Monthly Archives: October 2015

Top Ten Tuesday: Vampires

toptentuesday

The topic of this Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by The Broke and the Bookish, is a Halloween themed freebie.

I love Halloween. It’s probably my all-time favorite holiday. And I am kind-of-sort-of-maybe-in-the-process-of writing a vampire novel. I mean. I am. It’s pretty atrociously bad right now, but I should probably just own up to it, right? I am working on a vampire novel.

SO. Weird obfuscations and silliness aside, here is my vampire reading list for said novel. For inspiration and tropes and all that fun stuff, although of course I hope the style and plot is all my own.

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Books I’ve read

1. Bram Stoker- Dracula

I have complicated feelings about the father of all vampire novels. Basically, I respect it as a literary touchstone, but when it comes to the actual book I find it…well, really boring. I think I need to see how I feel about it now that I’m not in high school any longer.

2. Holly Black- The Coldest Girl in Coldtown

I love this book. Have I mentioned that I love this book? Because I love this book. It’s scary and visceral and wonderfully character-driven.

3.  Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu- Carmilla

I read this story basically every year. Every time I get something new out of it.

4. John Joseph Adams, ed.- By Blood We Live

There are a lot of great stories by a lot of different style of authors in this collection.

5. Justin Cronin- The Passage, The Twelve

I need the conclusion to this trilogy. It’s such a unique spin on the vampire mythos, and I really enjoy it.

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Books I’ve yet to read

6. John Ajvide Lindqvist- Let the Right One In

I just recently saw Let Me In, and I adored it. It is so fucking scary and beautiful. I’ve yet to see the original version of the film, but it’s on my list. And I had no idea until recently that it was all based on a book…which now I have to read.

7. John William Polidori- The Vampyre

Polidori is probably the biggest omission in my knowledge of classical vampires. I know so much about this story, about it’s creation and it’s influence on Stoker, and yet I’ve never read it. So I need to rectify that.

8. Octavia Butler- Fledgling

The last time I read Butler we didn’t get on so well. I really just found her style awkward and highly overrated, which in some circles of SF is dangerous to say out loud because it’s akin to sacrilege. But, I’m willing to give this a try. Maybe I’ll like it better?

9.  Michael West, ed.- Vampires Don’t Sparkle!

Another story anthology; I love the title’s cheeky allusion to a certain series which I will not touch with a twenty foot pole.

10. Deborah Harkness- A Discovery of Witches

I understand that this is witches and vampires? I’m interested to see what it’s like.

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I have read many, many (many, many) bad vampire novels in my day. And I’m not particularly looking to go in a paranormal romance/typical UF direction, or read them either, which leaves out a lot of the long series. But! Recommend me some vampire novels, folks. Help me fill this list out!

Oh hey, and if you have nonfiction recs about vampires, throw those at me too. I have a pretty basic encyclopedia type reference on vamps, but I’d love to check out more substantial nonfiction on the subject.

 

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Review: Slade House by David Mitchell

24499258Title: Slade House

Author: David Mitchell

Rating: 4 stars

I received this book from Netgalley in exchange for a fair review. 

A dark alley that seems to come and go at will. A mysterious garden door that only certain people can open. A pair of seriously creepy twins, and a series of disappearances that take place on the last Sunday of October, every nine years…

Slade House, David Mitchell’s follow-up/companion to The Bone Clocks, is a taut, twisty book that gave me genuine chills. It’s short enough to read in a single sitting, and builds on some of the mythology created in Bone Clocks.

Essentially, Slade House is built of five stories that don’t quite standalone. The first is “The Right Sort“–the story Mitchell published last year on Twitter. That story features Nathan, an apparently autistic boy who falls victim to a soul-sucking horror. The other stories center on a divorced cop, an overweight and emotionally unstable teen, and, nine years later, her sister, searching for answers. Finally one of the viewpoint characters from The Bone Clocks shows up, to close out the story.

You don’t absolutely need to have read The Bone Clocks to enjoy Slade House, at least for the first four parts, but the final chapter is fairly dependent on knowledge of that book. That chapter is also, for me, the weakest, though it leads to the evil twins getting their inevitable due. I enjoyed the mounting tension and creepiness of the first four stories, but, perhaps because the character featured in the last story was my least favorite viewpoint Bone Clocks character, I didn’t feel as satisfied by the resolution as I should have.

If this was nothing more than a standalone haunted house story, without all of the mythology and terminology from Mitchell’s shared universe thrown in the pot, I think it would have been a little more successful. It’s still really good though. What Mitchell is best at is voices, and he’s able to create fully round characters with fascinatingly diverse voices in relatively short spaces here. This is a slight book but not a frivolous one. And it was a great spooky read for a rainy autumn night.

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Short Story Sunday: “Security Check”

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First line: “My wife and I are celebrating our twentieth anniversary today.”

Security Check” by Han Song, and translated by Ken Liu, published by Clarkesworld.

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Short Story Sunday: “Everything Beneath You”

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First line: “You don’t know me, but I changed the world.”

Everything Beneath You” by Bonnie Jo Stufflebeam, published by Beneath Ceaseless Skies.

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Short Story Sunday: “The Cure”

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First line: “The first time the fit came over me it was as if I’d plunged into a deep well, and though my hands scrabbled for purchase on the slime-covered brick casing, all I did was sink farther into the murky dark.”

The Cure” by Malinda Lo, published by Interfictions.

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Top Ten Tuesday: I Wish I Knew How to Quit You

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The topic of this Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by The Broke and the Bookish, is Ten Bookish Things I Want to Quit Or Have Quit.

Be freeeeeeee. (aka I needed a graphic for this post and was out of ideas.)

Be freeeeeeee. (aka I needed a graphic for this post and was out of ideas.)

1 I wish I could quit…feeling like I’m so far behind on my reading because I can’t keep up with what everyone is talking about.

I want to read books for me, not to keep up with trends. I’m too old to worry about that shit. But it’s easy to feel buried in all the awesome new releases and feel like you have to read everysinglethingrightnow.

2 I wish I could quit…reading historical fiction novels that I enjoy in the moment but then ultimately become forgettable.

I read a lot of historical fiction. I always have. But recently it feels like a lot of those books leave me feeling…hollow. Like, they’re good for the time I’m reading them, but then I immediately forget them. They don’t stick. I think I need to read more nonfiction rather than these pointless, lightweight books.

3 I wish I could quit…buying books that I don’t have time to read.

Kind of tied to number 1. I have so many books crowding up the shelves, and then I start to feel guilty about not reading them, and then the guilt compounds.

4 I wish I could quit…reading when I want to be writing.

I have been trying to grow in my writing the past few years, and honestly it can be kind of scary and feel kind of fruitless. I’ve been going back and forth between larger projects, but a lot of times, instead of sitting down and getting my hands dirty and working through a problem, I give up and go read. I tell myself I’m doing research or giving my brain a break…but then a whole weekend afternoon, and all of its writing time, is gone.

5 I wish I could quit…more books that I don’t like.

Over the past year I’ve gotten much better at DNFing, but I still get to the end of too many books with a vague feeling that my life would be better if I had just stopped reading.

6 I wish I could quit…buying physical books.

I’m hoping to move within the next year, and it’s already giving me hives. Because: BOOKS. I have six bookshelves. They are all out of space. Most are, in fact, double-packed. I prune my collection at least once a month, yet it keeps growing. And growing. And growing. I want to switch a lot more of my books to my ereader, but that takes money I don’t have. And of course there are so many I just can’t give up the physical book for a screen.

7 I have quit…sticking it out to the end of the series.

There are too many books and too little time. If a series doesn’t catch me in it’s first installment, I’m not going to read any more. I don’t care if it becomes amazing in the second book.

8 I have quit…reading books about circuses.

I’ve read a lot of books about circuses, and I ALWAYS hate them. Like, universally, across-the-board. I don’t know why. I don’t care why. I finally put the moratorium into place: if the synopsis so much as mentions a circus, a sideshow, a fair…I’m out.

I have (mostly) quit…reading white men.

Look, there are plenty of good white, male authors. But I’ve gotten really fed up with some, even those who used to be my favorites. The pretentious MFA literati. The genre-trashers (and genre-stealers). The whitesplainers and the mansplainers. I have never picked up or avoided an author based solely on their gender or race–it comes down to the book, always–but I’m making a concerted effort to read many other authors. And avoid white men for a while, cause I’m tired of the bullshit, the trembling fear and insecurity from the top of ivory tower. We’ll see how I managed at the end of the year when I tally up my reading statistics, and then maybe I’ll be able to make a more realistic goal.

10 I have quit…loaning books.

Sorry kids. I have lost way too many books because I loan them to people and then, hey presto, never get them back. Or even worse- get them back with broken spines. I will literally buy you a book rather than loan my copy if I think it’s something you need to read right this second. Bad for my bank account, but good for my sanity.

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Review: What I Talk About When I Talk About Running

2195464Title: What I Talk About When I Talk About Running

Author: Haruki Murakami

Rating: 4 stars

I picked up What I Talk About When I Talk About Running because of a vague goal to tackle Murakami’s nonfiction, as I already enjoy his fiction. I was not expecting it to be so personally inspiring, or the fact that would talk about writing almost as much as running.

This is a short volume (I read it in a few sittings over two days–although I was also sick, and had nothing else to do.)  Murakami talks about how he took up long distance running at age 33, how he runs a marathon every year, and about his training regimen and his experiences with specific races and triathlons.

I’ve been thinking about taking up running almost since my surgery. The reason being that after surgery my breathing vastly improved–I had literally no idea that I was living with impeded breath until suddenly I could breathe. It’s a big lifestyle change for me, and I basically have no stamina, but this book totally inspired me to start trying. If Murakami could do it at 33, surely I can at least try at 30.

But as I mentioned, there is as much writing advice in this book as there is talk of running. Murakami is a prolific novelist with a very distinct style. He talks here about how the discipline of running every day mirrors the discipline of his writing. There are a ton of interesting little tidbits and asides that I found quite interesting and surprising.

There are things in this book to appeal for a lot of different types of readers. Murakami is one of modern literature’s most interesting minds, and this slim memoir is an inspiring piece.

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Short Story Sunday: “Fabulous Beasts”

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First line: “Eliza, tell me your secret.”

Fabulous Beasts” by Priya Sharma, published by Tor.com

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September Round Up

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Reading

I finished 11 books in September…and, incidentally, hit 100! I’m working on goals for 2016 will help me read less, because honestly I’m kind of overwhelmed. But this is the earliest in the year I’ve ever hit a hundred reads, so…cool?

Reading Diversely 

7 of the books I read were written by women, 3 by men, and 1 was an anthology of many different writers. One book was nonfiction. The anthology was one of “World SciFi,” so it included translations and people of color, and one other book was written by a non-Westerner.

Writing

Sooooooooooo many rejections. Oh my god, you guys. So many rejections.

I’m dealing with some serious impostor system right now, to be totally honest. But rejections do mean that I’m getting my work out there, which is a big step from just a few years ago. So.

I’m still hashing out the novella that I thought would be done by now. It might not quite make it to novella length. But I’m enjoying it. If I could just finish it.

TV Junkie

How. To. Get. Away. With. Murder. Yaaaaaaas, Queen Viola Davis. I am so looking forward to this insane-seeming season.

Also enjoying Fresh Off the Boat. Other than those two shows I’m kind of trying to stay away from TV right now, though.

Music

Wait what no one told me about Hamilton why not? Songs about historical figures are one of my weird things. A fucking hip hop musical about Alexander Hamilton and the Founding Fathers? THIS IS MY JAM.

No, seriously, guys. Go listen to Hamilton. Go now.

The other thing I’ve been listening to nonstop is (of course) Lana Del Rey’s Honeymoon. Perfection.

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