Sunday, January 21, 2007

Oh, did you think I was failing already?

Unforeseeable: incapable of being anticipated

Yes, last Friday (err, well, as I started this last week, it's now 2 Friday's ago) I had every intention of coming home and posting about the books I was reading, when something unforeseen happened and I ended up spending the next five days in a place where there was no internet. After, when I was home, I could have updated, except I had more unforeseen events happen, like my car going wonky and a huge pile of work to catch up on. Those last two combined to make me a rather irritable person, one who didn't feel like typing anymore, thank you very much.

However, I've had the past two days to sleep! and finally decompress a bit, so I'm posting away. (Except, it's been so long, that all of the good comments I had about things I've read are fading!)

(Yes, I wrote the above on's now Wednesday. Oh, me.)

I've been doing a bit of reading these past few weeks, even making the tiniest bit of progress in regards to my first self-challenge: I've read through chapter 2 of "Great Feuds in Mathematics". Yup. If I read one a day, I might actually finish the book before the end of the month. It's been interesting so far, but not in a fascinating, I can't wait to read the next part kind of way. This book is feeling to me like brief little snapshots of people who I may or may not have heard of in high school. I'm hoping that in later chapters, it'll become more interesting to me, as we'll be heading to the recent past feuds, as opposed to the ones that happened in the 1600s.

My real life book club just met last night to discuss "The City of Falling Angels", which I have to say I enjoyed much more than "Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil". I really loved Venice (and long to go back!), so reading about the city brought me back to when I went there several years ago. I didn't see all of the places that the author wrote about, but then, he was living there for several years while I was only there for a few days. The "main" story is about the fire that destroyed the Fenice (Opera House), and the years spent rebuilding it, while the side stories were about the investigation into who/what caused the fire, the Save Venice group, and a dozen different people the author met or became involved with while he was staying there. Still, his main theme was the Fenice, and how people saw it then/now, which I did see as his attempt to keep the story 'together'.

(Some of the people in the group didn't like the various side stories, especially the Olga/Ezra Pound detour, although I thought it was quite interesting. One of the members seemed to also love that section, as, "[T]hey were scandalous lovers people!".)

I picked up "The Rest Falls Away", which was recced by Carl a month or so ago. I have a huge thing for supernatural stories (and shows/movies), so I'll really read almost anything in the genre*, and more often then not, like it**. However, this story, it just didn't grab me, not really, which was a disappointment as I really wanted it to. I mean, Vampires! England! Slayers! I was set up to love this story, and I still can't figure out why I didn't. I'm sort of hoping that it was me (I was stressed, tired, and it was really late), rather than the characters. It wasn't a bad story, there was nothing "wrong"; a nice mix of characters and plots, with some interesting, ala Buffy, twists...I guess it just wasn't what I'd wanted it to be. Which again, could just be me. I'm planning on sending it to a friend who's tastes are pretty much identical to mine to see what she thinks.

(*Yes, I am still reading Laurell K Hamilton's Anita Blake series, although I really can't give a good reason as to why. I'm not liking where most, if not all, of the characters are going, but I still love Anita (who she used to be/my idea of her, whatever.) I won't pay for another book of her's though.)

(**I picked up "Strange Candy", by LKH from the library right before I went out of town and found that I actually really liked a couple of the stories. "A Lust for Cupids" was my favorite; it didn't involve anyone from the Anitaverse, just fun, cuteness, with a nice bit of rage/determination/vengance that made me happy. "Here be Dragons" was also a nice surprise, as it involves psychics who can kill/torture you by invading your dreams, and what happens when they are the monsters they're supposed to be protecting you from. There were also a couple of stories set in the Anitaverse; "The Girl who was Infatuated with Death" I actually enjoyed, as it did feature Anita, Jean-Claude, and Malcolm, who I think is an interesting character.)

I picked up "The Fallen" on a whim; it's the first in a four book series about Lucas, the child of a woman and a fallen Angel. Interesting so far, although not anything really new, but I'm liking it none the less. It's got Angels who think they're on a mission from God and have to wipe out the Fallen angels, as well as the children like Lucas, Fallen angels who are either hiding, helping, or just trying to get back to Heaven, and Lucas, who really doesn't want anything to do with any of it.

I'm still reading Neil Gaiman's "Fragile Things". I find that I can't read too many of his stories at once, because then I don't get to appreciate them and mull over them they way I want to. He's got such a fascinating way of telling a story, of writing it, that I feel I need to take long minutes to read and think before moving on to the next one. He always puts an introduction to his stories in the front of the book, and I read each one of them after I read the story; I don't want to be spoiled. I think my favorite so far is "The Problem with Susan", which anyone who's read the "Narnia" books by C.S. Lewis will pick up on immediately. (Ohh, he's got a new book coming out, about one of the other short stories that's included in this book: "The Facts in the Case of the Departures of Miss Finch".)

Finally, I'm thinking I'm going to switch "The Awakening" and "Bleak House" around. They're going to reshow the Bleak House movies on PBS later this spring, and I want to read the novel before watching it.


danielle said...

I loved Bleak House! I want to read the book, too. I wonder if all PBS stations are airing it again...I wouldn't mind watching it again. Glad you are reading even if you can't always post!

Heather said...

Well, I assume that they are, as part of this season's Masterpiece Theatre line up, but I could be wrong. They post the schedule for things based on your zip code at the site.

In Seattle, it's airing on Sundays, April 22 - May 13, 2007.

Carl V. said...

I wouldn't feel bad about not clicking with The Rest Falls Away...everyone likes different things and sometimes that is just the way that it is with a book.

Fragile Things is interesting. I still like Smoke and Mirrors as a whole better but there are some fantastic stories in FT. As I said in my review, though, I hated the Problem of Susan. Partly because I agree with some of Gaiman's problems with that part of the Chronicles of Narnia stories but mostly because I thought the sexual aspect was completely uncalled for and went too much against what these stories are supposed to represent. It did what it was meant to do though and made me think about it alot.

Heather said...

It's been so long since I've read S&M that I can't remember any of the stories...except a weird sex one, where she (?) takes from the guy she's sleeping with his ability to know things.

Sorry to hear that we have such opposite feelings in regards to The Problem with Susan, although I will agree that the sex part in that story really didn't grab me; I think it would have worked fine, and still provoked thought, if he'd left that out. And yes, yes, including sex into the Narnia books is completely against what CS was writing for/about.

Carl V. said...

Its no big deal, I consider it a very well written story that most definitely provoked a reaction in me. Being as big a Gaiman fan as I am I don't get too worked up about the stories of his that don't do it for me. Although I loved the Sandman comic series, overall I tend to like his sweeter, more fantastical stuff as opposed to the grittier, sexier stuff. There are exceptions. I loved The White Road and Snow, Glass, Apples in S&M and both were very dark. Generally though his stories, or the parts of his stories, that have a more degrading sexual element tend to turn me off. He's still my favorite author...if he would only publish more often!!!

Heather said...

Do you read his children's stories too? Overall, I have to say that those works are my favorites; I end up being 50/50 on his other stories.

J.S. Peyton said...

Oh, I thought I was the only one who'd gotten turned off by the turns in Laurell K. Hamilton's Anita Blake series. It started off so well didn't it? And then somewhere, somehow (I think it may have started with the introduction of Michah and his horde of pals) the series just started a downhill spiral. I haven't made it through Cerulean Sins and (sigh) as much as it saddens me, I doubt I ever will.

Heather said...

No, I really don't like her work now, at least not nearly as much as I did. I think a lot of people are turned off by what she's writing these days, although apparently they're still buying her books.

I think for me, the "turning" point was somewhere around book 8, when Anita started chanelling spirts, etc. I have to admit, I'll still read the AB series, but I won't buy another one again.

Also, LKH posted some big write up in response to peoples compliants, basically saying if you don't like my books, then fine, but don't buy them then. Did you read that?