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Author Topic: What I'm Reading Now Thread
Tiergan
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So, after hearing the name, Jim Butcher, thrown around much here of late, I went through my cartons of books that I got from the library sale last year, and year before. And sure enough I have a Jim Butcher book, several it appears. I have heard of him for years now, and seen commercials for his TV series.

So I started reading his first, STORM FRONT. I really wasnt going to read much, as I have a lot of writing to do, but its a pretty easy read, and better yet, its in first person which is something I am attempting with my latest piece. The idea of trying it is: its supposed to be easier getting into the characters heads, and thoughts. This is something I feel is missing from my writing.

As far as the writing of the book, I dont know how I feel. He likes character description, in info dump form. Had I put it up in the forum here, I would have been crucified. And he is doing the biggest cardinal no-no. He is withholding what happened in his past. He talks about, hints about and moves on under the guise of not wanting to think about it.

I am not bringing those points up to cause an argument. The info dumps on character description do turn my stomach a little. I have long decided its easier to do, and am willing to except some. The truth is very few authors if any dont break this rule, its just rules sometimes can be so damn aggravating. If you spend a full page trying to show that your MC is tall and strong with dark hair, and blue eyes, it better have more purpose than just trying to get the physical description of him/her in. Might be better to slip just the line in.

The with-holding. I dont know-I feel cheated. Maybe its because a lot of my characters have checkered pasts, lost lifetimes and everyone says, if he knows it, then the reader needs to know it. Its easy to create suspense by withholding. As a reader I dont mind, even enjoy it. As a writer, well, thats a different story.


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LDWriter2
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quote:

As far as the writing of the book, I dont know how I feel. He likes character description, in info dump form. Had I put it up in the forum here, I would have been crucified. And he is doing the biggest cardinal no-no. He is withholding what happened in his past. He talks about, hints about and moves on under the guise of not wanting to think about it.

I am not bringing those points up to cause an argument. The info dumps on character description do turn my stomach a little. I have long decided its easier to do, and am willing to except some. The truth is very few authors if any dont break this rule, its just rules sometimes can be so damn aggravating. If you spend a full page trying to show that your MC is tall and strong with dark hair, and blue eyes, it better have more purpose than just trying to get the physical description of him/her in. Might be better to slip just the line in.

The with-holding. I dont know-I feel cheated. Maybe its because a lot of my characters have checkered pasts, lost lifetimes and everyone says, if he knows it, then the reader needs to know it. Its easy to create suspense by withholding. As a reader I dont mind, even enjoy it. As a writer, well, thats a different story.


Not sure if this will help how you feel about the writing but he's not the first pro writer to get away with breaking rules we can't. It depends on how well you do it. Dean Wesley Smith and I believe a couple of other long time pros have stated that you can break the rules once you know them. And even that you should break them when you reach that point. It helps to stretch us as writers. When you reach that point no one not even you can know. Only by what sells. I know one writer who sold his second story after he decided to break the not waking up in the opening rule. He did it on purpose, to stretch himself, and it worked for him. But a lot of us get yelled at when we try it.

As to Butcher's writing I didn't really notice the info dumbs that much. Either he does a good job at them or I was too much into the story to see them. I do that at times.

I have seen a few writers do The Withholding Thing. I think it depends on what is with held and how it is. I think it would bog down Butcher's story too much to go into great details at the beginning. We do know he had a troubled past and why the one guy with the sword hates him even if not every detail is given. For me it was enough. I was curious and hoped that it would be revealed in time...which it does... but it wasn't enough for me to loss interest in the story.

And like most writers Butcher improves with each book. So does Dresden. I think he's a bit whiny in the first book, almost like he's not used to pushing himself beyond what he thinks are his limits but he soon learns. I would think that by that time he would be somewhat used to doing that but not so much. You also get to see more of his kinder nature in later books.


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Tiergan
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quote:
And like most writers Butcher improves with each book. So does Dresden. I think he's a bit whiny in the first book, almost like he's not used to pushing himself beyond what he thinks are his limits but he soon learns.

Yeah, he is whiny, isnt he.

I just finished the book. It was a good book over all. And I will read more of his. While I didnt truly fall for the character, probably because he was whiny, even whimpy at times, I did like the world he created and the story flowed. And in the end he showed his strength.

As far as the writing: I finished the book which is more than I can say for most I have started. Some character description dumps, and some less then active sentences, and my hic-cup on withholding something under the guise of He didnt want to think of it. BUT, not enough for me to stop reading. Very few authors dont break the rules, and truth is I dont have a problem with it as long as the whole out performs the piece.

So what do I take away from the book, something I have been thinking of a lot lately. A perfect sentence doesnt make a good book, nor a perfect paragrpah, but a good story or good character does. And that is the most important part, the part I want to focus on more in my writing. Create the character, the world and let him go. I want to become less rule bound, and find my voice again.

[This message has been edited by Tiergan (edited March 27, 2011).]


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LDWriter2
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quote:

So what do I take away from the book, something I have been thinking of a lot lately. A perfect sentence doesnt make a good book, nor a perfect paragrpah, but a good story or good character does. And that is the most important part, the part I want to focus on more in my writing. Create the character, the world and let him go. I want to become less rule bound, and find my voice again.

Very wise, Grasshopper.

or Wise you are Skywalker.

Or I have heard pros say almost exactly the same thing. Don't try for the prefect sentence. It's almost impossible to write and if you do, more than likely you will lose the story. It has happened. Beautifully written prose has been rejected because the story is almost nonexistent. Of course I think there is a place for beautiful prose but not with the stuff we write. Which doesn't mean we write lousy sentences either.


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Wordcaster
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I'm reading the third Dresden book right now.

Jim Butcher for me is like Dean Koontz -- the kind of author I pick up when I want a story that I know will entertain me through and will allow me to read when my mind is distracted.

The books are definitely improving as I am making my way through the series (kind of how I felt about Harry Potter). Perhaps that is typical of new authors embarking on a series.


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LDWriter2
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I know that John Levitt's writing has improved with each book in his "Dog Days" series. And the storytelling also.

I think the same is true for Seanan McGuire and her "October Daye" series. I haven't rad it yet but her latest haas been reported-by more than one person- to be her best yet...not only with the writing but the story also.

BTW, I love her name I wish I could use it in a story.

an addition here.

On the first page of this thread, the second post, you will see someone who doesn't like Butcher's writing at all.

[This message has been edited by LDWriter2 (edited March 28, 2011).]


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Wordcaster
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I listened to an adventures in sci fi podcast with Butcher's editor. She said that he is coming out with a Dresden short story anthology with a new novella from Murphy's POV.

My info may be dated (I don't know how old the podcast is). I hadn't realized there were published dresden short stories.


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LDWriter2
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They already have even though I haven't heard of that one,

But there's one on his main web site. I'll get the link tomorrow, its late right now.

And there are now maybe five anthologies with his shorts stories. Most are edited by P.N. Elrod with various titles. Like "A Dark Stormy Knight", "My Big Fat Supernatural Wedding"

I almost said the books have his shorts but...


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Wordcaster
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I guess the anthology came out late last year. Side Jobs is the title. It includes stories from My Big Fat Supernatural Wedding/Honeymoon, chapbooks,, convention promotional stories, and other venues. It got good reviews, but it seems it is for the Dresden die-hards who have already read all the novels and want more.

I'm half way through three and will probably make my way through them slower than he can write them.


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LDWriter2
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I'll be going to Barnes and Noble Sunday so I will see if it is around. I don't recall every seeing a copy even though I may have seen it listed on that web site I keep referencing.

I call this one the official site JB it has all types of interesting information. Inluding a forum with a writing section but last two times I tried I couldn't get on it. Wish I could play that role playing game they have. Wish he would be open to inviting other writers to write in his universe, of course that doesn't mean he would invite me.

But there is also this site. Its the one I first found a few years ago and the one I used to send Jim a few E-mails. He answered some of them. Evidently his sister runs it.

http://www.wizardsharry.com/dresden.html

Hmm, an addition here but Low and behold there's "Side Jobs" on the front page of his web site. So I had seen it there but not in person. Now I recall I thought it was his next one but that is "Ghost Stories".


But I wanted to say that I just finished a short story by him. A humorous tale about Dresden wanting a Day Off . It must have been written before "Turn Coat".

Anyway, it has one of the longest sentences I have seen a very long time. I wish I could post the thing here, it just goes on and on. I could see how someone could use it as an example of Butcher's awful writing but since its a humorous story I think he did it on purpose.

BTW Butcher has a Spiderman novel out.

[This message has been edited by LDWriter2 (edited April 01, 2011).]


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Robert Nowall
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Somewhat delayed from my usual first-of-the-month book posting...I had a pretty busy Friday and Saturday. Besides, I'm only going to bring up a couple of books and one (maybe) writer.

You might recall last month I mentioned watching the old TV series "Ellery Queen." Well, in the course of the watching, I dug out some old books by Ellery Queen and reread them. My copies are brown with age, mostly from sitting in a box in my roasting-hot garage for over twenty years. (I didn't find all of them...nor could I obtain brand-new copies, these books all being out of print since the mid-1990s.)

"Ellery Queen" was the pseudonym of Fred Dannay and Manfred Lee, with the conceit that their pseudonym was also the lead character in their third-person mysteries. For a time, they were the most popular mysteries in America. (The character in the books doesn't have much in common with the character on the TV series, though.)

One of the books I read was The Adventures of Ellery Queen. This was a collection of Queen short works. I enjoyed them, like a visit with old friends, and in all but one I'd forgotten "whodunit," but two things struck me in particular. (1) One of them had a character named Harry Potter, of all things. And (2), you might have seen me complain about the current status of "the 'N' word," as it's called...it doesn't come up here, but a number of other, er, "racial descriptions" do...and, despite my attitude, I found these descriptions disconcerting in the extreme.

The other Ellery Queen book I wanted to bring up was The Player on the Other Side. This is something of a mystery (more than that within the story), because I'm informed it wasn't written by the team of Dannay and Lee, but ghostwritten by well-known science fiction writer Theodore Sturgeon---which gives it an unusual, Sturgeon-y flavor. (Why Sturgeon was ghostwriting an Ellery Queen book is something I've never figured out...others in that immediate era (the 1960s) were also ghostwritten by at least one other SF writer (and I've gotten two different names at two different times.))

Either way, it's well worth reading, as are many other Ellery Queen books...just take some of the older stuff as period pieces and you should be all right. Sometimes the mysteries and lapses can be kind of, well, odd (one had a plot turn on Ellery Queen not realizing the difference between raw newsreel footage and the edited final product), but, with a keen mind and a sharp eye for detail, you've got a good chance of fingering "whodunit" before the end.


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Reziac
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Ellery Queen became a franchise, and yes, several were written by other authors. Some are listed in the Wikipedia article,
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ellery_Queen

Three that aren't listed, written by Jack Vance:

The Four Johns (1964), as "Ellery Queen" (also titled Four Men Called John, UK 1976)
A Room to Die In (1965), as "Ellery Queen"
The Madman Theory (1966), as "Ellery Queen"

I've been told there's a 4th written by Jack Vance but don't know what it might be offhand.


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Robert Nowall
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"Jack Vance" was what I heard awhile ago, and for some of the "proper" Ellery Queens, rather than those ones...but, more recently, I've heard "Avram Davidson." Why Dannay and Lee handed those out to other writers, or allowed others write under the Ellery Queen name to begin with, I can't say---I can make a number of guesses, of course.
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LDWriter2
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Okay, I'm reading "In Shade And Shadow" by Barb and J. C. Hendee.

Barb has out a book by herself that I am also still reading.

This is the start of a second series by the two writers. I said a new series but it's like a part two of The Noble Dead series. I still think its the wrong name both because the series are about fighting the Noble Dead when they show up, and because they aren't Noble. But in this case Noble is an elitist or snobbish term.

In this one like the first series there seems to be a character who is helping but is actually a bad guy. In this one he shows up immediately while in the first series he shows up later.

If you like dark worlds you will like both series. I think the writing is better in this book but its not bad in the first few.

This is more a fantasy than UF even though there are vampires and such. Even though there are made up cities, I think the tech level is about 1700s maybe 1800s. They have wagons, carriages, crossbows, streetlamps, nice restaurants.

[This message has been edited by LDWriter2 (edited April 07, 2011).]


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Wordcaster
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I picked up the first Dirk Pitt novel, The Mediterranean Caper, by Clive Cussler.

I wanted to see what all the fuss was about. Whenever I am at a used book sale, it never fails that there is someone grabbing every Cussler novel they can find.

Anyway, can someone please tell me that they get better than this novel? It was pretty bad. I felt like I was watching an episode of Scooby Doo with a big reveal of information that there is no way Dirk Pitt would have known it.

Also, I like a macho character in a novel -- you know, a man's man -- but in this novel it was ridiculous. Pitt meets a strange woman on a beach (she thought he was dead, but he was really just sleeping). He finds out she is a widow and when she starts to cry, he slaps her in the face. Then she sleeps with him on the beach.

Please tell me they get better. And no, the above are not spoilers. Something has to be pallatable to be spoilable.


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Tiergan
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quote:
Anyway, can someone please tell me that they get better than this novel? It was pretty bad. I felt like I was watching an episode of Scooby Doo with a big reveal of information that there is no way Dirk Pitt would have known it.

You have heard of ROFL, Rolling on Floor Laughing, yeah, I am.

Well first off, I am a big fan of the Dirk Pitt novels. Yes they get better, for a few, then worse.

I would say this, Clive Cussler can tell an entertaining story but, since joining this site, I have yet to finish one of his books, I am constantly finding myself editing it, or skipping large sections.

So, I dont really know what to say. Well, I like Scooby Doo.


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JohnColgrove
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I was thinking about getting one of his books too...

I just started Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin.

I want to get WWW: Wake by Robert J Sawyer. Anyone ever read this?


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Meredith
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Finally finished Patrick Rothfuss' THE WISE MAN'S FEAR. Good, but overall not as good as the first, THE NAME OF THE WIND. I wonder how long it will be until the third book comes out.

One thing occured to me. I remember from his website that Rothfuss teaches at a college or university. I wonder if that's why he's so fond of s-t-r-e-t-c-h-i-n-g out the sections where Kvothe is in that $(#)@ University and then cramming all the interesting stuff (when he's not at the University) together.

Needed something light after slogging through almost a thousand pages, so I started LEVIATHAN by Scott Westerfield. Only two chapters in but I think I'm really going to enjoy this one.


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redux
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I am reading Elizabeth Moon's THE SPEED OF DARK. I'm only a few pages in, so far so good.

quote:
I want to get WWW: Wake by Robert J Sawyer. Anyone ever read this?

I too want to read that book. I requested a hold from my local public library and there's a waiting list. I did read his first novel GOLDEN FLEECE and it was quite good.

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Tiergan
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I have been reading John Flanagan's The Rangers Apprentice series. So far so good. Again I find myself more forgiving with MG. Maybe because it brings me back to the books I read when I was younger, where every character introduction led to a 3-4 sentence description. And head hopping was a given(3rd person Omni I guess). At present, I dont seem to mind, and its done right, I am never lost, and it does allow me to feel all their thoughts.

Right now it works out good for me, as I am writing Upper MG so is always good to see what the market has.

[This message has been edited by Tiergan (edited April 25, 2011).]


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LDWriter2
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"The Ranger's Apprentice" sounds interesting I need to keep my eye out for it.

But right now I'm reading two books

The first one is "The Secret Miracle" edited by Daniel Alarcon. It the Novelist's Handbook. Kind alike a panel discussion on writing novels. There's about 15 to 20 different novelists in this discussion though. The two most famous are Stephen King and Amy Tan but there are a couple other well known writers. Some of the others have done only one novel. Basically it is just question like you would get at a panel discussion and a bunch of the writers answer each question. I say a bunch because not every writer answers every question. So far, about half way through, Amy Tan only responses to a few. King does a bit better.

It isn't what I thought it might be but I will read on. Another question was what they expected from the first chapter. I didn't read every response but it sounded like they basically said the same thing for that one. It has to hook the reader. One writer said it has to punch the reader in the stomach and have him on the floor howling in pain but when he gets up he asks for it again.

I will comment on the second book later.


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Foste
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After reading the Serbian and the German versions of Sapkowski's LAST WISH I decided to give the English one a go. I love it, the translation is masterfully done.

I also got a copy of BLOOD OF THE ELVES which is on my "to be read" pile.


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redux
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@Foste - I've read Sapkowski's LAST WISH (English translation). Admittedly, I only first heard of it because of the PC game THE WITCHER. I honestly don't think the book would have made it to North America otherwise. I'm glad it did. I loved how Sapkowski integrated myths and legends into a fantasy setting that has a bit of sci-fi elements to it as well.
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Foste
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@redux

I played the PC game too. What's interesting though is that over here, after the fourth or fifth printing of the book they started putting "The book which inspired the famous video game" on the cover. I got it back in 2008 or so and they are still selling like hotcakes at my local bookstore.


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KayTi
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Just finished CLOCKWORK ANGEL by Cassandra Clare, YA victorian-era fantasy. Very very good, highly recommend. I read it on audiobook, and the voice talent was excellent. Compelling story, it is about a girl who is kidnapped by dark forces who unveil to her a previously unknown extremely rare talent. She's then rescued by the good guys, whose forces she joins. It's not a huge grand story, though. What was interesting about it was how intimate the story feels, very good deep 3rd immersion (author does do some slight POV changes only in a few cases where the MC wasn't present and the other people needed their part of the story moved forward.) It's a really interesting story, and I believe the first in a series. This is an author I will actively seek out additional work by, I can trust her to tell an interesting story.

Also recently finished THE BOY AT THE END OF THE WORLD, by Greg Van Eekhout. I was able to read an Advanced Reader Copy (felt very special about that, too!) It's a MG science fiction. There is almost nothing in that space, so I was excited to read the book. Very interesting story. Book opens with the boy being woken from some kind of stasis. The place he is, an Ark, is under attack and he and the robot who woke him quickly escape. Before long they meet up with a small woolly mammoth (who he calls Protein, which is ironic on many fronts.) The book follows the boy, Fisher, on his journey to try to find other humans in a very strange post-apocalypse US setting. Very very nifty, and the author does a great job in bringing together some details that middle grader readers (boys in particular) would find appealing about how the MC has to find his own food, learn what he's good at (he's a Fisher - he's good at fishing...he was awoken with all kinds of detailed memories about his specialty even while he can't puzzle out what has happened to his race.) It comes out in May and I also highly recommend. Style has quite a lot of education bent to it, this would be a great book for use in a classroom because of that.


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LDWriter2
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Took me long enough to get to this. I'm half way through the book.

Margaret Ronald's "Soul Hunt". One great example of storytelling. One day soon I may start a post on the writing section about the difference between writing and storytelling but she is good at both.

Just finished a scene where the MC has to swim in a reservoir to find a memory town. You have to read it to see what I mean, even though that's my term so as not to give away too much.

Its her third book in a dark, darker than some, Urban Fantasy world. The MC is a Hound, she can smell out anything or anyone. There's a reason for that even if she doesn't know it at first. Magic smells like gunpowder.

Anyway, I recommend the series. There's more about her on the Great Authors thread.

I forgot KayTi, I have seen "Clockwork Angel" and looked it over. And seems like I have seen the other title somewhere recently,

But it reminds me of that cult short film that was popular quite a few years ago. Something about a boy and his dog. Or come to think of it another book. Rats, can't think of the title now.

[This message has been edited by LDWriter2 (edited April 29, 2011).]


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Wonderbus
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So just finished The Wizard of the Pigeons by Megan Lindholm. It's strange this one; I'm not a big fan of urban fantasy and the plot left me cold (the whole 'Mir' thing didn't work for me) but I still kept on reading just because I love her writing so much. That woman really has a way with words.

Worth reading but I preferred the Farseer Trilogy and the Liveship Traders.

Next up Fevre Dream by George RR Martin.


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LDWriter2
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quote:

So just finished The Wizard of the Pigeons by Megan Lindholm. It's strange this one;


I've looked the book over but I don't recall why I decided not to read it, maybe it was too strange even though I am a fan of UF.


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LDWriter2
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Since, I'm still have big time problems with grammar--I still find it hard to believe that my grammar slipped as much as it did over the years but it did--I bought a new grammar book. Someone thought I have come along way with my grammar but evidently not far enough.

"Painless Grammar' By Rebecca Elliot, Ph.D

She wrote it for younger students. and that is evident how she speaks and the examples she uses, but she also explains certain things better than even the "Idiot's Guide To Grammar". And she points out that even though certain sentences are technically Okay, there might be better way to say it. I think that is helpful for a writer.


So if you are having problems with grammar try it. I don't know if it will do me very much good, nothing seems to, even though I have read the comma section twice and the "Wacky Words We Love To Misuse" section once. I will be reading both a lot of times as well as other sections.


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redux
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I finished reading Elizabeth Moon's SPEED OF DARK. It won the Nebula Award in 2003.

It's a character study of an autistic individual told from a first person PoV. I found it to be very slow paced and rather dull at times, but that could be that the subject matter simply didn't fully draw me in. I also found the science-fiction aspects of it barely there - it was treated in a very cursory manner, as if an afterthought.

I suppose it was an okay read.


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jcavonpark
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I just finished John Scalzi's Old Man's War. Fantastic first scifi novel that reads in a very captivating voice. It's military scifi at its best, right up there with Starship Troopers (which is actually Scalzi's inspiration for this book).

I'm currently reading Scalzi's sequel The Last Colony. Pretty good, but not quite as interesting as the first novel, at least not yet. I'm only 70 pages in, but Old Man's War had me hooked much sooner. Time will tell, I suppose.

Not sure what I'll get into after that. I just picked up an anthology of scifi short stories, so I'll probably give that a read first.


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LDWriter2
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I have seen and looked over John Scalzi's Old Man's War and the sequel.

I think I have read other books by him or at least looked them over. I can't recall why I decided not to buy it though.


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KayTi
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Try Joseph Haldeman's The Forever War if you liked Old Man's War. I read those two near each other and they further rekindled my love for military sci-fi (add to it the Vatta's War series by Elizabeth Moon, starting with Trading in Danger, I was in heaven!)

The Ghost Brigades is actually Old Man's War's sequel, so if you're not too into The Lost Colony, could be that you are missing a bit of the connection to the previous story and might like it better after reading Ghost. Zoe's Tale (or whatever the title actually is) is The Lost Colony told from the teenage daughter's POV, which was a good read (better than lost Colony for me, at least, because I write YA sci fi.)

I'm currently reading The Thief by Megan Whalen Turner, a recommendation from someone here. Also reading a new short story by Sarah Prineas that she self-published (proceeds benefit a reading/literacy charity.) She's one of my favorite writers, was excited that she released a short ebook! I tell you, short stories are the way to keep readers hooked in between your big releases...


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LDWriter2
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Just started "Way of the Wizard" edited by JJA.

No one else has mentioned trying for it.

I thought it would have some good stories and a good chance to see what JJA likes. The first two stories are not the usual wizardry fare. Well, they are and they aren't. The basic plots are very well established but there are "ingredients" that gives them something of a twist. The second one has a very interesting tree. When it's writer mentioned a treehouse, in his remarks, I thought of Kathleen and here. A very interesting treehouse. Sorry I don't have the book handy so I can't give his name but he's not as well known as many in the book. He has gotten quite a few stories published even one in Lifepod or was it Castle pod. Another one that succeeds with all of the ones I fail at. But he is good.

And I had to come back to add something I forgot...From the second story we know about Meredith's little secret.

And JJA seems to like darker tales with dark endings...so far anyway.

I will add though that a couple stories I sent had that bit of a twist I mentioned but that probably was all I could say about them.

[This message has been edited by LDWriter2 (edited May 18, 2011).]


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telflonmail
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Finishing off a Greg Egan short story collection.
Next will be a short story collection by Daniel Abraham.

I will be going to the library next week to peruse the 2 weeks fiction books and see what has come in (or returned) recently.


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Kathleen Dalton Woodbury
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Just finished THE LACE READER by Brunonia Barry, and I'm reading it again.

It's sort of like THE SIXTH SENSE (movie) in that now I know What's Really Going On, I have to go back and see if the author did it right.

And the writing is good enough that I'm willing to reread it almost immediately after I read it the first time (something I have NEVER done before).


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LDWriter2
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Forgot to post that I am reading "A Hundred Words O Hate" by Thomas E. Sniegoski


It's the latest in his Remy Chandler series. Remy is an angel who has battle fatigue. After helping to put down the Rebellion of The Morningstar he decided he had had enough of war and came to earth to live as a human. Thousands of years later he is a PI who helps with strange happenings. It's rather dark and sometimes bloody but good writing and basically good stories.

Theology gets dumped on its ear at times as Sniegoski uses Biblical characters even though so far Sniegoski has kept away from Jesus and any of the Jewish pillars of faith.


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Tiergan
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Just finished "Uglies" Scott Westerfield.

Was disappointed to find out it wasnt really a stand alone novel. I knew there were other in the series, but didnt like where it was ended. I felt the need to buy the 2nd book immediately to keep the story going on. I still havent bought it yet though, and started another book I already had, so will have to see if I make it back there.

Am reading now Garth Nix, "Mister Monday"


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History
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Enthralled by the HBO adaption of George RR Martin's A GAME OF THRONES, I read the book (a first edition had been gathering dust in my library for twenty-four years).

Talk about breaking conventions. It's like looking at a huge medieval tapestry that spreads the length of an old castle hall, eyes jumping from one depiction and set of figures to another. The story just keeps going even when the book ends, multiple threads of the story left open, and some supposed major threads twisitng unexpectedly and cut short. A history, and equallly amoral and unpredictable.

I just finished the second book, A CLASH OF KINGS, this evening at over 720 pages. Still no resolution. Just history marching on; and per the introduction to A STORM OF SWORDS, history will back-track in its opening chapters. This book is over 900 pages long!

I'll read the next two on Kindle if I can stay with it.
(And this is making havoc with my own writing time--but it is joy to read something so well-written and surprisingly different for being superficially so commonplace: knights, knaves, kings and courtly intrigues).

I also read his three novellas in the same universe but which take place 100 years earlier. The first, THE HEDGE KNIGHT, I found to be a masterpiece.

As for Jim Butcher and his THE DRESDEN FILES, I read the first seven but got bogged down on number eight. Admittedly, I found my own novel THE KABBALIST greatly influenced by the concept of urban magician that I did not read any of his books after the first, STORM FRONT, until I'd finished writing the novel. I found them great fun, but the magic system unclear.

Respectfully,
Dr. Bob

[This message has been edited by History (edited June 22, 2011).]


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LDWriter2
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Hmm, Dr. Bob, I hadn't really thought about Butcher's magic system being unclear but I think you have a point. It seems like he lets it out in piecemeal, there's no one place that really explains it all. There are some partial explanations in the first couple of books if I recall correctly. But at one point Harry gathers magic energy while riding on a motorcycle... I forget what number book that is in. And in another he "gathers" kinetic energy from a busy highway a few blocks away. I think that was Harry anyway, it could have been the MC in another writer's world. But as he did that I remember thinking good it looks like he may have taken a step upward to another level of magic use because he figured out something new. But no mention of any advancement. Or even if he can.


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LDWriter2
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Now I am reading. "Late Eclipses" by Seanan McGuire.

I've said this before but I still want to use that name as a character.

Anyway, I started reading this more because of circumstances but I kept reading it because it's hard to put down. I finally finish the last book I was reading, The Remy Chandler book... it wasn't bad at all except for two things I really wish the writer hadn't put in. One was back store but the other was put of the ending.

But back to "Late Eclipses" . Good story, GOOD Story. Funny thing was that after the first two or so chapters I ended up thinking "the writing isn't the best, but the storytelling is" Whoa, where did that come from? I can't point to why I think the writing isn't great. It's not bad, but it may have something to do with the opening. The MC is in a grocery store shopping. She just got paid big time and is looow on food so she, her room mate and a friend, are shopping. Not sure why the friend is there. He just shows up now and then. The room mate is... well you have to read the last book in the series and maybe the one before it. She is very unusual.

But I'm probably wrong about the writing, Seanan won the John W. Campbell award for best new writer.

I said the writing might not be the best but this series is my top number three or number four of all the UF books I read. The writer better not decide to halt the series like two or three others have done. One of those was my number two top UF series.

One last thing for those who have read any of my Bright Lights novel, this is the inspiration for it. I changed a bunch: Daye has been a PI and a Knight for years, she was married once and has a grown daughter who so far isn't doing much in the stories.. .to my disappointment..., Daye has a very powerful Fey Queen who doesn't like her much at all, she grew up with her mother who is now crazy... I'm still not sure what happened to her father but he isn't around at all. There are other differences. There is an Author in here but you might not recognize him especially since there seems to be a romance growing between these two. Plus she tends to be short on money.

The cover is great except I'm not sure about the expression on her face. But the artist knew what was in the book. And I just saw something in the background that makes it even better.

[This message has been edited by LDWriter2 (edited June 26, 2011).]


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aspirit
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quote:
But at one point Harry gathers magic energy while riding on a motorcycle... I forget what number book that is in. And in another he "gathers" kinetic energy from a busy highway a few blocks away. I think that was Harry anyway, it could have been the MC in another writer's world. But as he did that I remember thinking good it looks like he may have taken a step upward to another level of magic use because he figured out something new. But no mention of any advancement. Or even if he can.

Although I haven't read all of the Dresden short stories, I think you're mixing up Harry with a character in another series. Harry does use kinetic energy, but I remember it coming from his own motions rather than those of distant objects--with the exception of...let's call it ambient energy. Like all witches and wizards, he can give his power a boost by pulling from the energy around him, if he can focus on that energy well enough. That's the big trick for him, even as he develops his magical skills--he can't do much at all unless he can concentrate enough to exert his will.

To me, one of the most interesting aspects of The Dresden Files is that there isn't one magical system--there appears to be several that interact with each other. This might contain spoilers, so be warned...
Harry learns about different types as magic as he learns about the relationships between humans, the fae, and the various gods (plus some unnerving god-like beings that the no one wants to admit are real). In his universe, there appears to be soul magic (which may or may not be manipulated by gods and might include "faith magic"), wizarding magic (which might have descended from soul magic)) and fae magic (which might be dependent on the existence of souls in our world). Due to the limitations of first-person POV, however, we as readers aren't able to experience much more than Harry does--and he seems at least as confused as other witches and wizards do in regards to the nature of their powers.

Each witch and wizard in the Dresden universe uses magic without understanding exactly why or how it works, forcing each to develop a personal philosophy around its use.

This works for me. Can anyone here describe gravity without contradicting some physicist's belief of why and how it exists? What exactly allows one person to compose a complete symphony in his head while most of us struggle to accurately remember the chords to our favorite songs? Can you explain the physical differences between that musical genius and the average person? I don't think so; we all contemplate only as much as we feel we need to, and I wouldn't expect a decades-old human in an urban fantasy to possess a complete, scientific understanding of how the organic systems of magic functions. He should figure out what he needs to know to move on with his life.

This is partly why I'm hooked on The Dresden Files. The settings are as messy as real life, and the plot depends on characters learning about themselves and life in general as they struggle through each stage. Harry isn't the most reliable narrator, but why should he be? In the eyes of his people, he's a child for the first half of the series and dangerously idealist for much of the second half. This is true for many protagonists throughout the history of fiction.


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aspirit
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And...I recently finished Moving Mars, a Greg Bear novel I loathed in parts and loved by the end. At this time, I'll have to label it as Good.

Right now, I'm reading Asimov's I, Robot, a collection of short stories connected by a narrated interview. I'm appreciating the way the stories' writing style seems more modern than what he used in Foundation.


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LDWriter2
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I could be mistaken with the the highway but he was riding on the back of the motorcycle while Murphy drove.


As to how magic works. Dresden does know how some of it works... he has explained it every now and then. Sympathetic magic - that scale model of the city he had, plus finding things. is just one. He has a charm on his bracelet that gathers his kinetic energy. I want to steal that idea. I know who could make good use of it.

But your right he uses more than one type and his buddies-enemies use a couple of those you mentioned.


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LDWriter2
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Started another book...

This one is on my Color Nook.

"Spell Games" by T. A. Pratt.

It's the fourth (I think) in a UF series about Marla Mason. Marla is the head sorcerer of a Felport. In other words she is the secret dictator of the city. She can be a real B... but only when attacked. She usually leaves her people alone and mostly minds her own business- she takes a small cut from most disputable businesses-unless she has to defend the city. She doesn't mind using dirty tricks or sneaking around if that is what it takes to win. Her passion is learning.

Not my favorite and may not even be in my second level but still a good read and and an intriguing world.


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LDWriter2
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Also reading

"Dead Waters" by Anton Strout

Fourth in a UF series. (Seems to be a pattern forming here)

But it might be more paranormal since they deal with ghosts, vampires, zombies and such.

In either case it's the lighthearted story of Simon Canerous. SFRevu says its "detectives working the night shift in the Twilight Zone". Yeah, they work for the city even though in their own department not connected to the police.

Can't find the word but Simon knows the history of something by touching it. His partner can tell if a ghost is around. And there's a romance going on between Simon and an ex-bad gal with all of its ups and downs.


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Tiergan
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I ended up putting Mr. Monday on ice for a while. Bogged down somewhere. Plus I couldnt get Scott Westerfield's Uglies out of my head so ended up reading the entire series there, Uglies, Pretties, Specials, and Extras. I enjoyed them all
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LDWriter2
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Finished Eclipses so started "Changes" by Jim Butcher.

Whoa some opening. But has it really been five years since he tired Susan up for a little pre vampire bondage afternoon thrill? Sometimes I think Dresden's time flows faster than ours.


I won't say much else except that those chapters are kinda short. It's been over a year since I last read a Dresden novel but they seem shorter than usual.

If they really are and it's not a trick of my memory, it lights a fire under a part of my brain. A certain ghost writer I know seems to like short chapters.


And Bob??? Almost forgot to miss him. Has he been in the last two books? Seems like it's been quite a while since he was used.

[This message has been edited by LDWriter2 (edited July 01, 2011).]


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KayTi
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@Tiergan - I couldn't get into Mr. Monday either, what was it about that book? I was doing audio, but my son, aged 9 and a voracious reader, stopped at almost the same point (sometime after the mc got out of the hospital...)

Funny how that is.

And yeah, Uglies, etc. is so compelling you can't stop reading the other books. I have read a few others of his, too - So Yesterday (loved it), then I forget the titles but two in the vampires in NYC series (not Midnighters, I don't think...it's the other series... Oh, I remember - the first is called Peeps. I don't recall the name of the second but it has one of the best openings ever involving a stratocaster being flung out a window.) He's such a phenomenal writer. Leviathan is great, too, but totally different angle - steampunk, very interesting. Have Behemouth out from the library but haven't read it (Leviathan's sequel.)

I'm currently reading ADVENTURER'S WANTED: SLATHBOG'S GOLD by ML Forman and in total unadulturated love with the book. I'm about 75% through and I find I'm reading it SLOOOOOOWWWWLY because I don't want it to end. I'm rationing myself. It's a great YA/middle-grade fantasy story about a boy who wanders into a shop and replies to an "Adventurer's Wanted" ad in the window, and all sorts of great adventures ensue. The thing I like the best is the upbeat tempo. So many YA/MG books these days are downers, this book is not even though the MC has to handle tricky situations and all. Can't recommend it highly enough, I just hope this ML Forman is still out there writing somewhere, because I could only find one other title by him (her?) -- same series, next book but published one or two or three years ago. Eek.


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LDWriter2
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KayTI

I think I've seen that book with the rather long title that you are reading. And I understand why you are reading it sooo sloooow. I do the same thing at times even though half the time it doesn't work out quite the way I want it to.


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