marycrawford: 13 hour clock icon (holmes watson <3)

Part 1: The Blue Carbuncle
Part 2: The Copper Beeches
Part 3: The Adventure of the Bruce-Partington Plans
Part 4: The Adventure of the Devil's Foot

I’m just going to cheat and combine The Final Problem with The Adventure of the Empty House, because how can I talk about just the one without at least mentioning the other? I can’t end my list of favourite stories with Holmes being mostly dead! *g*

Made of smoke and mirrors )

I'd love to hear what your favourite moments are, or what you would want to see in a Post-Reichenbach story, or how much you believe of Holmes's little jaunts into Lhasa and Khartoum -- even if we are agreed that his supposed visit was to the head Lama, and not the head llama, and that Watson was undoubtedly chagrined at the printer's error.

marycrawford: 13 hour clock icon (holmes watson <3)
Last week [ profile] janeturenne posted a wonderfully evocative overview of her personal top 10 favorite and top 10 least favorite canon Sherlock Holmes stories -- part 1, part 2.

She reminds me how much I love seeing people talk about their beloved fandoms in detail, and I've been immersed in the Holmes stories, Granada TV series, and BBC audioplays for years but I haven't actually posted about them much myself. So here's a start! *g*

I'm going to take [ profile] janeturenne's approach but simplify it a bit, so that I manage to actually post these instead of just think about it: I've picked out five of my favorite Holmes short stories and their adaptations, and will post about each of them in turn over the next few days. Story links go to the University of Adelaide Library, which has all the Holmes stories as well as many other Arthur Conan Doyle works available.

My first favorite is The Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle.

I love the atmosphere of this story )

Please do comment and tell me what your Holmesian favorites are, or how you feel about this particular story and its radio/TV versions!

marycrawford: 13 hour clock icon (Default)
So, is this the official death knell of a) the vampire trend and b) the "Jane Austen with Zombies" trend in publishing? I hope so.
"Sarah Gray's WUTHERING BITES, a retelling of Wuthering Heights in which Heathcliff is a vampire, to John Scognamiglio at Kensington, in a very nice deal, for publication in September 2010, by Evan Marshall at Evan Marshall Agency (World)." (from Publisher's Lunch)

Oh, and 'a very nice deal' means $50,000 to $99,000, in other words about ten times the average. Yeah.
marycrawford: 13 hour clock icon (Default)
You know, I am really tired of fantasy novels where all the heroes and villains and almost all of the colorful side characters are men, except for

small spoiler for the book ahead )


Going back to reread [ profile] naominovik's Empire of Ivory, which I recommend, and wherein both men and women are capable, clever and interesting, and some of the best minds belong to the dragons. *g*
marycrawford: 13 hour clock icon (Default)
Yay! I can has Temeraire!

I have a copy of Empire of Ivory, the fourth in Naomi Novik's wonderful Temeraire fantasy series. It's not supposed to be out until September 25th in the US and November 5th in the UK, so once again the American Book Center in Amsterdam proves itself a magical place.

*turns phone off*

Time to read.
marycrawford: 13 hour clock icon (iolaus porkules)
Today is Shakespeare's birthday AND [ profile] absolut3destiny's birthday. Wow. Good day! Ian, a very happy birthday, and a belated but very sincere THANK YOU for finding me a boatload of Sherlock Holmes radio play mp3's on Usenet. You rock.

Today is also, fittingly, International Pixel-Stained Technopeasant Day!

If you want to know where this comes from, the long version is here, with a followup here. The short version is that Howard Hendrix, a writer and vice president of Science Fiction Writers of America, posted an ill-thought-out rant about SF&F authors publishing their work for free on the internet.

He called this development "the downward spiral that is converting the noble calling of Writer into the life of Pixel-stained Technopeasant Wretch" and writers who publish their stuff online "webscabs", who "claim they're just posting their books for free in an attempt to market and publicize them, but to my mind they're undercutting those of us who aren't giving it away for free and are trying to get publishers to pay a better wage for our hard work. "

Naturally this didn't go over well with ... just about everybody, and in response Jo Walton has proclaimed today International Pixel-Stained Technopeasant Day, "when pixel-stained technopeasants everywhere are stretching and smiling and putting down their technotools to celebrate their existence by releasing their works into the wild, or at least the web."

She links to a number of SF&F authors who have put new works online for this day, including herself ("The Prize in the Game"), Diane Duane, Dave Langford and Sean Williams. And there's an entire community for more free reads from pro authors: [ profile] ipstp

And there's a suggestion that non-writers could post about writers they've discovered online, which I really like.

So. Whose books have I bought because I discovered them online? Probably more than I can think of right now, but here are a few names:

[ profile] marthawells, who has put her excellent first novel "The Element of Fire" online for free, along with chapters from her other books and several complete short stories. The Element of Fire is a must-read if you like intelligent, witty sword & sorcery. I have a longer review of it here and of a later book, "The Wizard Hunters" here. She also writes SGA tie-in books, o lucky SGA fans.

[ profile] naominovik, who has excerpts of her Temeraire series and two short stories online for free. I think pretty much everyone in fandom has already read the Temeraire novels, but if you haven't, you're missing out. Dragons and 18th century sailing ships! It's a fantastic idea, and the books are well written and hugely entertaining. Peter Jackson has optioned them, and I really hope something comes of it.

[ profile] papersky (Jo Walton), whose posts on the writing newsgroup rec.arts.sf.composition were always so thoughtful and entertaining that I knew I wanted to buy her first book when it came out, and I was glad I did; it's now online for free here. The story goes that Patrick Nielsen Hayden, a senior editor at Tor, liked her Usenet posts too and asked her to send him her novel when she was done. So it goes.

Patricia C. Wrede, who doesn't have any work online that I can find right now, but I bought several of her Dragons books for young adults purely because her writing advice on rec.arts.sf.composition was so excellent, well-written and often funny. Her Regency fantasy-of-manners book "Sorcery and Cecelia, or The Enchanted Chocolate Pot" (with Caroline Stevermer) is a big favorite of mine, and was recommended so many times on r.a.s.c. that I bought it the moment I found it in a secondhand bookshop. It was rare then, but has since been republished.
marycrawford: 13 hour clock icon (Default)
Michael Dibdin died, alas.

He was known for his detective novels, most of them about a detective called Aurelio Zen. I haven't read those, but I read another novel of his that turns out to have been his first book.

It was The Last Sherlock Holmes Story, one of the best Holmes pastiches I've read, and a book that scared the pants off me. If this were fanfic - and isn't it? - I'd have to call it a darkfic AU.

spoilers for the book )
marycrawford: iroh looks at his teacup, hot leaf juice (iroh hot leaf juice)
Every now and then, I make an attempt to find an author who writes historical romance as entertainingly as Georgette Heyer. So far I haven't had much luck.

Right now, I'm reading a novel that won the 1997 RITA award for best Regency romance, Lady's Companion by Carla Kelly, and the heroine has just told her wastrel aristocratic father to 'get a job'.

Not seek employment, or find work: get a job.

And then, when the heroine considers talking to a nursemaid about her personal concerns, she thinks that the nursemaid 'would only wonder what planet I had dropped down from'.

I quite like the story so far, but I think I'm going to pretend the heroine is a time traveller who doesn't quite have the vocabulary down yet.

(That would make for an entertaining plot, too, come to think of it. Is there such a genre as timetravel romance?)
marycrawford: 13 hour clock icon (woot!)
[ profile] marthawells has just started posting The Element of Fire on her LJ, people. This is her first book, it's excellent, long out of print, people have been fighting for second-hand copies, and you can read it online for free now. Woo!

I could never find this book myself, not even at the Worldcon in Glasgow (where a dealer said to me, "Element of Fire? Oh yeah, I have it. At home. First edition. Nyar." :stabbity:). But I did have a pirated ebook version, and I read it and loved it even though it was full of typoes from bad OCR - and now that same pirated ebook has been put to use helping [ profile] marthawells come up with a true, authorized ebook edition. I love that.

The Element of Fire is a fantasy, set in the world of Ile-Rien, like several of her other books (Death of the Necromancer and the Wizard Hunters trilogy), but it's a standalone novel.

It's got the atmosphere of an Elizabethan court, with intrigue, swordfights, sorcerers, and a war against the fay. The plot fairly bowls along, and I love the cast of characters - Thomas, the dashing, dryly witty Captain of the Guard and favorite of the Queen, Kade the dangerous, unpredictable bastard princess, her sulky brother Roland and his boyfriend Denzil, and the Queen herself, who is a very tough cookie indeed.

Here's a nicely creepy bit from the opening chapter, where Thomas and his men are breaking into a sorcerer's house:
He took an involuntary step backward.

"Captain, what is it?" Gideon's whisper was harsh.

Thomas didn't answer. He was looking around the room as the faces in the floral carving over the chimneypiece shifted their blank white eyes, their tiny mouths working silently. The bronze snake twined around the supporting pole of a candlestand stirred sluggishly. In the woolen carpet the interwoven pattern of vines writhed.

Keeping hold of the rope, Gideon chinned himself on the window ledge to see in. He cursed softly.

"Worse than I thought," Thomas agreed, not looking away from the hideously animate room.


Jul. 21st, 2006 09:21 pm
marycrawford: 13 hour clock icon (fingerpointing)
Regular reader and reviewer of PODs (printed-on-demand books, often self-published) answers the question: how can you tell from the first sentence that a book is bad?

Like this.

I particularly like the one that uses ten exclamation marks in one sentence.
marycrawford: 13 hour clock icon (iolaus looking up)
Before seeing MirrorMask (and Roger Corman! And the world's first horror movie, made in 1910!) there was a little bookshopping. Oh, lovely Amsterdam and your lovely lovely bookshops.

Among others, I bought:

- "The Eyre Affair" by Jasper Fforde, which sounded so delightfully whacked when [ profile] therienne told me about it that I had to try it
- a PG Wodehouse biography
- a Jeeves & Wooster book by Wodehouse that was completely new to me ("Aunts Aren't Gentlemen")
- His Majesty's Dragon by Naomi Novik (US paperback to give to my dad, who loves dragon fantasy and Patrick O'Brian)



- THE THRONE OF JADE by Naomi Novik. The second Temeraire paperback! Amazon won't ship this for another five days, people. WHEE!

*is unbearably smug*
marycrawford: 13 hour clock icon (thumbs up)
[ profile] marthawells is giving away ten signed copies of Wizard Hunters, the first book in her Ile-Rien trilogy. She says:
"Right now there are 51 entries, so the chances aren't bad.

To enter, send an email between now and February 15 to WebAdmin @ saying you want to be in the contest. (Only one entry per person, please, even if like me you have about ten different email addresses.) On the 16th of February, I'll put all the entries in a hat and pull out ten winners. The winners will need to email me their mailing address so I can ship them the books. And overseas entries are fine."
I love this trilogy, and the only reason I'm not entering the giveaway is that I have a hardback copy. Go enter!

That's all I was going to say, but now I find I have to talk about the book a bit, even though I usually worry too much about whether I'm doing a book justice to even attempt a review.

I find Wizard Hunters riveting, and yes, it's the first part of a fantasy trilogy but it's a strong book all on its own - this is not one of those trilogies where the main character slowly acquires a telepathic horse, a quest and an adorable sidekick and sets off for adventure on the last page of book one, leaving you to grind your teeth and hurl the book against the wall.

Tremaine Valiarde doesn't have a horse, a quest or an adorable anything; she gets by on a gun, her wits and a bar of chocolate. I fell for her immediately. She's sarcastic, pessimistic, clever and unconventional, her character shaped by her unusual upbringing, and she lives in a wartorn world whose technology level is close to our own - early '20s, say - and where scholars of magic perform their experiments to try and stop the war. One of those experiments sucks Tremaine and several of those sorcerer-scholars into another world, a seemingly primitive one where sorcerers are inherently evil and must be hunted and exterminated. The first people she meets, Ilias and Giliead, are the wizard hunters in the title, and the clash and mesh of cultures as they fight their common enemy is a strong thread in all three books.

Ilias and Giliead are great characters in their own right, foster-brothers who have spent their lives dealing with rogue sorcerers and their curses, with a painful, strong history together that is slowly revealed during the trilogy. I can't say how pleased I am that Giliead and Ilias are returning in several prequel stories in the magazine Black Gate; I was really disappointed that there isn't going to be a whole prequel novel.

I always want quotes in reviews, to see what the author's writing is like, and I'm going to quote the very opening of the book here, because it sucked me in immediately and I think it gives a good feel for the book as a whole.
It was nine o'clock at night and Tremaine was trying to find a way to kill herself that would bring in a verdict of natural causes in court, when someone banged on the door.

"Oh, damn." A couple of books on poisons slid out of her lap as she struggled out of the overstuffed armchair. She managed to hold on to the second volume of Medical Jurisprudence, closing it over her fingers to mark her place. The search for the elusive untraceable poison was not going well; there were too many ways sorcerer-physicians could uncover such things and she didn't want it to look as if she had been murdered. Intracranial hemorrhage seemed a good possibility, if a little difficult to arrange on one's own. But I'm a Valiarde, I should be able to figure this out, she thought sourly. Dragging the blanket around her, she picked her way through the piles of books to the door. The library at Coldcourt was ideal for this, being large, eclectic and packed with every book, treatise, and monograph on murder and mayhem available to the civilized world.

The entry hall was dark except for one single electric bulb burning in the converted gas fixture above the sweep of the stairs. The light fell on yellowed plaster walls and rich old wood and a blue and gold patterned carpet on polished stone tile. Coldcourt was aptly named and Tremaine's bare feet were half- frozen by the time she made it to the front door. She had let the housekeeper have the night off and now she regretted it, but she had had no idea it would take this long to arrange things. At this rate she wouldn't be dead until next week.
You can read the first five chapters of Wizard Hunters online, here.
marycrawford: 13 hour clock icon (goodday)
So I was running around town on various errands and when I came home, lo, a package had arrived. With books in!

Now I finally have The Gate of Gods, the third book in [ profile] marthawells's Île-Rien trilogy, and also a new Dortmunder caper from Donald Westlake, The Road to Ruin. Yay, for books to devour and then re-read at leisure!

I think I'll go reacquaint myself with Ilias and Giliead and Tremaine first, and then check out what Dortmunder is up to. The day is looking up.
marycrawford: 13 hour clock icon (gay pants by tzikeh)
Oh dear. I've been reading War For The Oaks, an urban fantasy novel by Emma Bull that I generally enjoyed, but at certain points I kept thinking, This book was clearly written in the '80s.

And it was, of course. But the reason I was so aware of it is that people's clothes were described in detail, frex, the heroine wears a beaded sweater with shoulder pads, or a violet shirt over green leggings. I think the intent was to show that the heroine and her friends wear pretty, somewhat bohemian things, since they are musicians and everything, but I kept visualizing those outfits and making faces. Worst of all, one of the male love interests, a gorgeous man who is really a phouka, is described as wearing nothing but a pair of tight paisley jeans.

Paisley jeans. Gah. So much for sexiness.

Of course, in another decade or three, this effect will probably fade, and the clothes of the previous century will just look quaint and interesting again. I hope.
marycrawford: 13 hour clock icon (woohoo)
This, from Dave Langford's ever-entertaining science fiction & fantasy newsletter Ansible, has made my day:

Diana Wynne Jones is ecstatic after a secret première of Howl's Moving Castle, practically on her doorstep in Bristol: `Miyazaki came in person, carrying with him a tape of the film, an interpreter and sundry other shadowy figures (all this was supposed to be secret for fear of the Japanese media, who then descended on me afterwards, so I couldn't mention it beforehand) and we had a private showing at the Watershed cinema. The film is goluptuously splendid with breathtaking animation. I had grown used to young ladies regularly writing to me to say that they wanted to marry Howl. Now, Howl in the film is so plain stunning and sexy that I think I have joined them. And after the showing and the scamper through Bristol I had a long talk with Mr Miyazaki and it began to seem that we were soulmates.'

Of course they are soulmates! I don't know which of them to love more - I adore Diana Wynne Jones' fantasy books, and Miyazaki's anime (Spirited Away, My Neighbour Totoro, Kiki's Delivery Service, Nausicaa of the Valley of Wind) is sheer genius.

Howl's Moving Castle is, right now, the bestselling domestic movie in Japan. (Not animated, not children's - best selling movie. The Japanese know a good thing when they see it.)

I can't wait.

August 2015

91011121314 15


RSS Atom

Most Popular Tags

Style Credit

Expand Cut Tags

No cut tags