Saturday, February 13

Audible earcandy

For a while now I've had a strong hankering for a good audio-book. Looking around made me feel like taking a dip into the critiquing of them so stay tuned for some new thoughts soon. I'll be doing write ups of a few old favorites, hopefully some new gems and some of my thoughts on audio-books in general.

Tuesday, June 1

On the Topic of Goodness

To be perfectly honest it is extremely hard to review books you really like. Perhaps that's why critiques of any sort seem to have a heavy handed slant in the direction of negativity. When we run a critical eye over things most of us tend to eagerly pounce on anything and everything we could possibly find objectionable. Nitpicking at our chosen disagreeable detail we tend to throw all our efforts into detailing exactly how and why this particular thing is completely wrong/disagreeable/incorrect/offensive/ect. ect. and so on and forth.

When it comes to writing about a book that I think is very good I, like most other writers of criticisms, am completely and utterly stumped. I'll stand there, book in hand, opening my mouth a few times and giving some vague gestures as I wrack my brain for what, exactly, it was that was so very good about it.

I can't really just tell you what happened in the book. Or rather, I could but I don't want to. If I were to do that I might as well just read it to you and on a blog that might be considered plagiarism. Besides, I'd rather you read it for yourself since experiencing things for yourself is best after all.

So which book is it that spurred this train of thought, you ask? Well no one book to be honest, but a series of them.

In the last few months I've been delving into the world of Terry Pratchett that is simply named the Diskworld, the name being suggestive of its shape (which is a disk for those of you who arn't following me) which rides through space on the back of the great turtle Atuin and is carried on the back of four giant elephants (the disk is, not the turtle).

I've come into contact with this series a lot in my past. While browsing shelves after shelves in various libraries I remember my eye being repeatedly caught by the odd little art that features on the covers of most of Pratchett's books which has the interesting quality that kinda reminds me of the landscape in Out of the Silent Planet where you can't really tell what you're seeing until after you've found out what they are, in this case meaning after you've read the book. Every single time I picked up one of those books I put them right back down again. They were old and had a whole lot of words. It may seem like a strange reason for a literature lover to put down a book but I very much dislike the smell of old paper (the kind you get most fantasy pocket books printed in at least) and a lot of words meant you'd have to spend longer reading it. Many such books did manage to pull my curiosity in strongly enough for me to ignore the smell but most of the Pratchett novels were well worn and very smelly indeed. I did give one a try but unfortunately it was Small Gods which, while fascinating, didn't catch a whole lot of my interest.

So time passed like it usually does, despite any protests that might be made to this fact, and about a year and half ago I ran into Pratchett again. I mean his books of course, not the man himself. This time it was in a box my step-father had bought, filled with used books from private collections which he was reselling online. Since there was little monetary value in the few Diskworld novels that were in the box I snatched them. Thankfully this time the first books I took a chance with was Equal Rites which did catch my interest. Quite a lot in fact. Eventually I'd read what I had gotten in the box and set off to find more. Through a friend of mine I managed to get my hands on an electronic copy of all the books in audio form. Since then I've been slowly working my way through them and most I like and some I like a little less but never the less find very good.

By now you might be wondering when I'm going to say what's so good about them. And there's the sticker. I can't tell you because I don't know. I'm probably going to try at some point, by taking individual books but for now I'll just settle for this.

They're good.

Monday, March 30

Dragons of Cuyahoga

This was the book I was reading as I had the idea of writing down what I thought so its the first up in my note book. I found it in a box at Camden Market, well used and kinda tattered. What attracted me most to this book was probably the cover art, which immediately caught my eye but on closer inspection it was more interesting than just that.

Dragons of Cuyahoga
by S. Andrew Swann

At first sight (in the bookstore) I figured this was probably just another fantasy novel, of which I've seen and read quite a few. But one should never judge a book by its cover; or in this as case take a second closer look.

The cover is dominated by a large and looming dragon who's foreboding eye is the dead center of the picture. This alone is not unusual, since quite a few fantasy novels feature dangerous dragons, but the background is. Upon examination it jumps out that instead of being placed in mountain cave, where treasure lines the walls to the ceiling, or the typical fantasy forest, we're looking at an apartment complex. Right in front of the dragon stands a man, dwarfed by the dragons size, but it is neither a brave blond knight in shining armor nor a raven haired sorcerer in flowing red robes. This is a man wearing an everyday business suit.

As it turns out this book is a fascinating genre blend of fantasy and the private eye. It contains many classic elements of a criminal investigation novel but without the bitter taste of clishe. I have to admit that I was pleasantly surprised and the originality of it kept me interested through the novel. The plot was interesting and not overly interesting. That does not mean that is was simple, far from it. Thankfully it straddles the careful balance of attention holding and over complication.

Sunday, March 29

Good Writers must first be Good Readers.

For a while I have been writing down what I think of the books I read in an effort to improve my writing. I know that if I intend to write something when I finish reading, I'll read a lot more critically and be more aware of what I'm reading.

This I've done in a notebook that I always keep in my bag but I figured why not put it up somewhere. I mean, there are people out there who blog about the weirdest things, why not blog about the things I like, books.

From now on I'll be posting what I've written for each book here. Look forwards to be exposed to my oddly varied reading habits.