Sorry I haven’t been around these parts. One of my aunts, to whom I was not very close, has killed herself. The selfish bint. I realise that is not the correct reaction, but, really! Anyway, while I am not personally particularly devastated, there have been the family events and of course it’s consumed much of my thinking cycles, leaving not too many for blogging. Funeral is tomorrow. Will let you know how it goes.
Anyway. To the point!
Occasionally I’ll have a chat conversation with Bek about books we like. I don’t really do much reading, anymore, which makes me sad. This is partly because working full time drains the brain, but also, I’ve realised, because I have so much trouble finding good, readable books that aren’t rubbish. There doesn’t seem to be much middle ground between Mills & Boon and heavy duty Smart Books. Both of which I enjoy, but there is a time and a place for both, and it isn’t on weeknights. And I can’t just keep reading Kerry Greenwood books over and over – she does churn them out, but there aren’t that many! Plus, they do get a bit irritating if you read too many in one gulp.
Oh, dear, I don’t appear to be able to keep from rambling.
When Bek and I chat, it’s often about books we liked as kids. I personally rousingly endorse anything that Tamora Pierce has written (I’m currently voraciously reading the first Beka Cooper books again) because of their strong female characters, strong male characters, excellent themes and, heaven above, PLOTS! And in these chats I realised that I really miss speculative fiction.
For those not in the know, Spec Fic (or sf, depending on if you want a fight with the SciFi-ers) is anything encompassing Fantasy and Science Fiction genres, as well as some horror, apocalyptic fiction, distopias and utopias and possibly anything else that is just a bit weird. The description’s in the name, really, but the wiki article is pretty good if you’re confused. Spec fic used to be my genre. If it had a unicorn or a spaceship on the cover, I’d read it. The trouble is, there is so much truly truly terrible spec fic out there. Kings with big swords and troubled loners with the urge to discover unknown frontiers and conquer some spacebabes. Gimme a break. So I’d sort of stopped picking up anything with a flying horse or an alien on the cover, because the odds were it would be rubbish.
But Bek recommended the Chrestomanci series by Diana Wynne Jones (criminally, I had never previously read any of her books), and I bought the first two in one book. And I read it in a day and a half. And it was lovely. Not only did I enjoy the book tremendously, I enjoyed reading it tremendously. I had sort of forgotten what a rush it is to sit and be absorbed by another world. To think about the book while you weren’t reading it. To rush to the end, only to be sad it is over. I have bought the next books in the series (from Better World Books, natch, where books are cheap and second hand and the service is beyond compare), and am waiting impatiently for them to wing their way to me accross the sea.
But then an idea occured to me. Not a very novel one (ha! A pun!) but still. People keep seeing the Chrestomanci book in my bag and recommending other things. And I was wondering if I could collect some of your recommendations. And then I would collect them and put them up on the internet somewhere and maybe review (in a very amateurish way)some of them as I get to them, along with some of my favourites. Who wants to play? I would particularly like to emphasise children/young adult books because I feel that there are many more engaging stories in kids’ books, and it’s hard to keep selling the same tripe to kids over and over. Whereas grownups will read a whole series that is essentially the same plot with the names changed. But I want it to be something you have actually read as a grownup (or almost) since the point is for me to read them, and sometimes what is good for kids is not good for adults, unfortunately. Luckily, there is some crossover.
I also want to hear your general spec fic recommendations (there doesn’t have to be a crystal sword or anything, just something that’s about a world a bit different to our, or our world, but a bit different too). I want to know specific books rather than authors – for instance, if you tell me you like David Eddings, I might have a panic attack because there are fifty kajillion of them, and some of the series are excellent for the first three books, and then the next ten books in the series why would you do that are a bit ordinary. I am thinking I might do a review of some authors whose works I know pretty well, eg, Anne McCaffrey, and detail some of the series’. So if you want to do that too, that would be ace.
When I get a chance I will find the list I have started from my real world friends, and take it from the back of a crumpled reciept and put it onto the immortal internets. Maybe I’ll reactivate my Goodreads account and keep a list there. It depends on you, gentle readers, and on how much reading momentum I can gather. I know I could look on somewhere like goodreads for recommendations, but that feels the same as reading amazon reviews. You, on the other hand, are people I know and whose opinions I value. So let ‘er rip! If you find you are typing a mile-long comment, and you don’t already have my email, it’s kaviare [at] gmail.com.