Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Last Year's Books

Although I haven't posted here in a while, I'm not abandoning this blog forever. As proof, here's the list of books I read in 2009. It's a bit later than usual, due to a Major Life Event commonly known as a new baby. But here it is all the same.

I'm also posting this on my Huggermugger blog, and most of my book reviews I've linked to are on that blog, not here.

January
  • Women of Valor: The Rochambelles on the WWII Front by Ellen Hampton
  • I Hate Hamlet by Paul Rudnik
  • Thursday Next: First Among Sequels by Jasper Fforde

February
  • The Fellowship of the Ring by J.R.R. Tolkien
  • The Complete Short Stories of Jeffrey Archer by Jeffrey Archer

March
  • The Two Towers by J.R.R. Tolkien
  • A Darker Place by Laurie R. King

April
  • Not Quite Dead Enough by Rex Stout
  • Return of the King by J.R.R. Tolkien

May

June
  • Mary Anne by Daphne du Maurier
  • Deja Dead by Kathy Reichs

July

August

September

October

November
  • A Monstrous Regiment of Women by Laurie R. King
  • By Myself by Lauren Bacall

December
  • The Watcher's Guide: Volume 1 by Christopher Golden and Nancy Holder

Pretty different mix from the year before in one major way: in 2009, I read six books I'd read at least once before; in 2008, nary a one. A lot of old favorite authors this year: Jasper Fforde, Rex Stout, Laurie R. King, J.R.R. Tolkien. And two new authors who quickly gained my appreciation: Jeffrey Archer (for his mad plot-twisting skills) and Kathy Reichs (for her plotting prowess and technical knowledge). Two non-fiction books, one memoir, one play, a healthy dose of fantasy, several novels, and gobs of mysteries. A satisfying year, for sure! If a somewhat scanty one -- the older my son gets, the less time I have to read. Now that I have a baby daughter too... who knows what 2010's list will look like!

Monday, June 22, 2009

Adieu, adieu. Remember me.

I've decided to stop posting on this blog for a while. My own writing seems to be going through a rather stagnant period, and so this blog has as well. I'll continue writing reviews of the books I read, which you can find on my Huggermugger blog at www.huggermuggerblog.blogspot.com -- if you enjoy those, please join me there. I'm not deleting this blog because I do intend to continue it at some future time, when my writing life regains its vigor. When I do, I'll post a message on my other blog announcing the revival of Inscriptions, so if you follow me there, you won't miss anything.

Thanks for reading! I hope I won't be gone too long.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

LRK Podcast Link

The podcast of Laurie R. King's reading and discussion that I attended is now available here. You have to scroll down a little, until you find May 2. You can also download the mp3 file. Enjoy!

Friday, June 05, 2009

"Giant" by Edna Ferber

When I was a kid, one of the movies my family watched over and over was Giant (1955), which stars James Dean, Rock Hudson, and Elizabeth Taylor. I was crazy in love with James Dean's character, Jett Rink. He was sweet, sad, shy, and eventually became a gazillionaire. Swoon.

It's surprising that it took me this long to read the novel, I guess. But not nearly as surprising, for me, as the differences between the book and the movie. Much of the movie is very faithful to the original plot, characters, and setting. But there's one major difference: Jett Rink. No shy, backwards ranch hand with a schoolboy crush is he, not in the book. He's mean, he's conniving, and he's cruel.

But despite Jett being so different from my childhood idol, I did enjoy this book. Ferber has a firm grasp of full-bodied characterization and an acidic wit that made for a fast-paced, enjoyable read. I didn't even mind her occasional bursts of stream-of-consciousness. It was a good way to kick off the summer.

But I like the movie better, mostly because of Jett Rink.

Monday, May 11, 2009

"Hollywood Buzz" by Margit Liesche

I love classic Hollywood and the WWII era, so it's no surprise I enjoyed this book. Hollywood Buzz (Starring Pucci Lewis) by Margit Liesche is a fast-paced mix of mystery, excitement, Hollywood glamour, and a little romance thrown in just for fun.

The lively heroine, Pucci Lewis, is a WASP -- as in Women Airforce Service Pilot -- who also happens to be good at undercover work. She gets assigned to Hollywood to see to it that a film about the WASPs is portraying them accurately, and also to try to find out if a fellow pilot's recent accident was the result of sabotage or not. Pucci tackles both parts of her assignment with a determination and bouncy charm that kept making me try to decide whether they should cast Claudette Colbert or Ginger Rogers in the role. The supporting cast includes an attentive screenwriter, a mysterious Gypsy housekeeper, a handsome former pilot, and none other than screen legend Bela Lugosi.

Hollywood Buzz is a fun, fast read, perfect for the beach blanket or hammock this summer. It's actually a sequel to Liesche's debut novel, Lipstick and Lies, which also stars Pucci Lewis, and which I intend to get from the library myself this summer.

Saturday, May 02, 2009

I Survived!

I just got home from attending Laurie R. King's book talk at a nearby town's library. Yes, I survived. I even asked questions after she did her reading! Two questions I'd thought up in advance so as to have a chance of sounding at least somewhat intelligent, which I think I managed to do. She answered both of them as if I was intelligent, at any rate. I asked her how she approaches writing from a male character's point of view versus a female character's, and how much research she does for her books. Which are both things involved with my own writing, since I write from a male POV so often (particularly in my fanfiction), and I write so much historical fiction and have to do research for it sometimes (also mostly for my fanfic).

After the talk and Q&A period, Ms. King signed books. She signed a copy of The Beekeeper's Apprentice for me, which I bought with some birthday money a couple days ago. And I bought a copy of her new book, The Language of Bees, there at the book talk, which she signed for my college advisor & lit prof, Ramona Czer. As Professor Czer doesn't read my blog (as far as I know), this will be a surprise gift, which I may send to her right away, or I may hang onto and give to her in person in September when Larry and I visit our alma mater. I learned today that one should buy a copy of the author's book before the talk starts (which I did), because they may run out (which they did).

The library is going to podcast this in a week or so, and I'll link to that from here then so you can get to hear Ms. King's insights into the craft of writing (and my little chipmunk voice asking questions) for yourself. Meanwhile, if you've never read one of her books, but like mysteries or mysterious fiction, I strongly suggest them. The Beekeeper's Apprentice is my favorite of the 8 of her books I've read so far, and I also loved Keeping Watch, which is a sequel to Folly. She has two series, the Sherlock Holmes/Mary Russell books (Beekeeper is the first) and her Kate Martinelli mysteries that are set in modern San Francisco. I've got a permanent link to her website, www.laurierking.com, in my sidebar here if you want to learn more.

So what did I personally gain from this afternoon, other than a couple of autographs? A renewed enthusiasm for writing. I hereby vow to stop using what should be Writing Time to work on things for my craft store or take little quizzes on Facebook or surf around online finding new pictures of Hugh Jackman. I will take my writing seriously again, and I will do my very best to finish writing the first draft of Salem before the end of the year. And I will also work at finding new ways to enjoy writing again, since it's become something of a chore these past few months. This afternoon was the first step toward that renewed joy, of that I'm certain.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Chewing My Fingernails

Laurie R. King is giving a reading on Saturday at a city about an hour from here. She's got a new book out, The Language of Bees, the latest in her Holmes/Russell series, and so is doing a book tour.

So, naturally, I'm going.

So, naturally, I'm nervous. I only started reading her books a few years ago, but she's rapidly become one of my favorite current authors. The only other author I've met is Ray Bradbury, and that was back when I was in college. And I had reinforcements then, namely my best friend and a professor. Now it will just be little me, driving to a city I've never been in before and then meeting someone whose writing I enjoy and admire and getting her autograph and trying not to have a Watermelon Moment and say something really dumb.

But I'm as excited as I am nervous, so that's good, right?