobooks are easy to listen to while I bang away at the keyboard, they are an easy default for my literary consumption.
  • Finish up In the Kingdom of Men by Kim Barnes.  Love it!  Spectacular images and beautifully written.
  • Finish up The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern.  I’ve got this on audiobook, but I can’t seem to make my way through it.  I am sure it is because of the narrator, Jim Dale, who also narrates the Harry Potter audiobooks.  My problem stems from the narrated voices:  some are too similar to those from HP; I get distracted thinking that I should be hearing an HP story.
  • Finish up my re-read of HP 4 and HP 5.  This is part of a project I began at the start of the year, but it seems that others have caught the Harry Potter bug recently and that has given me some inspiration to continue.

October reading:  the spooky!

Sometimes it is fun to read spooky things.  Ghosties and goblins and weird kinds of beasties!  Witches and murder and potions by the gallon!

I don’t know if I’ll manage all of them, but I’d like to get through at least three–as it will start ticking books from my Classics Club list.  [Although, in the case of the plays, it will just get me closer to finishing the compiled works.]

  • Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
  • Dracula by Bram Stoker
  • Macbeth by Shakespeare
  • Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson
  • The Tragical History of the Life and Death of Dr. Faustus by Christopher Marlowe
  • The Mysteries of Udolpho by Ann Radcliffe
  • In Cold Blood by Truman Capote

November reading:  Nanowrimo inspiration

Because I will be tackling the Nanowrimo in November, I need some strong inspiration for noveling like mad.

  • The Complete Sherlock Holmes, Vol 1 by Arthur Conan Doyle–I am sure I will only finish a handful of short stories out of here.
  • Around the World in 80 Days by Jules Verne
  • And, for fun, The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde

December reading:  blowing off steam

After the anxiety and rush of finishing Nanowrimo, a bit of wild adventure in my literary pursuits will suit nicely.  It will let my brain relax and find some fun.

  • The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas
  • Waverley by Sir Walter Scott
  • Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson
  • The Time Machine by HG Wells
  • Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne

To see what there is to see

Because I am currently procrastinating grading student essay reference documentation on boring topics like global warming and the truth of the myth of Atlantis, I decided to have a look-see through my library for supplemental books to aid my reading during Austen in August.

Happily, these should be waiting at the library for me tomorrow–as they were all available for check-out.  🙂

Jane Austen’s Letters.

Jane Austen’s Guide to Good Manners:  Compliments, Charades & Horrible Blunders by Josephine Ross and Henrietta Webb.  Discusses the social conventions and etiquette of the time using Austen’s letters and her novels to illustrate the points.

A Truth Universally Acknowledged:  33 Great Writers on Why We Read Jane Austen edited by Susannah Carson.  Gathers multiple essays on Austen from authors like Virginia Woolf, C. S. Lewis, and Anna Quindlen.

Virginia Woolf’s Nose:  Essays on Biography by Hermione Lee.  Discusses what happens in the art of creating biography.  There is an essay inside about Austen.

Audiobooks–because why not squeeze more Austen into the month?

  • Emma
  • Sense and Sensibility

Maybe I’ve gone a bit mad.  I am hoping these supplemental books will be as interesting to look through as their titles and summaries suggest!

OK.  Note to self:  grade now, read later.

Done: The Wise Man’s Fear

I stumbled across Patrick Rothfuss’ first novel, The Name of the Wind, back in 2010 while meandering through the sci-fi/fantasy section of my local library.  Since I am a bit flip about book choice, it takes a really strong voice and great writing to pull me in.  However, with Rothfuss, it was effortless–and now I am hooked in for the long haul.

I do mean long haul in every sense.  The first of the Kingkiller Chronicles was published in 2007 and The Wise Man’s Fear hit the shelves in 2011.  Readers waited four years between books.  Now, I’ve seen complaints that the gap between books is too long.  That is just plain jackassishness; I would much rather have the wait if it makes a better book.  The fact that these complainers are waiting means that there is something they are looking forward to, something worth waiting for.

And the wait is on for Book #3.

What is difficult to consider is my own lack of focus.  It took me a very long time to get through Book #2.  Believe me, this is in no way due to the story or the writing!  I just couldn’t sit still for long periods of time this spring–not enough to read a book borrowed from the library.  I checked it out two different times, but still couldn’t manage it.  So, I grabbed the audiobook and that was MUCH easier for me.  I could still listen to the novel and do other things around the house or work on the computer; I wasn’t tied down.

As an audiobook, there are 36 discs.  As a hardcover, it is 994 pages.  To give you some comparison:

  • George RR Martin.  A Game of Thrones.  28 discs.  704 pages.
  • JK Rowling.  Harry Potter and The Order of the Phoenix.  23 discs.  766 pages.
  • Robert Jordan.  The Shadow Rising.  34 discs.  699 pages.
  • Patrick Rothfuss.  The Name of the Wind.  23 discs.  672 pages.

I made it through 3/4 of the book in the last week or so.  And I am glad I did.

When I am reading through a series of books, I want the author to leave me with questions and clues to pull me into the next book.  When I am no longer curious, I stop reading.  This is what happened to me during my read through of Jordan’s Wheel of Time series; I had no questions or concerns after book 4–everything seemed to endlessly repeat.  But Rothfuss has not disappointed me!

  • Bast…seriously, what the hell?
  • What is going on with Kvothe?  Is he ill?
  • What of the box?  What of the library door?
  • Will he return to Felurian?  Will the sword go back to the Adem?
  • What of the current situation the country is in?
  • I’ve got a million more…

What do I hope?  That the final book is awesome.  I cannot really see how he will quickly finish the loose threads and come to the end of the whole tale without a fourth book, but I am looking forward to reading the result!

Balancing backstory?

I finished Peter V. Brett’s The Desert Spear last night.  It left me a bit snerty.  This isn’t to say I didn’t enjoy the writing or that I didn’t get sucked into the story, but I have a few qualifications.

1.  I guess I would have liked to have the tale of Jardir interwoven a bit more with the storylines we were given in The Warded Man.  It feels like I just colided with a big boulder in a stream of the story–an interruption.  While I know the information is necessary, a more graduated method of introducing it would have worked better for my own preferences.

2.  The relationship choices all around are bad news.  I know people do what they do for reasons of their own, but geez, this is fiction.  Let someone be happy (and smart).

I understand that the foil situation between Jardir and the Warded Man.  That’s a given–the identity of the true Deliverer must be discovered.  However, I am wondering if this information was already considered when Brett first began developing the series.  If so, why not roll between the two from the outset in order to balance each backstory?  Considering that The Desert Spear is very Jardir-centered, I would have to say that The Warded Man is no less centered on Arlen.

I guess I am curious about the process that goes into developing a story arc that will carry across multiple books.  While his choices for the set up would not be the ones I would have made, I want to see how the series ends before I make a final review.  Perhaps these choices–while right now seeming a bit clunky–may turn out to be illuminating at the end.  Time will tell…

Plotting out my April reading

I know planning for something is usually a way to beg the powers-that-be to come and screw everything up.  But, I also want to stop flying by the seat of my Classics Club pants!  So I have taken on the task of developing a plan centered around April’s reading.

Week

Book

Author

3.26

The Desert Spear

Peter V. Brett

4.2

Clarissa (April read-along).  Other books: The Fourth Bear, HP3, The Wise Man’s Fear

Samuel Richardson.  Jasper Fforde.  J. K. Rowling.  Patrick Rothfuss.

4.9

4.16

4.23

4.30

Persuasion

Jane Austen

5.7

Vanity Fair

William Makepeace Thackaray

I did not want to push farther out than this.  If I dared reach too far, the plan would go astray whenever the whim took me to read something off-plan!  (See flibbertigibbet).

Planning to get through the whole of April reading only one book seemed a bit dangerous to me–there can never be just one!  This particular book is one giant slab-o’-text, and I will have to listen to audiobooks as a break away from it.  It is also highly probable that a fourth audiobook will be listened to during April–most likely, the 4th HP book (as I am re-reading the whole series).

I am also trying to locate my copy of Why Read? by Mark Edmundson this morning.  I swore it was on one of the shelves in my bedroom, but it isn’t.  It didn’t even fall behind the nightstand or the bed.  It isn’t on the shelves in the office either.  So my next places to look are: the shelves in the living room and the built-in shelves in the rec room.  Wish me luck!