shadowkat: (work/reading)
[personal profile] shadowkat
[Eh, I don't really have much to report. I finished White Hot, tried The Immortals, got horribly bored - the character's navel gazing and myth research kept putting me to sleep, and am now reading Marry in Haste. So instead, I'm doing a book meme sort of like the movie meme. Assuming of course I can answer my own questions. Which can be distressing. I have a tendency to blank on the book.

Oh...conversation with mother, worth noting.

Me: I think you're right and I should hold off on the cat for a bit, was considering getting plants --
Mother: No no, you don't want - wait did you actually say you were considering getting plants?
Me: Yes.
Mom: Not a good idea. You do not want plants.
Me: Why?
Mom: Mold. Unless you are very good at watering them at the right times and don't over water, they get mold and you're highly allergic to mold.
Me: That's why I associate plants with allergies, I always wondered. (Well that and bugs.) And I do tend to over water. It's not deliberate. I'm just absent-minded. I can't remember if I watered them or not.
Mother: I'm the same way.
Me: but you have plants.
Mother :Only two indoors, and I think they have mold in them.

Book Meme

1. What was the most disturbing book that you read?

Under the Skin by Michael Chabon - which is about a woman (who turns out to be an alien) picking up male hitch-hikers so that they can be turned into the alien equivalent of fattened cows.

Has some interesting things to say about a) rape, b)hitch-hiking, c) gender, d) class and e) raising cows.

2. What was the funniest book that you read? Can be a series

The Jeeves and Wooster Series by PD Wodehouse. Actually just about anything by him.

3. In each of the book genre's that you've read or read regularly, pick one book to recommend or that you remember fondly, can be any number of genres that you want.

* Mystery Genre -- The Ice House by Minnette Walters - novel about three ladies who find a body on their property and their interactions with the police regarding it, and why it happened. Walters is more interested in the motivations behind the people who committed the murder, and often they are the protagonists.

* Science Fiction Genre -- The Sparrow by Maria Doria Russell (there's a sequel, but I didn't like it as well.) -- an interesting examination of religion, cultural differences, and misunderstandings -- also examines the morality of space exploration and invading another culture for investigatory reasons. Written from a cultural and biological anthroplogical perspective. Great characters. But painful story.

* Historical Romance Genre -- The Brothers Sinister Series by Courtney Milan -- specifically The Countess Conspiracy - interesting discussion of class and gender bias and inequalities during Victorian times. Rather witty in places.

* Historical Fiction Genre -- Dorothy Dunnett's The Chronicles of Lymond specifically Checkmate -- a dense but thorough examination of English and French politics during the 16th Century through the eyes of an English nobleman and classical hero.

* Fantasy Genre --- The Hobbit by JRR Tolkien - a novel about a journey into darkness, and how one can be tainted by it, without quite realizing it.

* Dark Fantasy Genre --- Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman -- a fable within a fairy tale, about a man remembering a time in his life that seems to have been impossible and wrought with magic.

* Urban Fantasy Genre --The Kate Daniels Series by Illona Andrews -- about a bad-ass, snarky merc who is running from a father that is or was a god, and falls in love with a shape-shifter who turns into a prehistoric lion. It basically rewrites Judeo-Christian mythos, with a spark of Asian and Eastern European thrown in. Possibly the most innovative take I've ever seen on vampires.

* Young Adult Genre -- The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins -- possibly the best of the dystopia novels. It takes Lord of the Flies and twists it with Survivor the Reality Show - Kids Edition. A scathing commentary of our culture and how violence affects children over time. Read the books, even if you saw the movies.

4. Name an author that you've read several books by (and it can't be a series starring a specific character or characters)

Jane Austen -- Pride and Prejudice, Emma, Persuasion, Sandition (the version written by her at any rate).

Anne McCaffrey - Dragon Flight, To Ride Pegasus, Crystal Singer, The Ship Who Sang,
Restoree, Decision at Doona,

5. Name a favorite series of books by an author that you enjoyed in two different genres.

* John D. MacDonald's Travis McGee series or The Vicky Bliss Mysteries by Elizabeth Peters (Trojan Gold, Night Train to Memphis were the best of the series).

* Harry Potter Series by J K Rowling

6. Name a book that was adapted into a film, where the film disappointed you and you wish it hadn't been adapted or done differently .

His Dark Materials by Philip K. Pullman

7. Name a book where the film adaptation was actually better than the book,

* Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep by Philip K. Dick -- the Ridley Scott film Blade Runner is so much better than the book on which it is based. And so different. This is unfortunately true of a lot of adaptations from Philip K. Dick.

8. Name a book that you wish they'd adapt into a television series

The Chronicles of Lymond by Dorothy Dunnett.

9. What is the most controversial novel that you'v ever read?

Weirdly and sadly, 50 Shades of Grey. I honestly don't think it deserved the hype. This is what happens when the mainstream audience is exposed to well porny fanfic.

10. A novel that still haunts you...and not always in a good way.

Sherri Teper's "Grass".

11. Name a book that you devoured when you read it and could not stop reading,
but can't figure out why now.

The Secret History by Donna Tartt - about a bunch of college kids who enact an ancient Greek ritual with dire results.

12. Favorite Thrillers?

* Legal Thriller -- John Grisham's The Firm. It was the most fun. Actually Grisham was the only legal thriller writer that I enjoyed.

* Science Thriller - Andromeda Strain by Michael Crichton (better than the movie)

* Political Thriller -- All the President's Men by Woodward and Bernstein

* Spy Thriller -- anything by Robert Ludlum. Sorry Ian Fleming, but Ludlum was more fun. (I get bogged down by Le Carre).

13. Favorite Non-Fiction writer?

Haven't really read a lot recently. So drawing a blank.

14. Name a favorite writer from a century previous to your own?


15. Name a favorite character from a Victorian novel?

Mr. Rochester from Jane Eyre.

Date: 2017-06-17 03:13 pm (UTC)
peasant: sweet pea (Default)
From: [personal profile] peasant
Actually Grisham was the only legal thriller writer that I enjoyed.
More or less the only profession that seems to enjoy reading stories about itself is the writing profession. Which is quite telling.

Name a favorite character from a Victorian novel?

Mr. Rochester from Jane Eyre.

Why him in particular?

Mystery Genre -- The Ice House by Minnette Walters - novel about three ladies who find a body on their property and their interactions with the police regarding it, and why it happened. Walters is more interested in the motivations behind the people who committed the murder, and often they are the protagonists.

Yes! I used to read quite a lot of mystery novels and they are mostly fairly humdrum but Walters is exceptional. I'm sure she would be much better known if she wrote a series, since people seem to like series in crime especially.

Have you ever read any Ellis Peters? She is the best of the historical mystery writers.

Date: 2017-06-19 06:33 am (UTC)
peasant: sweet pea (Default)
From: [personal profile] peasant
If you don't like series you definitely wouldn't like Ellis Peters.

When a series writer does a standalone it is often very good compared to their series work. Maybe the thing you have identified about character development is an important factor in that. Also I think they often revel in the freshness and lifting of constraints brought about in a long series. Some examples that spring to my mind are Lindsey Davies - her standalones Rebels and Traitors and Master and God are very good. Also George Macdonald Fraser with things like The American and Black Ajax

Of course there are plenty of exceptions where the series allows the author to develop gradually and build up a much greater whole. I think Bernard Cornwell's Last Kingdom series is definitely an example of that. And his standalones tend to be mediocre.

Date: 2017-06-20 05:28 pm (UTC)
peasant: sweet pea (Default)
From: [personal profile] peasant
Many readers want to dip in occasionally, without having to read the whole series. Agatha Christie and Conan Doyle in a way set that up. Focusing more on the "mystery" than the characters. ... Historical/fantasy series work better, because often the writer has a definitive arc in mind.

Oh that is an interesting point about how this effects character development through a series! I cannot think of a single mystery series that had an overall plot arc. There may be some out there of course, but I don't know any.

One interesting problem that mystery series often have is that the detective is set up with some dark mystery in his own background*. This works well as a hook to attract the reader/viewer, and yet over the course of the series the authors feel the need to drip out information bit by bit so as to keep the hook baited. And the very process of doing that normally takes away the mystery and leaves the detective as fairly mundane by the end. I doubt it is ever planned as such and I have never found it satisfying.

I guess the only other overall arc would be detectives who find a mate, settle down and have a family, which again all too often removes the mysterious element that most detectives seem to require to be considered interesting by audience or author.

That's my other difficulty with the mystery they go on too long. Five - Seven books is okay, but once the writer goes past the seven mark, for some reason or other, they start to phone it in and repeat themselves...the writer often has grown tired of the characters and is just going through the motions.

I have heard of several authors who loathed their detectives by the end. Probably why so many of them kill them off or drop series and start a new one.

* Ruth Rendell's Inspector Wexford being about the only contented family man detective without any haunted backstory or deep emotional problems, as far as I am aware. He's so unusual it becomes his quirk in its own right.


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