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Six books - Qualified Perceptions
Six books
Chill of Fear (by Kay Hooper)
An okay story somewhere between mystery and horror. Not really sufficiently scary, given the amount of help the Hand of Fate provides, and the amount by which the good guys outnumber the bad. Three stars.

Lord Malquist & Mr Moon (by Tom Stoppard)
It amused me to acquire something by Tom Stoppard that desireearmfeldt and justom had not read - that being Stoppard's only novel, written before any of his plays. That was the best amusement I got from it; second-best was from the introduction. It's not awful, but it has Stoppard's characteristic confusing nonsense without having grown into profundity, and I also think it might have been written before he had met any actual women. (I admit I didn't finish it, and the introduction suggests that it might make more sense by the end). Anyway, if anyone wants it for their collection, it's theirs.

Castle Waiting (by Linda Medley)
A graphic novel, in a partly-animal fairy tale world, starting with Sleeping Beauty, then what happened after she woke up, then... some other stuff that happens in the castle later, and what happened to someone else before she showed up at the castle. It was charming, but a little meandery; I kept expecting "where the plot is going" to have something to do with "where the plot was before", and it didn't so much. A quote from Publisher's Weekly says "a modern, feminist Chaucer for happy people", which is about right. As a modern feminist happy person, I did like it, though I was hoping for more. Three and a half stars, but they're nice twinkly stars.

The Red Wolf Conspiracy (by Robert V. S. Redick)
This book mysteriously appeared in the house, something that can take quite a while to realize, since both tirinian and I assume that it belongs to the other one of us. (harrock is less likely to spontaneously generate fantasy hardbacks). I suspect tirinian's mom of having left it here, actually. Anyway, this is a nice, reasonably complicated fantasy novel with a lot of conspiracies and grudges and epic grandstanding going on. It reminds me a bit of The Voyage of the Shadowmoon (there's a boat voyage that's central to the plot, and there's an inexplicable wizard-from-another-dimension bit). There are a lot of sides, some steadfastly refusing to clarify as either good or evil; it's got about as many secret teams as a ten-day. There are a lot of flawed-but-interesting characters. On the minus side: this is the first book of a series, which I deduct a full star for for failure to make that clear - not on the front, or the back, or the inner jacket, or the title page, or anywhere except the line at the end between the last paragraph and the appendix. There some bits at the end where it seemed a little too pat, as if things had to be wrapped up in a gathering much like a detective's "I suppose you are all wondering why I called you here together...". Three and a quarter stars.

Rainbows End (by Vernor Vinge)
A not-very-far future story, extrapolating crowdsourcing and wikis and augmented reality, with an interesting spy plot underneath. I like Vinge's sense of humor, and I like his hypothesizing. (And I like the idea of the Friends of Privacy seeding the net with disinformation...). Four stars.

The Death Artist (by Jonathan Santlofer)
I think this book takes the record for being given up on quickly, that being while the characters were being introduced, by about page twenty.
  • "Elena could easily have a career as a mainstream singer. But she's chosen this incredibly difficult, though amazing, route. I mean, she had that crowd of swells and swelled heads riveted." Kate remembered the museum's director, [...] rapt, raving over Elena's multi-octave voice.
  • "How is that sexy husband of yours?" "Not sexy enough", Kate said with a wry smile. "The man works too hard. There's his usual over-the-top caseload, plus the pro bono work -- which, I have to admit, I encourage -- his work for the foundation, and now he's even taken on a few pertinent city cases."
  • Heads practically did the Exorcist swivel when Kate marched into the bar of the Four Seasons Hotel and spotted, across the room, her friend Liz, half hidden by this month's issue of Town and Country magazine, the one that featured Kate's very own face backed by a cool abstract painting with the caption "Our Lady of the Arts and Humanities."
  • The affair did not actually start until two months after the trial -- Richard had to work up his nerve. His nerve? "One of Manhattan's Ten Most Eligible Bachelors," cover story, New York magazine, fall 1988. But Officer [Kate] McKinnon was something new for the handsome attorney.
Also in the first few pages is a murder, but I have every confidence that these characters, whose only flaws appear to be that they work too hard and are too beautiful and successful for them to feel entirely comfortable, given that they had to work their way up from upper middle-class backgrounds, will be able to sort it out.

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kirisutogomen From: kirisutogomen Date: July 7th, 2009 01:34 am (UTC) (Link)

From "How to Write Good" by Michael O'Donoghue

Perhaps the most difficult technique for the fledgling writer to master is proper treatment of exposition. Yet watch the sly, subtle way I "set the scene" of my smash play, The Last to Know, with a minimum of words and effort.
(The curtain opens on a tastefully appointed dining room, the table ringed by men in tuxedos and women in costly gowns. There is a knock at the door.)

LORD OVERBROOKE: Oh, come in, Lydia. Allow me to introduce my dinner guests to you. This is Cheryl Heatherton, the madcap soybean heiress whose zany antics actually mask a heart broken by her inability to meaningfully communicate with her father, E. J. Heatherton, seated to her left, who is too caught up in the heady world of high finance to sit down and have a quiet chat with his own daughter, unwanted to begin with, disposing of his paternal obligations by giving her everything, everything but love, that is.

Next to them sits Geoffrey Drake, a seemingly successful merchant banker trapped in an unfortunate marriage with a woman half his age, who wistfully looks back upon his days as the raffish Group Captain of an R.A.F. bomber squadron that flew eighty-one missions over Berlin, his tortured psyche refusing to admit, despite frequent nightmares in which, dripping with sweat, he wakes screaming, "Pull it up! Pull it up, I say! I can't hold her any longer! We're losing altitude! We're going down! Jerry at three o'clock Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaagggh!", that his cowardice and his cowardice alone was responsible for the loss of his crew and "Digger," the little Manchester terrier who was their mascot.

The empty chair to his right was vacated just five minutes ago by Geoffrey's stunning wife, twenty-three- year-old, golden-tressed Edwina Drake, who, claiming a severe migraine, begged to be excused that she might return home and rest, whereas, in reality, she is, at this moment, speeding to the arms of another man, convinced that if she can steal a little happiness now, it doesn't matter who she hurts later on. The elderly servant preparing the Caviar en Socle is Andrew who's been with my family for over forty years although he hasn't received a salary for the last two, even going on so far as to loan me his life's savings to cover my spiraling gambling debts but it's only a matter of time before I am exposed as a penniless fraud and high society turns its back on me.

The dark woman opposite me is Yvonne de Zenobia, the fading Mexican film star, who speaks of her last movie as though it was shot only yesterday, unwilling to face the fact that she hasn't been before the cameras in nearly fifteen years; unwilling to confess that her life has been little more than a tarnished dream.

As for her companion, Desmond Trelawney, he is an unmitigated scoundrel about whom the less said, the better.

And, of course, you know your father, the ruthless war profiteer, and your hopelessly alcoholic mother, who never quite escaped her checkered past, realizing, all too late, that despite her jewels and limousines, she was still just a taxi-dancer who belonged to any man for a drink and a few cigarettes.

Please take a seat. We were just talking about you.
This example demonstrates everything you'll ever need to know about exposition. Study it carefully.
firstfrost From: firstfrost Date: July 7th, 2009 01:43 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: From "How to Write Good" by Michael O'Donoghue

Ah, Santofler was a piker - it took him a good five pages to scatter in all the quotes I excerpted!
kirisutogomen From: kirisutogomen Date: July 7th, 2009 01:43 am (UTC) (Link)
Oh, and that also reminds me of this: "The Dan Brown Code"
firstfrost From: firstfrost Date: July 7th, 2009 01:49 am (UTC) (Link)
Ooh, a kindred spirit, leading to "The great thing about filming Dan Brown's novels will be that it will get rid of his execrable expository prose." (Though I guess I ranted less about the writing style and more about the plot.)
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