Sunday, January 30, 2011

Somehow I want to get this in a story someday

A friend of mine lived in a house with a bunch of roommates.  They had to install a second kitchen, though, to comply with zoning laws.  Because of the number of young women inhabiting the house, they would have been considered a brothel if they hadn't put in that second kitchen because there has to be a kitchen for every four women. 

Yeah.  I wish I could have sat in on the city council meeting where they decided that zoning law . . .

Book cover woes

So, there are a few things we know about the character on the left:
  • He has blond hair.
  • He always wears some sort of long coat to conceal the arsenal of knives and swords he perpetually carries.
  • He has a huge Roman nose.
I suppose 1 out of 3 isn't terrible for a fantasy book cover. 

It still irks me.  Possibly especially because I like the covers on this series.  Is it really so impossible to get things right in urban fantasy where you have the option of using real people as models?  Really?  Sigh.

Are there any covers that really irked you by being off-model/out of character?

Monday, January 24, 2011

True Grit: truly gritty

Lots of reviews I read about this movie talked about how family friendly it was and how faithfully it followed the book.  Now, I read the book in junior high.  (I'm pretty sure it was somehow related to that Louis L'Amour binge [Sacketts forever!].)  True Grit was a great book, but it was not family friendly.  Especially the ending, which I think the movie softened a bit.

The movie was like Shakespeare meets the old west.  It was beautiful; from the scenery to the music to the language, which was word-for-word at times, this movie was gorgeously composed.  (And, like seeing Shakespeare's works performed live, they can take a bit of getting used to.)

It was also ugly, often hideously so.  It was a filthy time period and a violent culture.  The reviews were right about the acid-black humor.  It yanked laughs out of me several times, and the laughs burned with shame.  Oh, my poor country, with your racism and oppression and lies and dreams . . .  Oh, my poor fallen world full of such sin and sadness and consequences.  No one else in the theater seemed to appreciate the good biblical allusion jokes in there?  (That dried bones one was priceless.)

I'll be honest: I have difficulty with realistic depictions of violence, and this movie made me quite sick to my stomach a couple of times.  It wasn't quite as bad as Dark Knight overall (which was incredibly brutal, always cutting off a microsecond before the R-rated violence actually began), but I wish they hadn't called True Grit PG-13, especially the cabin scene, which almost made me throw up.  (Seriously, how is that PG-13?!)  I know my limits, and I think they're firmly set at PG for violence henceforth.

(I'm so glad I can't visualize this stuff when I read, or I wouldn't be able to read most of the books I love.)

So, do I recommend it?  Yes.  If you have a tolerance for PG-13 violence, you should see this in a theater.  If you don't, maybe you should stick with the book (or the book on tape, if a good one exists).  It's an excellent revenge tragedy with a dark sense of humor and a lyricism brought to life by some great cinematography and performances by talented actors.

And remember, it's always best to let sleeping corpses lie.

In which I rhapsodize about Megan Whalen Turner's Attolia books

Apparently, I waited the perfect amount of time to reread the Eugenides books by Megan Whalen Turner because, after four years, I remembered pretty close to nothing about them except that they were awesome.  It really was like reading them again for the first time, and they were incredible.  What a treat after four years!

What I remembered
  • The Thief: Gen goes to steal a legendary gem.
  • The Queen of Attolia: The Queen of Attolia cuts off Gen's hand, and he comes to terms with it eventually and then proposes to her.  I thought that was the whole book, but it's only about half of it.  I can't tell you how surprised I was about how much stuff happened after that . . .
  • The King of Attolia: Gen has become the King of Attolia, and he eventually wins over the Queen's supporters in his own special way . . .
Seriously, that's all I remembered.  I reread all of them in preparation for reading A Conspiracy of Kings, and it was good that I did because I didn't remember anything about the main character Sophos, and the fourth book wouldn't have been nearly as good without knowledge of him and his relationship to the various rulers in question. 

Oh, it was so wonderful.  And awful too, because those kinds of things shouldn't happen to anyone, and some of those choices were just awful.  I'm so glad I'm not royalty or involved in politics and high-level decision making.  The responsibility is terrible.  I had such mixed emotions watching them grow into their roles because of what they had to sacrifice.

Beautifully crafted Attolia books

One of the things I've liked about this "series" is the craft that goes into each book's point of view, meaning that it doesn't exactly feel like most series that turn on a single, charismatic character to lead the show.  Book one unreliable narrator Gen gives a masterful performance in first person limited.  Book two includes more points of view, but Gen is still central.  The third book is told through an entirely new (and initially completely hostile) character, and the only glimpses we get of Gen are from this new narrator's less than fair observations.  The fourth book is third person limited Sophos (and it is on this POV that the plot turns, once again).  I just admire how perfectly the POV matches the story.  Beautiful! 

And the world-building! Oh, the politics, the tragedy, the relentless character-development, the slow-burn tension, and the incredible excitement!

And then there's Gen

I adore Gen.  The fact that he can be so interesting even when he's really a peripheral character speaks of just how wonderful a creation he is.  I hope he will forgive me for forgetting all the awesome parts of the first three books.  They were just as amazing this time around.

I would love another book (I feel like there might be one more here), and I am totally content to wait another 4 years for it.  By then, I'll have forgotten everything, and I'll get to read it all again for the first time.  I can't wait to meet Gen and company once more.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Vote for the best sci fi and fantasy novles of 2000-2010!

Head on over to Tor and cast your votes.  (Yes, votes.  You can nominate more than one.)  You have until this Friday!  Let me know where your votes were cast. :)

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Of humidifiers and BookNerdiness

You know you're a hardcore book nerd when you finally break down and buy a humidifier, and you notice it was made by a company named Kaz, and you suddenly get all nostalgic and wonder, "When was the last time I read The Curse of Chalion?" because the main character's name is Caz, and that book is awesome.

I am not making this up.

You also know you're a serious book nerd when your decision of which humidifier-like machine to buy revolves around which is least likely to damage your books.  What do you know?  The cheapest one would also be the most destructive.  Rats.

Do you have a story to share that demonstrates the degree of your book nerdiness?  :)  Do tell.

Monday, January 3, 2011

I've done this a few times myself

 Sometimes I let it sit for months.  Sheesh.

"When I'm reading a really good book, I have this tendency to draw out the last 20 or 30 pages, reading as slowly as I can -- sometimes drawing it out over a week or more -- because once I'm through with the last chapter, that's it. The imaginary friends I've made over the course of that story will never do anything new again. Our relationship is finite, and that kind of bums me out. (I imagine it's that same heartbreak that inspires fan fiction, which, in my humble opinion, is its own kind of tragedy, but you're entitled to disagree with me here.)" - Kelly Sue DeConnick (Sensual Phrase 16)

Any books you just couldn't bear to finish?