Something Old, Something New…

Posted on February 7, 2011. Filed under: Books, Fantasy, Historical Fiction, Romance | Tags: , , , , , , , |

No, I’m not getting married. Phew! That’s a relief, right? And to finish, there is something borrowed but not something blue. Something Green, yes, but blue? No.

So let’s do the run-through. Of late, I’ve been trying to read as many books as possible before I travel back to China. It’s going to be interesting to see if I can finish the one I’m reading now, given that it’s more than 800 pages long, but I’m trucking along. I’ve been reading it while doing the free step exercise on Wii Fit Plus.

As far as the something Green goes, you probably already guessed that I finally read Ted Dekker’s book, Green, from his original Circle Trilogy. Granted, that has now become four books, and there’s no cool name for four books, so we’ll call it a series.

After reading it, though, I was completely lost and confused, mostly cause it’s been so long since I read the original three books. So I had to go back and start rereading the series from Black. I got halfway through Red before moving on to another book. So I suppose that also answers my something old question as well.

I loved Thomas Hunter’s story. The way Dekker wove the history of earth with the history of Hunter’s dream-world-turned-reality was amazing, and the fact that the two worlds were colliding through one man and his connection to both blew me away when I read it originally. Dekker’s originality and creativity made me really appreciate his series.

However, I think I’m with the people who have critiqued the latest release. Instead of answering questions, it left me with more questions. Instead of wrapping up what was already a phenomenal trilogy, it gave me another book with plot twists that only got more and more confusing and led to a cliffhanger that was unsatisfactory. In short, it left me feeling disappointed, and it definitely fell flat in my opinion.

So what else? Oh, yes, that leaves me with my something new. And that would be a book totally outside my normal authors and genres. Actually, I’m not sure where this book would fit. It’s a romance, to be sure, but it’s kind of a fantasy mixed with historical fiction as well. I haven’t looked at the official classification, but I assume it typically falls under romance.

I picked it up because so many people in the NaNoWriMo forums are always recommending this author as one of the greats. I wanted to read some things that I’ve heard people talk about as I tend to read authors who are either less well-known or more obscure (which is really the same thing, I suppose) than the many readers on the NaNo forums. I often find myself feeling as if I’m not well-read at all when I peruse the forums, so I decided to do something about it by choosing a few authors and books that sounded interesting and reading them this year.

The result? I picked up Outlander by Diana Gabaldon, an 800+ behemoth that is the first in a series of at least seven books.

Boy, was I stupid.

Now, before you start thinking that I say that because I was hoodwinked into picking up what is the first in a series of huge books instead of just some one-off, stop. That’s not what I meant. My problem is that I have, so far, really enjoyed the story Gabaldon weaves. It’s actually somewhat plausible to me, and given her protagonist, I can see how the woman’s placement in the time period she’s in would give her opportunities to use her knowledge of history for good while simultaneously avoiding being singled out as a witch and killed.

That said, I don’t have the money to buy the rest of the books in the series. I’m a little sad about that.

But the great thing is that I’ve never read anything by Diana Gabaldon before, and so far, she’s really impressed me. I’m loving the story, even though I’m not even halfway through the behemoth, and I can’t wait to see what other twists and turns it takes before it reaches its end.

So now I’ll end this by asking if you’ve done the same: taken someone’s suggestion of a book or author only to come across someone you really enjoy. Got any other suggestions for me? I don’t read many mainstream books because I tend to gravitate towards others, but I’m always open to suggestions, especially if I’m going to read 50 books this year.

I’ll update you on my progress towards 50 soon, and I look forward to hearing from you!

Rae

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Finishing Chagrin

Posted on February 18, 2010. Filed under: Books, reading, Style | Tags: , , , , |

I never want to finish reading a good book; it’s always such a sad moment when I realize I have less than half the book left to read. It’s always worse when I realize I have only a few chapters, and then only a few pages to keep me entertained.

It’s not that I don’t enjoy reading the ending; it’s just that it always feels so final to finish a book, even if it’s within a series of books. Granted, that sometimes depends on the series. If it’s a fantasy series where the characters will all be gathered together again in some form or fashion, then it’s not always as bad. However, if it’s a series that was designed to focus on a pair or a particular group of characters at a time and then move on to the next set, there’s always a sense of parting from the characters in particular.

I find if it’s a book I’ve enjoyed that I have a tendency to slow down my reading towards the end. Even if it’s only by a small amount. And, of course, I feel silly doing this because at the same time I still want to finish the book. It’s always with a bit of chagrin that I put the book down after reading only a chapter instead of reading several chapters in one sitting.

Like all good things, every book has its end. Perhaps that’s one of the reasons we like them so well? Even a series has a conclusion at some point or another. (The only exception being if an author discontinues a series or dies in the process of writing it.) But the point still stands: there’s an ending.

Maybe it’s not the happily ever after of fairy tales or the long, extrapolated interpretation of the book’s theme and main message poured into a quick, witty paragraph. But if the main character dies, there’s not much left to look forward to. If the whole town is wiped out by the plague, who do you want to hear about after that? If the evil villain escapes to wreak havoc on another unsuspecting group of heroes, does it matter? Sure, sometimes, it does. But it’s an ending.

And there’s something of a death in finishing a book. Especially a good book. You’ve become great friends, learned a lot about one another in the process. You know you don’t like mysteries, but somehow you’ve been caught up in the mystery of this or that person’s affairs in an almost tangible way. You’ve learned that the characters dialogue in such twisted double entendres that you feel you’ve been lost a hundred times during the reading. And then when it’s over? It’s like a death.

You close the book and set it on the shelf, wishing your time wasn’t up. And perhaps you go back to it again and again for a reminder of the characters you loved.

I love getting to the end of a good book. It’s an opportunity to reflect on how well an author has written and what aspects worked and didn’t work in my mind. It lets me savor the journey to that point, and it gives me a chance to decide whether I’ll be putting it on the shelf for good or taking it back down over and over again.

But still, as I’m coming to the end of this particular book, I’m feeling that finishing chagrin. Only two, possibly three chapters to go, and yet I read slower than ever. In my head, those are, of course, the signs of a good book.

What are your signs? Do you move faster or slower at the end of a good book? Inquiring minds want to know. 😀

-Rae-

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Ah, the Rereads

Posted on February 11, 2010. Filed under: Books, Historical Fiction, reading, Romance | Tags: , , , , |

I honestly don’t have much of a post today. I’ve been rereading one of Lauren Willig’s books in preparation for the newest one I purchased, and it’s been very pleasant going.

I tend to forget how she melds witty banter with excellent faculties of language to create these incredibly intense scenes with just one conversation. Generally I prefer to stay away from writing lots of conversation because I simply can’t find ways to justify it, especially since I’m not the best at it. But Willig has such an artful approach to it that I can’t help but be delighted.

I’m currently rereading the third in her series. The Deception of the Emerald Ring is full of light conversations with the excellent undertone of mischief, danger, intrigue, and illicit activities. It’s right up my alley.

In Emerald Ring, we get a closer glance at one of my favorite heroes: Geoffrey Pinchingdale-Snipe, whose last name is certainly a mouthful. Geoff is quite snippy, especially towards his recent acquisition, our heroine, Letty Alsworthy, the new bride to the heir of the Pinchingdale name and fortune.

Granted, it wasn’t her fault at all. Not one little bit. All she wanted was to prevent Geoff from ruining her older sister by eloping with her.

You can imagine how well that goes.

In short, the book follows Geoff after his impromptu wedding on an adventure to Ireland under the orders of the London War Office, but our dear spy simply cannot be bothered informing his most unwanted bride of this small detail. And that, of course, is where Letty comes in, deciding to follow dear Geoff to Ireland instead of wasting away in his cold, empty home and avoiding the ton as they gossip about her grabby attempts to usurp her sister’s position as rightful bride.

Bring on the witty banter.

Yep, so that’s what I’m rereading now. I’ve caught myself, several times now, cracking up in the middle of a reading due to the prose, and I simply adore the characters Willig has created. I’ll admit, I’m hooked.

What books are you rereading? And what books do you put on your reread list? I have strict categories of rereads, which I’ll probably talk about at some point or another. For today, I’m just enjoying the story.

-Rae-

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