Monday, November 29, 2010

I love my husband. He buys me books!
I told him I really was enjoying the Pink Carnation series by Lauren Willig. He told me to send him the website with her books (naturally I sent him to her homepage) and this past Saturday, three more of her novels arrived in the mail! He’s such a sweetheart!

I started The Deception of the Emerald Ring on Saturday and finished it yesterday (Sunday). While I still enjoyed the story, for the first time I found myself much more interested in the researcher’s present-day story than in the account of the protagonist and her erstwhile love interest. I’m afraid there are some writing techniques that are becoming repetitive in those plot lines.

No, what started out as a clever device to hook the reader into the main story has now become a full-fledged story in an of its own right. I’m glad I’m reading the books in order so I can see the development of the framing storyteller because I’m getting quite interested in her. I like Eloise's saucy insouciance, her self-doubt, her over-analyzing of all things Colin.

Usually the protagonist’s story and the framer’s story intertwine quite nicely. In this novel, however, there is very little to tie either the storys’ events or characters to one another. It almost seems as if Ms. Willig put the two stories on playing cards divided into two piles, and then shuffled them together. Wherever the framing story fell, is where it fit into the larger novel. Definitely disconcerting to go back and forth without any thread of similarity to lead the way.

Of course, none of this will stop me from reading the rest of the books!

Play safe :)

Thursday, November 18, 2010

I know, two blog posts this week? What IS the world coming to?

Well, being housebound has it's advantages and having time to read as well as write are two of them. I've written nearly 10,000 words since the first of November and read three books. The latest book read is Catherine Coulter's The Heir. This is a rewrite; according to her note to readers on the back of the book, this title first was published in 1980. This edition, published in 1996, has been extensively re-written with more character development and "greater scope and depth" to the storyline.

I have to admit, there's something very attractive about going back to an early story and being allowed a "do over." I'm a much better writer now than I was a decade ago and undoubtedly could improve upon my early works. In fact, I spoke to Raelene Gorlinsky, Ellora's Cave's publisher about it when I was looking to re-do a novella that had been a part of an anthology but was now being re-released as a stand-alone ebook. Her words changed my mind.

What she said (paraphrased) basically amounted to this: readers bought your story and loved your story the way it was. If you go changing it, they'll feel shortchanged. They'll wonder why you didn't write it that way in the first place. You do them no favors by saying, "I'm a better writer now, I want a do-over." Her words reminded me of Ray Bradbury's comments in the Afterword of Fahreheit 451 (also paraphrased; I don't have a copy of his book with me at the moment) when he was asked if he wanted to do a rewrite of that wonderful novel about censorship: Why should I second-guess my younger self? I knew things then I don't know now. Let it be.

So when I picked up this book and read the back, I felt a twinge of concern? disappointment? ticked-off-ness? I wasn't sure I wanted to read it, to be honest. It might be better than the original, in her opinion, it might not be, in mine. I wish I had the 1980 version to compare it to -- the academic in me wants to know the differences.

All-in-all it ended up being a fairly good Catherine Coulter book -- I like almost everything I've read of hers, so I don't know why I was concerned going in. It's a good read, if a fast one (369 pages and I read it between the hours of noon and midnight and finished it). I wasn't enamored of the hero and heroine, but the supporting cast gave me something to keep reading for.

Sidenote: When I did a search for the book for the Amazon link, the same title came up under Johanna Lindsey, Barbara Taylor Bradford, Paul Robertson and Grace Burrowes. Looks like this is an overused title I won't be using anytime soon! Oh, and there's a re-issue of Coulter's in 2002. Wonder if it's another rewrite?

Stitches came out of my knee today...still can't drive, though.

Play safe!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

I've given up (temporarily) on Working by Studs Terkle. It's just too depressing. So far I've read just over a dozen profiles and only one person likes her life. The others are just going along, carried by the tide of events. Life's too short for that! You gotta get out there and LIVE it! I get so mad at the people I just had to set it aside.

Instead (since I'm still housebound), I read The Masque of the Black Tulip by Lauren Willig. You may recall I also read The History of the Pink Carnation and wrote about it before. The Black Tulip continues where Pink Carnation left off. You know what's amazing? That I can write those sentences in total seriousness!

These are both part of a series that's really a knock-off of The Scarlet Pimpernel by Baroness Orczy, although they are really well done -- as is evidenced by the fact that I paid full price for the Masque of the Black Tulip and am now shopping for the rest in the series. If you like your romance dashing, your heroes in tight breeches and well-tied cravats (and be honest, who doesn't?), if you like your heroines involved and willing to get into the thick of things (as we all really want to do), then these are good books for you!

(Speaking of the Scarlet Pimpernel...there is none better than Anthony Andrews! I am SOOO in love with that movie!)

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Because of my enforced bed rest yesterday (out-patient knee surgery) I read an entire book in one day. Actually, I started one and then started a second when the first required too much brain-power for my drug-induced loopy-ness. The book I started is Working by Studs Turkel and I like it, but it made me think. And thinking wasn’t my strong suit yesterday. I’ll read it more as the drugs wear off.

No, the book I read all the way through was Wild Honey by Fern Michaels. I actually liked it, but I think it only needed the one prologue about the hero. There was one concerning the heroine as well, but I got all that information, better-told, later in the story, making the prologue redundant.

Other than that, the story was well-written and my internal editor didn’t kick in at all. Usually it does. I’ll be reading along and next thing I know I’m rewriting sentences in my head to make them flow smoother. For this novel the only time my editor popped up for a brief visit was when I got the same info from the prologue about the heroine again and thought, “I like it here better than there.”

Of course, it could also be the editor inside me was fast asleep with the remnants of the knock-out drugs from my surgery!

But if you’re looking for a book to while away the time – and for one that’ll tick you off about the treatment of Native Americans early in our history. This is a good one. Recommended!

Play safe,

PS. Did you pick up your copy of Remembered Love yet? It's a freebie Naughty Nooner; EC's gift to you from me!

Monday, November 08, 2010

In my record-keeping of what books I've read this year, I realized I forgot one I read over the summer. This past Saturday my husband and I closed up our cabin for the winter (it was hard. I wanted to stay there and live like a hermit and write all winter long) and, sitting lonely and forgotton on the endtable lay a book I actually enjoyed very much.

Some of you know I'm a Tokien geek, but did you also know I'm a Myst fan? I started with Myst shortly after the game came out and eventually even was lucky enough to be chosen as a beta-tester for Uru, a game intended to be an online community as well as a world (or Ages, to be exact) of exploration. Unfortunately, Uru had too short a life, but I'm still a Myst fan and am in the process of playing End of Ages again. For the third time.

So what what the book left Myst-like on the table? Myst, the Book of Artrus, of course! A novelization of some of the backstory to that wonderful parallel universe. Written by Rand Arthur and David Wingrove, it tells the story of the D'ni through the eyes of a young boy who learns his heritage as he grows up. Torn between a grandmother who taught him patience and a father who sees the Ages they visit as his own personal ego-trips, Atrus finds a middle ground that sets him on the path of destruction we discover in the Myst video game.

I hate using those words to describe Myst. It isn't really a video game. Video games are the Mario Brothers and PacMan and even World of Warcraft. Myst is a story couched inside a set of puzzles. It's a hyperlinked novel with incredible artwork and breathtaking discoveries. It's exploration, not gaming. The Book of Atrus is just another level of the exploration.

All that said, if you're not a Myst fan? You're going to find this book tedious and filled with references you don't understand. If you are a Myst fan? You're going to find this book a little slow, but you'll enjoy discovering Atrus as a boy, then as a young man before he meets Catherine, before his sons betray him, before life goes so very wrong for him.

That's all! I'll be out for a bit starting Wednesday as I'm having a bit of knee surgery done to remove the arthritis that's built up inside over the years (too many summers of skinned knees and falling off my clamp-on roller skates).

Play safe, everyone!

PS. Be sure to click on some of the links above to see the incredible artwork that is Myst!