31 December 2009

Books 2009: December Update

Total to date: 83 books (six books this month)

The 2009 Support Your Local Library Challenge total to date: 51 books (two book this month) [COMPLETED!]

A list of all the books I've read to date (from 01 January 2008) can be found at Library Thing.

Favourite book of the month?

* Shadow Magic (Jaida Jones & Danielle Bennett)

Books I 'did not finish':

* Kiss of Crimson (Lara Adrian) [For some reason, I just couldn't get past Page 133]

Currently reading: Magic Burns (Ilona Andrews)

And the books I'm most looking forward to reading next month/year/decade:

* Cormabis (Sarah Monette)

* Daughter of the Forest (Juliet Marillier)

What did you read last month?

Edited to add: Happy New Year!

Edited again to add: Books I 'did not finish'

28 December 2009

Thus Endth The First Year

And thus (well, almost *grin*) endth the first year of my Walkabout. Where to start? Firstly, and most importantly, this first year online would not have been as it was without your input and support. I am very fortunate to have meet you all!

In my first post of 2009 entitled Walkabout I made two resolutions:

1) To feel comfortable in my own skin (not just physically, but also emotionally and mentally)

2) To find out what makes me happy and what inspires me

I think there has been some progress made with regard to these resolutions, but at times it does feel like I've climbed a hill only to discover the rather large mountain lurking behind it. *shrug* Only in my wildest dreams did I think my Walkabout would be easy...or fast.

With regard to books, I am happy to say that 2009 has been a year of discovery! I have been introduced to two new-to me authors that have completely blown me away:

* Juliet Marillier - I adored Heir to Sevenwaters and am looking forward to delving into the Sevenwaters trilogy, beginning with Daughter of the Forest in the New Year

* Sarah Monette - The Doctrine of Labyrinths is now one of my (if not the) all-time favourite series (and I still haven't read the fourth and final book!)

Special mentions must also go to authors Ginn Hale, CS Harris, Jaida Jones & Danielle Bennett, Deanna Raybourn and Julia Spencer-Fleming, whose books I fell in love with this year. (I am eagerly awaiting the next book from each of them!) I was also introduced to the m/m romance subgenre in 2009, and I'm looking forward to expanding my horizons in this subgenre in 2010, starting with ('finally' I hear some of you say) Josh Lanyon's Adrian English series *grin*

This year I completed The 2009 Support Your Local Library Challenge by borrowing and reading 50 books from my local library. And yes, I'm planning to join this challenge next year (which I know is sort of cheating as I do borrow most of my books from the library) and attempt at least two other challenges (I know, I'm really stretching myself *grin*), including my very own Big Book Challenge. More on that next year!

As to what 2010 will bring I am unsure...but I am looking forward to walking it...

26 December 2009

Prude

Earlier this week I finished reading A Virgin River Christmas (Robyn Carr), the fourth book in the Virgin River series. Reading this book allowed me to discover something about myself: I'm a prude. Yup, a prude. There are just certain bodily functions I have no desire to read about (particularly when there is a whole paragraph dedicated to said bodily function)...and certain descriptive words utilized that I don't expect to read in a romance novel. For example, peeing, fanny and whizz! They just completely throw me out of the story. Panties is another one. When I was a teenager I read a book in which the word panties was used....how it was used scarred me for life and I can't read that word without flinching. (And no, I can't remember the title or the author, but the book was about a bus of hijacked school children.)

So, are their any words or actions that throw you out of a story or make your skin crawl? Or maybe it's just me...

24 December 2009

Bah! Humbug!

First and foremost, I wish you, your family and friends a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

But what's with the title I hear you ask. Yes, I know, it makes you immediately think of Ebenezer Scrooge...and you'd be right. I have a confession. I don't like Christmas. I used too...but Christmas is synonymous with family and, for me, family equates to high octane stress. As of midnight tonight I am on annual leave - from work and from the family - for 2 1/2 weeks. *bliss*
As for the day itself, my nod to Christmas will encompass reading as many of my Christmas anthologies as I can... How will you be spending your Christmas?

20 December 2009

You Say Tomato

Some of you may have noticed that I was reading Kiss of Crimson, the second book in Lara Adrian's Midnight Breed series. And yes, was is the operative word in that sentence. I reached Page 88 and just...stopped. I realized that I was...forcing myself to keep reading (never a good reason to read IMO) so I put the books aside.

As to why...the book is very well written, but, just like when I read the first book (Kiss of Midnight), I kept comparing the characters and world-building to JR Ward's Black Dagger Brotherhood. Believe me, I wish I didn't. I know there are definite differences between the two series, but...I can't seem to stop the comparisons from leeching out of my brain. For example:
It was Gideon, resident computer genius and right-hand man to Lucan, the Order's venerable leader. Gideon had the compound wired tight inside and out...
And there's some part of my brain wondering if 'Gideon' has a goatee and smokes...

I've come to the conclusion that reading both series at the same time just isn't working for me, but I've heard so many good things about the Midnight Breed series that I don't want to give up on it. So, I'm putting it on hold until I finally hit the wall with the BDB or the series ends (whichever comes first :) Although...I am thinking of trying to finish Kiss of Crimson over the Christmas holiday period.

So, have you ever read a series that just merges in your mind with another? And, if so, what do you do to separate them?

18 December 2009

The 2010 Big Book Challenge

This challenge was inspired by the lovely Heidenkind from Heidenkind's Hideaway, who has recently joined the Mixology Challenge, and a discussion I had earlier this year....somewhere.

Tis the season for Book Challenges! And since it's the season I thought I would...play *grin* So, I hearby bring you:The Big Book Challenge

Oh and when I say big I mean really big. This big: *stretches hands* After all, it's The Big Book Challenge! And yes, I'm referring to size. In this challenge, size really does matter. You see, there are certain big books out 'there' that I have been avoiding...because of their size. They are so big I'm afraid they will eat my alive! *hides under bed* So, I've decided 2010 is the year to change all that. Hence The Big Book Challenge was born.The challenge rules are simple:

1) Read a big book, and by a big book I mean a book with more than 500 pages, before the end of 2010.

2) A review is not required (although I'm going to attempt a post detailing my thoughts on the book, or the reasons why I didn't finish it *grin*).

3) The big book can be from any fiction genre (e.g. fantasy, romance, science fiction). It can even be non-fiction.4) No penalties if the book isn't read by the end of 2010 (because this is meant to be fun).

5) The book can be changed at any time! (Flexibility is important IMO :)

6) You can join at any time throughout the year!

Right, confession time. I have been avoiding Kushiel's Dart (Jacqueline Carey). It's....quite big. So, that's the big book I've decided to try and read in 2010. So, what big book have you been avoiding?

The participants to date are as follows:
- orannia (Kushiel's Dart [Jacqueline Carey])
- Kerry (Ship of Destiny [Robin Hobb])
- Kristen (Kushiel's Chosen [Jacqueline Carey])
- Mariana (Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows [JK Rowling])
- Heidenkind (TBC)
- Carolyn Crane (Dune [Frank Herbert])
- Hilcia (Naamah's Kiss [Jacqueline Carey])
- Kris (The Name of the Wind [Patrick Rothfuss])
- Renee (TBC)
- Christine (Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows [JK Rowling])
- Leslie (Outlander [Diana Gabaldon])
- starfirenz (Drums of Autumn or The Fiery Cross [Diana Gabaldon] or Kushiel's Scion [Jacqueline Carey])
- sausconys-books (A Plague of Angels [Sheri S Tepper])
- Ag (Lord of the Rings [JRR Tolkein])

Edited to add: Rule 4 and the image. And I know the image seems...unusual, and the word 'big' makes me think of seven league boots, which makes me think of Howl's Moving Castle (Diana Wynne Jones), hence the image *grin*

Edited again to add: Rules 5 & 6 and to update the current list of participants! And maybe it's just me but I'm beginning to see a pattern in the books chosen - Ms Carey and Ms Gabaldon both appear to write quite large books *grin*

16 December 2009

Acceptance

Confession time... I have two very annoying habits: 1) I'm Little Miss Fix-It. I want to fix everything because, from where I'm sitting, content people are less likely to lash out and therefore I am far less likely to be in the firing line; and 2) I want...well, maybe it's more of a need...to be liked, to be...wanted. I crave a purpose, because with a purpose I am necessary. It's like, I have a place as long as I please others, so I do and I fix. I try to be necessary. And yes, that can be incredibly annoying for friends who can't work out why I am trying to 'fix' and 'assist' and...'be of use'.

I'm also constantly seeking approval - I need...validation. And if others approve, then I believe, somewhere, that I am less likely to be pushed away. I'm always anxious - am I getting whatever I am doing/saying wrong? So, I need boundaries/exact parameters for everything...because then I know where the line is (so that I don't step beyond it). I need to be accepted and will compromise in order to receive it rather than trusting that people will accept me for who I am. Because who I am is never enough. I know, it all sounds screwed, but from where I sit it is my reality.

All of this came up in a discussion with the unnamed expert earlier this month as I realized (which I suppose in itself is a positive) that I'm constantly seeking approval/positive reinforcement. It's my coping mechanism. When we're young, we don't know who we are, so we begin to form a sense of self by how others see us - this is known as mirroring. If the mirroring isn't positive...or accurate...then our sense of self is distorted. Thus, the need for validation.

So, where now? It's a case of building my sense of self so that instead of seeking external validation I learn to trust myself and look internally. *puts on hiking boots* This is going to be a long climb...

11 December 2009

Endings

No, not mine. Sorry, not the best title selection. Last month (at least, I think it was last month), while I was reading Grimspace (Ann Aguirre), my lovely friend Kerry informed me that Ann Aguirre had sold the last two books in the Jax series, so the story arc will be completed. And that got me to thinking..

My immediate thought (selfish I know) was 'YAH'! There will definitely be an ending!' Because, as a reader, it is...incredibly frustrating to not have an ending to a story that you have invested time and energy in. (And yes, I'm aware of the vagaries of publishing and that sometimes the author is just as frustrated as the reader when a story arc in left incomplete.) The example that springs to mind whenever I think of a incomplete story arc is The Exiles, a fantasy trilogy by Melanie Rawn. I read the first book in 1994 and the second book in 1997. As for the third book...well, I'm glad you asked *grin* The third book hasn't been released yet...I actually don't think it has been written. Now, don't get me wrong, I'm not in any way, shape or form demanding the third book. It's not my place to do so. And, I'm aware that Melanie Rawn has experienced serious health issues over the past few years, and I can't imagine how hard it is to write when healthy, let alone when you are not.

I guess what I would like is some indication from the author as to whether (or not) the third book will ever be published. If it won't be, I'll accept that...it's the not knowing that drives me up the wall. And if the third book is never published, then I really hope that Melanie will make available a short plot synopsis, with answers to all those questions that I have. It's like the TV series The Pretender. All those plots never completed...it's... *deep breath*

So, how do you feel about books with incomplete story arcs?

08 December 2009

Thoughts on As Shadows Fade

Caveat: I don't mean any disrespect to either the author or her work, so I apologise in advance if I cause offence - it is not my intention to do so.

Note: There are spoilers aplenty in this post. Also, I'm not sure how well I have articulated exactly what I'm feeling, but I've given it a good shot *grin*

Last month I wrote a post entitled Alternate Endings as I had just picked up As Shadows Fade, the fifth and final book in Colleen Gleason's Gardella Vampire Chronicles, from my local library. I finished reading the book at the end of last month and I've been thinking about it ever since. Remember how I said there was a love triangle, and that I had a fair idea who the heroine (Victoria) would choose, and that Victoria's choice for Victoria was the opposite of orannia's choice for Victoria? Well I was right (unfortunately). On the plus side, the romance between Victoria and her choice of hero (Max) worked for me. I didn't think it would, but it did. I believed it, believed in them. The rather large elephant of an issue I have with the book is what happened to the alternate hero (Sebastian).
As the book progresses and Sebastian accepts that Victoria has not chosen him, he starts dreaming of his previous beloved Giulia (Max's sister), who was introduced to vampires (by Max) and subsequently turned. Sebastian was the one who staked her (I hope that makes sense).
Was it just because he'd lost Victoria that Giulia had come back to haunt him? Had his relationship - such as it had was - been simply a distraction from Giulia and her memory?
Excuse me? Sebastian considers his relationship with Victoria a distraction?

Sebastian then discovers an ancient prophecy foretelling the coming of a saviour who carries the deepest taint. So, in an effort to save Giulia and others from eternal damnation (because they drank human blood), Sebastian rescues Max from the clutches of the evil vampire queen and allows himself to be turned into a vampire.
For Giulia. For her soul. He would save her soul, and keep his own clean. And then, someday, they would be together...when his long promise was fulfilled.
I'm sorry, be together? But...what about Sebastian's feelings for Victoria?
Breathing hard, he looked at her (Victoria): the face he would never forget, the woman he loved, the eyes, sharp but pleading.
So, you do love her (Victoria)?

I'm not a huge fan of love triangles (but then I can't imagine one hero falling in love with me let alone two [although a gal can dream *grin*]) but...I trusted the author to do right by it. Unfortunately, I feel that Sebastian was cheated. And what's worse is that Max was the person who introduced Giulia to the vampire that turned her (although I will stipulate that he was ignorant of the exact consequences of his introduction) and yet Max ends up playing happy families with Victoria and Sebastian spends the rest of his life as a vampire... Does that seem in any way fair to you because it doesn't to me.

And what's more, where was Sebastian's anguish and heartache over losing Victoria? We are never shown it. It's almost like we are meant to believe that Sebastian didn't really love Victoria. Except...the author sold me on that in the first four books, and not having a resolution, any resolution, cheapens those feelings. And to make him a vampire?

I'm sure the author has her reasons and I'm missing them by such a gap you could drive a supertanker through, so if someone can explain them to me I'd be very grateful as I just don't understand...

Edited to add: I realized after posting that this post was rather anti-social unless one had actually read the book. So, in the general scheme of love triangles, what are your thoughts on how the author should handle the alternate hero's ending?

06 December 2009

Christmas Reading

I have a confession. I've been 'saving' books to read over the Christmas holiday period. These are books that I've been dying to read but that I knew would end up squeezed between work and life. I want to savour the experience of reading them. So, on Friday I visited my local library and picked up (finally):

* Corambis (Sarah Monette) [The final book in The Doctrine of Labyrinths]

* Daughter of the Forest (Juliet Marillier)

* What Remains of Heaven (CS Harris)

But I'm curious: do you save books for a holiday period or do you read them as soon as you purchase/borrow them?

Update: My new computer is now up and running! *happy dance* Shiny! My computer that is. So shiny. And so fast. I can't believe how fast. And so purple *grin* Internet here I come! And yes, you would have thought that upon connecting said new computer I would have gone berserk and been surfing for hours, but, unfortunately, chores took priority yesterday...

02 December 2009

On the Second Day of Christmas...

...my true love gave to me (*enter cynical voice stage left* well, he didn't, probably because he doesn't exist *exit cynical voice in a puff of smoke* [because exiting stage right would be so boring])

A brand new Dell computer just for me!

Yes, it has arrived....in three boxes. I'm not quite sure what is in the third box, but I guess I'll find out this weekend *grin* Yes, this weekend. How is that for restraint?

Edited to add: My current computer staged the death scene to end all death scenes on Wednesday night (and yes, some might say that is perfect timing) so I will be AWOL offline until I have the new computer connected...to itself and the Internet. *madly crossing fingers that the connecting is as easy as everyone says it is*

01 December 2009

Books 2009: November Update

Total to date: 77 books (9 books this month)

The 2009 Support Your Local Library Challenge total to date: 49 books (six books this month)

A list of all the books I've read to date (from 01 January 2008) can be found at Library Thing.

Favourite book of the month? Actually I don't have one...

Currently reading: Shadow Magic (Jaida Jones and Danielle Bennett)

And the books I'm most looking forward to reading this month?

* Blaze of Memory (Nalini Singh)

* Corambis (Sarah Monette)

* Daughter of the Forest (Juliet Marillier)

* Fragile Eternity (Melissa Marr)

* What Remains of Heaven (CS Harris)

What did you read last month?