Friday, July 27, 2012

Friday Favourites: Your Favourite Book To Re-read

Friday Favourites - a chance to rave about a favourite reading/book related topic each week.

Sometimes you just want a chance to rave about some favourite aspect of reading that doesn't really come up during regular blogging posts - that's what this is about. I'm willing to bet that at least some of those will come up one week or another.

I'm asking what your favourite book to re-read is this week. I'd also be curious to know why you like re-reading that book.

The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien
My answer is obvious to anyone who knows me: The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien. I've been reading and re-reading it since I was eleven, possibly a bit younger.

Sometimes, it's to return to a world that's become familiar and comfortable to me - although I wouldn't want to live there at all, too many dangers. But, I know the story - there's no surprises there anymore. Even so, re-reading's not boring in any way.

Other times, when I'm re-reading the Lord of the Rings, I find myself noticing some new details about Tolkien's writing and the world of Middle-Earth. Sometimes it's some nuance of his writing style and vocabulary, other times it's something concerning the customs of one of the cultures in Middle-Earth.

Bilbo's Last Song - J.R.R. Tolkien
I never quite know which it will be each time either, I just know that it's going to be a really good read which will often leave me in tears by the end - especially when I combine it with a reading of Bilbo's Last Song, my favourite of Tolkiens poems. Quite honestly, I'm glad to see that it's being reissued this fall. The poem, for all that it's short is absolutely my favourite, and lavishly illustrated by Pauline Baynes, it works so well with the chapter The Grey Havens in The Lord of the Rings.

What's your favourite book to re-read?

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Remnant Population - Elizabeth Moon

Remnant Population - Elizabeth Moon
Remnant Population
Elizabeth Moon
Del Rey
Copyright: 2003

The product description:
For forty years, Colony 3245.12 has been Ofelia’s home. On this planet far away in space and time from the world of her youth, she has lived and loved, weathered the death of her husband, raised her one surviving child, lovingly tended her garden, and grown placidly old. And it is here that she fully expects to finish out her days–until the shifting corporate fortunes of the Sims Bancorp Company dictates that Colony 3245.12 is to be disbanded, its residents shipped off, deep in cryo-sleep, to somewhere new and strange and not of their choosing. But while her fellow colonists grudgingly anticipate a difficult readjustment on some distant world, Ofelia savors the promise of a golden opportunity. Not starting over in the hurly-burly of a new community . . . but closing out her life in blissful solitude, in the place she has no intention of leaving. A population of one.
With everything she needs to sustain her, and her independent spirit to buoy her, Ofelia actually does start life over–for the first time on her own terms: free of the demands, the judgments, and the petty tyrannies of others. But when a reconnaissance ship returns to her idyllic domain, and its crew is mysteriously slaughtered, Ofelia realizes she is not the sole inhabitant of her paradise after all. And, when the inevitable time of first contact finally arrives, she will find her life changed yet again–in ways she could never have imagined. . . .
Remnant Population is a book I've read a couple of times now, and I find that it definitely lives up to the standards I expect from one of Elizabeth Moon's novels. Namely, interesting, realistic and different characters. Off the top of my head, I can't think of another book (either science fiction or fantasy) where the main character is a senior citizen.

Going over a lot of the reviews on, I noticed a few people complaining about all the detail that Elizabeth Moon goes into about Ofelia's day-to-day life. Personally, I found that aspect of the book fascinating. In fact, I wouldn't mind finding out the fine points of the various recipes described. They sound absolutely delicious. Of course, I like cooking, gardening and crafts.

There were a few things that surprised me about the cultures as Elizabeth Moon describes them. How is it that things can go so far backwards and still work well? So much of Ofelia's family's attitudes I just don't understand. She was given a scholarship for a high-school education, but her family just gave it to her sister and sent her out to be a janitor? The cultural expectation that housewives didn't need to know how something worked, just had to be able to use it? Or how about the idea that it's perfectly acceptable to slap, threaten or beat a woman? Overall, the cultural attitudes felt rather 1930's or earlier to me.

And the corporate attitudes? I'm still shaking my head. I rather get the feeling that they liked their colonists having those beliefs. It probably made it easier for them - though maybe it had consequences that they weren't as aware of - there seemed to be quite a high mortality rate among the colonists and their children. Maybe better education would have reduced that? But the uneducated masses would have been easier to control.

The aliens though, the People, those were neat. This is where I have to say that I strongly prefer the original cover for Remnant Population to the current one. I liked having the picture give me an idea of what they looked like in combination with the descriptions within the story. That's also where the author has thrown in another twist on the standard science fiction models.

All of those factors though, add up to make for quite the story, one where you end up feeling good for Ofelia and the life she ended up with. In some ways, I found myself envying her a bit - skill at cooking and in the garden as well as her abilities with crafts. In others, as I said, I just can't understand that mindset.

Overall, I found Remnant Population to be a book I had a lot of trouble putting down, even on a re-read. Definitely worth reading if you like either science fiction or Elizabeth Moon's other books.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Indexing Books Second Edition - Nancy C. Mulvany

Indexing Books, Second Edition (Chicago Guides To Writing, Editing and Publishing) - Nancy MulvanyIndexing Books, Second Edition (Chicago Guides to Writing, Editing, and Publishing)
Nancy C. Mulvany
University Of Chicago Press
Copyright: November 2005

The product description:
Since 1994, Nancy Mulvany's Indexing Books has been the gold standard for thousands of professional indexers, editors, and authors. This long-awaited second edition, expanded and completely updated, will be equally revered.

Like its predecessor, this edition of Indexing Books offers comprehensive, reliable treatment of indexing principles and practices relevant to authors and indexers alike. In addition to practical advice, the book presents a big-picture perspective on the nature and purpose of indexes and their role in published works. New to this edition are discussions of "information overload" and the role of the index, open-system versus closed-system indexing, electronic submission and display of indexes, and trends in software development, among other topics.
Mulvany is equally comfortable focusing on the nuts and bolts of indexing—how to determine what is indexable, how to decide the depth of an index, and how to work with publisher instructions—and broadly surveying important sources of indexing guidelines such as The Chicago Manual of Style, Sun Microsystems, Oxford University Press, NISO TR03, and ISO 999. Authors will appreciate Mulvany's in-depth consideration of the costs and benefits of preparing one's own index versus hiring a professional, while professional indexers will value Mulvany's insights into computer-aided indexing. Helpful appendixes include resources for indexers, a worksheet for general index specifications, and a bibliography of sources to consult for further information on a range of topics.

Indexing Books is both a practical guide and a manifesto about the vital role of the human-crafted index in the Information Age. As the standard indexing reference, it belongs on the shelves of everyone involved in writing and publishing nonfiction books.
This review is based on my first read-through of Nancy Mulvany's book. There are several sections where I will definitely benefit from multiple readings. That said, on with the review.

On seeing some pages on Indexing as a career option in other books, I started looking, thinking it sounds like an interesting job. Nancy Mulvany's book Indexing Books is one that I saw recommended on several of the various indexing societies websites, so decided to go for it to get some more information. I'm going to have to say that from my point of view, the recommendation was definitely worth it.

Indexing Books is written in such a way that I, a complete novice to the craft found it both understandable as an overview and an introduction to the various specifications needed and techniques involved with indexing. The author has even managed to make the book entertaining in places.

There are chapters on all sorts of aspects of indexing: the table of contents shows the following main headings (and two appendices: Index Specifications Worksheet and Resources For Indexers):
  1. Introduction to Book Indexing
  2. The Author and the Index
  3. Getting Started
  4. Structure of Entries
  5. Arrangement of Entries
  6. Special Concerns in Indexing
  7. Names, Names, Names
  8. Format and Layout of the Index
  9. Editing the Index
  10. Tools for Indexing
 Nancy Mulvany's work is certainly clear - although I feel like I definitely need to read it through now with a notepad and pencil at hand to work out some of the more arcane fine points to the craft, but I definitely have a greater appreciation for the indexes I've taken for granted to date.

Overall, a very readable and interesting, if specialized book. If you're interested in indexing, or may have to index your own book, I'd recommend reading Nancy Mulvany's Indexing Books for a solid start.

Friday Favourites: Your Favourite Genre To Read?

Friday Favourites - a chance to rave about a favourite reading/book related topic each week.

Sometimes you just want a chance to rave about some favourite aspect of reading that doesn't really come up during regular blogging posts - that's what this is about. I'm willing to bet that at least some of those will come up one week or another.

This week the question is what your favourite genre to read is. Fantasy? Historical Fiction? Romance? Science Fiction? Something else? It doesn't mean that that's all you read, but what do you know is almost guaranteed to be a read you'll enjoy?

My answer is:
Fantasy. I can't remember really when I wasn't reading fantasy books. Mostly because I can't remember when I hadn't read The Hobbit. I know I was maybe eleven when I wore out my first copy of The Fellowship of the Ring. I still remember when the pages fell out of the Council of Elrond chapter. For a long time though, I didn't venture beyond Tolkien when it came to fantasy.

Boy, oh boy has that ever changed. Now, probably half of my fiction books probably class as fantasy, and many of the books I'm looking forward to are fantasy novels by authors like Mercedes Lackey, Elizabeth Moon and Jo Graham.

I don't really know why I'm so attracted to fantasy novels though. They can be just as formulaic as any other genre, but they can also be downright original and creative in terms of world-building and societies. Maybe that's it, that they're not as constrained by real-world rules. And yet, they've got to be realistic as well.

My definition of fantasy has expanded in recent years too, to include Urban Fantasy and Paranormal Romances as well as the traditional fantasy epic like The Deed of Paksenarrion. I just wish I could find more historical fantasy novels along the lines of The Mists of Avalon or Hand of Isis. My wish may have just come true however, as Jo Graham and Melissa Scott's latest collaboration is due out yesterday/today: Lost Things. I have to say the blurb for this one makes it look like a "must have" book for me.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Home From The Sea - Mercedes Lackey

Home From The Sea: An Elemental Masters Novel
Mercedes Lackey
Daw Hardcover
Copyright: June 5, 2012

The product description:
New in the extraordinary series hailed as “a true frolic into fantasy” (Fantasy Bookspot) by a “Master Magician.” (Midwest Book Review)

In Edwardian Britain, magic is real. And Masters of the Elements control Fire, Water, Air, and Earth...

Mari Prothero has lived all her life with her father, Daffyd, in a tiny fishing village on the coast of Wales. Though Daffyd takes his boat out on the sea regardless of weather, Mari has learned not to fear for his safety, for her father is a Water mage, and always comes home safely with a large catch. Mari knows that in her family, children are expected to marry at eighteen, to an appropriate stranger. However, Mari is a fledgling Water Master with a rebellious nature. She has no intention of agreeing to any arranged marriage. But Mari has yet to learn the truth of the magical heritage that must be protected by these very marriages. For the Protheros are descended from Selkies—magical beings who are able to change from seals to humans—and to continue her line, she must marry a full-blooded Selkie...
Honestly, Home From The Sea was as good as I'd expected or better. It certainly had some surprises in it too, including two of my favourite characters from Wizard of London. The whole cast of characters were intriguing and interesting, as was the setting and legend/tale used: Wales and the stories of the Selkies. Not to mention the twist that Mercedes Lackey adds to the story.

Mercedes Lackey is one of my favourite authors, and Home From The Sea certainly lived up to my expectations. I ended up finishing it the same day I got it, not something I do that often anymore. There just something about the way she writes these stories that makes it easy to sit and read, cover to cover. And then, to do it again sometime later as a re-read.

All too often, I was laughing at Nan, Sarah, Neville and Grey and their antics (mostly those of the birds), not to mention those of the various elementals, but there were some more serious moments to the story too, like the bargain that Mari's family had with the Selkie clan.

Overall, Home From The Sea is in the running to be my favourite book for the month of July. And, another neat note: in the list of Mercedes Lackey's books at the front, coming soon: Redoubt, the fourth book in the Collegium Chronicles series (Valdemar). I've seen a few reviews that said that Changes was the final book in the set, and it just didn't feel "finished" to me, so it's nice to see that there is more to Mags' story after all.

Snow White And The Huntsman - Lily Blake, Evan Daugherty, John Lee Hancock, Hossein Amini

Snow White and the Huntsman - Book
Snow White and the Huntsman
Lily Blake, Evan Daugherty, John Lee Hancock, Hossein Amini
Poppy; 1 Pap/Pstr edition
Copyright Date: June 5, 2012

The product description:
A breathtaking new vision of a legendary tale. Snow White is the only person in the land fairer than the evil queen who is out to destroy her. But what the wicked ruler never imagined is that the young woman threatening her reign has been training in the art of war with a huntsman who was dispatched to kill her.
It's a new vision of a legendary tale all right, but that's about all it is. I borrowed this book based on the cover, movie trailer and description, thinking it looked to be a good read. Not the case at all. There's a large font-size, so the book is really quite short (which was actually a blessing in disguise). Aside from that, I feel like the product blurb is false, and I couldn't recognize this as Snow White aside from character names - certainly the book is nothing like the Disney version I grew up with. I don't know how it compares with the older forms of the story though.

I think this might be a case of "which came first? the movie or the book?". If the book came first, it must have been intentionally written for the movie to be made, because that's what this felt like - a movie on paper. And, it felt very sketchy. None of the characters grabbed my interest at all - and I don't think it's because Snow White and the Huntsman is a teen book.

I'll be bluntly honest here. By the end of Snow White and the Huntsman, I felt as though I'd wasted my time reading it. At the beginning, it seemed like a book that could be really good, but it quickly went down hill.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Friday Favourites: Your Favourite Book From June

Friday Favourites - a chance to rave about a favourite reading/book related topic each week.

Sometimes you just want a chance to rave about some favourite aspect of reading that doesn't really come up during regular blogging posts - that's what this is about. I'm willing to bet that at least some of those will come up one week or another.

Better late than never for two reasons this week: first, that I should have asked this question last week rather than asking about your favourite movie, and second, that I'm posting this so late today.  This week's question is: What was your favourite book from the month of June?

London Under by Peter Ackroyd
I'm going to have to say that my answer is Peter Ackroyd's book London Under. It was well written, intriguing and gave me a different view of that wonderful old city, while making me wish I was more familiar with it. That was my one gripe with this book: the lack of maps. Peter Ackroyd seems to assume that the reader is going to be familiar enough with London to recognize the districts and geographical features he mentions.

Despite that, this book was one that I found nearly impossible to put down until it was finished, and it left me wishing I could see some of the sites described, such as the Underground station that's been abandoned since the early nineteen hundreds but it still has the old posters on the walls.

What was your favourite book from June?

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Saturday Snapshots - July 7

Saturday Snapshots is a fun little meme hosted each Saturday by Alyce of At Home With Books. It's become one of my favourites to participate in, although I have to admit that I'm not the most regular participant at times.

I got around to downloading a bunch of my photos to my computer this week again though, so I have some new material.

This is one of those things that you want to take photos of once you've gotten a macro lens.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Friday Favourites: Your Favourite Movie?

Friday Favourites - a chance to rave about a favourite reading/book related topic each week.

Sometimes you just want a chance to rave about some favourite aspect of reading that doesn't really come up during regular blogging posts - that's what this is about. I'm willing to bet that at least some of those will come up one week or another.

This week I'm breaking from the mould a bit for this meme. I'm asking what your favourite movie is - because I was lucky enough to see mine on the TV the other day and it rekindled my love for the movie, and this post gave me the excuse to rave about it further.

My answer is:
The Last Samurai. I first saw it last year, or was it the year before now? with a friend, and then within the week I'd gone out and bought my own copy along with the soundtrack and watched it another three or four times. Since then, I hadn't seen it again until the other night. It's definitely got my favourite listing for the soundtrack. Hans Zimmer has done some wonderful composing for The Last Samurai. (side note: Hans Zimmer has also done my second favourite soundtrack as well: Gladiator)

There's something about this movie that intrigued me - to the point where I've been borrowing or buying a number of books on Japanese history and culture off and on. That's what's inspired my reading of books like James Clavell's Shogun, Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden, and the non-fiction book Geisha, a Life by Mineko Iwasaki. Those aren't the only books on Japan that I've read either. I'm on the look-out for more books as well.

Either way, regardless of the way the movie intrigued me, in my mind it has maintained a good balance between all of the various elements, and if you watch your way through the commentaries, it's made clear just how much the makers tried to stay true to the period and to respect the culture - something I really appreciate in a historical movie, whether or not I know much about the period or not.

So, what's your favourite movie of all time?

Monday, July 2, 2012

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? July 2 2012

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? is hosted each week by Sheila of the blog Continuing Adventures Of A True Bookaholic. The idea is to post the books you've read in the past week, what you're reading now, and what you intend to read.

I'll admit that I'm not the most reliable participant for this meme, and it hasn't been helped in the past month by the reading slump I was in, but the past week seems to have broken that trend.

Last week I read:

The Collegium Chronicles One: Foundation by Mercedes Lackey.
Fiction, Fantasy, reread. The story of Mags, who was raised as a slave in a gem mine before he was Chosen. All of this is occurring in a time of great change for Valdemar - a lot of expansion and the shift to a Collegium model for training the Heralds and Healers.

The Collegium Chronicles Two: Intrigues by Mercedes Lackey.
Fiction, Fantasy, reread. The second volume of Mag's story. It picks up right where the first one left off (or within a couple of weeks of it, anyway).

The Collegium Chronicles Three: Changes by Mercedes Lackey.
Fiction, Fantasy, reread. The third volume of the series about Mags. This one's a bit confusing to me - not in terms of the story, but just that it looks as though it's the final book in the series. That fits, in terms of Lackey's usual trends, but not in other ways. First off, usually she follows the trainee right to the time they get their Whites or past that point. But, more importantly, the story just doesn't feel finished. I feel as though there are too many loose ends left dangling. Either way, this is a series that's best read one after the other. The books are quick reads but captivating.

London Under by Peter Ackroyd
London Under by Peter Ackroyd.
Non Fiction, History.A couple of people recommended this book to me and I finally got the chance to read it. A book that's not perfect, but I couldn't put it down nonetheless. London Under gives a very different view of London's history and culture, leaving me with a sense of intrigue and curiosity. All it needed to make the book perfect is a couple of good maps. I felt like Ackroyd wrote this one more for residents of London and those who are familiar with the city. Definitely a book I'll recommend as well.

I'm currently reading:

Hand of Isis by Jo Graham.
Fiction, Fantasy, History, reread. One of my favourite books. I've read it before several times now. The story of Cleopatra as told by her half-sister and slave, Charmian. It's an incredibly absorbing story, despite knowing how it ends. Actually, on reading this one this time, I found myself wanting to find a couple of really good history books about Alexandria. Any recommendations?
To be honest, despite loving this book, it's ended up a bit on the back-burner. I started it a couple of weeks ago and put it down for other reading. I do intend to get back to it though this week.

The English Ghost by Peter Ackroyd
Non Fiction, History. Another short book like London Under, but I'm not actually enjoying it too much.  The English Ghost is really just a listing of ghost sightings and accounts of the same - mostly from the seventeenth century and eighteenth century. The individual chapters are short, but there's not much connecting them together.

Out Of The Dark by David Weber.
Fiction, Science Fiction. Very different from the David Weber novels I'm used to reading (mostly the Honor Harrington series). So far, I'm quite enjoying the read too. This one's set in the very near future (maybe two or three years into the future), and makes abundant use of current geopolitical situations and conflicts.

I'm planning to read:

Lifting The Silence: A World War II Canadian Bomber Pilot Reunites With His Past by David Scott Smith and Sydney Percival Smith.
Non Fiction, History. I've heard that this one's really well written. I want to read it though, because a member of my family was a Pilot Officer in a Halifax Bomber. I'm curious to know more about what he would have experienced.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...