Thursday, October 31, 2013

More Books Again

So, I went back.  And I found a few books on sale last week on my way back from Vermont.  I got:

Firewall - another Wallander book, so I've read 2 and have 5 more;
Operation Napoleon - by Arnaldur Indridason.  Icelandic author, though this isn't part of the Jar City/Draining Lake series.
Games for the Playground, Home, School, and Gymnasium - copyright 1916
The Execution Channel - Ken MacLeod
The Given Day - Dennis Lehane
The Chinese Bell Murders - Robert Van Gulik.  I think this is a Detective Dee book.
The Yard - Alex Grecian
Thunderstruck - Erik Larson
The Forgery of Venus - Michael Gruber
The Saskiad - Brian Hall
The Whiskey Rebels - David Liss
The 1985 & 1987 Annual World's Best SF - Wollheim.  This is a MMPB series.
Beasts; The Deep; and Engine Summer - John Crowley.
Beyond Singularity - an anthology by Dozois.

I've read The Years Best Fantasy Stories Vol. 3; The Years Best SF Vol. 21; The Outfit; Little SisterThe Boy In The Suitcase; and Beyond Singularity. I'm wavering between Wolf Hall and Nemesis right now.

Little Sister was excellent Raymond Chandler.  His writing is lyrical, evocative, and all-around awesome. I read these just to read them. I spent almost the whole drive back from Vermont thinking about how to write a fantasy story in something similar to Chandler's style.  I think I sorted out how it could work, but I'm not sure if I could pull it off.  5/5
Fantasy Stories 3 was interesting as an indication of changing taste in short fantasy fiction (and fantasy in general).  It was also a Lin Carter ego trip book.  3/5
Years Best SF 21 was typically great; I don't understand why anyone and everyone even marginally interested in SF doesn't read these. 5/5
The Outfit was just like a Jason Statham movie, or vice versa.  I'd read another one. 3/5
The Boy in the Suitcase had some issues in character development (almost all the bits were there, but in the wrong order, IMO), but I'd chance another book by the authors.  3/5
Beyond Singularity had a lot of repeat stories, and no Vernor Vinge, which is just weird and wrong.  And the stories were kinda weird, actually.  A lot of them were really far future, I think, which made the Singularity just a historical event, and not a real point in the story.  2/5

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Second weekend of the booksale.  I think my mother finally started to understand I wasn't exaggerating.  We got there at 9:20am, and there were already 50 people in line ahead of us for the 10am opening.  The line hadn't shrunk when we left at 11:30.  She got everything on her list except the authors that started with "E", which is typical of the random weirdness of the book sale.

I don't quite get where all the books come from.  I like the sale because I can be choosy and get clean books in really good condition.  There are not a lot of library copies or similar that I can see.  But every sale starts from scratch, and they end up with thousands of excellent books.

Last week I got:

  • The Years Best Science Fiction, Vol. 1 & 21, edited by Gardner Dozois (1983 & 2004, btw). Now I need 2-6, 10-12, 15, & 19.
  • The Last Witchfinder, by James Morrow. Looked interesting, good comments on the back cover.
  • Grave Goods, by Ariana Franklin. Enjoyed the first book in the series.
  • The Difference Engine, William Gibson & Bruce Sterling. I keep missing this one somehow.
  • Vellum, by Hal Duncan (a little nervous about this one. Incidently, there is someone in town that gets advance preview copies of a lot of sf books, and donates them afterwards. There are a few in each sale.)
  • The Bellini Card, by Jason Goodwin. The Jannisary Tree was good. 
  • The Absent One, by Jussi Adler-Olsen. Loved the first book.
  • Shardik, by Richard Adams (not sure what to think about this one; I took it down and put it back about five times, but a) it seemed OK when I flipped through it, b) I've actually heard of it, and c) Watership Down, people.)
  • SHEKing Solomon's Mines; and Allan Quatermain, by H. Rider Haggard. Three novels in one book. Classics. 
  • The Years Best Fantasy Stories, Vol. 3 & 5. These are from 1977 and 1980.
  • The Dictionary of Imaginary Places: The Newly Updated and Expanded Classic. I think I actually have this, but the older edition and in paperback. This is hardcover. If someone is interested in the other one, PM me.

This week I hit mystery pretty hard.  SF/Fantasy tends to get tapped out quickly, but the mystery section is always HUGE.
  • The Redbreast, The Snowman, Nemesis - all by Jo Nesbo.  I've heard the name but not read him yet.
  • The Outfit - Richard Stark.  A Parker book.  As in, the Parker movie that came out recently is based on this character. So, two-fisted badass criminal quasi-hero, I hope.
  • Polar Star - Martin Cruz Smith. Wrote Gorky Park, the title of which has been embedded in my mind for decades for reasons I do not understand. I've never read it.
  • The Little Sister - Raymond Chandler. This is one of my two big scores this week.  It completes my Raymond Chandler collection.
  • Helsinki White - James Thompson.  A Goodreads recommendation.
  • The Boy In The Suitcase - Lene Kaaberbol & Agnes Friis.  I'm thinking of going scandinavian for my pen name. They have awesome names.
  • The Fifth Woman, The White Lioness, and Before The Frost - Henning Mankell. Not my favorite Scandinavian author, but good. Although I really didn't like The Man from Bejing.
  • The Darkness That Comes Before - R. Scott Bakker.  Another Goodreads recommendation, this one fantasy.  We shall see.
  • Wolf Hall - Hilary Mantel.  This was my other big score.  I've struck out on this for several years; today I found one sitting alone in general fiction.
  • Something Rotten - Jasper Fforde.  A Thursday Next novel.
  • Where Late The Sweet Birds Sang - Kate Wilhelm.  And another Goodreads recommendation, from SF.
  • A Dirty Job - Christopher Moore.
  • Undaunted Courage - Stephen E. Ambrose.  Lewis & Clark Expedition.  My mother has been talking about this book for years.
  • Worldmakers: SF Adventures in Terraforming - edited by Gardner Dozois.  I love anthologies, particularly from Mr. Dozois.

I basically skipped right over general fiction this time, which is fine and intentional except that I just realized I was going to look and see what they had for Michael Chabon.  Hrm.  I might have to go back.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Stories & books & stuff

It's starting to get dark inconveniently earlier, so more time inside.  Except I've been cleaning, and driving to Vermont to help my sister, and doing stuff.  So, yeah. And, the treehouse.  The f*ing treehouse.  It's awesome, it's brilliant, I'm wicked proud of it, and by god I wish it would fucking end.  The clients are getting testy, and they are incredible to have not shot me long ago. Building windows tomorrow; rope railing if I have time (fun fact: it takes more than 75' of rope to do 4' of this railing, and several hours.  Thread, pull 75', rethread, pull, so on and so forth.) Next week, finish the roof, stain the whole thing, and done.

My mom is coming to town tomorrow.  If it's not pouring, maybe she'll work on the railing for a bit.

The semi-annual Friends of the Tompkins County Public Library Book Sale has rolled around again, so I'm trying to update my list of books so I know what to buy. I usually go twice, sometimes three times, and spend no more than $50 the first weekend, $40 the second weekend, and $10 the third weekend.  Since the price drops daily, and it runs for 3 three-day weekends, that's approximately 12-15 books the first weekend (hardcover or trade; MMPB are cheaper), 16-20 books the second weekend, and however many you can carry the last weekend (You've got to really try to break $20 the last weekend).

I always hit SF & fantasy first, but I've gotten into mystery thrillers in the past few years, particularly foreign (Scandinavian) thrillers. I dabble in popular fiction as well. I loaded up with a lot of "literature" the first few years, but I'm less frequently in the mood to read that, so I've still got shelves of it to go through. I cruise nonfiction & other categories if things aren't too crowded and I'm not overloaded.  I did score an updated, hardcover copy of The Dictionary of Imaginary Places for $3.50 last weekend - and I'm picky about condition, so this is pretty near mint.  Not sure it was ever opened.  I have a copy, but I think it's the older edition, and paperback.

Anyways, have been reading anthologies recently, which is always nice, and doing google searches on authors, which lead me to several genre ezines, one ongoing (Lightspeed) and one defunct (Black Gate).  Subscribing to a few of these is becoming a priority; they help me remember that I'd like to actually submit, and not just read, someday. My BA is Creative Writing, after all.

Man, if I could write short stories and build play structures...that would be a wicked awesome life.