BTT ~ Next Stop, Fantasyland!

Booking Through Thursday

One of my favorite sci-fi authors (Sharon Lee) has declared June 23rd Fantasy and Science Fiction Writers Day.

As she puts it:

So! In my Official Capacity as a writer of science fiction and fantasy, I hereby proclaim June 23 Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers Day! A day of celebration and wonder! A day for all of us readers of science fiction and fantasy to reach out and say thank you to our favorite writers. A day, perhaps, to blog about our favorite sf/f writers. A day to reflect upon how written science fiction and fantasy has changed your life.

So … what might you do on the 23rd to celebrate? Do you even read fantasy/sci-fi? Why? Why not?

Well, actually, June 24th is my middle daughter’s birthday, so I’d imagine I’ll be busy shopping around for the cake and dinner and presents.  That is also a Tueday… not that that means anything, just that the 23rd’s a Tuesday.

As to whether I read sci-fi and fantasy, heck yeah I read it!  It’s really cool to see what bends, twists and detours the human imagination can take.  I’m forced to deal with reality on a daily basis, so it’s nice to escape from it in a good book.  Some of my favorite authors of this genre are Neil Gaiman, Ray Bradbury, and others for whom I’m drawing a blank… but they’re great!  lol…

I have H. P. Lovecraft on Mt. TBR, as well as several Richard Matheson books.

Advertisements

BTT ~ All Things Vietnamese

There are certain types of books that I more or less assume all readers read. (Novels, for example.)

But then there are books that only YOU read. Instructional manuals for fly-fishing. How-to books for spinning yarn. How to cook the perfect souffle. Rebuilding car engines in three easy steps. Dog training for dummies. Rewiring your house without electrocuting yourself. Tips on how to build a NASCAR course in your backyard. Stuff like that.

What niche books do YOU read?

As many of you may know, my youngest, Maggie, is half-Vietnamese.  Now, in my honest opinion, it should be her dad teaching her all things Vietnamese.  However, that’s not often the case.  And the distance between him and us also makes it a bit more difficult for him to impart his cultural wisdom to her.  So I read what I can, then pass it along.

Some of the Vietnam-related books I have are cookbooks, with stains on several pages… Pho Bo gets made a lot, as does Mung Bean soup.  I also have a Kinh Tanh (Vietnamese Bible), and an English-Vietnamese dictionatry.  I’ve read The Boat by Nam Le and also interviewed him.  And I’m always on the lookout for Vietnamese kids books and folklore books.

That’s our little niche, what’s yours?

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Edited to add this vid clip. I felt so incomplete leaving this post without any media. For the most part, the recipe in this video is how I make Pho Bo, except I don’t use meatballs, nor have I ever ate anyone else’s soup that did. What we always do is slice a nice cut of beef paper thin, put the raw beef strips on the top of the noodles and everthing else, and when you pour the hot broth over it, the beef cooks. Very nice that way. Interesting point, btw, I char the ginger on my electric stove’s coils… so ghetto, I know, but it’s the only way I can do it.

YUM!

BTT ~ Undo that VooDoo You DIDN’T Do So Well

Booking Through Thursday

In the perfect follow-up to last week’s question, as suggested by C in DC:

Is there a book that you wish you could “unread”? One that  you disliked so thoroughly you wish you could just forget that you ever read it?

OMG… this is an easy one to answer.  The Gun Runner’s Daughter by Neil Gordon is one of those books that I wish I could unread.  There was a few hours of my life that I’ll never get back.  It’s one I read before I was blogging, but here’s my review of it from Library Thing:

She was quiet, thinking, for a long time, so long that he asked her what it was. And she answered, hesitantly: “They were beginners, you mean. Two years ago, when they hatched this thing. The problem is, if they really don’t have the will for this prosecution, they’re not going to come out and say that. They’re going to let you say it for them. By losing.”

The plot of the story is: Ronald Rosenthal sells weapons to the Muslims in Bosnia under the wink and nod of the Clinton administration. When a reporter breaks the news of the sale, the federal government arrests and prosecutes Rosenthal to cover their a–. Citizen of both the US and Israel, Rosenthal flees to Israel, where he is regarded as a folk hero. Dee Dennis, the lead prosecutor for the gov’t, realizes he had a fling with Rosenthal’s daughter, and when he talks to her to see if she’ll tell about it, they begin another tryst. Allison Rosenthal takes up the mantle of her namesake, Esther, to destroy the prosecutions case and set her father free.

Simply said: This book was absolutely horrid. The writing was thick and dense, with stops and starts that nearly made me carsick. The characters were shallow and unrelateable. Having never been a jet setting, ivy league, Washington insider, with a house in NY, DC, and Martha’s Vineyard, I really could not care less if the world burned around them. As much as I like crime novels and intrigue, this book not only couldn’t get off the ground, but it belongs 6 ft. under it.

The only good thing about this book is if there’s a blizzard and you have no heat, at least “The Gun Runner’s Daughter” is flammable.

I gave this book one star, and every once in a while I think maybe I was too harsh in my review, but then I just re-read the quote from the book and remember how much pain I was in reading it, and I decide I was more than fair on it.

How about you?  Any books you wish you could unread and get those hours of your life back?

BTT ~ Ah! To Be a Virgin Again!

Booking Through Thursday

What book would you love to be able to read again for the first time?

(Interestingly, I thought that I had thought this one up myself, but when I started scrolling through the Suggestions, found that Rebecca had suggested almost exactly this question a couple months ago. So, we both get credit!)

I love the thought of being able to have a fresh mind to read my favorite books again for the first time.  Sometimes, a book can be read a second time (or third, and more) and still appreciated and learned from, but to have that sense of not-knowing, and of biting your nails for the character, to experience the injustices and learn the lessons for the first time again would be a gift.

I would love to wipe my mind of the movie and book of To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee.   To NOT know the outcome of the court case and to feel Scout and Jem’s pain as they realize that justice and the law do not always run in the same pack would be great.  To wonder what Boo Radley was, a ghost or a man?  and to hide Dill under the bed, only to get caught by our father… well, It’d be like falling in love with your first love again.

Another book I’d love to read for the first time again would be The Book Thief by Markus Zusak.  It is so incredibly powerful and the poetry of it so beautiful, that I’m sure it can withstand re-reading again and again.  However, to feel that thrill, that wonder… that terror… to go on that journey again, new once more, would be an experience I’d just about be willing to pay money for.

How about you?  What books would you like to have a second “first-time” with?

BTT ~ Pop! Goes Dean Koontz

Which is worse?

Finding a book you love and then hating everything else you try by that author, or

Reading a completely disappointing book by an author that you love?

.

Yesterday one of my facebook friends sent me an invite to take one of those quizzes to see how much alike we were.  It was the kind where you have 10 phrases to put in order, most to least, starting with what I hated the most.  “Disappoint me” was top of the chart, even above “lie to me”, “ignore me” or “talk behind my back”.

At least with reading a book I love, then hating everything else by that author, I had that book one that I  loved.  It’s easier to take the rest of his or her writing, and I can just shrug it all off as a fluke.  As much as I love The Book Thief, I’m slightly worried that nothing else by Markus Zusak will be any good.  However, if I should happen to give another of his books a try and hate it, It will not sully my memory of The Book Thief.

On the other hand, if I pick up a book by an author I love, and hate it, there’s a sense that the author has failed me personally.  We have a relationship, of sorts, and he or she did not hold up his end of the bargain.  He or she has FAILED ME, and with every book I read thereafter I will hold this little uncertainty, a distrust, and wonder if he or she is going to screw me over again.

The worst of all, though, is that first experience reading an author and loving the whole book, every word is perfectly placed, his pace perfect, his story compelling, and you sit there and think “How on EARTH have I lived my life without reading this author!”  Then you get to the last three or four chapters, the last 10-15 pages, and he totally and completely bottoms out in epic-sized proportions.  And now, because of this, every book you touch by him you are leery to pick up, no matter how fascinating, intriguing or compelling the story line, because you wonder if he’s going to “screw you over” again.  AND he’s one of your bookfriend’s favorite authors, so she’s always sharing whatever one of his 147 just-out-in-paperback-because-he-has-a-new-release-ever-five-minutes-book she has just finished, and you look at every single one she thrusts at you to read, with the proclamation, “This is his best book yet!”, as if it were an adorable puppy you just watched get bitten by a foaming-at-the-mouth, crazy rabid squirrel and you know it’s only a matter of time until the big-eyed, heart-tugging pup turns on you.  But you finally relent and take her offering, however, no matter how good the writing is, you say to yourself, “Oh, sure it’s good now, but is he going to screw me over in the last few chapters like the other one?”  So you can’t enjoy it AT ALL because every page comes with that feeling you have as you turn the Jack-in-the-box crank as “the monkey though ’twas all in fun….” plunks out.  EVERY page you ever read by him again is saturated with the aftertaste of that massive  let down.

Dean Koontz, I’m talking to you. 

If you’d like to play along, or read other Booking Through Thursday answers, click the button above 🙂

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

After reading The Darkest Evening of the Year and loving it, loving it, loving it… then having it all turn to crap in the last three or four chapters, I feel like Buddy in this vid clip while reading From the Corner of His Eye.

BTT~ Kurt Vonnegut Would Fail a Course on Vonnegut

Question suggested by Barbara H:

My husband is not an avid reader, and he used to get very frustrated in college when teachers would insist discussing symbolism in a literary work when there didn’t seem to him to be any. He felt that writers often just wrote the story for the story’s sake and other people read symbolism into it.

It does seem like modern fiction just “tells the story” without much symbolism. Is symbolism an older literary device, like excessive description, that is not used much any more? Do you think there was as much symbolism as English teachers seemed to think? What are some examples of symbolism from your reading?

Honestly, I was a lot like your husband (and still am to a degree) when it came to symbolism. For me, though, I just wanted to read “the story” and not get bogged down by interpretation. I think it’s a device that is used as much today as in olden times. Some writers use it more than others, and some just “tell a story”.

As a writer myself, though, I can tell you I do use symbolism, on purpose even. Because I know the whole arc of the story, I may drop in something in chapter two that points to something in chapter ten. Also, I may use a scene at a restaurant, and the conversation at the table, as a symbol of society at large.

As for whether English Teachers driving students mad and to bibliophobia, I think they are just excited about the book, and years of teaching and re-reading the book with each class, each semester, has given them an insight. Maybe the symbolism wasn’t intended by the author, originally, but maybe it’s like dream interpretation. The author said it and meant it, but maybe unconciously.

Hmm… that begs the question: Do you think an author could learn a lot about him or herself by sitting in on a Lit class teaching his or her books?

Perfect video clip to answer this question (WARNING: there are 2 F-bombs right at the end, at 1:18 and 1:21)

BTT ~ Grab Me a Bit of the Lone Star

BookingThroughThursday

Yesterday, April 15th, was Tax Day here in the U.S., which means lots of lucky people will get refunds of over-paid taxes.

Whether you’re one of them or not, what would you spend an unexpected windfall on? Say … $50? How about $500?

(And, this is a reading meme, so by rights the answer should be book-related, but hey, feel free to go wild and splurge on anything you like.)

Let’s see… what would I do with an unexpected $50? Erm, that’s not a lot of money, so I’d probably take the kids out for a nice family dinner somewhere.

Now, if I had more money…. like $500, then I’d start thinking about maybe getting a TV and DVD player for each of the girls’ rooms. I am sick to DEATH of all the bickering over the television. The oldest constantly hogs it, and if she’s asked to allow someone else a turn, she huffs and sighs and very nearly creates a micro-hurricane inside the house.

Two TV’s (one in the living room, one in mybedroom), one computer, FOUR people…. Do the math.

Now, if I had a really big windfall, like one with all the EICs and mortgage credits and all that goody-good stuff… I would:

Buy the four of us Amtrak tickets and run away to Texas for a vacation with my mom. I’d take three or four books with me, ones I’d be sure my mom would enjoy, too. Buy new books about local information and history while there, then read them as we travelled back north.

I love Texas sunshine!

What would you do with some mad money?  Click Booking Through Thursday if you’d like to play along.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~