Quick & Snappy

It’s another year! A Happy Happy 2013 everyone! To quote Dag Hammarskjöld, “For all that has been — Thanks. For all that shall be — Yes.”

Kindle Paperwhite Anyone?

As I’ve told my husband his gift to me this Valentine’s Day shall be the Kindle Paperwhite! I AM interested in user feedback before the purchase though – what has been your experience if you’re using it?

While I love e-ink which is easy on the eyes I HAVE found myself wishing for a backlit screen for all the times when everyone else is fast asleep and I’m snuggled in and too cozy to move elsewhere!

Reading & Writing Resolutions

I don’t really have any except to whittle down my TBR, and inflate it at the same rate.  And of course to write more and more.

These Last Few Weeks

These Old Shades by Georgette Heyer: A delightful romp despite the implausibility of a heroine who is perpetually perky, a few character turnabouts a little hard to believe in, a 20 year old age difference between the hero and the heroine and the general omniscience of the hero.

Graceling by Kristin Cashore: Another rave-review getter which turned out to be ok-ish for me. The characters and the plot line were somewhat simplistic; they lacked the layers for me to sink my teeth into despite Kristin Cashore touching on some tough-world issues in the book. The overall tone was a little juvenile for me – which considering that Graceling is marketed as a YA novel is something that I should not be complaining about I guess! Oh, well.

The Snow Child by Eown Ivey – Review to come. On the whole, I enjoyed it!

Coming Up Next (reading-wise). Hopefully.

The Chocolate Kiss – Laura Florand
Brownies & Broomsticks – Baily Cates
Tell the Wolves I’m Home – Carol Rifka Brunt

No fantasy for the time being. The very thought of fantasy brings up that sickly sweet feeling that one gets after gorging on too much sugar!

Brandon Sanderson – The Mistborn Trilogy (Mini Review)

What has occupied me this past week: Brandon Sanderson’s Mistborn trilogy.

Faith and trust are the two themes that Sanderson explores time and again in this trilogy. The series is well plotted and meticulously planned. All of the disparate and pesky bits of details which one would not have thought of as clues come together in the climax in the third book. The framework of magic that Sanderson develops (Allomancy – the use of metals to enhance physical power, the power to influence emotions, etc.), and the different magical species he creates are engaging. Best of all the magical species were a result of not just a foray into magical imagination but were pivotal to the resolution of the conflict and for the movement of the plot.

By the third book though I found my attention wandering (largely due to my impatience with some of the major characters in the book). For instance, I appreciate Sanderson’s exploration of faith through Sazed’s struggles in the third book; however, I could not find myself empathizing with Sazed (a major character in the book). His struggle with faith seems too pedantic; his realization that the transformation he has been subjecting himself to because of what Twindyl (Sazed’s love interest) admired too haste. His emotional movements are just too jerky for me. I had similar troubles with Vim’s (the heroine) and Elend’s (the hero) issues with trust in the second book – I found their characters a bit too cookie-cutter-ish to trust their moments of epiphany.

This combined with some of the story-arcs that I felt stretched on unnecessarily (Spook’s story line for one) made the trilogy a less than stellar experience for me. The first book of the series was the most engaging and the series went downhill from there. My impatience to find out how the different pieces fit together was the only linchpin in me finishing the whole series.

What I want to read next: Something solidly contemporary. I want to purge myself of all things magical before I latch on to Kristin Cashore’s Graceling which seems to have garnered some great reviews (and yes, I know it came out 3-4 years ago).

I have The Beautiful Mystery by Louise Penny loaded on to my Kindle (I found it at a literally throwaway price on Amazon). However, I also have The Maytrees by Annie Dillard on my wishlist and I’m wondering if I should get that instead. Hmm… What to do?!

Update: Well, I ended up getting The Snow Child by Eown Ivey instead!

In the meanwhile

I need a break. In the wake of Dorothy Dunnett this implies:

  • Prose which I can read at my normal reading speed
  • Plot which does not turn and twist on itself
  • Villains who are not creepily scary
  • Characters who have not had a classical education
  • A completely and thoroughly contemporary setting (I cannot bring myself to read anything historical for a while)

In other words a reading experience which is soothing and comforting and is absolutely the opposite of the all-consuming Lymond Chronicles. I feel like a diver who has surfaced after a particularly intense dive and is gasping for breath.

I am looking forward to reading Miss Dunnett’s Niccolo series but will have to build the stamina for plunging into her world again – something which I do not think will happen before the beginning of the next year.

For my immediate consumption I have lined up:

  • 2 Carla Kelly romances – one of my favourite comfort-read authors
  • Sarah Addison Allen – The Girl Who Chased the Moon
  • Jo Walton – Among Others

Next I want to try the Persephone books which I’ve come across a lot on other book blogs.

If anybody reading this has any reccommendations for comfort reading, do give me a shout out!

the in-between

I’ve been consumed with book blogs these past few weeks. I don’t know why. There, I said it. Not that there’s anything shameful in it but I’ve been wondering at this need to hunt down and devour all things book. Some decent ones I’ve had the good fortune to stumble on:

www.openlettersmonthly.com/novelreadings/

www.readallday.org

Oh & a look at the syllabus from the far far future —

http://littleprofessor.typepad.com/the_little_professor/2012/06/the-syllabus-of-the-very-far-future.html

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Fifty Shades of Enough Already – I’m all for escapism and losing yourself in a fantasy but the brouhaha over Fifty Shades escapes me. I can’t help wondering whether the fascination stems from that segment of (women) readers who don’t have any exposure to romance as a genre. There’s plenty of books out there which combine Alpha heroes and sex scenes (if that’s what has got all the women swooning) with good writing (Lisa Kleypas) and humour to boot (Susan Elizabeth Phillips anyone? Or Laura Willig? Or Julia Quinn?). For me the troika of bad writing (grated on my nerves), zero plot and cardboard characters meant passing over this series. For all the Fifty Shades fan out there I’d say more power to you but really, there’s plenty of better stories.

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Books done with in the last two months – Shadow of Night (Deborah Harkness), Great Escape (Susan Elizabeth Phillips), Death Comes to Pemberly (P.D. James), The Magician King (Lev Grossman), The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry (Rachel Joyce)

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There are plenty of books in the ‘betwixt’ stage right now as well; a consequence of being a grown-up I think.

As a grown-up with all the grown-uply things which have to be taken care of I find my reading confined to the slivers of time during the commute, before/during/after dinner, in queues and other such-whiles.

As a reader I hate this with a passion. I love immersing myself in a story to the point of oblivion. The fall-out of reading in slivers of time is the loss of this gradual dissolution of my self into the story. Just when I find myself settling in, I have to tear my attention away. This hugely detracts from my enjoyment of the book. More importantly this slows down my progress towards what I call the point of no-return. (The point till which you have to diligently wade through before the story takes hold of you). And so it is that I find my progress on Wolf Hall stalled.

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Considering picking-up Cloud Atlas again. Having had to continuously renew the book from the library had made me finally give  up on it (I’d managed to finish the first two story arcs). Considering that the movie’s made by Wachowskis and features Tom Hanks and that I remember enjoying whatever I’d read, I’m thinking of picking it up again.

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Currently Reading: The Lymond Chronicles by Dorothy Dunnet (just started the first one in the series), From Eternity to Here by Sean Caroll

Books which I flit to during the in-betweens: An Agatha Christie mystery, a Georgette Heyer book, The Oracle of Stamboul, Pride & Prejudice

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P.S. I’m beginning to understand why I love reading in the night – it’s a relatively distraction-free zone

Updates

Immortal Nicolas Flamel series – Michael Scott
Check

What Alice Forgot -Liane Moriarty (avoidable – NOT worth the money)
Check

Bel Canto – Ann Patchett
Check

In Progress:

1Q84 (200 pages in the book, most likely ditching it mid-way)
Wolf Hall
Death Comes to Pemberly
The Magician King
Tommy & Tuppence (Agatha Christie) mystery
Anna Dean mystery
The Oracle of Stamboul
Whalesong
Pride & Prejudice

A list

Books which have occupied my attention in the past few months: The Millenium Triology – all 3, The Help, The Name of the Wind & The Wise Man’s Fear (The Kingkiller Chronicles), A Discovery of Witches, The Alchemist (first book in The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel), The Eyre Affair (Thursday Next ‘literary detective’ series)

Currently Reading: The Oracle of Stamboul, The Night Circus, The Magician (2nd book in The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel), The Imperfectionists, The Hunger Games, The Saturday Big Tent Wedding Party (A No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency Novel)