Thursday, April 28, 2011

30 Day of Genre, Day 16- Genre Novel With the Most Intriguing Plot

I don't know what I would pick out of all the books I've ever read, but I think out of the ones I've read recently (since the beginning of the year), I would have to say it was David Drake's Lord of the Isles. It was either the most intriguing or the most confusing plot I've tried to unravel lately. It had an ensemble cast of characters, and it was clear they all had a part in what was happening, but very early into the story, everyone scattered in different directions. It was unclear for much of the book how, or even if, they were going to get back together and work things out. Add to that the sorceress tossed back in time by a magical maelstrom, a young man from a small village who channeled a king, and the young woman possessed by a vengeful demon and the plot, well, thickened.

I have to say that this was not the best book I've read this year. It fell flat in several ways for me. A few of the characters just didn't resonate well, and the one I really liked got killed. It was a good death, and fit him and the story, but still that lost that point of interest. I kept reading until the end to see how all the plot convolutions were going to work out, so I guess that puts this one at a pretty intriguing plot.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

30 Day of Genre, Day 15- The Cover From Your Present (or Most Recent) Genre Novel

This is what I am currently reading. I picked it up after reading her later written novel, The Barbed Coil, which I really enjoyed. I guess I should have been prepared for an earlier work, since the writing is a little less compelling. But many authors do find their voice in later books, so it is not surprising. It's still a pretty good book.

The last two I've read are:

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

30 Day of Genre, Day 14- Favorite Book Trailer

Well, I've got to say that I don't have one. I don't really pay that much attention to book trailers. Honestly, until very recently, I had no idea people even did book trailers! I don't even search out most movie trailers. We record most TV shows and run through commercials, so I don't see most of them there, and I really don't search them out for many movies, even the ones I want to see. If I happen to see a link to the trailer online somewhere, I might watch. And you just don't see links for book trailers all that much.

I am not sure that a trailer would influence my choice to read or not read, anyway. I can think of only a few movie trailers that have done that. Most of the time, I'm watching them for things I already know I want to see. And if I don't, well, I doubt the trailer is going to change my mind. I suspect it would be the same for books. I look for books by authors I've read, ongoing series I'm reading, recommendations from friends, or reviews. If I am browsing a bookstore, then cover art and the book flap are going to sway me.

I don't know. Maybe I should look at some trailers. At the very least, I'm sure there are entertaining ones to be seen.

Monday, April 25, 2011

30 Days of Genre, Day 13- A Genre Novel You've Read More Than Five Times

I don't really know if there is any book I've read more than five times. I don't actually keep count. But I would have to say the ones I've re-read the most often over the years are either The Earthsea Trilogy by Ursula K. LeGuin or A Wrinkle in Time by Madeliene L'Engle. All of those are quite well worn on my shelves, and I still get the urge to read them now and again.

I guess I like the dark overtones to the Earthsea books, and the way LeGuin packs so much detail and emotion into what are really rather small books.

And the L'Engle is just one of those books that feels good to read. I found it very early in my fantasy reading years, and it always just gives me pleasure, even though I know the story inside out by now. Again, the author manages to put a lot of story in a relatively small package.

30 Days of Genre, Day 12- A Genre Novel Everyone Should Read

The obvious answer is, of course, Lord of the Rings. It is the standard by which many (rightly or wrongly) judge every epic fantasy since. If you are going to say you read fantasy, you need to read this.

For a lesser known work, I would say The Rose of the Prophet by Weiss and Hickman. I liked the setting- a nomadic, desert world, and the interaction between the world of men and the world of the gods. You also don't see a lot of fantasy with a more Arabic twist- there are djini and coniving spirits, oases and sandstorms. The three are an enjoyable read, imo.

30 Days of Genre, Day 11- Favorite Genre Series

Hmm, a tough one, once again. Not that I don't have favorite series, but I guess it depends on what you are talking about when you say "genre." There are so many genres out there, and if your taste runs hard to one or another, you may not like what is a very good book that falls into another.

That said, I will say up front that I pretty much stick to SF and F for reading, with a smattering of mystery and once in a while a non-fiction book thrown in, so my choices will fall in the first two areas. And it's still a hard choice, as there are so many series I've read and enjoyed over the years; Katherine Kurtz's Deryni books, Terry Brooks' Shannara series, Zelazny's Amber, even the Hitchhiker's Guide books by Adams. I'm not sure I can call any one a favorite, since a lot depends on my mood and what I feel like reading. But those are the ones that I will go back to again and again, and for those that are still continuing, I look forward to a new release always.

There are also plenty of series that are well recommended but I just haven't gotten to them yet: The Wheel of Time (on my to-read shelf), George R.R. Martin, and Terry Goodkind to name a few. And it looks like, from reading others' posts in this meme, I am going to have to look into The Dresden Files.

So many books, so little time!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

30 Days of Genre, Day 10- Best Writing Style

(Or the style that resonates with you most)

I think I have to say Guy Gavriel Kay. His use of words is just lovely. I find myself stopping in my reading to just savor the last sentence or paragraph. I always look forward to a new Kay novel, and even when the story is less than I might want, I find myself reading to the end just for the prose. I guess some would find him "wordy" and usually I don't like overly wordy stories myself, but I love the way Kay describes people and settings and worlds. I simply enjoy reading the words he puts on paper.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

30 Days of Genre, Day 9- Saddest Scene in a Genre Novel

A tough one. I looked up, re-read and decided against several scenes. In the end, I chose this:

But then he saw another mounted man urge his horse around behind Rhys, shouldering him aside with the heavy destrier and sending the Healer sprawling. Rhys slipped in blood and fell without being able to break his fall, the back of his head hitting the edge of one of the altar steps with a sickening, hollow crack.

And after they have manged to escape:

But while he argued with himself, and agonized, and even made a tentative probe to see whether he could work the spell on an unconscious subject, he realized that it was too late. Rhys was dead. As Niallin's voice wrapped around him in the traditional prayers, joined by the responses of Dermot and a handful of priests in the white of the Gabrilite Order, Camber felt the bleak emptiness and knew that Rhys was gone.

He waited until Niallin had finished, his hands still resting on the thick red hair which hid the damage done to the skull beneath, then signalled minutely that Joram and Jebediah should cease their ministrations. As they sank back on their heels, drained and exhausted, he gently gathered Rhys into his arms again, cradling the red head close against his cheek.

"Dear God, why?" he whispered, his voice breaking as the tears began to come. Forty years to make this man and now- this! A fall! Death should be more difficult!"

It's not a huge scene. There are points in the Deryni books that many may feel are more wrenching, but for me, this is one of the saddest for the reason Camber expressed at the end. Yes, they were trying to escape from the despicable Regents, but a fall? What amounts to an accident? Not a battle, not a sacrifice for a greater cause or to protect someone else. Knocked down by a horse and a cracked skull on a stone step. It seems- pointless. But that's one of the things that makes the Deryni books ring true for me. Things like this happen. People get shoved and fall and die, leaving behind wives and children and loved ones. People die far too young for no real reason.

Reading this scene always makes me tear up, and feel angry at the same time.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

30 Days of Genre, Day 8- Best Fan Soundtrack

I'm going to have to pass on this one. I really don't know any fan soundtracks. Suggestions, anyone?

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

30 Days of Genre, Day 7- Favorite Couple in a Genre Novel

So many candidates for this one! The one that wins, for me, is Evaine MacRorie and Rhys Thuryn from Katherine Kurtz's Deryni series, specifically, the Camber of Culdi series. Even though my favorite Deryni stories are from the later era of King Kelson, Rhys and Evaine stand out as a couple. And there really isn't much more to say: They adore each other, they support each other, they respect each other. They are good parents. I like them.

Monday, April 18, 2011

30 Days of Genre, Day6- Most Annoying Character

Ah, another easy one. Thomas Covenant, hands down. When I first started reading fantasy, everyone said: "Oh, you have to read Donaldson's Thomas Covenant books." So I went out and found all six of them. I picked up Lord Foul's Bane and began. Not even 100 pages in, I put it down. Fast forward a few years. I pick it up again, thinking some time has passed and I'll give it a try again. Same thing- not far into it and can't go on. Repeat a few more times, and I just decided they are not for me.

Why? I cannot stand Thomas Covenant. I mean, I get it, fella. You kind of got the short end of the stick, what with the leprosy and all that. Can't be easy, I understand that. But do you have to whine incessantly about it? All I hear in my head when I read (the little I have read) that book is that high-pitched, drony three year old's voice whining: "But I don't wanna take a nap!" And it grates on my nerves. Unendingly.

It isn't even the fact that he's got psychological isssues and is a dark hero. There's one book I've read since that has a character that is quite the psycho type (in a different way) and has some real deep issues as well, but that one, I can't forget. But that's a post for another day. It's the voicing. I have never liked whiners and to me, that's how Covenant comes across. It's not that way for everyone, I know, but I guess that's what makes all readers different, and why there are so many books out there.

Maybe I am missing a truly good series of books, but when the main character's voice makes me gnash my teeth in annoyance, well, I think I'll just have to miss that.

Apologies to any Donaldson and Covenant fans out there. Just not my cuppa.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

30 Days of Genre, Day 5- Character You Feel You are Most Like (or Wish You Were)

For me, this is really two questions. I think it might be for many others, also. Right or wrong, too often what we wish to be is not at all what we feel we are. That leaves me with the feeling I need to come up with two answers to this one.

The Character I Wish I Was- This one is fairly easy. There were a few choices I thought about and tossed aside. In the end, I think the answer here is Samwise Gamgee. I would like to be as honest and straighforward as Samwise, loyal to the end. He made a promise and he was not going to break it, no matter what. Sure, he had some illusions shattered along the way, but which of us doesn't? What mattered is that Samwise never let those things destroy his basic outlook, or his determination to help Frodo in any way he could. He wasn't immune to temptation. He felt the Ring's influence like anyone else. But he was also able to admit that to himself and others, and knowing that helped him to see more clearly, not less. In the end, if I could have Samwise Gamgee's simple, honest outlook and love of life and all it can give, that would be a good thing I think. We may not know where we are going every step of the way, or even if we will survive the journey, but one thing we do know: if we don't stick together, we most certainly will not make it. And that's the way it is, Mr. Frodo.

The Character I Am Most Like- A much harder question, this one. I don't have a good answer. Again, I thought of and decided against many options. None of them quite fit well enough to say that I am like that person.

So I think I am going to leave this on with the "I wish I was" answer. If you know who I am like, please feel free to let me know! (Well, as long as it's not, say, Sauran or someone like that!)

Saturday, April 16, 2011

30 Days of Genre, Day 4- Your Guilty Pleasure Book

I think I am going with Castle Perilous by John DeChancie. Or any of the Castle books, really. Yes, it's silly. Yes, it's a super easy read. Yes, it's not a new, or highly original, or new twist on a old idea plot. But it's just one of those books I enjoyed reading, and still do. It's action packed, funny, has some interesting characters, and is just plain fun to read. And I freely admit to a squeee moment last year when I found the last few I needed to complete the set.

I know, some people I know would say- You actually read those?? But they're so frivolous. They aren't deep. They have no message! They're silly! My answer- Yup, to all!

And isn't all of the above the definition of a guilty pleasure book? The one you enjoy reading, even more than once, but may not actually admit that to other people. Well, I'm admitting it now!

Friday, April 15, 2011

30 Day of Genre, Day 3- A Genre Novel That Is Underrated

 I would have to say Skirmish (or any of the Skyrider novels) by Melisa C. Michaels. They are not arm-breaking tomes, nor are they heavy, dark reading. They can be read in just a day or so. No, there are no deep meanings, subtle messages, commentary on the world or universe here. It's just plain fun space opera. And not campy space opera. Characters are real and engaging, the plots are well drawn and the writing quite readable. If you like to sit down with a lighter sf story now and again, or just like a nice, quick but enjoyable read, you should grab these if you can find them.

Just a side thought- these first three days topics have all generated sf responses from me, even though these days, I am more likely to be reading fantasy. Not that I don't enjoy a good sf story still, but I have definitely moved more toward the fantasy genre. But I started out in sf. Most of what I read in high school and for a long time after, was sf, so I guess it's not odd to find that genre popping up here. I'm sure these will not be the last sf related answers before the thirty days are done.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

30 Days of Genre: Days 1 & 2

Yeesh, that last post was a downer. My apologies. I will try not to do that again! I thought about taking it down, but decided not to. It points out the frustrations, I guess. You can ignore it. Just me whining. I got over it.

Now, how about something a little more fun? Saw this meme today. Officially this is Day 2, so I will give my picks for both of those:

30 Days of Genre:

Day 1- Very first genre novel

Day 2- Your favorite character

Day 3- A genre novel that is underrated

Day 4- Your guilty pleasure book

Day 5- Character you feel you are most like (or wish you were)

Day 6- Most annoying character

Day 7- Favorite couple in a genre novel

Day 8- Best fan soundtrack

Day 9- Saddest scene in a genre novel

Day 10- Best writing style, or the style that resonates with you most

Day 11- Favorite genre series

Day 12- A genre novel everyone should read

Day 13- A genre novel you’ve read more than five times

Day 14- Favorite book trailer from a genre novel

Day 15- The cover from you current (or most recent) genre novel

Day 16- Genre novel with the most intriguing plot

Day 17- Favorite antagonist

Day 18- Favorite protagonist

Day 19- World/setting you wish you lived in

Day 20- Favorite genre

Day 21- Genre novel with the most interesting character interactions

Day 22- A sequel which disappointed you

Day 23- Genre novel you haven’t read, but wish you had

Day 24- Favorite classic genre novel

Day 25- A genre novel you plan on reading soon

Day 26- Best hero

Day 27- Most epic scene ever

Day 28- Favorite publisher of genre novels

Day 29- A genre novel you thought you wouldn’t like, but ended up loving

Day 30- Your favorite genre novel of all time

So my answers so far (and they are related).

Very first genre novel- I believe it was The Rolling Stones by Robert A. Heinlein. Found that in the library when I was in middle school. Started me on a lifelong reading journey into sci-fi/fantasy genres, and a love of Heinlein.

Favorite character- Maureen Johnson from several of Heinlein’s books. She is my definition of a strong, intelligent woman. She lived her life on her own terms, despite living in a society that tended to frown on strong willful women. She did what she had to do, as well as what she wanted to do. She has always been one of my fictional heroes.

Wanna play? (Twitter hashtag: #30DaysofGenre)

Saturday, April 9, 2011


Or perhaps I should say, the lack thereof. Because it seems lately, I have nothing to say. Not here, not on Facebook or Twitter, not in my stories. It all just seems- blank.

There was a time when I could sit down and simply pour out words on paper- or screen. Now, I sit and nothing comes out. Yep, I've tried sitting and just starting to type, but what do you do when there is nothing to type? Literally, nothing.

I've run dry on ideas. Well, not completely. I still get an idea, but they seem to fizzle out. I have beginnings, I just can't seem to come up with middles and ends. Plots go nowhere, I have no idea what happens next. New or old, doesn't seem to matter. I have close to 60K words in my old NaNoWriMo project. It's not finished, but I can't seem to figure out what or where to go with the pieces that need working on.

I used to think I was a (somewhat) creative person. Maybe it's drying up? I have no idea. I just know I don't like it.

Yes, I'm whining. Sorry about that. Just needed to get that out of my head. I'm done now. Promise I won't come back till I have something positive to say.