Thursday, July 24, 2008

Weekly Geeks 12: One more question

Joy Renee at asked:

I'm interested in the technique and art of storytelling itself so anything along that line would interest me.

My questions are for any or all of the fiction titles in your list:

How was Point-of-View handled?

Twilight: The story is told exclusively through Bella

On, Off: Third-person multiple, through a variety of characters

Melusine: The narrative alternates between Mildmay and Felix

Was there a single POV character or did it alternate among two or more.

Twilight: Single narrative

On, Off: Multiple narrative

Melusine: Dual narrative

Was it always clear whose eyes and mind were filtering? Yes, for all three; and Melusine had sub-heads when the narrative switched

How was language used to set tone and mood?

Twilight: The mood was filtered mostly through Bella's perceptions _ of the town she's just moved to, Forks, which is grey and gloomy most of the time, so the reader's moods become Bella's moods

On, Off: The language is that of a detective novel; with a strong narrative that draws you into the story

Melusine: The language here is quite lush, as it's set in a Renaissance-style world and is used to great effect, especially the sense of a complete language. Although a glossary or an appendix would have been useful

Was the prose dense or spare?

Twilight: Fairly dense

On, Off: Mostly spare, with dense passages

Melusine: Pretty dense

Were sentences generally simple or complex?

Twilight: Generally simple

On, Off: Generally simple

Melusine: Same :)

How was metaphor used?

Twilight: The gloom hanging over Forks is a metaphor for the seeming-hopelessness of Bella and Edward's situation

On, Off: Delmonico's straight-shooting contrasts with the chaos of the murders and the ''Hug'' is a metaphor for the skill and precision of the murderer

Melusine: Felix's madness is a metaphor for the corruption in Melusine

Were associations fresh or did they tend toward cliche?

Twilight: A mix of both

On, Off: Fresh, from memory

Melusine: Fresh

Did they add to your understanding of the theme?

Twilight: The theme was pretty clear anyway

On, Off: Yes

Melusine: Yes

What was the central or organizing theme?

Twilight: Impossible love

On, Off: New ways of looking at old things

Melusine: Saving yourself

Wow, Joy, some really thought-provoking questions! Thanks :)

How does the title relate to the story?

Was it fitting?

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Weekly Geeks 12: Batch the third

More questions! :)

Chris at asked:

I'm the only person on the planet to have not read Twilight. What made you pick it up?

I think I was the second-last person on the planet not to have read it! Um ... I saw bits and pieces about it here and there, without really being aware of its juggernaut-ness to start with. Then I watched the film trailer. Then it kept popping up on blogs and it seemed to be one of those serendipitous things. So I gave in to fate. :) asked:

Recently I had my arm twisted into reading Twilight and found it to be an enjoyable experience and I can definitely see why it's so popular. However, now being a week removed from the text in retrospect I do feel Meyer depended too much on the emotions of the situation, to the point I feel as if she uses it as a crutch. How did you feel about Meyer's use of emotion and do you think the book should have been as long?

I think the book could have used a bit more editing, and nothing would have been lost. As for the emotional content _ I don't know. I didn't feel manipulated, which I like, and technically speaking both Bella and Edward are teenagers, which is a pretty emotive state, so that aspect of it didn't bother me. :)

Monday, July 21, 2008

Weekly Geeks: More questions

Yay, more questions! This is fun!
My favorite question is "What was or were the reasons you chose to read this book at this time?" and you can't say it was for a challenge. Why THIS specific book?
I'm going to assume she means all three books I've listed in my original post:
On, Off: because I read a feature about Colleen' McCullough's process in writing the book, and that intrigued me.
Twilight: Curiosity, pure and simple. Plus, I like vampire stories.
Melusine: I stumbled across this by accident here: and really liked the sound of it. :)
I have a question about Melusine - I have seen this series often but shelved under both romance and sci-fi/fantasy, what genre would you say it is stronger in?
I'd say its strongest in fantasy, with a little romance on the side. Frankly, some of that side of it is quite brutal and I'd be surprised to see it shelved under romance.
In your review you said you are looking forward to book 2 - when reading a series if you do not enjoy the second book, will you give the third a chance to redeem the series?
I would say it would depend on how much I didn't enjoy the second book. If I actively hated it, I probably wouldn't finish the series. But if I was more "meh" about it, I probably would. I like things in my head to be tidy.
And Dewey at asked:
You said Delmonico was a likeable character, so I wonder: what did you like about him?
I liked his normality. No skeletons in the closet, no alcoholism, no demons distracting him from the job. He's a straight arrow with a particular gift for police work. It was refreshing. :)

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Weekly Geeks 12 ... the remix

I changed my mind.
Instead of doing a post at the end of the week, I'm going to answer the questions in batches _ provided I get more than four!

So here's my first batch of Q & A:

I saw that your feelings were lukewarm for Twilight. Do you think that was because of the hype? Do you think you'll read the others in the series or not so much? Would it make you feel better knowing that Edward isn't in New Moon for most of the time?

I don't think my feelings were ambivalent because of the hype. I think my feelings were ambivalent because I only mildly enjoyed the book. I can see why it's so popular, but I'm not really feeling the story.

I probably will read the rest in the series, because I like to (at least try) to finish the things that I start.

I'm even more interested in New Moon knowing that Edward isn't in it a lot.

Were you surprised that the author of The Thorn Birds and other epic fiction novels would turn to writing detective fiction? I was, but good on her for branching out and trying different stuff!

Actually, yes I was, although I haven't read The Thorn Birds. I did see the mini-series, back in the day ...

I love it when genre authors branch out and pull of something completely unexpected.

I enjoyed Twilight. However, I loathed New Moon but that's mainly because I cried through 75% of it. It was really well written. I recently read an article in the New York Times (it's posted at my site) about how novels in the young adult genre are starting to influence the relationships of the younger generation. The author also mentioned that it was unusual to see a guy being the responsible one when it came to sex. What are you thoughts on the reversal of roles between Edward and Bella in regards to their psychical relationship?

Ooh, that's an interesting question. To be honest, I hadn't thought about it, but you're right. It is a role reversal. On the other hand ... it was creepy/stalkerish the way Edward was watching Bella every night before they started going out. I liked Bella a lot. Certainly a lot more than Edward, and I couldn't help thinking she could do better than some moody vampire. So I kind of want to say good for Bella, because the only reason Edward is restraining himself, is so that he doesn't drain all of her blood, rather than from some strongly held moral code.

Last (for now only, hopefully ... love me! love me! love meeeeeeee!!!!)

I can't believe my beloved Thorn Birds has written something as chilling as that!! Were you surprised? Have you read Thorn Birds? If someone didn't normally read detective/crime stories, would you still recommend this one to them?*smiles*

I was surprised. I haven't read The Thorn Birds but I HAVE read her Masters of Rome series, which is very, very, very good.

Um ... On, Off is pretty graphic, and squeam-inducing. So I wouldn't necessarily recommend it as a jumping-off point if you're not used to the gore that can be inherent in detective fiction. Otherwise, yes, I'd recommend it. :)

Okay. Batch one questions answered.
Hopefully not my only batch this week (love me ... love me ... love meeeeeeeee)

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Weekly Geeks 12

This week, Dewey has challenged us with a modification of last week's Weekly Geek:

1. In your blog, list any books you’ve read but haven’t reviewed yet. If you’re all caught up on reviews, maybe you could try this with whatever book(s) you finish this week.
2. Ask your readers to ask you questions about any of the books they want. In your comments, not in their blogs. Most likely, people who will ask you questions will be people who have read one of the books or know something about it because they want to read it.
3. Later, take whichever questions you like from your comments and use them in a post about each book. I’ll probably turn mine into a sort of interview-review. Link to each blogger next to that blogger’s question(s).
4. Visit other Weekly Geeks and ask them some questions!

Okay. I just uploaded reviews yesterday and I'm not likely to get the book I'm reading finished before the end of this week. So I'm tweaking it slightly: ask me questions on any of these three books that I published reviews of yesterday:
Twilight by Stephenie Meyer

Melusine by Sarah Monette
On, Off by Colleen McCullough
They're in these posts:
So. Ask me questions in the comments and at the end of the week I'll compile them into a post; probably on Friday my time (NZ) as my Saturdays seem to be quite busy at the moment. :)

Edited to add:
Since I only have three recent reviews, feel free to rummage in my bookshelves (archives) and ask me questions about any of the other books I've reviewed.

And, as always Weekly Geeks _ live long, and prosper!

Friday, July 18, 2008


Twilight by Stephenie Meyer (replaced The Monsters of Templeton for the US for Orbus Terrarum; read for Herding Cats)

Is there really anything left to say about this juggernaut? Suddenly it seems to be everywhere. I don't usually read books because of hype _ four of the Harry Potter books had come out before I read the first one _ but I was very curious about this after having seen it all over the place.
Now, I'm 37, so I admit I'm not really the target audience for Twilight. Having said that, I did like it. I didn't love it, but I did like it. I liked Bella; I liked the fact she's not portrayed as a typical teenager, and she's original and quirkly.
Sorry, but I couldn't stand Edward. That moodiness would have been enough to make me smack him upside of the head. I can't be doing with moody men. And the endless description of the weather in Forks. I get that the vampires live there because it's cloudy and rainy most of the time and they sparkle (literally) in the sun but did we need to be reminded over and over and over again of it? Really?
Apart from that, I liked Edward's family. I liked the sense of this group of outsiders coming together and forming such a strong bond.
Some of the action sequences were a bit cliched; especially the Bella-in-danger-in-a-strange town one where Edward "just happens" to save her.
So Twilight _ good, but not great.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Orbus Terrarum

This is part of the Orbus Terrarum challenge; McCullough is from Australia :)

On, Off by Colleen McCullough

It's 1965, and the torsos of young girls have started showing up. They're all about 16, mixed-race girls from close, loving families. This is a time before profiling, before the phrase serial killer has been coined and requires some painstaking work to get to the bottom of it.
That is the job of police detective Carmine Delmonico, who finds himself dealing with an entirely new kind of killer, and he realises he's stumbling around in the dark a lot of the time as he tries to figure out the why of what's happening.
I've read some of the reviews on Amazon that were pretty condemning, but I really liked On, Off. I liked the way it laid the groundwork for Delmonico as he works out how to find this new kind of killer, and the reveal wasn't a big "boom" but a logical progression. Not to say there wasn't a boom _ there was, right at the end of the book.

It was easy to read, and refreshing, quite frankly, to read a detective novel that didn't throw a male/female team together who start out hating each other yadda yadda yadda ....
Delmonico is a likable leading man and I'd be happy if there were a whole series of books featuring him.

Melusine by Sarah Monette

Melusine by Sarah Monette

Felix Harrowgate is a wizard, living a life of privilege in the Mirador, the magic centre for the city of Melusine. Felix, however, has a very deep dark secret, and when that's exposed, his life goes downhill very quickly.
His former lover, tormentor and mentor Malkor, takes advantage of Felix and uses him to break the Virtu _ the centre of magic for the Mirador.
Meanwhile, in the stews of the city, Mildmay the Fox _ a cat burglar _ is having one bad day after another.
The book is narrated by Felix and Mildmay in alternating sections and is alternately brutal, funny, violent and sad _ especially when Felix is right down the bottom of the well of his madness that Malkor has caused.
I loved the worldbuilding of Melusine, and the language used, which is a pastiche of Latin-based languages that really works. It has the feel of a Renaissance city, from the privileged few to the desperately poor, with a very strong sense of its own history.

So far my favourite character is Mildmay _ he's very direct in what he thinks and says and knows _ certainly a lot better than Felix although some of that might be slightly unfair _ how to make the best of a bad situation.
I'm looking forward to reading book two: The Virtu. :)

Escapist fiction at its best.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Wait _ what??

Wait _ what?
You know how you just … forget things sometimes? Your keys, your mother’s name, your favourite movie ever?
I forgot that I had joined the Herding Cats reading challenge. And I’m all red-faced and such, because the Weekly Geeks a few weeks ago was get your reading challenges sorted and I didn’t do that either.
I blame work. I really do. I haven’t had concentration worth a damn since the big announcement and I’m surprised I can still walk and talk at the same time.

Anyway. This is all leading somewhere, I promise. I suddenly remembered the Herding Cats challenge. And the Arthurian Challenge. And the Orbus Terrarum Challenge. And the Southern Challenge. And … I need to go lie down for a while.

BUT … I accidentally read Twilight by Stephenie Meyer, forgetting it was on my challenge list. AND … I’m putting it on my Orbus Terrarum list, because Meyer is American, and I’m not and that’ll be two books for that challenge, and I have a feeling that if I don’t cheat a little bit, I won’t get that challenge finished. Plus also, I threw The Monsters of Templeton against the wall and didn't finish it, so I needed to replace that one anyway. :)

I haven’t written any reviews, because my mind is taken up with Evil Thoughts about the company that owns the paper where I work. But … I’m tired of letting them rent my headspace for nothing.

So this week reviews will be forthcoming of
Twilight (Herding Cats; Orbus Terrarum) and On, Off (Orbus Terrarum).

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Weekly Geeks 11

If there were an award for Worst Book Blogger, I’d be in the top five. I’ve been reading and surfing, staring at my blog for a week, and not doing anything. Anyway. Enough of that. On to the Weekly Geeks.
Dewey has posed an interesting challenge this week:

This week’s WG theme is to help me move! No, you don’t have to come over with your pick up truck. No one’s back will be injured.
Here’s the thing. I have a big pile of books waiting to be reviewed. I have less than two weeks before I move. I do not want to have to pack and move all these books. So what I would like is some help getting these books reviewed, so that I can post my reviews and get rid of the books in giveaways or by returning them to the library.
How can you help? Please choose one of the books below and ask me three questions about it in your blog. You might even invite your readers who have read the same book(s) to answer the questions themselves in your comments.

I’ve chosen Wizard of Earthsea by Urusla K. Le Guin, because I’ve always wanted to read it.
1): What would you tell me about the book that would make me want to rush out and get my hands on it?
2): Who was your favourite character, and why?
3): What didn’t you like about the book?
Simple questions, I know, but I’m not very insightful at the moment.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Please look over there ...

... while we detonate a nuclear bomb over here.
I've done the Weekly Geek but I haven't been blogging much this week; my heart hasn't really been in it _ or anything.
My job dropped a massive bombshell on us on Monday. I work as a layout/copy sub-editor for a newspaper for the Fairfax Group and they're laying a lot of us off. They're creating subbing hubs, or as they like to call them "centres of excellence" (I have another name for them) in Christchurch and Wellington, where most of the work for the newspapers will be done. Local papers will still be responsible for local content.
We have about 22 sub-editors spread across three departments: Communities, which is responsible for producing five papers, features, and the daily. We're losing a big chunk of those and are going down to 9.3 Fulltime Equivalent sub-editors. Which the powers that be keep telling us they're very excited about.
Big yip.
I'm the main wage-earner for my family. We're both incredibly bad with money and therefore have debt for miles. So I can't really afford to lose my job. We have until July 16 to make a submission telling them what we think (although if I told them what I really think, I'd be carted off) and then by the end of July we'll know what's going to happen.

Weekly Geeks 10

This week’s Weekly Geeks theme is to talk about the magazines we read. In order to get you started, I prepared a little magazines meme, but feel free to take it further if you want. I also think it’d be great if you displayed images of the covers of your favorite magazines.
For each magazine you want to talk about, here are a few questions. Answer as many or as few as you want.
1. Name of magazine.
I regularly read Empire magazine: and I do cross stitch, which can be an expensive hobby in this part of the world, so I get most of the charts I do from magazines; I used to buy a lot of different ones, but I've winnowed that down to two main ones:
Cross Stitch Gold:
Cross Stitch Collection:
2. Do you subscribe or just buy it now and then?
I don't subscribe, and they're all monthly magazines, so I just pick them up when I see them, funds allowing.
3. What’s your favorite regular feature in the magazine?
I like The Grill in Empire and the article where they quiz actors and directors about their own movies. The other two _ the patterns. :)
4. What do you think your interest in this magazine says about you?
That I like movies, and cross stitching
5. How long have you been reading this magazine?
No idea
6. Is there any unique or quirky aspect to the magazine that keeps you reading?
Can't think of anything right now.