Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Books I Want to Read in 2012

PhotobucketGame of Thrones by George R.R. Martin.
An epic, old-school fantasy. I'm a little late to Game of Thrones. Even before the show came out, my fantasy-reading friends were raving about it ("He kills everyone, it's awesome!"). I got it for my birthday last year and read the first chapter but got distracted. I restarted after the new year and am now about 50% through on my Kindle. Yes it's long, but it's so hard to put down!

PhotobucketThe Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest by Stieg Larsson.
Third in the Dragon Tattoo series of thrillers. So I read the first two books in this series in paperback way back when they first came out in the US. I decided to wait for the third one to come out in paperback because I'm the kind of person who hates to have two books in paperback and one in hardback. Well, I guess the publisher wanted to squeeze every last penny out of the hardback because I have waited two &!#% years for Hornet's Nest to come out in paperback.  My wait is nearly over though, because the mass market paperback will be released on February 21st (but the list price is $10, come on!).

PhotobucketThe Wicked by Michael Wallace.
Also released on February 21st is the third book in Michael Wallace's Righteous series. I've read the first two (both mysteries set in polygamist communities) and am looking forward to this one because it looks like the focus will move from Jacob Christianson, who starred in the first two, to his sister Eliza. I've actually already purchased it (it was originally self-published; Feb. 21st is when it makes the move to Amazon's publishing arm, Thomas & Mercer) and it will probably be my next read once I finish Game of Thrones.

PhotobucketCrucible of Gold by Naomi Novik.
A historical fantasy (think Master and Commander with dragons!). This is seventh in the series, I think. Why don't they number them anymore? If it's the kind of series you have to read in order (which this one is) then they really ought to number them. Anyway, the last book was not as good as some of the earlier ones (it was all land-based and I missed the sailing!) so I have high hopes for this one. It comes out March 6th.

PhotobucketRedshirts by John Scalzi.
Science fiction. So Mr. Scalzi is being pretty secretive about the plot of this one (there is no description up on Amazon yet), but just the title is enough for me to get excited. Anyone who has ever watched the original Star Trek series knows that when Kirk takes a landing party down to a planet, the nameless guys in the red shirts are always going to bite the dust. Obviously this is not going to be a Star Trek novel, but I'm guessing Mr. Scalzi is going to play with the Redshirt trope some how. It will be released June 5th.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Books I Read in 2011: Part 2

This is the second half of my list of books I read last year. You can read the first half here.

PhotobucketThe Book That Surprised Me: Tasting the Wind by Allan Mayer.
Tasting the Wind was a $0.99 Kindle book and I didn't have high expectations for it, so I was caught by surprise when I couldn't put it down. It's a psychological thriller set in a group home for adults with severe disabilities, but it downplays the thrills to focus on the characters: the residents and the employees who care for them. It's a fascinating window in to a way of life that I know nothing about, and approaches the subject of working with disabilities realistically but with humor. The only thing I found jarring about the story was that it was told from two points of view: first person (Martin's perspective) and third person (everyone else's perspective). After the first few chapters I got accustomed to the switching back and forth and it didn't bother me anymore.

PhotobucketPopular Books That I Tried to Avoid, But Couldn't: The Hunger Games, Catching Fire and Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins.
I hate to admit it, but sometimes I can be one of those people who shuns things just because they're popular. The Hunger Games series was one of those things. I saw the books everywhere, read about them online, etc. but had no desire to pick them up. Usually what gets me to overcome my popularity shun is a friend recommending the book, and that was the case this time too. My friends in an online book club raved about them, so I checked the first book out from the library and was hooked.

PhotobucketMost Overhyped Book: Ready Player One by Ernest Cline.
I follow a lot of geeky people online and when Ready Player One came out, they all seemed to be gushing about it. The premise sounds amazing: in the future everyone plays a virtual reality game that lets them be a part of pretty much every movie/TV show/book/video game/comic ever made. Every geek's dream, right? Well I guess there can be too much of a good thing - for me, anyway. It seemed like the author wanted to squeeze in mentions of every piece of geek fiction they loved, even when it wasn't relevant to the plot. That and the endless exposition made me wish that I had checked it out from the library instead of paying full price for it on the Kindle. You can read my full review of Ready Player One here.

PhotobucketThe Book Purchase I Most Don't Want to Admit to: Twilight: The Graphic Novel, Volume 1 by Stephenie Meyer and Young Kim.
Do you want to know how much I didn't want to admit to buying the Twilight graphic novel? So much that I left it off 2010's list, which is when I actually read it. I PREORDERED THIS, PEOPLE! I don't know what's wrong with me. I hate on Twilight constantly and yet I own all the books. I've seen all the movies (on DVD, I refuse to be seen watching them in the theater). Maybe that is the secret to Stephenie Meyer's success - she makes it so that you'll read her books, even if you despise the story, the characters and the writing. Does she have magic powers? I can't think of any other explanation. Anyway, the graphic novel was pretty and exactly like the book. Those who are obsessed with Twilight (not me, I swear!) will surely enjoy it.

The rest of Part 2, in no particular order:

Friday, January 13, 2012

Books I Read in 2011: Part 1

In 2011, I read 28 books. Last year it was 32. I find that interesting because I felt like I hardly read any books at all this year, but really it was only four fewer than in 2010. Below is Part 1 of the highlights and lowlights of what I read as well as a summary of the rest. Part 2 is here.

PhotobucketFavorite Non-Fiction: Save the Cat! and Save the Cat! Goes to the Movies by Blake Snyder.
If you read the Save the Cat! screenwriting books, you'll never look at movies - or novels - the same way again. The late Blake Snyder shows how well-plotted fiction always hits the same fifteen beats, or points, in the story. Understanding these beats can help a writer to outline a story in a full and satisfying way.

Favorite short stories: by Kristine Kathryn Rusch.
I had never heard of the prolific Kristine Kathryn Rusch before Rob Lopresti mentioned one of her short stories in the now sadly defunct Criminal Brief blog. The story (The Case of the Vanishing Boy) was about two geeks solving a mystery at a science fiction convention - how could I resist? This lead to me finding a number of Kristine's other shorts that I enjoyed as well as subscribing to her "business of writing" blog on my Kindle.

PhotobucketBest Use of Geology: Remarkable Creatures by Tracy Chevalier.
Remarkable Creatures was an interesting "kinda-sorta-based-on-a-true-story" novel about two women who were involved in the discovery of dinosaur fossils in England in the 19th century. The field of geology is sorely lacking in famous female faces (I majored in it and I couldn't name one) so it was good to learn about Mary Anning and Elizabeth Philpot.
Runner up: Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton. Need I say more?

PhotobucketWorst Kindle Formatting: A Stitch in Time by Andrew J. Robinson.
Thanks to Netflix, I've been rewatching Star Trek: Deep Space Nine for the first time since it aired. A Stitch in Time is about one of the minor characters, Garak, and was written by the actor who played him. I love Garak and was psyched to find out there was a whole book dedicated to him. I knew it would be tough to find a paperback copy of the ten-year-old book, so I bought the Kindle version even though many of the reviews said the formatting was horrible.

Well, they were right. I managed to read the whole thing and, though the story itself was good, the errors ruined it. I can handle a few scanning errors (the funniest of which was "feces" instead of "faces") but there were way too many here (I stopped counting at fifty). Worse were the missing line breaks. Scenes and dialog were smooshed together which made it very difficult to follow the story. Considering that I paid full price for this and it was published by a major company (Simon and Schuster), I expected better. All it would've taken was one person to sit down and read through it and they could've caught 95% of the errors. I can't see any explanation for not doing that except laziness and greed.

The rest of Part 1, in no particular order:

Sunday, January 1, 2012

It's A Brand New Year

A LOLcat starring my cat, Sophie.
With a new year comes a new writing journal (pictured above with Sophie) and, of course, New Year's Resolutions. Here are mine:
  1. Submit a short story for publication.
  2. Finish a novel.
  3. Write in my writing journal every day.