22 September 2008

Book Banter Double Edition -- Yendi and Teckla

Welcome to a special double edition of Book Banter because Word Nerd is behind...

Titles: Yendi and Teckla (Vlad Taltos bk. 2 & 3)
Author: Steven Brust
Length: ~170 pages/each
Genre: Fantasy
Plot Basics: Smart-talking assassin Vlad Taltos is back in two very different stories. In Yendi, more of his past is uncovered as he became a small-time crime lord in the Jhereg organization. As he tries to take over more territory, he stumbles on to a huge set-up that puts his life in danger. In Teckla, the Vlad's story fast-forwards again to after Jhereg (bk. 1). His wife Cawti is getting involved with a rabble-rousing bunch of Easterners and Vlad wants to stop it. As he tries to keep her safe, she rebuffs his help. Moreover, Vlad starts questioning his chosen profession and his life precariously balanced between the House of Jhereg and his fellow, oppressed Easterners.
Banter Points: Of the two books, Yendi is a more fun read. There's more adventure and more excitment. That said, putting Teckla right after it is good planning because it juxtaposes Vlad's early relationship with Cawti with where they are later.
Bummer Points: There's too much politics and not enough action in Teckla.
Word Nerd Recommendation: Even though Teckla is a bit slow, it fits with the series overall which is a must-read for fantasy fans.

18 September 2008

Book Banter -- Jhereg

Title: Jhereg (Vlad Taltos, bk. 1)
Author: Steven Brust
Length: ~170 pages
Genre: fantasy
Plot Basics: Vlad Taltos is a human assassin, small-time crime lord and Baronet in the House of Jhereg (the house of thieves, criminals and assassins) in the city of Adrilankha. He's hired by one of the high-ranking members of the Jhereg organization to kill another lord who's walked off with most of the money in the Jhereg treasury. Taking the job means Vlad himself becomes a target and it will take all of his cunning, cleverness, contacts and quips from his familiar, Loiosh, to successfully complete his job.
Banter Points: This is Word Nerd's second trip through this series and she's really glad she went back to the beginning to refresh her memory (Brust just came out with book 11? in the series...) Vlad is a great character set in a well thought out world. Brust also does a good job with letting his readers into the world, having Vlad reflect on history where appropriate. Some things, so far, he just doesn't bother explaining. Moreover, he dumps the reader right into the middle of Vlad's life and hints at all sorts of things that have happened in his past, hooking the reader into wanting to know more about this character.
Bummer Points: None about the book itself... Word Nerd's just bummed she had to request this title through Inter Library Loan to be able to reread it.
Word Nerd Recommendation: Jim Butcher fans who like Harry Dresden's attitude toward the world would get along well with Vlad Taltos.

14 September 2008

Book Banter -- Kushiel's Mercy

Title: Kushiel's Mercy
Author: Jacqueline Carey
Length: 643 pages
Genre: Fantasy
Plot Basics: (SPOILER ALERT)

Imriel and Sidonie, the Dauphine of Terre d'Ange, are no longer trying to hide their love for each other, despite the turmoil that it's creating in the kingdom. Queen Ysandre won't force the couple apart, but neither will she consent to their marriage unless Imriel returns his mother, the crafty and traitorous Melisanda Shahrizai, to Terre d'Ange to face her execution. Imri agrees to the quest, but before he can leave, a new and powerful enemy moves against the whole kingdom. Imri is the only one who can set the world back to right and reclaim Sidonie.
Banter Points: Word Nerd has spent a long time with this world, reading all 6 of Carey's books so far. This one definitely was one of the better ones. Though Carey suddenly inserted more magic into the book than has been present in her world before, it worked and it really heightened the stakes for Imriel to be going up against sorcery.
Bummer Points: It's sort of sad, for now, to leave this world and these characters behind. Carey is writing another trilogy set in this world, but Word Nerd really liked the Imriel character and is sort of disappointed that he won't be a major character anymore.
Word Nerd Recommendation: This series really is a must for fantasy fans.

10 September 2008

Mulder's got competition from the "Fringe"

Word Nerd, from time to time, watches TV. And was she glad she turned on her set for the premiere of J.J. Abrams' new show "Fringe" last night.

Part "X-Files," part "Twilight Zone," this has got to be the coolest new science/investigation/science-fiction show to hit in the past few years. Word Nerd was completely hooked from the beginning of the show -- and the opening scenes of something going horribly wrong on an trans-Atlantic flight.

This show has all the makings to be wonderfully weird and people with captivating characters. Agent Olivia Dunham is neither Scully or Mulder. The Bishops -- crazy scientist dad Walter and son Peter, an equal genius -- have a great dynamic between them. Agent Broyles is like Rod Serling and the Cigarette Smoking Man.

What makes this show is that for all the introductory plot in last night's premiere, there was an equal level of character development. Who are these people and what motivates them to work in fringe science?

Word Nerd will definitely be watching future episodes.

Anybody else catch this show? Thoughts?

09 September 2008

High Point

Two things have happened recently.
1. Word Nerd's been reading Jacqueline Carey's "Kushiel's Mercy" and has decided once again that this is one of the series that she wants her books to be like when they grow up.
2. Word Nerd's been editing chapters 20-22 of her book, which are smack dab in the middle of the book.

And this is what she learned from these two things.

Exciting things happen at the middle of books. In Carey's there were several huge chapters right at the halfway mark of the book, a sort of first plot climax for what had gone on in the first 300 pages.

In Word Nerd's chapters 20-22, exciting things happen! This was a thrilling discovery after slogging through rewrites on chapter 16 a few weeks ago. Realizing that Word Nerd's work did what Jacqueline Carey (and plenty of others did) was a huge boost, making her feel like she really does know she's doing.

It's like the writing equivalent of getting over Wednesday... the first part of the book, while exciting, is setting the stage, introducing the characters, building the foundation for the plot. Then, halfway through, there's a tipping point and everything starts racing toward the end.

Seeing this is Word Nerd's own work was a thrill and is inspiring her onward in the editing!

05 September 2008

Book Banter -- The Warlock in Spite of Himself

Title: The Warlock in Spite of Himself
Author: Christopher Stasheff
Length: 341 pages
Genre: Sci-fi/fantasy
Plot Basics: Space agent Rod Gallowglass lands on the planet Gramayre, the lost, long-ago colonized world with the goal of being like Elizabethan England. The world is in tact, but Rod discovers a group of noblemen intent on bringing down the monarchy and replacing it with anarchy. Of course, with all his space-age gadgetry, Gallowglass can do things the people on Gramayre can't and everyone begins to believe he's a warlock... a moniker he can't shake and must accept if he's to save the world.
Banter Points: Stasheff sure knows his political systems.
Bummer Points: Stasheff is overhanded with the political side of this book. Word Nerd was really hoping for a classic adventure (something along the lines of "Nine Princes in Amber") and what she got was more like a treatise on democracy with some elves, ghosts and poisoning attempts thrown in. And because the world is supposed to be stuck in a past time, the king's English used in the story is fraught with "thee's" and "thou's" making for unwieldy reading.
Word Nerd Recommendation: Some people really like this book and the subsequent serieses (Stasheff has written more than one set of follow-up books, following Gallowglass and his progeny). Word Nerd's not putting the rest of these at the top of her TBR list, for sure.

04 September 2008

Book Banter -- Hiding in the Shadows

Title: Hiding in the Shadows
Author: Kay Hooper
Length: ~350 pages
Genre: thriller/mystery
Plot Basics: Investigative reporter Dinah goes missing. Faith wakes up from a coma with no recollection of who she is, but she's having memories that she doesn't think are hers. Faith teams up with Dinah's fiance, Kane MacGregor and FBI Special Agent Noah Bishop to get to the bottom of what's going on -- and figure out if her "memories" are really a psychic ability.
Banter Points: This second book in Hooper's Bishop/Special Crimes Unit series is a better than the first. Bishop gets more rounded out as a character and the overall storyline with Faith and Kane seems tighter.
Bummer Points: While Bishop is in the whole story instead of just dropping in like he did in the first book, he's still kind of 2D because Hooper's not giving the reader much to really hang him on as a character -- though in this one, there's some mention of a big project he's working on.
Word Nerd Recommendation: If you like the genre, it's an OK read.

02 September 2008

August 2008 Bibliometer

Another month, another set of statistics:

9 books in August
3,443 pages read
avg. 111 pages/day

70 books
23,865 pages
avg. book length, 341 pages