Stuff and that.

Stuff. And yeah. That

Month: March, 2014

On a roll, I am…

Yes, I actually finished my book today – and not only that, I’m blogging about it. Who. Would. Have. Thought.

Ok, on to the book…

I’ve just finished Volume 3 of the Codex Alera by Jim Butcher.

I’d read all the Dresden Files over a couple of years, and read the latest one (#14 Cold Games) not long after it came out in 2012. I really like Jim Butcher’s writing style – his goodies aren’t 100% good and the baddies aren’t all bad, and sometimes the goodies are bad and the baddies are good. Complicated, yes. Fun to read, also yes. Reanimated dinosaurs anyone (can’t remember which book that was in, so not really spoilers). Anyway, the Dresden Files are urban fantasy, and centre around Chicago’s only practicing wizard detective (he’s listed in the phone book under “W”), loads of wizards and vampires and ghosties and ghoulies and the like doing all manner of unspeakable things (and a talking skull called Bob) and all in a modern urban setting – it’s like it could be happening down that alley or in the next street over – yeah, urban fantasy

So, with that in mind (that I liked the writing style), I picked the first book in the Codex Alera (Furies of Calderon) for my holiday reading list when we went away last year, and enjoyed it so much I read the second one as well. The Codex Alera is more your traditional fantasy series, in that it’s set in a Far Off Land, and involves a lot of sword fighting and magic. The magic in this series comes from “fury crafting” where all the inhabitants of Alera have special skills relating to water, wind, earth, metal, fire and wood) in that they can call upon their furies and harness their strengths to manipulate the particular element. The series is written from the perspective of a few different people – but the good thing is nobody dies. Well, actually plenty of people die, just not the main characters.  Which is quite a relief, really, having read all of the available volumes of Game of Thrones where EVERYONE dies (no spoilers there. They all die. The end.)

It centres around Tavi (who has no furies and is sort of considered ‘disabled’ in that he can’t do anything basic for himself – like create a light) who is a Cursor (sort of spy type thing – not like James Bond spying, more like undercover secret squirrel business); Amara, who is also a Cursor – but she has plenty furies and regularly kicks arse (another thing I like about Mr Butcher’s work is how the female characters are more than capable of looking after themselves) and she’s married to Tavi’s uncle. Tavi’s aunt is the other major character thread – Isana, and she’s a healer (watercrafter). They all get themselves into all manner of precarious situations and meet together every now and then.

Now that I’ve totally turned everyone off by my seriously dodge description of the series… I’ve just finished the third one in the series, and yep. Cracker. Loads of living by wits, fair degree of biffo, bit of pashing… (too much for the kiddiwinks, but not endless pages of rumpy pumpy – also unlike GoT). I’m not sure why I left it a year between drinks so to speak. In fact, instead of downloading new books, I’m going to read #4 (Captain’s Fury) instead because I really want to know what happens next.

(So yeah, pretty good then.)

 

The Shining Girls

I read The Shining Girls by Lauren Beukes  straight after Special Topics (and it was another one I picked up from Raging Bibioholism ) It’s one of those books that everyone seems to want to rave about, it’s about a time travelling serial killer – thus merging two of my most favourite genres – crime n death and science fiction. So, I expected to really like it. I mean – what’s not to like – a creepy bloke stalks girls through time for reasons best known to himself, then kills them, leaving a really random ‘present’ behind.

BUT…

I don’t know exactly what it was about the book … I enjoyed it while I was reading it, and I looked forward to reading it each night, but as soon as I’d finished it – it was gone. WHOOSH. Straight out of my head. I couldn’t tell you the name of the two main characters, the name of the paper, anything. It was set in Chicago, and started off in the Great Depression (yes, I googled it), I really couldn’t remember the name of the book or anything about it at all – and it wasn’t until I saw it in the book shop that I remembered the name of it at all.

It wasn’t a bad book, not by any means. And it wasn’t that it wasn’t what I was expecting. The time travel-y bits were suitably time travel-y, the killer was nicely creepy. The girl who survived was quirky and interesting… It just was a bit – forgettable as it turns out. Maybe even a bit boring. Maybe it needed some more detail or something. Some explanation, a bit more of the why and a bit less of the moving the story along quite so briskly.

One word review – Disappointing.

I really wanted to like the book – and I suppose I did, while I was reading it. But it didn’t stay with me afterward. I still think of Blue from Special Topics, and I’m heading off to catch up with Tavi in the Codex Alera shortly. But Kirby (yes, I just went and Googled her name, darn it) lasted as long as it took me to read the book. So yeah, take it on with low expectations and you’ll probably be really excited like 85% of the people that have read it!

 

Special Topics in Procrastination.

Well, I’m not technically procrastinating at the moment. I’m waiting patiently for a phone call, then I am going home. But because I don’t want to actually start anything new that I can’t walk off on unfinished, here I am.

Now, I’ve just realised I haven’t posted about what I’ve been reading since the end of January – suffice to say I actually *have* been reading, but I’ve also been demolishing and rebuilding and packing and unpacking the most hideous kitchen in the world and discovering that if one packs two rooms into one room utilising the OMFG I just need to get all the things out of here and where can I just shove this thing, one also discovers that it takes one a bloody long time to find anything and put things back where they belong. Also, one also discovers that while one has the same real estate on paper as one had previously, but it’s arranged in a slightly different fashion – one has to reassess one’s love for amazing Italian ceramic platters and serving bowls (and discover that the local op shop ladies actually share your love of said amazing Italian ceramics and I’m 99.98% certain that both platter and bowls didn’t make it onto the shelf!)

I did in fact finish Special Topics in Calamity Physics. And it was pretty good in the end.

I discovered this book through a blog called Raging Biblioholism, which is pretty good. The author of the blog reads a LOT, and I have to say I enjoy his taste, and he’s lead me onto a lot of stuff I wouldn’t normally pick up. (Keep up the good works!) But back to Special Topics – The first half was a bit of a trudge – well written and interesting enough to keep going, but a bit of a trudge all the same. Then all of a sudden, things started to happen and the story turned into the crime story it promised to be from the start, it lost its resembleance to A Secret History and whipped along at a cracking pace. There were bits where I’d worked out what was going on, but it was more of an “ah ha! I knew it!” rather than “I told you that would happen – bo-ring” and as long as I reminded myself that the book was a) written from the perspective of a teenaged girl (haven’t met anyone more self-obsessed and angsty than an average teenage girl) and b) written by a Young Person whenever it got a little bit O. Rly? (which it did from time to time), that was ok. The story improved when Blue broke away in search of the answers to her questions (some of which she found – can’t go much further because. Spoilers, sweetie.)

The ending was daft, but the endings of crime stories often are. This also wasn’t a traditional crime story, in that there was a murder followed by the protagonist working out who it was wot dunnit and PC Plodd making sure that thems wot dunnit got their comeuppance. It was about a suicide (this is made clear in the first couple of pages, so no spoilers there) and the why and the what was involved, as well as the interactions (or otherwise) between a father and his daughter when both parties are completely self-obsessed and contained in their own little worlds. In the end, I definitely enjoyed it and I’ve recommended it to a couple of other people whom I know don’t mind a slow start to their books. I sort of knew what to expect re the pretentiousness of the main character – however, she’s a teenage girl. I used to be one a long time ago, and recently rediscovered my journals from when I was 16 through 18. Teenaged girls *are* pretentious. They probably always have been and possibly always will be pretentious little gits.

This is  relatively short and sweet (actually, I thought of other things to say after the aforementioned phone call, so I’ve banged on more than I thought!), but hey, also read another book which needs to have its own post due to me attempting to use this medium to track how much I’ve read this year. It appears the grand total is umm four books. And 2/3 of book five. In three months. At this rate, I will barely manage twenty books… This time last year, I’d headed off on an internet-free road trip. Before we left, I made myself a reading list of ten books to read over the almost three weeks we were away. Because we were driving for 5-6 hours a day, then stopping for the rest of the evening and I wasn’t being side tracked by the interwebs and playing endless games of Candy Crush, I had a lot more time for reading. I didn’t actually read all of the ten books I set for myself – I did read eight of them though, and another one that wasn’t on the list, and half of another one again.

It was a pretty good feeling when I got back that I’d managed to read that much; and I think having that solid period of reading, I didn’t fall into the trap of playing stupid games on the interwebs and going to bed ridiculously late instead of going to bed at a civilised time and reading (I also vaguely recall lolling about on the couch and reading over winter as well). When I consider how much time I waste on crap like bloody Candy Crush and all the other sagas, when I could be enjoying a bloody good book – I think I need to give myself a jolly good talking to! Sir Reg is working this weekend, and Chaos and Mayhem have been muttering about going to their mate’s place… I think it’s time for a personal challenge this weekend.

1. Finish the book I am reading

2. Blog about The Shining Girls and #3 of the Codex Alera

3. Download some more stuff onto the e-reader

4. Start Allegiant so that I’ve finished it before Chaos gets through the first two books in the series. This is an actual book rather than an e-book, because I prefer Chaos to get his thrills reading paper! Time enough for electronica when he’s older.

So that’s it from me. Hopefully I will manage the above list. Phone call is complete, and now I have to go home to dinner.