While considering how to relate my thoughts on Patricia McKillip, one of my favorite authors this week, I thought I might relate to music. With stories you can have a simple plot line believable characters and decent writing. Or, you can have writing that is pure artistry. Similarly, in music you can have layers of tone and vocals that reverberate through your soul, or you can have a simple melody with lyrics that so many identify with, will want to be identified with, as to make it a bestseller. McKillip’s writing is that style of tone upon tone that speaks to your soul. Most suggest you start her readings with the Riddle Master trilogy (which I did Love). It’s a World Fantasy Award winning piece and, as she and another few writers I enjoy have won World Fantasy Awards, I’ll often go to their website first if I’m looking for a new read. My recommendation is to start with Song for the Basilisk. Her approach to the opening in this book is pure genius. Don’t expect ‘sword and horses’ male style action adventure fantasy writing or the romance that’s overtaken the majority of urban fantasy. McKillip’s magical lyrical writings are simply original and often compared to Tolkien (for originality, she’s not a copycat Tolkien). People who write blogs write. For that reason alone, I think most of us should branch out and read the work of artists every now and again. I’ve seen others say they have writers block. My first response is always ‘sit down with a good book’. I’m always eager to get to the keyboard once I put one down. There is not one of McKillip’s writings that I could not wholeheartedly recommend. It’s only a matter of where you start. That said, if you need constant fast moving action, these books may not be for you.
The other book I’ll recommend this week is Dean Koontz The Taking. Koontz is a master of suspense and mystery. He also ventures into horror. I pretty much wholeheartedly avoid horror. However, I have no problems tackling books where the gruesomeness is not closely related to reality. The Taking would probably be classified as horror suspense. I’m recommending this as his use of language and imagery is superb. I suppose the horror didn’t really get to me because part of my brain was watching his phrasing and admiring how he put words together to paint a picture in my mind. For those of you who enjoy noticing the turn of a phrase, this is the book for you. One reviewer was not enamored of the phrasing, preferring their action suspense to have fewer descriptors. It’s something I enjoy. My favorite Koontz books are his Odd Thomas series, but I’ll write about those another time.
I started with Goodreads.com last week. Entered my book list, subscribed to a few groups and am trying it out. It’s too early to tell if this is something I’ll stick with. The jury’s still out. There are things I like and things I hate about this site. I found some interesting groups but I don’t think I’ve yet found the optimum groups for me. When you browse science fiction/fantasy groups you’ll find there are 776 groups. Try to narrow found to urban fantasy and you’ll find a significant number are school age (“my school doesn’t let us log into Twitter..”) and completely enamored of the most highly sexed of the urban fantasies out there. Can’t say I want the recommendations from that group. But, I haven’t made a dent in the group list or completely given it a chance yet. Still browsing to see if there are few that will match my interests. For now, I’m more comfortable searching the fantasy and science fiction awards sites looking to add books to my ‘to read ‘pile. In addition to browsing the World Fantasy Award site that I’m most fond of, you can also find respectable recommendations by going to the British Fantasy Award site, Hugo Awards, or the Locus Awards (that are reader nominated) and Nebulas. In truth, I haven’t explored the Locus or Nebulas all that much yet. I often scan previous year’s winners, grab a few names and look them up on Amazon. If I like an author, I then continue to read all they have published – so it’s a slow process. Yet, surprisingly, I often find myself without any books on my pile that I’m dying to read. I do wander through a bunch that I call as entertaining as sitcoms. It was recommended, you bought it, it was enjoyable enough, you read it. So many seem to be stuck reading (and recommending)what’s only come out recently. Yet, because of the success of the movie, some run to Tolkien without also realizing that other fantastic and engrossing books have been written in years past (and I love Tolkien). Have mentioned in my previous post on books, that I’m also a fan of really good mystery. Happy to hear your recommendations. On the blog I’ll write about only books I’m recommending. I’ve been more pointed in some of my reviews at Goodreads.com. If there’s nothing truly excited to see on TV, why not turn it off and grab a good book?