Monday, November 26, 2012

Books on tape

I whined a lot this semester about how I didn't get to do any reading.  Well, I didn't really get to do much reading - but I recently realized that I sure listed to a heck of a lot of books on tape.

Bloodlist by P.N. Elrod
A sort of noir thing with the main character as a vampire.  His being a vampire seemed mostly like an convenient way to bring a character back from the dead to solve his own murder.
CONCLUSION:  Of the startling number of vampire books I have recently consumed, this was probably my favorite.

The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater 
Highly enjoyable, surprisingly.  Best book I've listened to in a good bit. I perversely didn't want to listen to it for a while because it won awards and I was afraid it would be dull, but I was happily wrong.
CONCLUSION: see full write-up.

My Week with Marylin
It's nothing surprising really - a behind the scenes with Marilyn Monroe.  It was interesting to me because I've seen The Prince and The Showgirl, in which Marilyn Monroe was quite good, I thought, and I knew a little of the backstory already.
CONCLUSION: Enjoyable in the way you know it will be - a slightly uncomfortable but fascinating peek into the life of an icon.

2 Nathaniel Cade books
Do I really like these? It's debatable.  I like conspiracy theory stuff.  I like thrills and action. Do I really love, like, paranormal stuff? No.  This seems to be about the closest thing to a paranormal Michael Crichton novel I'll ever encounter.
CONCLUSION: When it's this or Karen Kingsbury, I'll take vampires and frankensteins trying to kill the president any day.

The Lost Gate by Orson Scott Card
Weird magical all-mythological-gods-are-real story.    Didn't like it as much as Ender's Game, but how is that surprising? I adored Ender's Game.
CONCLUSION: Though this wasn't my favorite story ever, I do always go for the hermes/loki character. I wanted to hear more.

The Tales of Alvin Maker by Orson Scott Card
Weird alternate America where magic happens story.  Maybe it's because I listened to them instead of reading them, but these seemed... I don't know, fuzzier than Ender's Game.  This was also tainted by the readers (yes, plural) one or two of which were certainly not my favorite.
CONCLUSION: Didn't like it as much as The Lost Gate.

Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict
Read it before already.  Fine. I'm not a chick-lit person, so this is really as close as I'll ever get.
CONCLUSION: THANK GOD! FINALLY a book about a Jane Austen fan who doesn't make dumb mistakes when she's transported back to Jane Austen's day.

3 Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter books.
Do I like these books? Not really. Am I a paranormal-fiction fan? NO. But! The reader is good. The pace is quick.  There were lots of fights. I listened to them while doing school work, and they seemed to not take much focus to absorb, which was just what I needed.  I honestly didn't know they were, like, considered sexy books until after I was done with them.  Maybe I missed those parts, but it just seemed like a spunkier, much gorier Twilight to me.

True Strength by Kevin Sorbo
Hm. Didn't know he was, like, dying while making his TV show. Poor chap. I like that TV show. It's so marvelously campy.
CONCLUSION: But I didn't need to read that much disorganized whining.


Beauty Queens by Libba Bray
Genuinely funny in many places, and excellent reading (by the author!) - but for some reason I just didn't finish it.  There's a good chance I will someday.

A Beautiful Blue Death by Charles Finch
I'm sorry to say it, but about a third of the way in I threw in the towel.  This was published in 2007, and felt so much like a lackluster knock-off of Dorothy Sayers, that I couldn't get through it.  The long descriptions of the food he was eating and him looking for his special pipe wore me down. EVERY scene was described in too much detail.  You have to restrain yourself sometimes, or it just gets dull.
I really don't care that "he preferred his eggs scrambled." That's just not an interesting fact.  Mainly because it says next to nothing about who he, or his companions are - and most of the detail is like that.  If we're talking about eggs and detectives, think of Hercule Poirot's lament that eggs are not round?  That says something about his character, thank you very much.
The reader was sprightly, and did a decent job with the material.

Lord of the Fading Lands by somebody or other
Honestly? I didn't even get through the prologue.  I'm adventuring further into the fantasy/sci-fi world these days - but some things I will just never like.
By Tom Edge - Does size matter?

It occurs to me that the simple definition of novel versus novella could usefully be updated to account for ultra-sized works of fiction, those titanically-proportioned books so often taken to be the defining criterion for admission into the Serious Novelists Club.
Ulysses, The Corrections, Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell: All are books wide enough to carry the author's name horizontally across the spine when shelved.
HP and the Order of the Phoenix, Infinite Jest, Moby Dick: These are the kind of books that furniture removal men hate, but which can also be used as furniture (small stools, door stops and so on).
At present we have the short story (small), novella (larger, but still small) and then the novel. Perhaps we need a new word for the type of 600 pages-plus book that will concuss a Chihuahua if knocked from the kitchen table...
Like comedies at the Oscars, short works often seem overlooked in the canon of Great Novels, physically dwarfed on the bookshelf and struggling to compete for critical attention. We seem impressed by marathon efforts. Short stories, on the other hand, get relatively short shrift.
The organisers of NaNoWriMo say "we don't use the word "novella" because it doesn't seem to impress people the way "novel" does." They're right. Which is a shame, as there are some wonderful writers out there who rarely, if ever, overstep the 300 page mark.