A Change in Taste…Perhaps!

Along with my desire not to write, I find I don’t feel like reading either. However, I refuse to stop reading. It’s something I’ve done since day dot.

I have many book shelves at home. Most of them are crammed full (two rows deep and high) with fantasy books. I’ve loved these stories for so long. But every time I look at the books now, I cringe. I think I might be sick to the core of fantasy.

It’s time to change my reading habits, I believe.

Last night, I made a special trip to the library. There was one rule I had to follow. No fantasy books! I’m drawn to them because of the excellent covers, but this time I made sure I picked up anything and everything else. I deliberately picked books at random that I wouldn’t normally entertain. I figure that the cover doesn’t maketh the book and maybe, hopefully, I’m missing out on a really good story. I plan to find out.

I chose chic fic, detective, Australiana, humour and romance. With only three weeks before the due date forces me to return the books, I doubt I’ll read more than one of them, but I wanted to be sure I had options in case I didn’t like whatever I decide to read first…or second…or third! You get my drift.

First book of the rank will be Last Family in England by Matt Haig. This book was highly recommended to me by Alan Baxter. I will let you know what I think.

If you have a non-fantasy book you’d like to recommend, please go ahead and tell me about it.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

There are no spoilers in this post.

Harry Potter and the Deathly HallowsMy eyes are so heavy. My mind is vague. I’m plodding along on the morning after, trying to work as normal and act somewhat human, but it’s difficult. I mustn’t complain though, because my condition is self inflicted. It was my choice to stay up and finish reading Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.

I had a choice: Put the book down right at the start of the climax and spend the night and all today wondering what was going to happen. Or, keep reading. I knew I had about an hour and a half of reading to go. I knew it would be well past midnight when I reached the last page and that is a very late night for me. I knew that I’d suffer today if I continued on with the adventure.

I put the book down. I got ready for bed. I said goodnight to my family and then…

I climbed into bed, picked up the book and continued to read. I had to know what was going to happen. I couldn’t wait another 24 hours. I knew I wouldn’t be able to sleep because of it, so I felt I may as well keep going. It’s what any normal person would have done…isn’t it? 😀

It was worth it.

Whilst young readers of Harry Potter were growing up as they read the books, J K Rowling was growing as a writer. She has done extremely well and, as a writer myself, I learned a lot from reading her series.

I especially admire Joanne’s ability to weave intricate threads together, giving hints throughout the entire series, and then pull everything together and leave the reader feeling satisfied. She did a marvellous job and she should feel proud of herself.

There is a lot of talk on the internet questioning Joanne’s ability and whether or not she’ll be able to produce something other than anything Harry Potter related. I truly hope that she can. I believe she has the ability to tell a good story. I just hope the public will give her a chance and not compare everything else she produces with Harry Potter. I realise it will be hard, but readers must open Joanne’s future books, especially the next one, with fresh eyes and an open mind.

Now that I’ve finished the Harry Potter series, I find myself looking at my own children’s series and feeling as if I must put more into it – more imagination, more excitement…and more of my time. I think that’s called inspiration.

Right, now I have to find someone to “chat” to, because I want to discuss the details of the book…

Book Review: Eglantine

When was the last time you grabbed your favourite pillow and pulled out a thick, warm blanket and settled yourself down on the lounge to watch a movie…a good movie? You pulled your feet up under the blanket and snuggled down before pressing the play button. You might have a hot cup of milo or tea sitting on the table beside you and a packet of chips or lollies or popcorn to munch on too. Or perhaps you don’t want the distraction because you’re tired or feeling unwell and you just want to concentrate on the movie. You’ve wanted to watch this movie for a while now.

The opening credits roll up and the movie begins.

The characters seem familiar. Or maybe it’s the setting. You’re not sure. You keep watching. You’re engrossed, but there’s something about the plot that reminds you of…you can’t remember which movie it was, but it reminds you of something and you find that distracting. You continue watching.

Something happens and once again you are reminded of…another movie? The scene seems to be exactly what you’ve seen before, but you can’t remember what happens next – or how this movie ends – so it has to be a rip off of another movie you’ve watched. The movie continues and you burrow further down beneath the warmth of the blanket.

The movie is coming to an end. You have no idea what’s going to happen and then…all of a sudden…you know how the last scene is going to play out. You can remember the last words spoken and you realise that you’ve seen the movie before. What a disappointment!

EglantineThis happened to me while reading Eglantine (Ghost Story) by Catherine Jinks. The first chapter reminded me of another story I thought I had read, but for the life of me I couldn’t remember the name of the story. As I continued to read, I felt a familiarity with the characters and the plot, but had no idea where any of it was going so believed the story was similar to something else I had read. But the last chapter revealed to me that I had in fact read the book before. The last paragraph confirmed it. I felt a little foolish, but I guess we’ve all had this happed to us at some time.

Anyway, Eglantine is a paranormal adventure written for 8 to 12 year olds. As I write for this age group, I like to “research” what’s on the market. Besides, the books are usually enjoyable to read and don’t take up much of my time. Sometimes I like to finish something quickly and this was a nice break from the usual type of story that I read.

I imagine 8 to 12 year olds might find the story a little scary, but the author has written it light heartedly and there isn’t anything to be scared about. The paranormal plot is mixed with facts about anorexia, which I believe is a good way to teach young girls (and boys) about a condition that affects more people than we realise. The author did a good job of combining the two.

Young girls will enjoy this story. It’s the first book in a series.

Book Review: Left Behind

Left BehindThis month I’ve been reading Left Behind: A Novel of the Earth’s Last Days (Left Behind #1) by Tim F. LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins. I was told, after I purchased the book, that it is a Christian book and immediately thought it would be preachy. So I opened the book and started reading cautiously; ready to throw the book to one side if it started preaching at me. I’m glad to say that it didn’t preach. Yes, there were religious sections in the story, but that was to be expected and the author was careful to slip them in were it was appropriate. And I never felt that the explanations went over the top. They were written clearly and concisely, so they didn’t distract from the story plot in the least.

Basically, the story follows two men left behind after the “rapture”. Rayford’s storyline is religious and, to be honest, I enjoyed this part of the book (which surprised me). Buck’s storyline is political and, not surprisingly (for me), this was the let down of the story. Whilst Buck’s storyline could have been quite interesting, I found it bogged down with the politics and therefore … quite boring. More than once I felt like skipping Buck’s scenes and reading the next section for Rayford. However, knowing religion and politics would surely be combined in the end, I read every scene (reluctantly). And, of course, I was right. Suddenly, the two merged and the pace steadily climbed and there was an exciting race to the all important climax. Once there, the authors quickly brought the book to a close.

I knew Left Behind was the first book in a series but, although there was some closure, I didn’t feel completely satisfied with the end. I feel that all books should leave the reader feeling content, even if the big picture has only just begun. This book failed in that regard.

Do I recommend the book? I feel that if you’re looking for an “end times” story to read, you could probably find better. However, if you want to know what the bible predicts, then this is a good starting point or introduction. I’m not sorry I read the book and I did find it interesting. Yesterday, I was given book two – Tribulation Force – which G found in an op shop and I will read that, but I wouldn’t walk into a bookshop and buy another book in the series. It is not just a story. It is a series which is being used as a medium to introduce people to Christianity. For that reason, I cannot recommend the book or the series. I would feel strange doing so.

Going Potty

It seems the world has slipped into an anxious wait for the seventh, and hopefully final, book in the Potter series – Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. I’ve visited a few blogs today which have voiced an opinion on something Potter related. However, two of my regular haunts talked about two things I’d like to comment on here.

No, there are no spoilers to be found in this post…in case you’re wondering.

Alan Baxter asked if there should be more Harry Potter books. His opinion is quoted below:

The best stories are those that do end and leave us wanting more, rather than giving us so much that we become bored and wander off to look out the window.

I agree whole heartedly with this statement. We don’t need to know any more. We don’t need to read about how the story began, ie the prequel, because we already know and we don’t need spin offs telling us the inside story from other character’s point of view or what happens to them afterwards, ie Hermione & Ron.

Whilst I love the Harry Potter stories, I do believe that J K Rowling should listen to her gut and stop at Book 7, as she always planned. However, I think Rowling’s agent and publisher will urge her to write more. They will only be hearing the sound of cash registers collecting more money for them. They will not be thinking of what’s best for the series and that’s why I truly hope that Rowling is strong enough to say no.

The other comment was made by Struggling Writer who asked:

What are the chances I’ll be able to read this book without having the ending spoiled?

This is something I’ve asked myself too. I think the chances are slim, but there’s no harm in hoping that people will be nice enough to clearly mark posts in forums, groups, blogs and websites with a spoiler notice.

Some people plan to read Book 7 before the end of the weekend (the book is due to be released on Saturday, 21 July 2007). Even if I got my copy of the book on that day, there’s no way I’d be able to finish it within a week. I read too slow. It’s more likely that I’ll still be reading the book in August and I, like everyone else, would like to find out for myself what happens to Harry and his friends. I don’t want other people telling me before then.

My plan of attack is to NOT read anything that is marked with any keyword that leads me to believe it (meaning posts, websites, emails) might be a spoiler. It was because of a “leak” on Book 6 that I disabled signatures on my message board – it’s difficult to ignore one sentence that tells all and is in bold; it’s also very nasty and selfish. I was furious when this happened and I let the person know it too. If you read the book and write a review, that’s fine, but please tell the reader there will be spoilers long before you give anything away.

There is only four days until Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows comes out. Do you have a copy reserved? If not, will you attempt to buy it on the day anyway? Or, will you be hiding under a rock until the world settles down again?

Books and Things

There was me thinking my books from Amazon were bobbing across the ocean to me, when in actual fact they were jet setting across instead. Yesterday, I heard a thumping on the front door. Honestly, I thought the end of the world was upon us and everyone was being asked to evacuate, the thumping was that loud and urgent, but it was only the delivery man with my bundle of books. I say bundle because it sounds good, but there were only two – No Plot? No Problem!: A Low-Stress, High-Velocity Guide to Writing a Novel in 30 Days by Chris Baty and Storm Front (The Dresden Files, Book 1) by Jim Butcher. They took a little over a week to reach me and I look forward to reading them both.

On Tuesday, we went to an Op Shop and I picked up a book called Left Behind: A Novel of the Earth’s Last Days (Left Behind #1) by Tim F. LaHaye and Jerry B Hawkins. It was the tag line that got me interested – A Novel of the Earth’s Last Days – as I’ve always been interested in this topic. When we got home, G told me it was a Christian book. Hmm, that is fine as long as it’s not preachy. I can’t stand preachy! If so, I’ll throw it in a corner. However, I simply hope to enjoy a story that might have religious undertones. I’ll be fine with that.

I’ve been on holiday for a week (it will be 10 days to be exact) and it’s rained just about the entire time. Although I’m about ready to say I’ll be glad to see the sun again, I feel selfish for thinking this as we need every drop of rain we can get. Our dam has gone from 32% to 51% in three weeks. That’s terrific news. The farmers are smiling for the first time in a long time and they are looking forward to a great supply of crops this spring.

The sun did come out today. As overcast and especially rainy days depress my mum I told her the bright sunlight was a special birthday present especially for her. That made her laugh. She seemed pleased and said she was happy just to know the sun still existed. Then we laughed and thought about the countries where winter means dismal grey skies for many long months. We forget how lucky we really are.

During the bleak weather I’ve spent many hours scanning my photos. As I mentioned in a comment, I’ve finally got a system happening where I’m speeding through the pages. Well, using the word “speeding” seems wrong, but I am going much faster now. This morning, I picked up all my parent’s photos. *sigh* There are so many of them. I think I’ll be scanning photos for the rest of my life…longer, maybe. 😀

Now, it’s back to the scanner…

Book Review: Illusion

illusionFifteen years ago, approximately, I read Illusion by Paula Volsky and loved it. This month I read it again and can see why I loved it so much. The book is 700 pages long, and for me that means a lot of time and effort and any book which requires these things better be worth it and Illusion is. I’m astonished that I managed this number of pages in just 26 days. That’s amazing.

Based on the French Revolution, the story is set in a fantasy world, but more specifically in a city called Sherreen. Eliste, a toffee nosed Exalted, travels to the city to be presented at court and become “maid” to the queen. We see exactly who Eliste is and how she thinks. We live inside her head for a number of months. It all makes perfect sense and we could almost believe things are just how they should be. Almost.

Then…things change and Eliste’s life is thrown into turmoil. We travel with her as she goes from a wealthy miss to living on the street – cold, hungry and scared. There are more twists in this book than you think possible. Each time something is overcome, something worse is thrown at her. We witness the change in her personality and in the way that she thinks, and that change corresponds with the way the book is written.

Whilst Eliste is wealthy and a somebody, the wording used in the book can become quite tedious. The long words and phrases are confusing at times, but they suit the mind set of the main character and her situation. Everything is centred on class and intelligence and that shows in the word usage. Although I loved the way this was done, I did find it exhausting and this would be the one complaint I have about the book as a whole. However, the characters and plot pulled me over this flaw. Then, when I just started to get used to it, Eliste’s life changes and with it so did the word usage. No longer were education important to her as survival, especially where her next meal would come from, consumed her mind. Gone were the large words and simplicity took over. Well maybe “simplicity” isn’t the right word, but I can guarantee the reading becomes easier nonetheless.

The outcome is brilliant.

The story is filled with suspense, romance, gore, politics, and much more. The characters are whole and convincing. The setting is solid and real. The emotions pull at you, even when you put the book down and try to do something else. I found myself thinking about Eliste’s circumstances and wondering how I would cope if I found myself in the same situation. The scenes filled my mind when I was trying to fall asleep at night. I couldn’t wait to return to Sherreen and read more of Eliste’s plight (remember, I have read the book before and knew what was going to happen and still the book had a hold on me).

Yes, this is still my number one book. Highly recommended.

Purchasing Books Online

It’s something I’ve never done…purchase books online…until now. I always buy them when I see them, and that is usually when I see them in op shops, not book stores. However, I’ve wanted to get my hands on two books that I’ve never seen in Australia (admittedly, I never got around to asking about them at the counter so it doesn’t mean they are unavailable here).

A few days ago, I stumbled across Storm Front (The Dresden Files, Book 1) by Jim Butcher on Amazon and decided to splurge out and buy myself a present. I don’t do it often. Then I thought, “why not look for the other book I want and save on shipping” (whether or not I did I don’t actually know, but the reasoning sounded good at the time). Within thirty seconds I found the other book – No Plot? No Problem!: A Low-Stress, High-Velocity Guide to Writing a Novel in 30 Days by Chris Baty – and within a few more minutes I had made the purchase and the books have now been shipped to me.

When I say shipped, I probably mean exactly that, which means the books will bounce slowly across the ocean for about…let me see, two months! Never mind, I’ve got a lot of other things to keep me busy in that time, so I don’t mind. Now G is pestering me to get a copy of Wounded Male by Steven Farmer. I guess he deserves a present for no reason too, so that will be my second experience of buying books online.

Have you purchased books – or anything else – online? What have been your experiences? What are your favourite sites?