Reading Raves: Alice in Wonderland Illustrations

Ranting & raving is something I do periodically on this blog. Look for the “rants and raves” category for past rants and raves.

I love illustrations for Alice In Wonderland. I remembered a livejournal community I used to watch (storybookalice) and spent some time happily looking at pretty pictures today. Wonderous whimsy.

Kim Minji

Sergey Tyukanov

jjh371

Alison Jay

Ester Garcia Cortes

Angel Dominquez

In which I console myself by buying stuff

I’m having not so good luck lately.

First I find out that vox is closing, which is not good because every book review I’ve made in the last 3 years uses vox as the host for my image files. I had a little mini breakdown contemplating having to manually backup all my pictures somewhere and then laboriously editing all my posts so that the img tag pointed at the new source.

Then I found out that I could import all my vox posts to wordpress and if I clicked on the Download and import file attachments checkbox, it would download all my images to wordpress and automatically link them properly in all my posts. Fine, good. There was just the problem that I already had a years worth of the vox posts mirrored here. So I decided – backup my current wordpress blog (check), import vox to a temporary wordpress blog (check), remove all the overlapping posts (check), import the rest to the temporary blog (check after some issues). This took about 4 hours, I won’t go into the things that went wrong there.

Then I tried to import that back over to this blog. Well. First it imported everything to just July. I’d try over and over. Just up to July, not September. And then I noticed I had about 2500+ media files from trying to import it over and over. This was about 2000 files more than necessary. So I went in, deleted alllll the media files, all the blog posts. Tried again. But when I went to try again, strangely my import page was stuck on “processing” . So I opened a ticket with support.  Waited about 12 hours. Support deleted the import and asked me to try again. I tried again. Looked OK.

Oh wait. I clicked on the Download and import file attachments checkbox, but all these images are still hosted on vox! OK…. try importing again. I DEFINITELY clicked the checkbox there. Nothing changed. OK. Let’s try deleting all the posts and retrying the import. OK.. deleted posts. Go to import.. what, it is stuck on “processing” again! Emailed support that I’m still having import issues. Waited another day. My blog is an empty wasteland in the meantime, but I figured, oh well, it will just be a day.

….

Waited waited. Think to myself, “Strange, support hasn’t replied to me and it’s been 24 hours?”, hmm. Then I see.. THIS!!!

“Support is currently closed as staff meet offsite brainstorming ways to make WordPress.com better. We will be dropping into the forums regularly during the hiatus, and we’ll formally reopen on September 19th.”

Support is all gone .. for 11 days.

Oh by the way, I’ve been having parallel issues at work. All this stuff with wordpress? Yeah, same crazy not working crap of a different variety over there too!

(No. It is NOT me!)

Seriously .. it’s like the stars aligning to wreck havoc ON MY LIFE!! (See: Sneaky Hate Spiral)

Allie Brosh / CC BY-NC-ND 3.0

Anyway, my solution is that I deserve presents which I buy myself.

Luckily, I bought myself stuff before the latest debacle so I’m only Crazy and not Enraged.

I have had a book buying ban and didn’t buy anything for almost 3 months (fine, I did break when the book was less than a dollar at a library sale but I’m not counting those). On Monday, I went into Barnes and Noble and bought:

I ordered:

A month ago I also bought the whole President’s Daughter series by Ellen Emerson White because The Book Harbinger pointed out that there was a sale at BookCloseOuts and it was “$0.99 US dollars for each of the the first three books and $3.99 for the fourth.” – P.S  that price is still in effect today.

Yesterday I saw that there was a $9 t-shirt sale at Threadless so I bought some pulp science fiction type t-shirts (I already own this one, after all):

Today I bought myself this artwork (also on sale for less than $5):

And… in the mail today? Fed-exed over?

I feel better.

Book Chat – The Black Prism by Brent Weeks

Book Chat

Since The Mister (aka the guy I married), is a Brent Weeks fan, I let him read my review copy of The Black Prism before I did. [The Mister: My wife is supremely awesome for letting me drench myself in Weeks’  fantasy before her]. Although The Mister didn’t want to write a review, he did agree to do a book chat with me. This is my last Brent Weeks post for a while, I swear.

So here goes (Big spoilery bits blacked out. Highlight and read at your own peril):

1

OK, so first question: So if you were to describe this book to someone else who you were pimping the book to, what would you say about it?


2

So what, you want me to give some flashy summary blurbs? uhm..

The Black Prism follows the life of Kip, a kid from a rural town who  suddenly finds himself thrown in to a world of magic, war, and general mayhem. Luckily for us, the stereotype doesn’t much hold up as you dig in to the details. To be honest I’m not sure if Kip is intended to be the protagonist, and I suspect that’s intentional – from the start, the character building is a bit twisted in an enjoyable way. There are  some details of the immediate gratification type, but also some longer term building, with all of the *-agonist characters. As an aside, I expect there will be some negative criticism of how some of the characters have been designed (particularly Kip), but those critics are short-sighted.

On the larger scale, The Black Prism is the story of a kingdom still recovering from a civil war now 16 years past, with divisive rulers of uncertain power…basically, poised to drop right back in to war. The construction of the world has some obvious heritage, but also enough unique touches to avoid the feeling of been-there-done-that. It has a good balance of being fantastic enough that you can escape in to it (color magic, low/medium-tech culture, moderately detailed side info on geography, politics, etc), but not so out there that a reasonable imagination can’t find a way to connect their world with ours (“humans” are the only sentient race, swords + armor + guns, …).


1

I agree, there are multiple points of view but it was done well, with probably Kip and the Prism, Galvin Guile as the two most important protagonists. I also liked that Kip was this overweight kid who felt very uncomfortable in his skin and always mentally berates himself for things that come out of his mouth. I also agree that while this world has some familiar fantasy elements, Weeks makes it his own. I particularly loved the magic aspect of the world building.

Comparing this to The Night Angel Trilogy, I notice a couple of themes – teen boy with a mentor, unvoiced love, and secrets! Do you agree?


2

I dug the mechanics of the magic as well. Color magic has been done before in various ways, but not like this. The simple physics of the (slightly tweaked) rainbow combined with details like having to squint just-so to see superviolet…good stuff. It’s believable in the context of the world because, who could make it up? (Yes, you in the aisle seat? Ah. Well yea, obviously it IS made up. You’re missing the point)

Actually, I hadn’t yet thought of The Black Prism in comparison to the Night Angel crew. The themes are generally there but the distinctions may be more interesting. Kip and Azoth each end up with very powerful mentors, both arguably of similar convictions at one point or another; but whereas Azoth showed hints of strength from the beginning, and sought out Durzo, Kip fumbled “fatty-style” all over the place until he happened to fall in to Gavin’s lap.

There are more similarities, I think, in the unvoiced love and secrets categories. Both Azoth and Kip have big hearts from the start, which of course makes them likable even when they’re killing (in Azoth/Kylar’s case) or doing bad/stupid things. Their love isn’t limited to romance though; Azoth’s first kill is driven at least initially by his love for Jarl, and Kip’s first acts of bravery are to save others (admittedly along with himself), and they occur before Liv is anywhere near the picture. From there though, as with the mentorships again I think the examples diverge. Both have loves that are initially unvoiced, but in Azoth’s case, it was easy to understand Doll Girl’s initial adoration, and eventual love for him. In Kip’s case, it’s easier to imagine that his love will be revealed but unrequited. Not because of physical appearance necessarily, though that may be considered, but because I get a sense that Kip is simply much more fragile than Azoth. He’s being forced to grow up ridiculously fast, and he’s learning a lot about his strengths, but he’s not yet having to face his weaknesses on a grand scale (no pun intended, and Thresher notwithstanding). I’d think that would be a great detriment for him having any sort of relationship with Liv – his continued weaknesses may serve to keep him as a pre-teen in her mind.


1

I was thinking about Gavin in the unvoiced secrets/feelings arena too. Yeah, hmm, Kip is in many ways more vulnerable than Azoth was – he shows the world a glib face but his inner self confidence is not there yet, and Liv sees him as a kid, but then she’s older than him, (he’s 15, she’s what, 17?) so of course she would.

Anyway. New topic. When I read Weeks books, I sometimes worry about what will happen to the characters I like because there are often crazy twists. Do you feel like that too? And what do you think of some of the bombshells? Awesome? Evil? Awesomely evil?


2

I do worry about the characters I like, because the twists often alter your view of the characters themselves. It seems one of Weeks’ favorite mechanisms is to F with your sense of who’s good and who’s bad; there’s just not much black/white stuff going on. Durzo certainly had a lot of redeeming qualities. Before we’re made aware of the whole Gavin is Dazen is Gavin thing, it’s hard not to like Gavin, even given the assumption of his transgressions (one of which of course turns out to be the real Gavin’s). With Kip, it’s sometimes unclear whether his quirks are meant to provoke laughter, or pity, or what…I suppose it depends on the reader…but whatever the reaction, it serves to lessen ones view of him in a purely “hero” sense. Not that that’s a bad thing!

Interestingly, Weeks seems to design his women more straightforward than the men..

The bombshells are 100% evil, 100% awesome. That’s right, 200% awesome/evil bombshell goodness, baby.


1

I think that because Kip and Gavin are the two main protagonists we see a bit more nuances to their characters than we see in the women. Liv and Karris are slightly more secondary but they get their spotlight too and we begin to get hints about their internal struggles. I’m particularly interested in what happens to Liv in the second book.

In the video Brent Weeks made at Comic Con for this blog, he said that book 2 was looking so long that he may break it up into two books. What do you think of this?


2

The setup for the sequel(s?) is obvious, and I do hope it ends up being at least a trilogy as originally advertised – if the alternative is to cut down the story to fit in a second book that cleans everything up, I’ll be pretty disappointed. I happened to think The Black Prism was a good length, too – despite its 600+ pages. By page 200 or so I was lost, and I don’t remember counting pages at all through to the end.

It’s also easy for me to imagine (and hope for) prequels, detailing the False Prisms War, the personal/political stuff between Dazen and Gavin, Karis’ relationships, General Danavis + Dazen, etc. Then pre-prequels, going back to Papa Guile’s younger days..


1

Overall what did you think? I think I may like this first book better than Night Angel’s first. I’m dying the read the second one.


2

Overall, I loved it. I’m a pure fantasy genre kind of guy, and I’ve read enough to spot most of the cliches; TBP isn’t totally devoid of them, but when Weeks uses them he finds a fresh, cerebral way to do so. That much would be enough to bring my rating up to “like”. The world development, especially the magic, takes it up another notch. The character design and development gives it that last little (big?) shove. Reading it evoked a large spectrum of emotions just like a good story should. Perhaps most importantly, it left me wanting MORE…

Compared to the first Night Angel book, I feel similarly anxious for the next, but I feel more “in the know”. After The Way of Shadows, I remember having almost too many unanswered questions. It made me want to read Shadow’s Edge immediately (and I did), but it was a lot to process…or maybe I’m remembering wrong. In any case, I think the end of The Black Prism gives an excellent balance of satisfaction versus what’s-next, so overall I liked it better than The Way of Shadows.

Exclusive Brent Weeks Q & A Video

Something special for today – a video where Brent Weeks, author of the Night Angel trilogy and a new series, Lightbringer, answers a few questions I sent to him via the folks at Orbit at Comic-con!

I’m about two thirds done with his newest book, The Black Prism (which comes out August 25th), and it is so far really good. My husband has already read it and has been asking me where I am every night. I’ll be posting a review next week plus a book chat with The Mister about it.

In the meantime, this is the video where Weeks discusses Geekery, Weird Research and the length of this new series:

Other Brent Weeks videos and Black Prism fun stuff:
Here are the videos in this series so far, which ask excellent questions about the new world, characters, and the writing experience:
1) Grasping For the Wind
2) Fantasy Book Critic

Pixelated Geek has a 15 minute interview up at their site.

For some fun stuff go to Brent Weeks’ website and take the What Color Is Your Magic Quiz. I’m apparently a superchromat and Blue Drafter.

Reading Raves: Author recommendations

Ranting & raving is something I do periodically on this blog. Look for the “rants and raves” category for past rants and raves.

You know what I love? When an author has a page on their website devoted to recommendations. I’m not saying that this is something all authors should do, but it sure is nice. It caters to my nosiness – what books do you like in the genres you write? Peering at someone’s bookshelves is similar – I want to know what you read, but to have a list of recommendations – I can find out what your favorites are. If I find myself agreeing to an author’s picks I’m inclined to try them out if I’ve never read their books before. I also like how it gives me yet another place to find new-to-me books (as if there aren’t enough places).

The Winter of Enchantment

I have tried out some books based on author’s recommendations on their websites. Sherwood Smith is why I  tried Greensleeves by Eloise Jarvis McGraw. Neil Gaiman is why I read The Winter of Enchantment by Victoria  Walker (I read the book before I had a book blog, so the review is only on paperbackswap and goodreads – Goodreads). I  thought The Winter of Enchantment was very lovely imagewise, only OK plotwise, but I’m glad I read it. And  Greensleeves I recommend heartily, but it’s sadly out of print and not cheap to find used online.

Here are some Author Recommendations:

The Thief (The Queen's Thief, Book 1) Nine Coaches Waiting His Dark Materials Trilogy: "Northern Lights", "Subtle Knife", "Amber Spyglass"

Kristin Cashore recommends Tamora Pierce, Robin McKinley, Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials, Cynthia Voigt’s Novels of the Kingdom, Megan Whalen Turner’s Attolia books, Mary Stewart’s Nine Coaches Waiting, and others.

The Blue Sword The Changeling Sea The Warrior's Apprentice

Rachel Neumeier recommends 14 books including The Changeling Sea, by Patricia McKillip, The Blue Sword, by Robin McKinley, Cukoo’s Egg, by CJ Cherryh, The Warrior’s Apprentice, by Lois McMaster Bujold, and A Certain Slant of Light, by Laura Whitcomb

Song of Scarabaeus In the Company of Others Foreigner

In 2009, Linnea Sinclair recommended in her fan forums Sara Creasy’s Song of Scarabaeus, Julie Czernada’s In the Company of Others, and C.J. Cherryh’s Foreigner series and I’ve put those all on my to-read-one-day list.

Howl's Moving Castle The Dark Is Rising (The Dark Is Rising Sequence) Madeleine's A Wrinkle (A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle (Paperback - May 1, 2007))

Holly Black‘s Suggested Reading List has Lloyd Alexander, Madeleine L’ Engle, Mary Stewart, Peter Beagle, Tanith Lee, Susan Cooper, Diana Wynne Jones,and Michael Moorcock on it, to name a few (she’s also yet another one who recommends Megan Whalen Turner’s Attolia books)

Riddle-Master The Westing Game [WESTING GAME] Red as Blood or Tales from the Sisters Grimmer

Shannon Hale has a lovely long list of recommendations on her website. So many. I love it. She recommends gems like Riddle-Master: The Complete Trilogy, by Patricia McKillip, and Tales from the Sisters Grimmer, by Tanith Lee. (I must say I like her husband’s recs at the bottom of her list too).

Bitter Night: A Horngate Witches Book Nine Layers of Sky Mr. Impossible

Ann Aguirre sometimes posts about books she loved on her blog, and I pay attention. She’s recommended Diana Pharaoh Francis’ Bitter Night, and Liz William’s Nine Layers of Sky, both on my TBR, as well as Jeri Smith-Ready and intriguing romances with idiot heroes.

The Once and Future King Devil's Cub Moominsummer Madness   [MOOMINSUMMER MADNESS] [Paperback]

Garth Nix also wrote a long list of recommendations (ah, quite delightful), called “Books Remembered: An Alphabetical Remembrance“.  He also has The Winter of Enchantment listed, along with Georgette Heyer, Tove Jansson, Ursula Le Guin and T. H. White’s The Once and Future King (which really should be required reading).

Dull Boy Make Me Yours (Harlequin Blaze) Beastly

Diana Peterfreund is really an author I should be reading since Angie keeps recommending her books and Angie tends to be right (How annoying. Gives my TBR pile grief). This thought is backed up with recommendations that look good, like in her post “Why isn’t Everyone reading…?” where she recommends Sarah Cross’ Dull Boy, Betina Krahn, and oh there it is (again!), the Attolia books. I think she also shares my opinion on retellings (basically I ♥ them mucho).

I know I’ve seen more lists on author’s websites, but let’s stop there. Are there lists that you recommend I look at? Do tell!

Pet Peeves: That name sounds familiar

This has been on my mind for a while: have you noticed that there are a lot of heroines in books with a paranormal slant (YA, urban fantasy, paranormal romance) with similar names? I say this with love, of course (because really the most annoying names are the ones with a million apostrophes – ug), but I feel like I keep seeing the same names used. Here are some examples.

Genevieve/Gin/Ginny/Gwendolyn/Gwen or some variation
Meaning: Gwen is originally Welsh and means “Blessed Ring”.
1. Genevieve (Genny) Taylor from the Spellcracker series by Suzanne McLeod
2. Genevieve (Evie) Scelan from the Evie Scelan series by Margaret Ronald
3. The vampire Genevieve from the series by Jack Yeovil
4. Gwen Gelman of the Changeling series by Elaine Cunningham
5. Gwen Williams (YA) from the Others series by Karen Kincy
6. Gin Blanco from The Elemental Assassin series by Jennifer Estep
7. Gwenhyvar (Gwen) from the Hunters Moon (Chronicles of Faerie) by O. R. Melling
8. Gwendolyn the Timid from Gena Showalter’s Paranormal romance Darkest Whisper

Kat or Cat or Kate or Cate or Katherine or some variation

Meaning: Kate means “pure” and is English in origin
1. Catherine (Cat) Crawfield from the Night Huntress series by Jeaniene Frost
2. Kate Daniels from the Kate Daniels series by Ilona Andrews
3. Katherine Katt (aka Kitty) from Touched by an Alien by Gini Koch
4. Kitty Norville from the Kitty series by Carrie Vaughn
5. Catherine Marais from Melina Morel’s Institu Sceintifique series.

Cassandra/Cassie
Meaning: Cassandra is Greek and means “she who entangles men”. She was given the gift/curse of being able to see the future but no one would believe her
1. Cassandra Palmer from the Cassandra Palmer series by Karen Chance
2. Cassie Roux from Seduced by a Wolf by Terry Spear
3. Cassandra Renfield from Jen Nadol’s The Mark (YA)
4. Cassie from Ice by Sarah Beth Durst (YA)

Other common names seem to be Faithe/Faith/Faythe and some variation, and Eve/Eva/Evie. OK maybe it’s not as much as I thought there was because the lists I came up with aren’t THAT long, but it feels like there are a lot. Am I crazy or what?

Lauren Baratz-Logsted’s One Question Interview Blog Tour!

I got the chance to ask  Lauren Baratz-Logsted one question for her One Question Interview Blog Tour, and because I’m always interested in books people recommend to one another, it was this:

Q: I noticed in your bio that you used to work at a bookseller and you had other book related jobs. What are some of your favorite books to recommend people (let’s say top 5 or 10?) and why?

Lauren Baratz-LogstedA: Love in the Time of Cholera, by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. It’s my favorite novel by a living author. (The Great Gatsby is my favorite novel by a dead author.) I once saw someone on the beach reading it and experienced intense book envy that the person had the discovery of much of the book still ahead.


Freeze Frame, by Heidi Ayarbe. This YA novel about a boy who isn’t sure if he intended to kill his friend or not is a perfect example of why adults love YA these days too.


The Memoirs of Cleopatra, by Margaret George. The title tells you exactly what it’s about and this doorstopper has given me more pleasure than any other historical novel.

Breath, by Tim Winton. This Australian novel was my favorite adult novel in 2008. Without the framing device of an adult telling a story about his teenage self this could have been easily published as YA. The story, about a boy’s fascination with surfing and the dark road down which it leads him, is thoroughly gripping.


Forever on the Mountain, by James M. Tabor. A nonfiction account of a real mountain-climbing expedition gone bad, this is so well done that even though the reader knows from the start just exactly who will make it down the mountain and who will not, it’s still edge-of-the-seat suspenseful.


Cold Sassy Tree, by Olive Ann Burns. Back when I was a bookseller a woman came into the store wearing dark glasses. It was obvious she’d been crying. “Just give me something good to read,” she said. After mentally rejecting more serious literary and dark commercial fare for fear those books might send her running for the open windows, I handed her this charming crowd-pleaser. She bought it and came back the following week to thank me. She said I’d saved her life with that book. How can I not love and go on recommending a book that saved a woman’s life???


The Education of Bet
Lauren Baratz-Logsted

Baratz-Logsted has a new Young Adult novel, The Education of Bet, coming out on July 12th. The story is about a girl pretending to be a boy in Victorian England. From the blurb on Amazon:

“When Will and Bet were four, tragic circumstances brought them to the same house, to be raised by a wealthy gentleman as brother and sister. Now sixteen, they’ve both enjoyed a privileged upbringing thus far. But not all is well in their household. Because she’s a girl, Bet’s world is contained within the walls of their grand home, her education limited to the rudiments of reading, writing, arithmetic, and sewing. Will’s world is much larger. He is allowed—forced, in his case—to go to school. Neither is happy.

So Bet comes up with a plan and persuades Will to give it a try: They’ll switch places. She’ll go to school as Will. Will can live as he chooses. But once Bet gets to school, she soon realizes living as a boy is going to be much more difficult than she imagined.”

It sounds like it could be cute, especially since she develops a crush on her roommate at the Betterman Academy.

Previous stop (June 22) @ Persephone reads: If you could bring any character – not your own – to life for a day, who would it be and why?

Next stop (June 24) @Wendy Toliver: If an alien offered to give you any position in the world, what would you choose?

Originally posted on janicu.vox.com

Pet peeves: Monster Mash-ups

I’m going to put this under Pet Peeves, although this is more like.. an internal debate.

What do people think of monster mash-ups? What I mean by a monster mash-up is taking a famous piece of literature and splicing and dicing it and inserting things like vampires, werewolves or zombies to it. I think of a monster mash-up as actually using some dead author’s out-of-copyright words and putting in your own.

My first reaction to this idea was : I do not like it. It bothers me. My gut reaction is sort of like “Is nothing sacred?!” I guess I don’t have a sense of humor about it and kind of darkly eye each new ridiculous book that comes out and hops on the bandwagon. When AnimeJune posted a rant pretty much saying “WRITE YOUR OWN FUCKING BOOKS” I couldn’t agree more. Reading her rant makes me cheer.

But I’ve been thinking about it for a while because while I don’t like the idea of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, I am ok with modern day retellings of Pride and Prejudice – taking the basic idea of P&P, putting it in a modern setting with your own characters loosely based on the originals. So I think to myself – ah, your feeling side doesn’t like it, but aiie, logical side is wondering if you you are kind of hypocritical.

Damn you, logical side.

In the past week there’s been a lot of brouhaha online about fanfiction. I think it started with Diana Gabaldon’s post calling it “illegal” (although I think fan fiction falls under fair use). I noticed that Diana Gabaldon was OK with Pride and Prejudice and Zombies because the copyright for the original work had expired:

“Now, it’s possible to do this without being illegal, if you feel you just can’t get noticed on your own merits (and that being noticed is worth whatever it takes): you just do it with characters that are no longer under copyright. I.e., characters whose author is dead, and has been dead for…it was 75 years, last time I looked (copyright exists for the author’s life plus 75 years). So if the author of your characters died before 1935, you’re home free!

And some writers do this to good—or at least profitable—effect. Note PRIDE AND PREJUDICE AND ZOMBIES, for instance, or the many (many, many, many) imitators of Sherlock Holmes.

I think she’s right that the copyright has expired on Pride and Prejudice (and all the other Austen works) and so people can do whatever they want with it. There’s nothing illegal about literary monster mash-ups, despite what I may feel about them. And yet. I do think that it still feels wrong. Perhaps illogically so. It feels wrong seeing authors taking some dead author’s words, and then putting in their own.  I think that it’s too easy.  I wonder what the dead author would think if someone had taking their words and used them? I tell myself – well it’s not illegal, and it’s not plagiarism because they attribute the work to the original author, and it’s all for fun, so what’s the problem? Yeah. I don’t know. IT JUST BUGS ME SO MUCH! It smarts of plagiarism through legal loopholes!

And then I contemplate how much I love a good modern-day retelling of Austen, and isn’t that essentially fanfiction for sale? They may be using their own characters and settings but they are borrowing from Austen’s plot. Isn’t that plagiarism? Well, they’re taking the idea but not the actual words, but I see that there is a thin line and I may be splitting hairs in saying there is a difference.

Sigh. Anyway, I don’t like monster mash-ups. I do like modern day retellings. I do feel conflicted. Honestly – I want to have an open mind and maybe if I think about this more I will accept the existence of monster mash-ups, but the visceral, possibly hypocritical, part of me just wants the fad to die a fiery death.


What makes me even more hypocritical/confused is that I saw Pride and Prejudice and Zombies in graphic novel format, and because I feel like translating P&P into a graphic novel is different from straight taking Jane Austen’s words, I am more ok with it than Pride and Prejudice and Zombies the book. I’m not sure what to do with myself. This is like a crisis of faith.

Reading Raves: Matte and Glossy covers

moon called
There seems to be a debate on what looks classier – a book cover with a matte finish, or a cover with a glossy one. In bookstores here in the U.S,  I see a combination of both on the shelves, but I am not sure what the norm is elsewhere. In my searches about the topic I discovered posts discussing how in Canada, if the book is a trade paperback and glossy, people are more inclined to think that it is self published (apparently because of artist subsidies there, more self-pubbed books are found in bookstores? If the book is mass market paperback, the glossiness vs. matte thing doesn’t seem to matter as much). Meanwhile, I remember seeing a lot of matte or satin finished books in Europe, but I may be wrong. I found comments to the contrary, but I didn’t really spend much time searching. If you know, please comment.

Where do I stand? Give me a combination of matte & glossy! If there is one thing that I have a weakness for, it’s that feeling of smooth against rough and the reflection of a glossy image or embellishment against a matte background, or vice versa. It’s sadly not something I often see in the genre books I read, although I see it more often in young adult books. It just makes me go a little wide-eyed and “Oooh, pretty!” when I see a cover where more than just the art is considered. The extra little something like raised lettering and this finish adds to the experience (and I don’t know if an e-book could ever replicate it). I tell you: be still my beating heart!

I spent some time trying to figure out what this combination was called by the printers, but I still have no clue. Is it Matte with: varnish? Laminate? UV coating? Aqueous coating? The more I googled, the less I knew.

blood of the demonI raided my bookshelves to try to show you my favorite covers, but they are really difficult to photograph. There’s the Patricia Briggs Mercy Thompson series (the US covers), that have a metallic sheen and Mercy in slightly raised glossy relief. (Cover illustration by Dan Dos Santos, cover design by Judith Lagerman).

Then there is of course the Kara Gillian books by Diana Rowland. The symbols on the cover you can see when you tilt it are so pretty. I just love it! (Cover illustration by Juliana Kolesova, cover design by Dreu Pennington-McNeil)

Other books and series I own with this effect (there are sadly not many. Although I have a bunch with shiny fonts against a matte background, I’m not counting those):

  • The Night Angel trilogy by Brent Weeks (this is a reverse of the usual. It has a shiny cover with the character image in matte)
  • The Alpha and Omega series by Patricia Briggs
  • The Hollow Kingdom by Clare B. Dunkle
  • Geektastic: Stories from the Nerd Herd anthology


detail of Geektastic cover

Pet Peeve: Sex & Water

Good lord. Today has been kicking my butt. Car troubles plus crazy work = frazzled janicu. I was hoping to have time to work on my review for Going Too Far by Jennifer Echols but it just didn’t happen. And I thought I would do a reading rave first, but the one I was planning needs more research. So here goes with a little ranting.

Sex under water. I read about the hero and heroine getting it on in some underground grotto, pool, river, lake or ocean and all I can think is  “That is just NOT sanitary!” DO YOU KNOW how women are made? And how the thrusting that the guy is doing UNDER WATER is moving STUFF into her? Like.. microbes in the water, or eeee, SAND! *shudder*. Also these scenes don’t usually involve a condom, which is not good, but if there was one, I’m wondering about the risk of it slipping off in the water anyway. It’s a little better when the couple does it on the edge of the body of water, but I’m still thinking about dirt, UTIs or other not fun infections in the private bits. Also: OMG, CHAFING?!

This is what about.com says about Water Sex and Infections:

Having sex in a pool or Jacuzzi poses a higher risk of infection. According to research at the University of California, Santa Barbara, water teeming with microbes can get forced into the vagina. “Sometimes residential (and commercial) hot tubs, pools and Jacuzzis are not chlorinated adequately, increasing the amount of bacteria they contain and the likelihood of an infection. Even if the water has a chlorine level in accordance to government standards, there is still a risk of infection.” Also, “chlorine may disrupt healthy bacteria and change the natural pH in the vagina leading to a yeast infection.”

Having sex in the ocean or a lake can also pose problems. Although these places do not pose chemical/chlorine issues, according to Health & Sexuality columnist, Lisa Hermann, you should “be aware that natural bodies of water have the potential to harbor some unusual bacteria and/or amoebas” which could put a woman at risk for a urinary tract infection.

Women are more susceptible to infections during water sex due to their anatomical differences. This risk includes sexually transmitted infections, urinary tract infections, yeast infections, and the added issue of sexual friction (due to less lubrication) that can result in irritation and micro-tears to the vaginal walls. These tears open up a direct route for infections and could increase the chances of catching a sexually transmitted disease.

Do I need to be thinking about this stuff when I read a sex scene? NO!! Please make it stop.

Now.. am I crazy in thinking these thoughts when I read one of those scenes? This is normal right? To think this? Right?

Kitty no!
original kitty image is from here