Thursday, January 22, 2004

After a very long period of silence (I was working a lot, okay?), I appear briefly to announce another period of silence. My dear husband and I are off to Kauai in a few days to lie on the beach and do absolutely nothing for two weeks. I can't wait. Today we're going to Borders to stock up on fantasy novels, so I should have plenty to blog about upon our return. In the meantime, I've discovered Robin Hobb's Farseer series, which are really wonderful. Most fantasy readers are probably already familiar with these books, but for some reason I'd overlooked them until I picked up the first two at a booksale a while back. During this lingering illness (the wasting disease is still, well, wasting) I set aside my more challenging reads for some good entertainment, and burned through Assassin's Apprentice and Royal Assassin over a weekend. I don't always care for the typical "other world" fantasy, because it so often relies entirely on the other world for its fantastical elements. The world of the Farseer books, however, is rich and complex, with a fascinating story and great characters. I'll post more about them after I read the last two.

Thursday, January 08, 2004

I've just updated my links, especially the blogs. Since Jack and Miss Kate seem to have dropped off the face of the blogging world, I decided to delete their links, but that left my list rather depressing, so I added some of the sites I've been visiting lately.

Saturday, January 03, 2004

Robin McKinley has long been one of my favorite writers, even before I knew fantasy was a genre. I also love fairy tale retellings, of which she has done quite a few, but it's really nice to read something completely new from her talented pen. Sunshine captured me from the first page, and I read it in a fascinated gulp last week, as did Odious this morning. It's funny, however, that what sticks with me the most are the descriptions of Sunshine's life and surroundings, rather than the story itself, although that was very strange and interesting. This is usually the feeling I have with Charles de Lint, where I care less about the story than about wanting to live in his world; but I suppose Robin McKinley has never before written a novel in a contemporary setting, which makes a difference for me at least.

The story is about vampires in the near-future, which seems quite a leap from Beauty and the Beast, Sherwood, and Damar, but McKinley pulls it off with aplomb. Her heroine is a highly talented baker in a small village, in a world where "the Other" (vampires, werefolk, and further demons) are known, accepted as a part of life, and desperately feared. Thus it's never a good idea for humans to roam about on their own, especially deep into the woods, but Sunshine does it anyway--and therein lies the story.

I'll have to read it again to get a full sense of what happens, since like McKinley's other books there are several levels, but already I'd rank it above most of them. The writing is fantastic, the plot dramatic and compelling, and the characters a rich and motley crew.

Friday, January 02, 2004

The holiday season is over, which always makes me feel like life should settle down and get back to normal, but with the several-page-long to-do list and extra work coming up in the next couple weeks, I don't think that'll actually happen. At least I don't have to plan stuff anymore, or arrange people. Normally that's one of my favorite things to do, but a wedding, Christmas, and New Year's parties crammed into two weeks is a little much for my feeble brain, especially when my body is hampered with whatever wasting disease is currently infecting me. Fortunately it has given me the excuse to sit around and read quite a bit, though as usual not nearly enough.

I've found in the past few years that birthdays and Christmasses are not quite as exciting as they used to be, for several reasons, but mainly because I used to get great stacks of lovely new books from all and sundry. For me that's part of those holidays, but for some reason it hasn't been happening as much lately. I suppose people don't know what I'd like or haven't read, or simply that it would be too unimaginative a gift. In response, I think, I've started giving everyone else books in hopes that they will reciprocate. I love to get books--nearly the best gift ever! Even if it's something I've read or already own, it's still special to receive as something chosen because a friend liked it and thought I would too. Also my taste in books is so eclectic that I rarely come across something I really don't like, which is why it's fun to see what other people like and think I'd like, things I probably wouldn't have chosen myself but enjoy nonetheless.

Anyway, as you can probably tell, I didn't receive many books this year (only one, in fact--John Mortimer's Summer Lease, because my mother-in-law decided I needed yet another Italy book), but I did receive a gift card from Borders, also from my mother-in-law. So Odious and I spent the day after Christmas happily wandering around Borders, gathering up armfuls of random titles. Between the gift card and the bargain books, I walked out with a whole bag of books and only $18 debited from my checking account!

New acquisitions include:
Sunshine, Robin McKinley
Miracle and Other Christmas Stories, Connie Willis
The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath
Close Range, Annie Proulx
Her Infinite Variety, Pamela Rafael Berkman
The Seeing Eye, C.S. Lewis
also a new journal which I do not need.

The next day my very dear friend Kelly came up to Santa Fe for the weekend, and we browsed through Books and More Books, an excellent little used bookstore down the street from our house, where I picked up
Evelina, Fanny Burney
Gracious Living in a New World, Alexandra Stoddard
Herbs and Spices
Fragments: The Collected Wisdom of Heraclitus
Nothing to Declare, Mary Morris
The Twelve Dancing Princesses, Marianna Mayer
First Person Rural, Noel Perrin

And the book buying continued when we took Kelly back to Albuquerque on Sunday, as none of us could resist a quick stop at Barnes & Noble. However, we only had time for a few, so I won't list those, although one was a pretty cool book on soapmaking.

Note to self New blog to keep an eye on: The Book Nook