Books, my continuing addiction

It’s my prerogative to change my mind right? If you’d asked me a month ago I would’ve sworn “yes, I only read for enjoyment these days”. Although that’s wholeheartedly true, I find myself searching out books that have a bit more literary depth. What do I mean by that? Well, I mentioned last week I like to go to the awards sites to find new books. First, I find an author that I like, then I look to see which awards that author has been nominated for, then I check that award site for new to me books. Enjoying fantasy, there is a substantial range of quality in the writing of books available. Many, whether through a deft editor or the writer, can relay a good fast-paced story. But in the rush to get series to print, so many devices regarding characters and plot line can be overdone. I’d mentioned a few of the worst devices in my post Books, My Drug of Choice.  Mush mind, after reading too many series that plug together a bunch of devices to get a story to market, is the phrase that best expresses how I feel. I can put the book down and think I might as well have couched out in front of some inane TV show. Yes the time passed. No, it wasn’t horrible. But if I could’ve only found better books, it would’ve been so much more enjoyable rather than pleasant enough. So, yes I read for enjoyment, but that enjoyment does encompass more than just a pleasant enough passing of time. The story devices I haven’t mentioned that make me want to take a perfectly lovely new little paperback and toss it across the room are: 1. An overabundance of character A doesn’t tell character B something with dire results. It’s a formula (if you have no other morale for your story, grab this “can’t do it alone” one). I tolerate some as it’s everywhere. Recent over the top examples took books from I might have liked this to simply can’t pick up another.  The worst example was “I love him – overhear the mob’s put out a hit on him – I have to warn him – try on CELLPHONE – can’t get through – must hide – go stay with my sister Friday through Monday morning – do be do be do lounge by pool to relax with cell phone handy – come back Monday morning get off plane THEN panic and try to reach him again, oh no people died, arrrggghhhh – she’s the heroine we’re supposed to like. That was one where you wish you had a line to the author so you could scream at them “You’ve got to be kidding me!”. I ran into three series in a row where this simplistic device was so overdone I won’t read another book by any of those three authors or finish those series. 2. Enjoying and following a lovely story, engrossed in the book and getting to the end is like walking in to a brick wall – they tie it up all at once and you can only think they hit their deadline uninspired about how to make it end or without enough time to do it well. This one is a horrible way to end an otherwise enjoyable book. So, coming off the aggravation of number one I was determined to find a good book to read. I’ve mentioned C.E.Murphy is one of my favorite authors for a fun read. On her MizKit website she’s noted books she’s read and her favorite books. Here’s what she had to say about Tigana“The book I love most: Tigana
I’ve read it, I don’t know, a dozen times, and it continues to work for me, which GGK either does or does not, for readers. I love its inevitability of tragedy and the moments of joy that counteract them–though largely they’re so well entwined you don’t get one without the other in that book. The doom is all *perfect*, and I just adore it”.
What’s worth reading: I‘d slated some of Guy Gavriel Kay’s works to read as he’s won some of those World Fantasy Awards I mention were bestowed on a few of my other favored authors (Charles de Lint and Patricia McKillip). Then I saw the above recommendation and immediately bought a copy. I agree with C.E. Murphy that Tiganais a lovely worthwhile read. It’s extremely well executed with a thorough development of his fantasy universe. However, I have to admit that by page 300 I was still feeling a bit disconnected – I could put the book down and not wonder what happened in the story line or to the characters. None had invested me enough by that point, about halfway through the book, to really care. That isn’t to say the first half of the book was difficult. It was interesting and moved at a nice pace. Other than the very long buy in to feel an emotional connection to the characters and storyline, it’s beautifully done. If you require fast-paced action, this is not the book for you. But, if you find joy in artistry of writing and a comprehensive tale this is certainly a book for you. Well, since I’ve gone classic with the above recommendation, let me now turn to Janet Evanovich and her Plum Boxed Set 1, Books 1-3 (One for the Money / Two for the Dough / Three to Get Deadly) (Stephanie Plum Novels). Yes, literary depth aside, but these are well written. The mysteries are light, fun and fast moving. They start with One for the Money (Stephanie Plum, No. 1) by Evanovich, Janet 1st (first) Edition [MassMarket(2003)]and I have to emphasize – you MUST read this series in order. I can honestly say, with the exception of maybe two of her series, that I’ve heartily laughed out loud while reading these books. And, if you saw the movie – it was horrid – the books are truly worth your time. With series, I think it best not to review every single book individually – either you think folks should read the series and will enjoy it, or you don’t. Some fuss with one book is better than the other. I won’t bother. These mysteries make the rounds. My sister, friend Denise, friend Cynthia and her husband Karl, and friend Marian and her husband Alan – all of us read each and every one of the Stephanie Plum novels. My only regret is that I’ve sent the vast majority of my books off to share and I’d like to reread this series in another year or so. I’ll just have to get a whole new set. Sizzling Sixteen  is the most recently released of these titles with Smokin Seventeen scheduled for summer.I’ve also recently embarked on reading Sharon Shinn. Her Samaria series is considered more original than much of the science fiction/fantasy out there.Archangel (Samaria, Book 1) is the first book in that series. The tapestry of her world building is rich and detailed, yet the story moves at a wonderful engaging pace. This book received the IAFA William L. Crawford Fantasy Award (1996). Luckily, each book of the series is a standalone novel as I’d tackled Angelica (Samaria, Book 4)
, the fourth book first. Found it enjoyable enough that I immediately got the previous books – which I’m now devouring. Archangel blends an appealing romantic plot line with the fantasy world fight of good versus evil. Hers is not a traditional or Christian view of angels; those who subscribe to a literal interpretation of the bible may find it offensive. In truth, a few males I know would cringe at the extent our ’emotionally damaged in her youth’ heroine must be sought for any connection to be established. For all others, I highly recommend this series.

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