Lori's Book Nook

Archive for the ‘Fantasy’ Category

More reading! I must admit, I’m enjoying this…it’s been awhile since I put reading on my priority list. It’s helped that I’ve been a bit sick the last few days, so I’ve done nothing but read!

#8 – Leslie Darbon‘s adaptation of Agatha Christie’s A Murder is Announced. A play! Yes, I’m sure I’ll read a few more in the coming weeks. I do enjoy plays, the theatre and the like – as evidenced by my other blog, Theatrical Thoughts (also a bit neglected unfortunately). This one we had around because my husband had been in it years ago…and to be honest, I didn’t know the story. Turns out, it’s a Miss Marple story, so there was an added bonus!

#9 – Ronald Millar’s Abelard and Heloise: A Play. This one I’ve had hanging around for a bit, waiting to read it. I don’t know about you, but I’ve been fascinated for awhile about the tragic story of Héloïse D’Argenteuil and Peter Abelard. The play dramatizes events of the story, with a strong philosophical/religious angle. Not bad, in that it humanizes the characters a bit more, and gives Heloise a very strong role.

#10 – Brian Selznick’s The Invention of Hugo Cabret (now a movie!) A friend loaned me this absolutely delightful, cinematographic novel, and I can see (get it?) why it was snapped up as a film. I haven’t seen it yet, but I will soon. It’s truly a wonderful little novel, although at 500+ pages it seemed far more daunting than it was! Selznick, being an illustrator, has drawn a goodly part of the book, so it was really a matter of a couple of hours of looking and reading.

#11 – Roger Ebert‘s Life Itself: A Memoir. The first movie reviews I ever paid attention to were his and Siskel’s – how could I not pick up a copy of his memoirs? Some things stand out in a book full of interesting moments and pithy observations:

“The main thing wrong with a movie that is ten years old is that it isn’t thirty years old. After the hairstyles and the costumes stop being dated and start being history, we can tell if the movie itself is timeless.” (page 157)

“There is a test for an actor who, for a moment, is just standing there in a scene: Does he seem to be just standing there? Or does he, as John Wayne did, seem to be deciding when, why, and how to take the situation under his control?” (page 253)

(Regarding his inability to eat/drink/speak) “What’s sad about not eating is the experience, whether at a family reunion or at a midnight by yourself in a greasy spoon under the L tracks. The loss of dining, not the loss of food. Unless I’m alone, it doesn’t involve dinner if it doesn’t involved talking. The food and drink I can do without easily. The jokes, gossip, laughs, arguments, and memories I miss. I ran in crowds where anyone was likely to start reciting poetry on a moment’s notice. Me too. But not me anymore. So yes, it’s sad. Maybe that why writing has become so important to me. You don’t realize it, but we’re at dinner right now.” (page 383)

Overall, a highly enjoyable, meandering memoir. I didn’t realize that they’d made a documentary of this book, and his life. Now I have to look that up!

That’s 11 books in a month, at this rate, I should be able to finish 95+!

 

 

 

Yikes! I’m 23 days into the #95books challenge (my first post on that), and only 7 books in…and no real theme to my reading. But that’s not new – and I fully intend on following my nose from book to book.

Continuing the list:

#5 – Julie Powell‘s Julie & Julia: My Year of Cooking Dangerously. I enjoyed the movie – the pseudo-biopic with the delightful Meryl Streep as Julia Child – so thought that reading Powell’s memoir of cooking through Child’s classic cookbook would be fun. It feel off a thrift store shelf into my hand, so that was an easy decision, honestly. In the end, it an amusing bit of trifle, with a lot of honesty and personal anguish: “And as the week progressed the throbbing of my biological clock syncopated with my crepe anxiety until they formed one jazz rhythm.”

#6 – Carol Shields’ Pulitzer Prize-winning Unless. Again, a novel that dropped off a shelf in the thrift store that I’d been meaning to read. Shields’ prose is smooth, deceptively simple, the story carrying the reader along until you realize that you’re deep into it, unable to leave it. The link above is to a Salon review that has a line that struck me as being very descriptive of the experience:

Shields’ fiction has always had this sort of stealth spikiness, like soft fish that, when bitten into, turns up a web of bone, or like that sweet middle-aged lady next door when you were growing up, who turns out to have been watching you more shrewdly and understanding you more completely than you ever suspected.

#7 – Kurt Busiek & Cary Nord’s graphic novel of Richard E. Howard’s stories Conan: The Frost-Giant’s Daughter and Other Stories. Yes! A graphic novel is a book. An early set of stories by Howard, this lovely collection of comics was a hardcover gift to my husband at Christmas. It’s a good yarn, and the story reminds us to beware of what we wish for – always a good lesson.

So…what’s next on the pile to be read? I’ll let you know soon enough!

Ernie Cline is the Numero Uno geek on the Internet…or at least the one who has carved out his niche of geekdom, and becoming successful for actually being a geek.

Spoken word…a screenplay actually produced (that would be the Star Wars homage, Fanboys), and now a novel — Ready Player One:

an homage to 80s geekdom

Simply put, the novel is a distopic look at our world in a possible near future, where all energy is focused on one enormous simulation game…which is, for various reasons, absolutely replete with 80s pop culture references and recreations. Did I mention it features video games? And it has references to absolutely everything and anything that was popular in a pretty limited time frame…

Not enough for you? The audio book, which I am in the midst of right now, is read by Mr. Wil Weaton!

And it’s a good yarn! Thanks, Ernie!

…what my good friend Raincoaster said when I informed her that the most interesting link today to this blog was the result of a search for “dystopian poems for kids”.

Seriously, folks.  Children don’t want to read dystopian literature any more than they want to read poetry.

But I know I’m wrong. The Giver by Lois Lowry is unrelenting in its popularity, despite being a dystopia (and now they’re making a movie of it?)

What are your favourite dystopian novels?

Where do you pile your books? My hubby and I have piles on our bedside tables mostly, then some in the living room, the kitchen, the dining room…and they all live in the basement library/movie/party room (technically the ‘family room’).

The other day I was tidying the bedroom, and emptied the already-read and not-going-to-get-read-soon books off the two bedside tables:

Putting books away...

Then, I pulled books from the living room and kitchen to complete the tidy:

More books being put away..

This post for your voyeuristic enjoyment.

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Well, it’s happened again…I’ve received another box of books to review (here’s a list of the previous batch, and the one before).

This time they look like a lovely mix: 4 books of short stories, 1 memoir, 1 poetry/novel, 2 novels.

Short Stories

Cobalt Blue by Mary Borsky (Thomas Allen Publishers) — Judging this book by its cover, I’d say it’ll be mighty good. Lovely hand-holding size, good design, a trade paper with useful jacket-flaps. (A note to the publishers — your page for the book didn’t google well.) (Reviewed at Quill and Quire here.)

Silent Girl by Tricia Dower (Inanna Publications) — Wow. A quick google of this book title exposes me to something new, unexpected: A moving book trailer on YouTube.

I’m absolutely flumoxed. Tricia, me girl, that was inspired. I’m now terribly eager to read the book. (Book publishers/authors, take note: this woman knows how to market a book on the Internet!).

Out of Cleveland by Lolette Kuby (Véhicule Press) — A slim book with a very simple, unpretentious cover. I’m a sucker for short stories by women about women, so add that to the author’s background as a poet, I’m looking forward to this collection too.

I must admit, this post is turning into a “Who wins on the Internet marketing front?” — and here’s one that has almost no presence. To get anywhere, you have to put the title in quotes. Publisher — pay attention! I had to search for your site separately! (Hopeless, as web-un-savvy as this group is, they will likely not see this post. Unlike Tricia, above, who will be visiting me shortly, I’m sure!)

Red Rooms by Cherie Dimaline (Theytus Books) — Theytus Books is a small publisher, but all of the books I’ve seen are beautifully designed. I’m a little biased, as this publisher is in my town. Being from them, I do know that the author must be First Nations — and looking at the jacket, the stories are about the “urban Native people.” Another book to look forward to.

Memoir

The Way It Was: Vignettes from My One-Room Schools by Edith Van Kleek (University of Calgary Press) — Beautifully designed cover, readable text, nice heft to the book…I know I’ll enjoy this one. The author wrote notes throughout her career, and her daughter has now edited them into this book. (On the Internet marketing scale, this one doesn’t even rate. Note to authors — don’t expect a university publisher to market your book!)

Poetry/Novel

The Given by Daphne Marlatt (McClelland & Stewart) — I would expect Daphne Marlatt, who’s been writing poetry and novels for years, to have a good publisher (which she does)…and that publisher to have decent web-savvy (and they do). Even with the name of this poetry novel being rather common, the book’s page googled up on the first page. Of course, I’m looking forward to reading this offering.

Novels

The End of East by Jen Sookfong Lee (Vintage Canada – Random House) — I would expect Random House to be up-to-date on the whole web marketing issue, and they are. Search the phrase end of east and it’s the first hit. Well done! 2nd place prize to Random House. The novel itself looks lovely — a generational piece on Vancouver’s Chinatown. Can’t wait.

Living with the Dead by Karen Armstrong (Random House) — Armstrong has a series of her Otherworld books out, and while I’ve not read any (yet), I have heard of her. Random House didn’t do as well for this author, but her own website is informative, listing her books. Bronze medal for web marketing.

I will try to post something other than my first impressions as I read the books. Please feel free to ask me directly for feedback.

And Tricia? Stop and say hi! 😀

NO, this is not a blog post about Twilight. Oh, spare me that agony. I did read the first book, lent to me by a co-worker, on a bus trip. It was a relatively fun, mindless 2 hours to the end of the book…but it was like eating cotton candy, absolutely no sustenance.

And it is not a post about Anne Rice, although I enjoyed her vampire books. I especially enjoyed the history of each vampire. Fun, sexy books.

Who I would like to talk about is the author Chelsea Quinn Yarbro. A good friend of mine intercepted me after the above-mentioned bus trip, told me, if you want vampire fiction, here is where to go.  That was 2 months ago. She has since lent me 5 of Yarbro’s books, all of which I’ve devoured…but I’m only getting around to writing about them now. My apologies.

The website states the over-arching focus of the books much more succinctly than I ever could:

The books of the Saint-Germain Cycle combine historic fiction, romance, and horror and feature the heroic vampire first introduced in Hôtel Transylvania as Le Comte de Saint-Germain. In this initial novel, the character — cultured, well-traveled, articulate, elegant, and mysterious — appears in the court of France’s King Louis XV.

A ‘heroic vampire’ makes for a very readable series (of which I’ve only read 1/4…there are 20+ books so far!). Then, the conflict is in the human world around Saint- Germain as he maintains his life.

As Chelsea Quinn Yarbro explains:

The second level of questions arose from the relationship of vampires to humans — must the relationship be exploitative? And must humans abhor vampires? The more I thought about it, the more I thought it was worth trying to use a vampire as a metaphor for humanism: a person living an unnaturally long life might become alienated from humanity, as a means of avoiding the pain of spending most of your time saying permanent good-byes. Or it was just possible the vampire would, through his very alienation, seek to be part of human experience, which offered a great many more dramatic possibilities.

So, the books follow the efforts of the vampire Saint-Germain to live in each age. Of course, because of his accumulated wealth and knowledge, he finds himself embroiled in public life and that brings its own difficulties. The stories recount his activities in this public sphere, with any sucking of blood kept to the sidelines.

The most fascinating aspect of these books is that the horror and danger in a Saint-Germain novel come from the humans, not the vampire.

Any other Yarbro fans out there?


Book Discussion Pages

Here on the Book Nook you can discuss: The Fifth Business by Robertson Davies, as well as the next two books in the Deptford Trilogy, The Manticore and World of Wonders, and if that's not enough for you, see what's up on the forums at BookTalk.org!