charamei: (EGS: Ellen Reading)
Every year, from June until September, it's time to feed the Muse. This isn't a choice: it's been part of my natural creative cycle since I was at least 17. Creativity slumps, productivity slumps, and everything old and familiar is boring. Not coincidentally, this is the time of year when I spend the most money on all forms of media, when I watch the most TV, and when I read the most fanfic. There's an itch in my spine for new stories.

Which goes some way to explaining how it is that I bought this book blind, and devoured it in two days, and why I now have three more books waiting to go and am seriously contemplating starting one of them right this instant.

'I want to go home,' she lied. )

A quick, compelling and excellent read.
charamei: Start writing and keep writing! (NaNoWriMo: Start Writing and Keep Writin)
Regan and Meredith Book 1 is go! Well, technically it was go a week ago, but since I'm only now getting past the first scene I can pretend to postpone the start date ;)

(I restarted. Again. This time there's no First Steps to get in the way, though... bouncing between politically-savvy, cyncial Regan and optimistic, two-hours-old Snail was doing my head in.)

I'm really feeling the rust that comes from not having started a longfic in two years: working out where I go next feels like an uphill struggle each time. But on the plus side, the characters are still feeling fine:

Ania: I'm not your patient.
Meredith: You threw up on my shoes. That makes you my patient.

The people in my head are awesome.

ALSO. Book review. If I sneak it in here, I can maybe trick my brain into writing one?
Doctor Who: The Nightmare of Black Island (Mike Tucker, Tenth Doctor Adventures) )
charamei: (EGS: Ellen Reading)
Because there are several of them and it's either sum up The End of Mr Y and Frostbitten in a few sentences or write an essay on them.

The Pirate Loop (Tenth Doctor Adventures, Simon Guerrier)

Sentient badger pirates threaten a ship full of decadent Mr Tickles. Nobody can die, but the Doctor nearly manages it anyway. Martha is awesome. Guerrier doesn't know the difference between Greek and Latin phonemes and makes the Doctor look ignorant rather than educated when he passes his ignorance on. Two minutes with a dictionary would have solved this. Book is awesome and Time is wibbly-wobbly.

The Road to Oz (L. Frank Baum)

Ozma, who has no respect for Aunt Em's poor heart, magically manipulates Dorothy into getting lost so she'll end up in Oz for Ozma's birthday. The Shaggy Man learns a couple of lessons about Real vs False Love. Father Christmas sends everyone home in a bubble, except Dorothy, who's far too sensible for air travel.

The End of Mr Y (Scarlett Thomas)

An incredibly impressionable, stupid, self-absorbed woman follows some instructions she finds in a book clearly marked as fiction and goes on an exciting, if metaphysical, journey into her own subconscious and the collective subconsciousnesses of every other human being. Then she destroys it because somebody told her to and she's incapable of thinking for herself.

Maskerade (Terry Pratchett)

The Bechdel test meets Phantom of the Opera and looks at it until it stops being so silly.

Tales of the Otherworld (Kelley Armstrong)

Fun, engaging stories about characters I love having problems that range from marriage to murder.

Frostbitten (Kelley Armstrong)

Somebody wants to rape Elena. Again. Her Stu husband saves her. Again. At some point, Elena tells me that she never usually has trouble with rapists and I scoff and mutter something about 'show, don't tell'. I wonder what happened to the good Elena from Tales of the Otherworld.
charamei: (EGS: Ellen Reading)
It's snowing! It's snowing and I don't have to worry about getting into work until tomorrow and the flakes are really big and it's only three inches but that's an inch more than it was when I got up thirty minutes ago it's SNOWING, WINTER IS HERE, IT'S OFFICIAL - oh, wait. Sorry, Mr Scalzi, I'll stop upsetting November now.

No more am I confined by endless NaNo research to reading historical textbooks! I can get back to reading fiction, which is good, because I miss it.

Doctor Who: Wetworld (Tenth Doctor Adventures, Mark Michalowski)

I have a confession to make. I'm lazy and should have reviewed this four months ago, and as a result, I don't remember it too well now.

But I do recall that it's one of the good ones. )

I really shouldn't wait four months to review things.

Fortunately, I read The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms last night! So I'm not a completely hopeless case.

The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms: N. K. Jemisin

Read more... )

OMG BLIZZARD THE SNOW IS GOING ALMOST HORIZONTAL I'm going to have so much trouble getting into work tomorrow but SNOW.
charamei: (EGS: Ellen Reading)
Darkest Powers Trilogy (Kelley Armstrong)

There are plenty of writers I admire. But when I grow up, I want to be the unholy love child of Charlie Higson and Kelley Armstrong.

Okay, maybe not. Mostly, I want to be Armstrong, with all of Higson's horror and none of his overdescription.

Which isn't to say that Armstrong doesn't do horror, of course. She does, usually in the same breath as the action, mystery and romance.

And holy crap, did I just read a rape scene in a YA book?! )

Night of the Humans (Eleventh Doctor Adventures, David Llewellyn)

This is the Gyre - the most hostile environment in the galaxy. )

My Amazon order arrived today, complete with Age of Bronze 3: Betrayal. Ooooooo...

Also, finished that godawful chapter at last! Only one more to go!
charamei: Completely mad (DW10: Completely Mad)
"Just come out so we can talk... or sing about it."

Oh, Glee. Where would we be without you?

Meanwhile, in the land of fiction that at least takes a stab at being serious, I've just finished Sacrifice, the second part of Eric Shanower's Age of Bronze series. My review of the first, A Thousand Ships, can be found here.

Read more... )

I hope that the character designs are better differentiated by the time we reach the really big battle scenes, but even if they're not, the character parts of the plot - the majority - are more than worth the irritation of trying to tell Priam's eighty billion identical sons apart. This series just keeps getting better and better.
charamei: Books. Best weapons in the world. (DW10: Books)
Anyone who reads these things is probably aware that I've been grousing for a while about my inability to find Young Bond 5: By Royal Command on the shelves in my favourite bookshop, and that this is directly related to the absurd amount of Doctor Who I've been reading lately (because those books are kept directly above Young Bond on the shelves). Well, I still have a backlog of Who - I always have a backlog of Who - but guess what WH Smith's finally restocked a couple of weeks ago?

For King and country! )

If you only read one Young Bond, definitely make it this one. Although it reuses villains, it doesn't require too much foreknowledge of past events, and in terms of historical context, sheer complexity of plot and lack of Higson's more irritating traits as a writer, it's by far the best. Honestly, though, I would recommend the entire series. Except Blood Fever.

And, oh, did I mention that I have a backlog of Doctor Who? :p

Judgement of the Judoon (Tenth Doctor Adventures, Colin Brake)
'That wall-bursting thing could become a nasty habit.' - 'That could make me a crashing bore.' )

Not a fantastic book by any means, but it's saved from being utterly boring by a brilliant idea for a companion, executed decently.

I also got hold of one of the first Eleven books, Night of the Humans. I haven't read it yet - I'm working through the entirety of Kelley Armstrong's Darkest Power trilogy at the moment - but I was struck by how thin it is, even with the new larger page size. I did a wordcount, and it looks like the new books are 5,000 words shorter than the old ones: a Tenth Doctor book routinely counts to around 60k, whereas this one's only 55k. Easier to do for NaNo, I suppose, but I can't say I'm terribly in favour of the change. Wasn't 60k short enough?
charamei: Mystery Science Fiction 3000: These are just random sentences, folks. (MST3K: Random sentences)
I'm about five years late to the party, but after several long, hard months I've finally finished Atlanta Nights by the SFWA Travis Tea.

Like Jane Yolen, I stayed upright reading it. )

Atlanta Nights: A terrible book that certainly should never have been accepted for publication. But not as bad as The Eye of Argon. Not by a stretched columnar clastic rock deposition.
charamei: Seventh Doctor (DW7: Seven)
The closer we get to Easter, the more Doctor Who withdrawal kicks in (curiously, it wasn't a problem at all during 2009). So it's just as well that I've got so much of it hanging around.

Also, The Adamantine Palace by Stephen Deas and Alice.

SPOILERS for The Adamantine Palace.

People riding dragons. Must be fantasy. )

In which I learn to love to hate Elizabeth Klein. )

Curiouser and curiouser... )

Lastly, look who gained a sister!

charamei: Tenth Doctor (DW10: Ten)
As I commented to [personal profile] aleas_iacta a couple of days ago, my reading pile seems to be sitting on top of a minor spatio-temporal anomaly that continually spits out new Doctor Who. (It's better than Weevils, I suppose.) Why, just today I went into W H Smith's to get the Guardian and see if they had restocked Young Bond: By Royal Command (they haven't), and came out with the Space Museum/The Chase boxset and Wishing Well.

Only one of those was entirely planned, and I'm sure my accidental acquisition of Wishing Well has nothing whatsoever to do with the fact that the Doctor Who books are shelved just above Young Bond in the children's section.

This tendency of mine to go into Smith's, gravitate to Young Bond, discover that the book I'm looking for is out of stock (Double or Die was missing when I was looking for that one, then it was Hurricane Gold, and now it's By Royal Command - I swear they're doing it on purpose) and turn to the shiny orange oval for comfort also explains how Autonomy got onto my pile.

At least the rift managed to spawn a good one this time. )

If you're looking for an enjoyable Who fix, try Autonomy. It's fast, clever, exciting, and even the massive authorial oversight couldn't make it worse. Wishing Well is going to have to work hard to top this one.


Death in Blackpool has (a) been out since December and (b) an hilarious canon conflict with End of Time? Aww, man! I need a better rift manipulator :(

(Not buying it. Noooooot buying it. Waiting until I've saved up enough to buy the whole series and get my discount. Waaaiiiiiitiiiing.)
charamei: (EGS: Ellen Reading)
As it happened, I finished two books last night: one was delightful, the other was finished through sheer force of will.

A Thousand Ships first. It's the first part of Eric Shanower's Age of Bronze, an historically accurate graphic-novel retelling of the entire Trojan War.

And any loose talk about a beloved having a face that launched a thousand ships would have to be backed by evidence that the object of desire did indeed look like a bottle of champagne. )

Excellent stuff.

And then... there's that other book.

We ain't unoriginal and we ain't unresearched, we's just a good idea been done wrong. )

I could go on. I won't. The Sad Tale of the Brothers Grossbart has the potential to be a great book, but is let down by poor prose and lack of visible character development. A terrible waste of some brilliant ideas.
charamei: (EGS: Ellen Reading)
I love Charlie Higson.

This is because the man terrifies the shit out of me. I mean, Steven Moffat does things that I understand are scary in theory but don't feel in practice (the exception being The Empty Child), Kelley Armstrong occasionally freaks me out and the last chapter of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde is forever etched in my memory, but for pure untainted disgusting, gory horror, the kind that gets into my bones and has me utterly gripped even as I squirm, and then cracks a joke and makes me laugh, it's Higson every time. In the first three books of this series, he's had his erstwhile protagonist:
  • Immersed in a tank of hungry eels

  • Nearly turned into an eel-human mutant... thing

  • Tied to a stake in the middle of a jungle and eaten alive by mosquitoes

  • Waterboarded with high-proof liquor, resulting in alcohol poisoning

To say nothing of the various disturbing deaths of side characters and the fucking running joke in Double or Die where one of the mooks keeps losing body parts in unlikely Bond-related circumstances, counting down to his final death.

And these are just his YA novels. Were I to add in Randall and Hopkirk (deceased), I could also mention beheading, incurable measles, umbrella-through-the-chest, David Tennant in a bloodstained wedding dress wielding a chainsaw... oh, and a ghost clearing a room by farting.

The Mayans used to talk of a cursed treasure called hurricane gold, which if you held on to it would bring ruin to you and your family... )
charamei: Books. Best weapons in the world. (DW10: Books)
Homer’s Odyssey was swell
A bunch of guys that went through Hell
He told the tale but didn't tell
The audience why
He didn't say, here's what it means
And here's a few deleted scenes
Charybdis tested well with teens
He's not the story
He's just a door we open if
Our lives need lifting -

-- Joss Whedon

Once upon a time - for that is how all stories should begin - there was a boy who lost his mother. )

Good story, bad packaging. I recommend trying to find one without the fluff, if you can; The Book of Lost Things is nowhere near as important as it purports to be, but it is an arresting, fast-moving read with a solid story behind it and some genuinely, wonderfully disturbing moments mixed in with some genuinely moving ones.
charamei: (EGS: Ellen Reading)
Yes, I have a tendency to do my reading in spurts.

Over the weekend, I have seen the RSC's production of Twelfth Night at Stratford-upon-Avon and read both Doctor Who: The Taking of Chelsea 426 and Unseen Academicals. So. Reviews.

SPOILER WARNING for The Taking of Chelsea 426, by the way.

Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon them. )

SPOILERS: Chelsea Flower Show? What could possibly go - oh, hello, Doctor. Never mind then. )

The thing about football is it's not about football. )
charamei: Sixth Doctor (DW6: Six)
When watching New Who, I often get the sense that Daleks are becoming overdone. Dalek was brilliant, but all of the season finales featuring them have been cliched, miserable messes, and the less said about Daleks in Manhattan the better.

And then I read one of the novels, or listen to a Big Finish play, and I realise that it's not the Daleks: it's the writers. )

Which just goes to show what you can do with the Daleks, if you're a good enough writer.
charamei: (DW: First Steps Brax)
I've never read any Austen, either.

Oh, I've tried. But romances bore me to tears, Victorian purple-prose romances even more so. The characters often seem one-dimensional and the plots formulaic. You know what Victorian romances need? They need something with a bit of bite. Something exciting. Something to break up the plot from the monotony of teenage whining and hormone-driven angst.

They need... zombies.

Fortunately, Seth Grahame-Smith agrees. )

Roll on Sense & Sensibility & Sea Monsters, that's what I say.
charamei: (DW: First Steps Brax)
I said I'd start doing book reviews here, and I will. That way if anyone ever actually reads this, they will have something to read.

Or something.

So. Dissertation finished, I set forth last night to begin the awesome task of conquering my ever-growing book list. First up: Stardust, by Neil Gaiman.

There was once a young man who wished to gain his Heart's Desire. )

Will I try Gaiman again? Probably, one day; I think a lot of the problem with Stardust is the slightly affected fairy-tale style, which will hopefully be gone from his other works. But I'm not rushing to buy any more from him. I have a reading list to get through, first.


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