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Oh my gosh! Last prompt! The book meme went so fast... Ah, book meme, we hardly knew ye.

What I'll probably do next week is open up a post for more prompts -- about books, about publishing, about whatever. So think about what you want me to write about and/or discussions you want me to host!

For now...

Day 30 - What book are you reading right now?

In the upstairs bathroom, where I go only to take a shower or bath, is 206 Bones by Kathy Reichs -- I'm about halfway through, I guess, but I only read a few pages every couple of days, and I don't feel any desire to read more than that;

downstairs is The Selected Journals of L.M. Montgomery, Vol. 1: 1889-1910 -- she reminds me of no one so much as my darling [ profile] sarahtales;

in the living room is Faithful Place by Tana French -- almost finished!;

by my bed is Health At Every Size: The Surprising Truth About Your Weight by Linda Bacon and Black Hills by Nora Roberts -- both of these I am almost finished with, so.

(I have about 25 pages left in Burning Lamp by Amanda Quick, but since I've had 25 pages left since April, and the idea of picking that book back up again makes me cringe because it is so so so boring, probably I will never finish it.)

I've set all of these aside today, though, because I want to finish Woman on the Edge of Time by Marge Piercy -- and tomorrow, once my mom is finished with her copy, I'll be reading Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins!!

Other days of the book meme )
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Hi! I'm super late tonight, I know -- but I spent all morning writing (since Monday, I've written almost 30,000 words on the sequel to Salt and Silver), and then all afternoon and evening with the wonderful [personal profile] dianafox, talking about books and watching fanvids. (Um, why didn't anyone tell me Legend of the Seeker had a bunch of hot women in leather wielding sharp objects? I will be getting that from Netflix immediately. This is... not the first time a fanvid has convinced me to consume media. That's all I'm saying.)

On the train on the way into Manhattan and again on the way back, I read Woman on the Edge of Time by Marge Piercy and. Holy. Shit. I am about halfway through (I just finished the funeral scene in the middle) and I can't wait to read more. I'm glad, though, that I didn't pick up the book before I felt ready -- there's a lot of violence, racism, sexism... A lot of sad shit, a lot of abuse, a lot of mistreatment of patients in mental hospitals. It's really incredibly upsetting to read, especially because the narrator is, most of the time, really matter-of-fact. This is life, this is the way it is, no point in getting angry or upset. And I get that, but that doesn't make it hurt less to see/read.

I recommend the book, though. I'm not even going to complain about all the incorrect/missing punctuation! That's how good it is!

Anyway, I am almost positive that you know what my answer for today's prompt is going to be...

Day 29 - Saddest character death OR best/most satisfying character death (or both!)

MATTHEW CUTHBERT. Need I say more? Okay, I will: It continues to be the saddest character death for me, because I read the Anne books when I was so young that I imprinted on it. Only a few people in my life that far had died -- Matthew's death was the first time someone I cared about who was important to me died. It hit me pretty hard.

Sometimes, when I am rereading, I skip over those bits.

Only one more prompt! I'm going to miss doing this every day, although it will be nice to take a rest from blog posts and focus on the SSalt and Silver sequel for a while.

Other days of the book meme )
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You know what I forgot yesterday? ASSASSINS. If an assassin is the protagonist of the novel, I will read it. Bonus points if:
1. The assassin is a woman.
2. The assassin is a lesbian.
3. The assassin has an affair with a secret agent.
4. The assassin gets a happy ending.

A million bonus points if all four of those things happen.

I have to be honest, though -- my favorite books about an assassin are still C. T. Adams and Cathy Clamp's book Hunter's Moon and its sequel Moon's Web, about the Mafia hit man who gets turned into a werewolf. Both are romance novels, and both are told from the first person point of view of Tony, who is the hero. Full disclosure: I acquired and edited both books for the Tor Romance imprint back in 2003/2004. In fact, Hunter's Moon was one of the first books I acquired for the imprint, right at the beginning when we were first going forward.

(One of the other first books acquired? The Challenge by Susan Kearney, which has also stood the test of time -- I'm actually rereading it right now and remembering again just how much I love it. What's it about? Why, it's a romance novel about a female Secret Service agent who gets shot protecting the president -- and pulled forward in time to compete in an intergalactic challenge. Yes, it's awesome.)

Day 28 - First favorite book or series obsession

For once, my answer is not the Anne books -- the first series I can remember being really taken with was actually Nancy Drew. When I was five years old, my kindergarten class went on a "field trip" to the school library, and I pulled a Nancy Drew book off the shelf. I think at that point I wasn't reading books with quite that much text per page at home (although I'd already started series like the Bobbsey Twins and the Boxcar Children), so Nancy Drew was new to me. I don't know why my teacher let me take that book out of the library -- maybe she thought it was funny? Maybe she thought she was just indulging me? But I read the whole thing. The mystery, I remember, was sort of boring -- but it kicked off a long obsession with Turkey. For many years, I told people that I was going to move to Constantinople when I grew up. When I learned that Constantinople was now called Instanbul, I immediately lost interest. Hah!

That was The Mysterious Mannequin -- with the "Oriental" (cringe) rug with the messages for Nancy's father woven into it in code. I thought that was the most amazing thing ever when I was five -- and, honestly, it's still really cool.

Other days of the book meme )
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Yesterday I acquired rhubarb, and last night I chopped it up -- most of it went into the freezer to store while I wait for my pectin to arrive. (Mail ordering pectin. I can't believe it's come to this, that grocery stores no longer stock it. What a world.) I took this opportunity to practice my brunoise skill. Brunoise is a type of cut -- first you julienne whatever you're cutting, which means to cut it into sticks that are 1mm x 1mm. This itself is incredibly difficult. Then, to brunoise, you cut the sticks into a cube that is 1mm square.

I am not very good at this, but it's fun to practice. (It is fun for me any time I get to wield a sharp knife and chop things.)

Some of the rhubarb indeed went into the freezer to await the pectin that will turn it into jam (well, strawberries will also be involved); the rest of it, though, went into a bowl with cornstarch and sugar and powdered ginger, and was baked into Smitten Kitchen's rhubarb coffee cake, which was a big hit when I served it to guests this morning. That recipe calls for the rhubarb to be cut into 1" slices -- but I did that when I made this recipe for my birthday, and found that such large pieces of rhubarb stay too tart/sour, and get a little too stringy and slimy for my taste. The rhubarb I cut into an imperfect brunoise was exactly right, though -- a little tart, a little sweet, not at all stringy or slimy. Highly recommended.

Day 27 - If a book contains ______, you will always read it (and a book or books that contain it)!

This might be my favorite prompt in the whole meme. Here are things I love in books:
  • Lesbian detectives! Bonus points if she falls in love with a reformed criminal (a la fandom's version of White Collar). (Oh, gosh, if White Collar was about a lesbian FBI agent with a significant other and they ended up in a poly relationship with a female con artist, I would... well, I'd be thrilled, but also shocked as hell, since that would never end up on TV!)
  • Mossad agents. Bonus points if they are hunting down Nazi WWII criminals.
  • CIA agents. Bonus points if they team up with the Mossad to hunt down Nazi WWII criminals. (Triple bonus points if the CIA agent and the Mossad agent are lesbians who fall in love.)
  • Diners. I love diners. I want every book to be set in a diner. Okay, maybe not every book -- but I will definitely pick up almost any book if the main character owns a diner, works in a diner, or frequents a diner so often it's mentioned in the cover copy. (A million bonus points if the book is about a lesbian CIA agent and a lesbian Mossad agent who fall in love while catching Nazi criminals while... running a diner? Perhaps time travel is involved so there can be a WWII setting...)

Okay, looking at this list, I realize it is much more of a wish list than a list of things that books I've read have actually contained/been about. I mean, I have never read a book with a lesbian CIA or Mossad agent, much less one in which they fall in love while running a diner and hunting Nazi criminals. If you have, please share the title!

So here's a new, real list:

  • YA set during WWII. I read a lot of this when I was growing up, thanks to the huge library at my shul. My favorites in this genre include:

  • Books with diners in them. Seriously! Like Keeping the Moon by Sarah Dessen -- or, oh! Salt and Silver by Anna Katherine!! (Haha.) (But seriously.)

  • Secret agents. CIA, FBI, Secret Service, Mossad, MI5, MI6, I don't care. Give me a secret agent -- particularly with a romance. I'll read action-adventure books, too, but I am much more discriminating about the action-adventure/espionage books than I am about romance novels. I will read any romance novel with a secret agent romance, especially if the romance is cross-agency or happens on a mission. My favorite is probably All the Queen's Men by Linda Howard -- yes, please! Or Shining Through by Susan Isaacs, which incorporates many of my favorite things, including spies, fighting Nazis, a WWII setting, and a heroine from New York City. Thumbs up! I actually read Shining Through at least four times when I was nine years old. It is very important that neither of the secret agents die at the end of the book, and that they do end up together, not fighting or betraying each other! They don't need to get that "traditional romance novel happily ever after" (which I often loathe anyway!) -- I just want them to be semi-committed to a relationship (polyamorous is fine, monogamy not required!) with each other and not be killing each other or killed themselves. You see? I don't want a lot!

  • Dystopia. Although... I am not sure this really belongs here. I will read any fanfic that has a dystopian setting (especially if it's set in the near-future or in the present with a slightly alternate history), and I will watch any dystopian TV show for at least a few episodes, but those, to me, require less of an investment than novels. And dystopian novels, as we all know, can be very very very awful. So I am partial to dystopian novels, but I will not read just any dystopian novel. However, obviously, if you write a dystopian novel about a lesbian Mossad agent fighting Nazis and falling in love with a lesbian CIA agent whilst running or spending a lot of time in a diner, I will absolutely read it with no hesitation.

Your turn! What gets you going every time? Any book recommendations for me?

Other days of the book meme )
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Ah, a new week. If you missed it yesterday, I wrote a blog post at the Anna Katherine blog about the way impostor syndrome can manifest as writers block. That's here.

Today: book meme!

Day 26 - OMG WTF? OR most irritating/awful/annoying book ending

The most irritating book endings are the epilogues in romance novels that take place about a year after the book ends, in which the heroine is pregnant/about to give birth or has just given birth and she and the hero are deliriously happy and never fight and everything is perfect in their lives. Even books I otherwise love can have this problem (at least two Linda Howard books that I like do this). For a while, it was practically de rigueur in romance novels to have this "proof" of happily ever after in the form of an epilogue with a pregnant and married heroine.

Not every happily ever after has to or should look like that, and it is a huge relief to me that this is no longer standard practice for romance.

Other days of the book meme )
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Remember when my dear friend [ profile] doll_revolution sent me rhubarb for my birthday? I used it to make a rhubarb coffee cake for my birthday cake, which was delicious -- and I chopped the leftover pound of rhubarb into 1" pieces and froze them in hopes of making jam. Well, I have the recipe for jam that I want (which is actually a rhubarb-strawberry jam originally made by [ profile] _artemis's mom), and I have the rhubarb -- and after a trip to the hardware store, I have the 4 oz jars I wanted, as well as the tongs specially made for jam-making.

Now I just need pectin. I have been to every single store in my zip code, and more than a few outside it, and no one sells pectin. I am resigned to having to order it off the internet. But then! Then I will have jam, and nothing will stop me!

Day 25 - Any five books from your "to be read" stack

Ooh, my TBR stack is huge. Plus I am currently in the middle of five different books. I never used to read more than one book at one time, but right now I have a book in the upstairs bathroom, a book in the downstairs bathroom, a book in my bag, and two books by my bed.

Okay, five books from my TBR stack (in no order), annotated:

  • Rihannsu: The Bloodwing Voyages by Diane Duane -- technically this is three books in a collection, but whatever. All bound in one paperback = one book. I've had this for months already, but I've never started it. It's so huge that it will be difficult for me to hold in my hands, much less tote around. Eventually I'm going to read it, though.

  • Woman on the Edge of Time by Marge Piercy -- this was recommended to me by a dear friend who knows the sort of thing I like, and it looks pretty amazing just from the summary (30-something Chicana woman committed to a mental institution is actually not crazy at all and is talking to two different futures -- one beautiful and one horrifying!). I am super excited to read it -- it's what I'm bringing with me on the subway the next time I go into Manhattan. (From where I live now to Union Square is about 200 pages of a paperback, so one round trip = one book.)

  • The Collector by John Fowles -- this was recommended to me as something I'd enjoy since I like Criminal Minds. I admit, I've started it a couple of times and then shunted it right back to my TBR pile. It seems sort of... masturbatory. And they didn't have shows like Criminal Minds in 1963, so I can see how a book like this would be shocking or whatever to the average person, but I'm sort of like, "Oh, it's a book about a serial killer with OCD who's kidnapped a girl to keep? Ho-hum." Eventually I'm going to read it, though.

  • Legacy of Ashes: The History of the CIA by Tim Weiner -- I love stuff about spies and the CIA, what do you want from me? It's totally bulletproof -- put a character in the CIA and I will read your book. (Especially if it's a romance novel. What? It's good to know yourself, right?) I'll watch any movie about the CIA, too; it is no surprise that I've seen The Good Shepherd a whole bunch of times. (Well, I'd've seen it anyway -- Alec Baldwin in a dapper hat and suit? Yes please!) Anyway, I'm looking forward to this one, but it seems like it will be a bit of a slog, so I'm sort of putting it off until I can properly sit down with it and devote some time without having to stop after an hour or two to do work or cook supper or whatever.

  • The Odessa File by Frederick Forsyth -- I've read this before and loved it and don't remember anything about it. I mean, I must have been... nine? Ten? I'm looking forward to reading this again and remembering it this time (I hope!). Fighting the Nazis, here I come!!

Plus, two books from my virtual pile of pre-orders:

  • Grace by Elizabeth Scott -- by far this is the book I am most excited about this year. The eponymous main character is a suicide bomber! Who runs away! Dreaming of freedom! And it's set in a dystopian near future! And it's by Elizabeth freaking Scott, one of my top three YA authors of all time!!!!! Um, give it to me now. (You cannot hear it, but my breath has sped up just typing these words!)

  • Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins -- yeah, yeah, I didn't really like the first two books in the Hunger Games trilogy. So what? I still want to see where she's going with it and what she's going to do and I want to know what is actually going to happen in the canon! Plus the whole internet is reading it, and I don't want to be accidentally spoiled. Blah blah blah. Team Haymitch! (Well, and Team Cinna!!)

Okay, you guys! Now you: what is on your TBR list/pile? Even if you aren't doing the other prompts of the book meme, you should drop by and talk to me (and the other people reading this!) about what you're going to read soon -- and why!

Other days of the book meme )
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Hey, does anyone want a Dreamwidth invite code? I have quite a few that I'm willing to give away to anyone who'd like one. I personally prefer Dreamwidth to LJ, although I know not everyone feels that way. If you want to give Dreamwidth a shot, just let me know. You can email me at annagenoese at gmail if you don't want to comment.

Day 24 - Best quote from a novel

"He was all for fusion or even sunshine, whatever warmed the heart." --Candas Jane Dorsey, A Paradigm of Earth

Here's a story about this quote. I loved it from the first moment I read it, and when in my 20s, I went often to bars that had writing on their bathroom walls -- usually stupid crap like, "ALISA LOVES GREG" or whatever. So, for many years, I wrote that quote on the walls of bar bathrooms.

Last year I was trying to look it up on the internet to find out what the proper punctuation of it was (because, honestly, the above punctuation is from the book, but were I the author or copyeditor or editor, I'd've punctuated that sentence much differently; that's just me, though). What I found was a BBS for finding lost poetry quotations where someone had asked what poem that quote was from.

I made a new "Found!" post, explaining that while Candas Jane Dorsey is indeed a poet, this particular quote is from a novel. I also private-messaged the original poster, just in case zie hadn't seen the new post. When zie PM'd me back, I ended up asking where zie'd seen the quote.

A friend of zie's found it on a bathroom wall in New York City and wrote it down, thinking zie would like it.

Zie added that since then, zie'd started writing lines from poetry on bathroom walls, too.


Here is a picture of me writing that quote on the wall of one of the bathrooms at my favorite bar, Angels & Kings, in January 2008.

Now you: what's your favorite quote from a novel? Why?

Other days of the book meme )
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Day 23 - Most annoying character ever

Wow, this is hard. I would probably have to say Holden Caulfield... or Sal Paradise. Like I've said, I can recognize the historical importance of books like The Catcher in the Rye and On the Road -- but I don't think they're amazing now, and their narrators are so irritating, so ridiculous, so self-obsessed...

I read both books when I was a kid (maybe I was twelve or thirteen) on the recommendation of adults in my life, and (I know I've said this before!) it took me a long time before I could trust those adults again. Did they really think I would like those characters? Did they think I was like those characters? Did they think I would learn something from those books, or find something of my life in them?

(They should have given me Ginsberg if they wanted me to find something of my life in writings from what, to me, at twelve, was "a long time ago" -- now, Ginsberg I could relate to! But I didn't read him until I was fourteen and "Howl" was referenced in a pop song I liked.)

Anyway, those characters. Yes. Most annoying!

How about you guys? Don't let your energy flag -- this is the home stretch, and talking about books is awesome! What character do you find the most annoying of all time?

Other days of the book meme )
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This morning I had to go to the police station (not for anything serious). I'd never been inside a proper police station before. Opposite my old apartment in Bushwick was a really nice, brand new police station -- super clean, always full of cheerful traffic cops. I'd been in just once (something about cars in the neighborhood), and was super surprised by how clean and nice-smelling and big and organized it was.

Well. The station for the precinct I live in now (and grew up in) is totally opposite! It was empty (okay, it was 6:30 AM, but still! Only two cops!), the cop I talked to was practically asleep at his desk, and everything was dingy or outright dirty, and the whole place smelled terrible.

I feel like I just had a really authentic New York City experience! It was extremely exciting.

Day 22 - Favorite non-sexual relationship (including asexual romantic relationships)

As you may have noticed, I love stories about female friendships -- especially ones that are not perfect/boring. I'm often disappointed -- and that's not limited to books. All media struggles with women.

I know you all are expecting me to say Anne and Diana from the Anne books -- and, yes, I loved their relationship. Right up until Diana started dating Fred, and her letters were full of him, and Anne was alone. Remember when Billy Andrews proposed to Anne through his sister Jane? (Uh, spoiler!) Anne was in bed that night, thinking about how she wished she could tell someone -- but the only person she could tell was Diana, her best friend. But she couldn't trust Diana to keep her secrets anymore, because Diana had started telling everything to Fred. UGH.

Diana had been a great character, I think, and a really good foil for Anne -- but once she started with Fred, not only did she turn into a terrible friend, but a really boring character, spending most of the time talking about people getting married, and how wonderful baby Fred was. Which, perhaps, betrays more of the author than she'd meant. Either way, it was a petering off of their friendship in a way that depressed the hell out of me (and, frankly, is too much like real life for me to comfortably re-read those scenes in Anne of the Island).

An author who does really great female friendships is Jennifer Crusie. As I said yesterday on Twitter, I have my issues with the book Fast Women, but the female friendships are stellar. The depiction of the relationships between Nell, Suze, and Margie is just awesome. They are wonderful and weird and flawed and caring. Thumbs up.

Other days of the book meme )
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It's only 8 a.m., but my sister and I are watching Nigella make pistachio fudge, and I have a craving now! Not for fudge, but for pistachios. Mmmm, salty green pistachios. Or salty dyed-red pistachios! In the shells, preferably. Not quite a typical breakfast, I don't think, but I may have to buy some to nosh on later in the week.

Day 21 - Favorite romantic/sexual relationship (including asexual romantic relationships)

Oooh, I don't know! I don't tend to get attached to relationships in fiction -- I usually get attached to a character, and by extension I enjoy that character's relationships.

As I've said before, I was convinced of the romantic relationship between Anne and Diana in the Anne books -- but that was pretty quashed by Diana marrying Fred. I always thought Anne ended up with Gilbert just because Diana had ended up with Fred, so what was left? (Miss Stacy! But, you know, I don't think L.M. Montgomery was writing the queer version of a Harlequin Presents novel!)

So I think I'm going to go with Min and Cal from Bet Me by Jennifer Crusie. I like both characters and I like their romantic relationship -- and I like that despite the huge misunderstanding plot arc, when it really matters, they don't misunderstand each other or talk around the issues. I think she writes adult relationships really well sometimes, and this is one of those times.

I love that book a lot, and reread it a few times a year, just for comfort -- Min's arc of learning to cook chicken marsala and being okay with eating carbs and ice cream and hot dogs makes me really happy. And the way she and Cal both love her quirky shoes is awesome.

Other days of the book meme )
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I am watching Nigella make "turkish delight syllabub" -- sugar, Cointreau, lemon juice, cream, orange flower water, and rose water -- which she dollops into glasses and tops with pistachio nuts. I can't decide if I think it would be absolutely delicious, or terribly gross.

Day 20 - Favorite kiss

Okay, my favorite kiss from any book ever is a very specific kiss from After the Night by Linda Howard. I did some double checking, and this book, like Shades of Twilight, came out when I was fifteen (and was just reprinted in 1997, hence my earlier confusion). After the Night is about a woman who, as a young girl, was run out of town (with her family) by the adult man she had a crush on, who was the son of the man her mother was having an affair with. Years later, she decides she wants to move back to that small town -- which, frankly, is never quite explained to my satisfaction, since she never liked anyone there and they never liked her, but when I was fifteen, I hand-waved it -- and she keeps running into that guy, and, of course, because this is a romance novel, they fall into tragic love that nevertheless gets a very satisfying happily ever after.

Before they fall in love, back when he just wants to nail her, they run into each other in New Orleans and he follows her back to her car and grabs her and kisses her.

I found this very thrilling when I was fifteen -- although, to be honest, if the dude who ran my family out of town when I was a kid grabbed me and kissed me on the street, I would be furious, and probably punch him in the face; I mean, I am pretty hard-pressed to think of anyone who I'd let kiss me in the middle of the street, much less someone who I don't like, who is trying to run me out of town again, you know? But that is why this is a romance novel and not real life, which I keep reminding myself!

Anyway, it is page 137 - 138 (although if you own the book, I bet you know exactly what I am talking about!), and it turns out that she not only accepts his kiss, but passionately kisses him back, and they make out on the street until the thunder knocks them out of their little bubble, and then -- well, then she's furious! And she gets soaking wet from the pouring rain, and says in a rough, low voice, "Don't touch me again."

Oh, it is so hot. Or, rather, it was the hottest kiss I'd ever read when I was fifteen, and it pretty much remains the hottest kiss due to being both hot even now and hot in my memory!

(If it sounds like the kind of book you like to read -- and it is definitely the kind of book I like to read sometimes -- then I recommend buying it. Otherwise, if you "search inside this book" on Amazon, you can read the kiss scene; it's the first result when you search for "thunder."

I should warn you that it's sort of creepy -- although in my opinion that kind of adds to the hotness value, since it's fiction. I have complicated emotional, social, and political ideas about this, honestly, but it boils down to still finding this book really satisfying and hot.)

So that's me. What about you all? Hold me, thrill me, kiss me, link me!

Other days of the book meme )
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Yesterday I...

1. Saw Inception with a friend of mine. Neither of us were impressed at all. At least I stayed awake! (She fell asleep.) I just don't get all the hype; this isn't stuff that's exactly complex, complicated, or new, and the whole thing was so painfully predictable. Plus it struck me as very much a "form over function" movie -- literally all about creating an idea (haha) that is supposed to look a certain way, often at the cost of the plot making sense and the characters being interesting.

I am of the opinion that there was a really cool idea for a movie at the core, but that movie should have been about Joseph Gordon-Levitt and mostly an intense character study, not worldbuilding and Leonardo DiCaprio. (Sorry, I don't remember their characters' names.)

NB, I did absolutely love JGL -- and Ellen Page and Ken Watanabe -- and would happily watch seven million movies in which they are action heroes and awesome.

2. Read Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins. This I definitely see the appeal of -- particularly for kids. Had I read this series when I was nine, I think I'd've been a lot more willing to overlook structural, plot, and story flaws in favor of how great all the imagery is, and how creepy the story is.

Since I am not nine, I have a hard time getting over the flaws. Cut for spoilers and a frank few sentences about what I did and did not like. )

...Okay, and now the book meme!

Day 19 - Favorite book cover (bonus points for posting an image!)

I want to pause here and differentiate "favorite book cover" from "favorite book cover artwork" -- and also from "most effective book cover/book cover artwork"! They are all different things -- bad design on a book cover can ruin really good art, and bad art can ruin a good design, and sometimes good design and good art do not make a book cover that is effective in getting people to buy the book. That's just how it happens. (Of course, there's the argument to be made that by definition "good design and good art" is art and design that make people want to pick up the book. That is totally fair, too, but not my perspective -- hence the separation between "good" and "effective.")

I Love You Like a Tomato by Marie Giordano was the first book I acquired and edited myself -- a really amazing literary historical novel -- and it took us a long time to find the right cover. It turned out, too, that what looked good on the hardcover and trade paperback was not the cover we wanted for the mass market edition of the book. I loved the hardcover and trade editions (still have my copies!), but the mass edition's cover really shines:

i love you like a tomato mass market cover
(click to embiggen)

As far as artwork goes... I cannot tell you that The Wayfarer Redemption by Sara Douglass is a really good book, the kickoff of a really good series, or that the cover has an amazing design -- all of those things would be lies! But the artwork is awesome, especially the image of the heroine, and I am pretty sure that it's the first time I ever was really struck by great book art. Low res internet images are not the way to see this artwork -- it's in high res that the details are really beautiful. But whatever, here's a low res internet picture anyway:

the art for the wayfarer redemption by sarah douglass, by luis royo
(click to embiggen)

Feel free to, as always, share your opinion in the comments, or link to your own blog post! Please do not embed images in the comments section, but regular links are fine.

Other days of the book meme )
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When I got my hair trimmed, I also swapped my anti-frizz shampoo for one of those "good for curly hair!" shampoos, and now my hair's natural curls are flying free. I think they need mousse, honestly, because they are still frizzy, but that's okay.

Unlike a lot of people in the world, I really love my hair. I think I have great hair. It looks good short, it looks good long, it looks good at every length in between. It's very difficult to manage, because sometimes it's curly, sometimes it's wavy, and sometimes it's straight, plus it's super thick and fine, and I have a lot of it. It's heavy enough that even at the length it is now (chin) when I put it into a ponytail, I get a headache. (That's why I wear a french braid so often.) And I have a lot of silver hair that doesn't take dye. So, I mean, it's not all glory and orange tulips, but I don't mind it. It's my hair.

And today it is super curly! Those curls are solely from going to sleep with wet hair. Pretty nice, huh?

Day 18 - Favorite beginning scene in a book

Nope, don't have one. I do not often think of books as discreet scenes, so it's difficult for me to pull up very specific scenes in my memory unless they are super powerful -- and even then I can't often think of the exact scene with its exact words and descriptions; I usually just have a vague impression of what happened in it.

Plus I sat here and tried to think of beginning scenes, and when I went to check the books, I realized that the scenes I thought of are none of them the scenes at the beginning of a book, but the first scenes that struck me as truly representative of the characters/situations.

Memory is a funny thing!

Other days of the book meme )
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Last night I wrote emails to Target and Best Buy, explaining why I won't be shopping at their stores anymore. It didn't even make me feel better, though, since I know no one except an unpaid intern is going to even look at them. But what else to do? I mean, besides actually not shop at their stores anymore.

I joked yesterday that eventually I'd have to learn how to make my own everything, because there won't be a place left for me to shop -- I'll be boycotting everywhere. It feels pretty true lately, I've got to say.

Something less unhappy: book meme!

Day 16 - Favorite poem or collection of poetry

I talked about my favorite poetry collections last time, actually! I love Candas Jane Dorsey's poetry, and Neruda. Most recently, I am working my way through the three published books by Maya Stein. That first link goes to her page where you can buy her books and pay via PayPal, and the second link goes to her blog, where she posts poems fairly regularly.

I found her because someone whose journal I read posted "alliance" and I thought it was amazing. I experience poetry that I like as a great and painful whack to the back of the head, or sometimes the bottom falling out of my stomach, like riding on an amazing roller coaster.

Alliance by Maya Stein )

...and, of course, we all remember when I went out and got three lines from one of Candas Jane Dorsey's poems tattooed on my arm. Here's that poem, too.

untitled, from page 19 of Leaving marks by Candas Jane Dorsey )

...Now you. Tell me about your favorite poets!

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Day 15 - Your "comfort" book

You know, for a long time, I stopped reading books for pleasure. Part of it was learning how they were made and the politics involved in getting even The Best Book Ever Freaking Written published, and part of it was not having time, because I was reading so much for work. Not just stuff I was editing, but also keeping track of the competition and figuring out what I needed to be publishing to both compete and fill untapped niches.

I loved it -- oppositional research in publishing is totally one of my favorite things to do. But it meant that when I got home and collapsed on my bed with an hour to myself at night, what I wanted to do was not read more books, even my favorites. I ended up working at a vegan restaurant for a while (okay, for, like, two years!), which not only helped me to not feel like I wasn't reading enough for pleasure, but also gave me time to think about... well, about work, I admit it, but it was sort of like meditation, and I put a lot of things into perspective and came up with a lot of good ideas while standing over the cold hold and using the grill and holding down the cash register with a line out the door.

Now I am in the opposite position, where I read more for pleasure than for anything else. It's amazing! I miss the hectic, high-pressure, high-stress of that time, but I don't miss not reading the stuff I love.

A selection of some of the books I read when nothing else is satisfying me:

I admit that these days I am almost exactly as likely to go for my favorite fanfics when I am in need of comfort, as I am to go to my favorite comforting books, but I think that's a different meme!!

How about you guys -- which books are your favorite comfort reads?

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Last night for dessert we had caramel sticky buns. The caramel welled up out of the bottom of the pans and went all over the sheet pan I had cleverly remembered to put the pans on! Phew. Cleaning the oven is definitely not in my future, thankfully.

Food photography is not my forte, but don't they look delicious? (And don't think I didn't scrape all that caramel you see at the bottom of the pan onto a spoon for a cook's treat.)

Day 14 - Favorite character in a book (of any sex or gender)

Whoa. I've been thinking about this, and I just can't pick one. Also, I don't always connect to the characters in books I read -- even when I love the book. I just don't fall in love with characters as much as I fall in love with worlds and storytelling and the way everything comes together.

I really like Peabody from the J.D. Robb books; lately she's sort of on my nerves, but when she first shows up in the series, I think she's really charming and great. I'm also a big fan of Vic Warshawski! She's so fabulous. (Disclaimer: I haven't read any Vic Warshawski books since the early 90s, so anything after, like, Guardian Angel, I don't know about.)

Oh, and, of course, the obligatory Green Gables reference: Mrs. Lynde. I really really really love Mrs. Lynde and her gossipy, sharp-tongued ways. I wouldn't want to hang out with her in real life, probably, but I enjoy reading about her!

Other days of the book meme )
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Book meme, you make me so happy. I love reading everyone's answers to these prompts.

Related (to books, anyway): did you all see this NPR article about how Barnes & Noble is up for sale? Someone please buy it for me -- my smart, clever, knowledgeable friends and I would do such a good job running that company!

Day 12 - A book or series of books you’ve read more than five times

Oooh, where to begin? As a kid, I was really into The Boxcar Children, Nancy Drew, Cherry Ames, and, of course, the Anne books. I've read all of the books in those series multiple times -- way more than five.

I've read both of Candas Jane Dorsey's, plus all her books of poetry, more than five times. All of Linda Howard's early single titles, a few Nora Roberts single titles from the 90s -- Montana Sky, Genuine Lies, Public Secrets, and, of course, the first Nora Roberts book I ever read: Honest Illusions.

I also used to reread the Little House books by Laura Ingalls Wilder all the time, and Little Men and Jo's Boys, both of which I liked a whole lot more than I ever liked Little Women -- although my ultimate favorite Alcott book is An Old-Fashioned Girl, which I'd read way more than five times before I ever bothered to pick up Little Women.

[Those Alcott links all go to Project Gutenberg, where you can download those books in various formats for free.]

I will also totally admit to loving several Star Trek tie in novels -- number one on my list of loved Star Trek books is Federation by Judith Reeves-Stevens and Garfield Reeves-Stevens, which I have read a bunch of times. And, of course, one of my favorite books when I was a teenager obsessed with Troi and Riker: Imzadi by Peter David! I keep meaning to go back and reread it, but I'm pretty dubious that it has stood the test of time (unlike Federation, which I just reread a few years ago and loved just as much).

And, finally, I was ten or so, my mom got a copy of Catering to Nobody by Diane Mott Davidson, which I loved, and read several times. Another book (series!) I got from my mother when I was eight or nine was the Mrs. Pollifax series, about a gardening grandmother who gets a job working for the C.I.A., starting with The Unexpected Mrs. Pollifax. Oh, how I loved Mrs. Pollifax!

How about you folks? Talk about books you reread often!

Other days of the book meme )
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I hope this past weekend treated everyone nicely! I spent pretty much all day Saturday babysitting my neighbor's five kids, all of whom are sweet but rowdy. Once she came home, I just fell over onto my bed and didn't get up again until Sunday. I don't know how single parents do it -- eight or nine hours and I am ready for a dark, quiet room to get my Garbo on in. I want to be aaaaaaalone.

Today's exciting event is going to be a new recipe for making eggplant parmigiana in which the eggplant is baked instead of fried. It's an America's Test Kitchen technique -- and my experience with America's Test Kitchen anything is that sometimes it is amazing (like their fluffy buttermilk pancakes recipe), and sometimes it is just. Freaking. Awful. (Um. The list is huge.) Fingers crossed, people! I hope I am not wasting eggplant here!!

Day 11 - A book that disappointed you

Blah. Do you want the list in alphabetical or chronological order? The first book I ever remember being deeply disappointed in is the Christian Bible. My dad's family are a bunch of crazy Italian Catholics, many of whom have converted to a different type of Christianity (like Jehovah's Witness), or were born again evangelical-style, so I have always had a copy of the Christian Bible, starting with, you know, My Little Golden Book of Crucifixion or whatever. (My dad even had a special bible in comic book form for us.) When I was finally old enough to realize what it was and what was going on, I sat down and read it. And I was like, "What? Really?" From the way people were talking about Jesus, I thought it would be, like, his diary. Super interesting, right? But it is not Jesus's diary and thoughts about the world. It was actually like a supermarket tabloid, but from 2,000 years ago. (Or, you know, whenever. Depending on your world view. Which I am not critiquing.)

Anyway, I must have been, like, seven or eight, and I pretty much immediately lost interest in Christianity. Perhaps if Jesus had worn eyeliner and the Christian Bible really was his diary, I'd've been more interested. You know, like:

Dear Diary, Today I am gonna give a speech and tell people to quit judging each other and just, like, love each other or whatever. I hope a lot of people come. Can you believe that, like, they want proof of God's love? What jerks. Of course, I love them anyway! Then I'm going to turn water into wine and do some other stuff, I think. Well, really I just like to go with the flow, but these dudes need some head-slapping to get them in the mood to rebel against the idea that in order for God to dig you, you've gotta follow the rules. They're all like, blah blah, Judaism, keep kosher, the letter of the law, and I am all like, you must chill! Okay, I've gotta go and, like, heal the sick now. Peace out.

You know, like a combination of Angela Chase and Pete Wentz -- or Anne of Green Gables. Haha.

I ended up being a religious studies major and doing a lot of studying of Christianity and reading the Christian Bible a bunch more times anyway, but, yeah, the Christian Bible was a huge disappointment from the point of view of a non-Christian seven year old.

More recently! I was disappointed by the Harry Potter series (I think there were only two or three books when I started reading it, and I wasn't surprised that people liked the first one -- but I thought, and continue to think, that they are terribly written, kind of boring, and get most of the fun/interesting stuff from other authors), and Anita Blake (seriously? a prudish, religious heroine takes on vampires and werewolves who all want to do her or kill her? I read that fanfic when I was in single digits), and, of course, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. From all the hype, I'd expected something awesome -- or at least enjoyable. Sigh for the millionth time.

As a genre, I am disappointed almost entirely by post-Cold War espionage novels. They're either ridiculous or boring (or both!) with bland heroes and a faceless "Middle Eastern" villain, and the story almost invariably stars a white man who is embroiled in something either terribly low-stakes or unbelievably silly, the highest stakes evarrrrrrr omg!!

As a kid sneaking the Cold War espionage novels out of my mom's bedside table, I found spies and spying to be incredibly glamorous and simultaneously tragic -- and eminently relate-able. The villains were almost always given names and faces and that might actually be (I am realizing right at this minute) where I developed my tendency to sympathize with villains. What I took away from those Cold War novels was that sometimes regular people become villains through circumstances and bad decisions and poor judgment, not just because some people are "just evil."

And then, of course, there's the WWII espionage novels I also read a lot of and loved. Those aren't about fighting a faceless evil either -- and again a lot of the "villains" of those are sympathetic, but, actually, some of them are just evil. Just horrifyingly evil, just terrifyingly evil -- but for me that was a real terror, a terror I knew all about. I was one of four Jews in the small town where my family lived for five years (hint: I was related to the other three) and regularly came up against anti-Semitism, and people who hated me just because I was Jewish. Not just adults either, but children -- who I guess were just aping their parents, but that's not how it felt when I was a kid under attack by brutal classmates who never pulled their (mostly metaphorical) punches.

So reading those books was in a lot of ways wish fulfillment for me -- and, of course, the Resistance!!! Heroes of my childhood in many ways. (And I wish I hadn't been an adult before I learned that there was a Jewish resistance, too. Jeez.)

Anyway, these (interesting plots, sympathetic -- or, at least, three-dimensional -- villains, relate-able heroes) are things that are missing for me in post-Cold War espionage novels, to the point where I've given up and quit reading them. There was a brief period in the early 90s where there were a couple of "cyber terrorism" novels, but they were less about spies and more about action heroes defeating hacker nerds, which I was not very interested in back then, and am definitely not interested in now. I am totally open to recommendations, though, if you have a particular favorite modern espionage novel. Or, hey, if you have a recommendation for a good WWII or Cold War espionage novel -- they've all run together in my mind, since it's been about twenty years since I've read one; I can't even think of any authors or titles!

So tell me -- what books have disappointed you? Oh, and I wanted to mention that even if you're not doing this meme in your own journal, or at all, you can still comment on a particular day if it interests you! Everyone's comments are welcome all the time.

Other days of the book meme )
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Hey, it's Friday night! I hope you guys have an exciting evening planned -- I know I do. My copy of Faithful Place by Tana French came this afternoon, and I expect to spend all night reading it!

Day 10 - A book you thought you wouldn’t like but ended up loving

You know, I'm a pretty good arbiter of my own taste -- I know what I like and what appeals to me, and I also know what I don't like and what pisses me off. So it's not often that I pick up a book that from the get go I think I'm going to dislike -- more often, I pick up a book that I think I'll enjoy, and I end up hating it.

I guess the closest I come to this is when I pick up a book that I am skeptical about that I end up enjoying more than I thought I would. Like The Forever King by Molly Cochran and Warren Murphy. I don't tend to like Arthur retellings, so when this book was handed to me, I put off reading it for quite a while. When I finally did sit down with it, I really enjoyed it -- I've read it several times now.

(There are two other books in the trilogy. They are sort of meh. This book, though, is pretty great.)

Oh, and Stone Butch Blues by Leslie Feinberg -- it was given to me to read in a class that I intensely disliked in college, so of course I went into it expecting it to be as obnoxious as the teacher and the other students. But nope. It was amazing. I didn't even find it dated -- I found it to be a really intense emotional journey, and I still have my copy of the book to this day.

You should put your response in the comments, or link to your own blog entry about this!

Other days of the book meme )
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Ugh, what's with today today? I think I am ordering pizza for supper. Some days, cooking is just beyond me!

Day 09 - Best scene ever

I know that I put together this meme, so I could have edited this day's prompt to be whatever I want. And I did do that with some prompts, but I've met a lot of people who actually have favorite scenes that they read over and over again -- and I want to know about them! I personally do not have a favorite scene, though, not from any book. (I do have a favorite kissing scene, though, which I'll talk about on Day 20!)

There are types of scenes, though, that I almost always love. They are the scenes in which a character demonstrates knowledge of a field. For example, I am reading the new Nora Roberts, The Search, right now, a few chapters every night before bed. (I am deliberately spreading out my reading of it, so that I have it until Faithful Place by Tana French gets here.) The heroine of this book is a dog trainer, and is helping the hero train his new dog. Above and beyond that, she also trains Search and Rescue dogs and dog teams, and quite a few scenes in the book are set during the training of various dogs. And people! She's very specific about how she also trains people, and there is a great scene where she teaches the owner of a yappy dog how to be the alpha dog in the pack.

I love scenes like that. Scenes where I know that the author is demonstrating the competency of a character while at the same time also demonstrating that they did their research -- and it all ties into the book, is all exposition and character development combined. (I think a reader can tell a lot about a character by the way the character reacts to being taught something. Ditto people in real life.)

Yeah, there are some books/authors who go overboard on this kind of thing for my taste -- particularly in historical novels, I sometimes feel like I am being given a history lesson instead of learning about the world and the characters.

Another book I am reading right now is Postmortem by Patricia Cornwell, which, of course, I've read before, as it's the first Kay Scarpetta book, and I love Kay Scarpetta. Medical examiner mystery/suspense novel!

(Clicking through to that Amazon page, I read the Publishers Weekly review, which calls Kay's "self-aggrandizement and interminable complaints" "annoying flaws" -- and I am sort of baffled. Kay's really good at her job, and she knows it, and life for a woman who is good at her job in a male-dominated field wasn't exactly easy in 1989/1990. Not that it's easy now either, but come on! I actually find Kay's struggles with men who won't listen to her or take her seriously to be remarkably realistic -- depressingly so. But I like the books, so I guess I'm biased? Except those things really contribute to how much I like the book and the series, rather than detract.)

Anyway, Kay explains a lot of medical and criminal stuff -- and, okay, yeah, nowadays we can all armchair profile a serial killer, thanks to Criminal Minds and Profiler and Bones, but when I read this book for the first time, I think I was probably around twelve years old, and I was really into the explanation about how profiling works, which was pretty new to me then. Reading the book again now (although this isn't the first time I'm rereading it -- just the first time in the last five or six years), I am again enjoying that scene, even though I know how profiling works, and I read lots of books about serial killers (and medical examiners!).

What's especially nice about the scenes in Postmortem is that they are discussions between professionals who each have a separate area of expertise. So each professional is bringing something new to the table, explaining what they know to the others, and figuring out how the information locks together. It's awesome. I love it.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going back to Postmortem -- they've just discovered that over the weekend someone used a modem to dial into their "data base" and print out information about a case they're working on. They only found out, though, because the computer analyst left the "echo" on -- so all she had to do was scroll up on her computer monitor to see the records. Am I glad it's not 1989 anymore or what?

So how about you guys? Gimme those favorite scenes!

Other days of the book meme )


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anna genoese

November 2015

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