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Messages - mtbikemom

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Books / Re: What are you reading, part 3
« on: August 22, 2011, 12:57:22 PM »
For fireflyz:

I haven't read them yet, but the reviewers seem to really like Adrian Tchaikovsky's series starting with EMPIRE IN BLACK AND GOLD.  It's on my to-read list after WoT is finished.  The first book may be a bit rough, I've read, but they apparently improve as they go and the latest was well-received.  I can't remember how many books there are so far or how many are expected, but I plan to read them all.

I really enjoyed Dan Wells' I Am Not a Serial Killer.  It was a perfect thriller/character study for a final summer read.  I can't recommend it enough for brilliant insight into the mind of a moral sociopath.  Dan's writing style is fresh and occasionally beautiful.  His apparent love of poetry shows and his humor is pitch perfect.  Completely reliable content, though a bit too gory for some.  Not for me.

I am also enjoying the delicious Patricia McKillip's Alphabet of Thorn.  Some of it is a bit acid-trippy, but the whole thing is intriguing and mostly reliable content-wise.  Thanks again, Mrs. Nessa, for the great steer in her direction!

Books / Re: Children's Books Recommendations
« on: August 22, 2011, 12:40:01 PM »
You probably already know this, Vanessa, but some of Lloyd Alexander's books are not good, like Time Cat.  I was just thinking of the Prydain Chronicles, for other readers.

O.K., Renoard, please post a link to your fairy tales.  I've been meaning to read them!

Dan Wells / Comments, typos and errata
« on: August 18, 2011, 09:54:47 PM »
   This is for I Am Not a Serial Killer,  but maybe others can add posts from the other two.

   I only take notes when I read certain books that I care enough about.  Dan is a very good writer, better than I'll probably ever be, but I do notice things and get bugged by things sometimes.  If I'm wrong, I learn, but it is at least really fun interacting with good writers like this, and their faithful readers!

   I'll start with the good, encouraging stuff:

p. 60.11  "a visual sigh"  nice

98.8  beautiful description here, especially "drill-bit tornadoes"

138.4 <chuckle>

182.4 Typical guy, doesn't mention salad as a part of the meal even worth mentioning.  Now if there had been bacon in it, different story.

   Typos: Here's hoping you need these for a second printing!

27.4  I'm like you're only . . . (your)

58.6  from the porch, "she sent . . .  (She)

60.8  said the reporter, "do . . .  (Do)

71.3  the piling up (of) the organs

75.3  Here's one of several places where I think there should be a new sentence after the attribution.  Instead of ". . . Iraq," said Max, "it's as . . .  I think it should read . . . Max. "It's . . .

76.2  It was against my rules now (This sounds goofy, like one of the tenses is wrong, but I can't really figure out how to fix it.)

81.4  same thing as 75.3

83.1  human in origin (period or semi-colon here?) but that, unfortunately . . .

92.1  crept slowly past headed east  (heading?)

100.4  same thing as 75.3

132.2  If two policeman (men)

133.3  Did I even have (a) choice?

173.7  "Why would I be after Brooke."  (needs question mark)

195.7  So it's (a) question of risk

263.2  if I knew where Mr. Crowley was, and (I) told them

(That's not bad, compared to Mr. Sanderson . . . .)


I don't usually spot these things at all, but when John calls Mr. Crowley from the pay phone (p. 187), how does he know the cell number by heart?  There was another similar error, I think, somewhere during the frantic climax, but I didn't write it down.  It was another instance of John knowing which number to call that didn't seem plausible to me, I think having to do with Mrs. Crowley's phone.  Or maybe his psychiatrist.  Why did I think I would remember this?

Overall impression of style and punctuation: Terrific!  Lovely, precise, gripping and crisp without being dry.  Very interesting take on a moral sociopath; very insightful, I think.  I did make a note about an overuse of M-dashes near the middle of the book, which seemed a bit sloppy, but then that problem eventually resolved, gradually, and I don't think I've read an author with better use of colons and semi-colons, with just the right amount of ellipses and M-dashes for my taste toward the end. 

Can't wait to get my hands on the next two! 

Thanks, Happy, I had forgotten about that, as usual.  But Rand's girls still act out-of-character afterward, I think.  Only Avhienda should be so groovy about this.

Taking things too far is kind of a tradition on fantasy forums, is it not?

I was thinking a bit more about the subject of hazing today, and since I had posted something about Mr. Rigney's military background being a possible explanation, I feel I must add a bit more.   I'm not sure anymore if the Aiel Wise One training is really hazing, or even if the Aes Sedai initiation rituals are truly cruel.  Rather, they remind me more of American Indian traditions, and here's why:  they are not meant purely for the sake of cruelty or degradation.  Nor are they used to break the spirit, but to actually show the Wise One that she needs to question authority to move on, in the case of Avhienda's testing.  And wasn't that a surprise!  They are meant as a purposeful trial, not humiliation for the sake of shared suffering, which is what hazing seems to be, along with pure sadism at times.  So, because there is no real cruelty involved without a purpose, there should be no emotional/psychological consequences on either side.  Are there any other hazing examples from the book I am forgetting?   

I was blessed to be chosen as a Storm Leader for one of the Gathering Storm signings (Half Moon Bay, CA) and overheard a tired Brandon saying (to all of us) that he did not necessarily "like" every eventual storyline outcome.  I had sort of forgotten that until just now, but the thought still intrigues me.  Harriet was not present at the time.  I now also wonder if some inconsistencies like those mentioned lately on this thread are what may bother Mr. Sanderson, rather than any personal moral objections.  I don't think we'll get any "official" comments on this subject, but forums are for uncomfortable questions and such, are they not? 

After meeting and enjoying Harriet immensely, I believe that Min is based on a young Harriet more than any other WoT woman.  They are both delightful characters.  Brandon is as nice as you've probably heard, too, and very candid in person.  I think that's probably obvious from his friendly twitter/blog/email accessibility.

Even so (situational ethics and our own preferences aside), Rand may be genetically Aiel, but he's not culturally Aiel at all.  And now he's all "good" and everything.  So, where does the potential for two girls on the side come in?  I can't see Brandon liking that eventuality, no matter what the notes and prophesies/viewings indicate.  Just my observation.  I just don't see Min stepping aside for Avhienda anymore.  We will all have to RAFO, though.  I admit I do have a strong bias toward Min.

Speaking of consequences, does anyone really believe that three women sharing one man ever really works as well as RJ imagined? 

*Spoiler Alert*

I think Rand is supposed to in the end, anyway. If that happened they wouldn't all be living in the same house and whatnot. I suppose that was RJ's entire point with Rand. He's going to die, so . . . why not? What could three people do to him that he isn't already going to endure? (Note: I'm not saying I approve.)

Supposed to what?  Suffer consequences?

It's just that the women of WoT, especially those with power, are not generally any less jealous, petty, ambitious or competitive than real women except in this one case.  Inconsistent much?  I think so. Besides, none of Rand's internal dialogue mentions this reasoning.  At least none that I can remember.  He just seems to be reacting to opportunities of the moment.  Being controlled by women is a consistent theme in Randland, but not the lack of consequence.

Come to think of it, since he's become Min-ogamous, there has been no sharing of him at all.  Except for getting Elayne pregnant, which was a hilarious scene.  That's where there should have been more friction, though.       

Books / Re: Robin Hobb
« on: August 11, 2011, 08:27:40 PM »
Lord T. asked about Hobbs's content, which none of you fine gentlemen seemed to address, but about which I am most happy to chime in.  I have nearly-Victorian sensitivities, so keep that in mind.  I don't mind a bit of sex and violence in literature, in small doses, as long as there are believable consequences or at least some realism.  I remember some intense sexual situations in the Liveship trio that were shocking to me, with some brutality that bordered on the explicit and gratuitous.  There were eventual long-term consequences, if I remember correctly, but I think there was more insensitivity to the female anatomy than I expect from a woman author.  Girls do not normally enjoy their first sexual intercourse experience, people, no matter how many authors write the usual nonsense to the contrary!  (But who wants to read about that?)  There were believable elements of Stockholm syndrome and other intriguing psychological elements, but I do remember feeling a bit soiled after reading the whole thing.  Tawny Man made it worth any trepidation, for me.  I just loved that. 

I mostly write these kinds of comments to maybe have some impact on a certain group of young aspiring writers and book critics, to maybe prompt/inspire their own investigation and critical thinking patterns.  I believe that good understanding of these sorts of content  issues contribute to the timelessness and beauty of literature in any genre.  It's because I care, children.

Books / Re: What are you reading, part 3
« on: August 11, 2011, 07:41:42 PM »
Yes, I still think Alexander is brilliant.  His best books hold up to the test of time better than any of Edding's.  I only mention them in the same breath, so to speak, because I discovered them at about the same time and they were all the fantasy I knew of for a long while.  Eddings was sweet and wholesome, despite some issues that were not obvious to me at the time and which I believe were largely unintentional. Polgara the Sorceress was nearly awesome, but I agree that Lloyd Alexander is a cut above anything else from that era, especially for such a broad audience.  Timeless classics.

Books / Re: Children's Books Recommendations
« on: August 11, 2011, 07:28:31 PM »
Best books I got to read to or with my kids:

especially good for boys:
 Little Britches by Ralph Moody
Eagle of the Ninth by Rosemary Sutcliff
Red Sails to Capri by Ann Well
The Master Puppeteer by Katherine Paterson
most everything by Lloyd Alexander

Mara, Daughter of the Nile by Eloise J. McGraw
The Year of Miss Agnes by Kirkpatrick Hill
Strawberry Girl by Lois Lensky
Little Pear by Eleanor Frances Lattimore
A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett
The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare

Some of these are not well-known, but they are some of our family's faves.

Books / Re: What are you reading, part 3
« on: August 11, 2011, 06:47:40 PM »
I was thrilled with the ending to Monsters of Men, third in the Chaos Walking series, when it finally came.  It almost made up for the unnecessary length of the story.  This is another set of books that could have been edited down to a real gem.  Does it happen that authors who win awards for their first volumes become untouchable and refuse or neglect good advice?  I wonder . . . .

My library had a few Ted Dekker books and I've been feeling guilty about spending a bit too much on downloads lately, so I grabbed one yesterday and read half of it.  Am I glad I didn't pay for this.  And what a sorry example of misleading online reviews!  I find that I only agree with the one-star Amazon review and absolutely none of the recommendations I've heard for years concerning this author.  What a pile of crap.  Did the same people like Goodkind?  Probably.

I may have enjoyed this book (Chosen) back when I thought Lloyd Alexander and David Eddings were brilliant, when my kids were young and I looked for fun read-alouds.  I can see reading this to a young Harry Potter fan, pausing often with explanations of how good, moral content is ruined by cardboard characters and sloppy, juvenile prose.  I think, even back before I became spoiled by all the amazing stuff I've read since, I would have rolled my eyes and used it as a teaching tool more than anything.  It especially pales in comparison to the Patrick Ness I just finished, whose world view I do not necessarily agree with as much but whose brilliance and talent I can't help but praise. 

Good points I think, Max and Mors.  Could some of the paragraphs that seemed to drown in small descriptive details have been better utilized describing the internal struggles of non-forsaken hazers and hazees?  Most definitely. We may have seen some regret in one short-lived forsaken and they all were psychologically affected adversely from their evil ways.  Maybe Brandon supplied some of that, I don't remember.  But the consequences of near-torture on the "good guys" is never satisfactorily shown, I agree.  This may have somewhat salvaged the content of some of the worst books.  RJ's military career must have played a part in this.  Did he feel strengthened by the treatment he must have received at The Citadel?  Did he haze others himself?  I'm not sure we'll ever know.  This is not something I think I'd ask his surviving relatives.     

Jordan not only missed a few consequences, he also missed one major motivation.  He never properly showed why the Two Rivers folk are basically good and moral, with a few exceptions, while the rest of Randland suffered from all the problems and evils that we are familiar with in our world.  I never bought the "isolated, homogenous societies are naturally more pure and uncomplicated than more worldly ones," which Mr. Jordan seemed to have assumed.  We were eventually shown that there was something special about Manetheren, but in my mind, this did not fully explain the particular mores of the Three Rivers natives, upon which many of the books' delightful social contrasts hinge.  They are often very delightful.

I think pockets of human goodness exist, but there is always a reason, a belief system or an example set by an unusually special leader, whose motivation is also remarkable.  Unfortunately, these societies do not often survive too many generations.  That "power corrupts" idiom takes hold, eventually.  In almost every case.

Speaking of consequences, does anyone really believe that three women sharing one man ever really works as well as RJ imagined?  I think this was a projection of his own personal fantasy.  It never rang true for me.  Despite all that, I am a fan.  If only all of WoT was as well-explained as the Aiel and the Ogier.   Those were fully-fleshed societies with clear motivations and consequences; for me, anyway. 

Books / Re: What are you reading, part 3
« on: August 09, 2011, 07:46:23 PM »
Reading Patrick Ness's Chaos Walking threesome, the first being the intriguing The Knife of Never Letting Go.   The first was the best, full of all the things in the Elitist review and more.  If only the next two books were as concise.  Alas, they drag on.  They do blossom in emotional complexity and scope and they are what I consider "reliable" despite some language and much violence.  I really do really want to know what happens, but it has been a bit of a chore to get through.  The overall story is as bleak as anything out there, too.  Unrelentingly bleak.  Every glimpse of hope is followed shortly by huge disappointment and increased peril.   Ness uses, though, some unusual and innovative punctuation and spelling choices that convey exactly what I believe the author wanted.  It all rings true, even the complete lack of a good break for the mains.

I recommend this series to a fast reader, lover of character development (me) and someone who likes the idea of good YA fare for grownups (me, me, me).  I do not regret becoming invested in the story, despite its pacing problems, probably due to the problems of the gardener-style writer.  There is much to like.

Treated myself to my first taste of K.J. Parker also on vacation last week.  Blue and Gold was fun and satisfying.  I loved the cynical humor and the redemptive ending.  Well, somewhat.  Not too tidy, fun prose, really fun characters.  I look forward to Colours in the Steel next, if I ever make it through this Ness stuff.  The ending better be full of happy-ever-after or I'm going to throw my Kindle gently against the wall.  Not too tidy, though, please.

Also on the dock: the short stories That Leviathan Whom Thou Hast Made (Stone) and The New World (more Ness).   Then I am off to Ted Dekkerland, heretofore unexplored territory for me.

Books / Re: What are you reading, part 3
« on: July 06, 2011, 11:38:49 PM »
I used to own first editions of three Tarzan books, one of which was Tarzan and the Ant Men.  Very early classic sci fi.  They might still be in a box somewhere.

I listened to the last seven chapters of Terry Pratchett/Neil Gaiman's Good Omens while riding in the woods today.  The order got scrambled somehow (my IPod was NOT on shuffle) and for a while I was irritated, then realized it didn't make much of a difference.  Still fun.

Books / Re: What are you reading, part 3
« on: June 26, 2011, 01:54:52 AM »
Read Shades of Milk and Honey by Mary Robinette Kowal.
  I would read her again because her prose is so readable. 

If you liked Shades even a little, you will LOVE Carol Berg.  See Mrs. Nessa's review here:   So glad she gets Mrs. Berg.  There is no more careful and precise writer in all of speculative fiction in my opinion.  Her prose is nearly perfect and the stories are getting better and better.

Leviathan Wakes (Corey/Abraham/Franck) got really gory on me!  But it ended well and the character development was all that one expects from Abraham.  Good stuff.  The Dragon's Path was likewise very satisfying.  Unforgettable characters, interesting world building and just the right amount of description for my taste.  Daniel Abraham rocks!

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