Monday, December 31, 2012

Books of The Year 2012 and Things to Come

I read forty-three books this year; of which three were non-fiction (a record for me); and only one of which was released this year.  All things considered I feel really good about what I read this year and my ever discerning ability to pick out books in new genres and by new authors that I am predisposed to liking.  Like years past there were some high points, some middling 'blah', and some epochal lows.

This year I have to make special mention of my reading saving grace which would unequivocally be young adult fiction.  Everything and everyone from Cassandra Clare, to Lemony Snicket, to Tamora Pierce: you restored my interest in reading tenfold and I'm forever thankful.  I've managed to find a balance in my reading material that has been lost to me ever since I phased out adult fantasy.  The variety keeps me going and the writer's voice that is so wholly different from the high and mighty stuff that I think I've taken a liking too is really refreshing.   
And now I'm done babbling…

This is officially not a "Best Books of 2012" list.  As previously noted, I've only read one book from this year.  As such, these are the books that stood out to me--enough to merit some special designation--at the end of my year of reading.  

Most Forgettable Reads

I'm conflicted already.  Can I give this to a book I didn't finish?  Maria once told me that bad books make for great reviews and to that end I've noticed that what I think is my best commentary comes from books I didn't enjoy.  For that very reason I tried--actively tried--to get through Eight White Nights by Andre Aciman if only so I could tell people in detail why I thought it was so awful.  This will have to do…  So let's say I have to give this dubious mention to a book I actually finished as there is a chance against all chances that Eight White Nights redeems itself.  I'd have to go with Breakable You by Brian Morton I liked the story better than Fire by Kristen Cashore but the former was more of a mess.  Actually just stay away from both.  

Biggest Surprise

Young adult fiction as a genre has to get mentioned here for reasons I've already given.  Another surprise in this year's reading is how much I laughed.  BADASS is hysterical.  My Cross to Bear is equally funny for completely different reasons.  Nicole Krauss, Michael Chabon, John Green and of all people C.S. Lewis with The Screwtape Letters all got me laughing; not to mention a vast host of short story writers.  The book that surprised me the most was probably Fire by Kristen Cashore in terms of how much I didn't care for it after loving her first book so much.  

Best New Author Discovery

John Green.  

This couldn't have been easier.  Paper Towns doesn't seem to be anything special in Green's oeuvre kinda like Beethoven's second or eight symphony.  And just like Beethoven if Paper Towns isn't special I can't wait to get to the really good stuff.  He's an insanely popular author, number one bestseller on every list ever who doesn't need me to do any cheer leading for him.  All that said, from about twenty pages into Paper Towns Green's fans were officially Legion plus one.  

And now I'm going to invent a category… 

My Favorite book of 2012

Ones favorite and the perceived or proven best of anything rarely coincide.  My favorite college basketball team didn't win the NCAA championship last year (I'll uphold the belief we were the best until made to contend with insurmountable injuries).  UNC will always be my favorite college basketball team but with books it changes year-to-year and therefor I don't state a case for my favorite book and what I thought was the best.  I don't know why I don't, but there it is.  This year, I don't care… 

No one can tell you how badass Katsa is, you have to read Graceling for yourself and find out.  She is so all-around amazing I want her featured in the next installment of Ben Thompson's BADASSGraceling has everything.  If you don't like this book we can't be friends.  

The Best Book I Read in 2012

Anyone remember when the Pulitzer prize committee didn't pick a winner for the fiction category in 2012?  While I wasn't outraged like many in publishing (as if I have anything invested in the matter) I thought it was bullshit.  Now I'm kinda changing my tune.  I read a lot of really good stuff this year.  I can't stress that last sentence enough.  Great stuff like Daniel Martin, The Windup Girl, The History of Love, Hate List, The Glass Room, and The New York Trilogy, but I didn't read anything that absolutely knocked the air out of my lungs.  And I don't want this meager honor to come across as apathetic: all the above books were great, and perhaps that is what I'm struggling with.  The fact that I can't say, "The best book I read this year are the seven books I just mentioned."  It's a good problem to have.

Once Was Lost by Sara Zarr did manage to stand out among all else I read this year.  The tone of voice, pacing, characterization, sensitivity, and sense of reality were all amazing.  It's a sad story but hard to describe as anything but beautiful.  Zarr is without doubt an author I'll be visiting again.      

I didn't read anything from the national book of the year award list for the first time in three years and the oversight was completely accidental.  In 2013 I plan to get through the three books that caught my interest This is How you Lose Her by Junot Diaz, Goblin Secrets by William Alexander and Out of Reach by Carrie Arcos.  Reading three books from those nominated is two more than I usually do but all three of those got me curious. 

As to other books I'm planning on reading in 2013 Andrzej Sapkowski's works are getting further translation and so I hope to look in on Blood of Elves now that it doesn't seem to stand alone.  I have high hopes for this book considering it's acclaim and how much I like The Last Wish, a short story collection by the same author.  Holly Black is a short story writer whose works I've always liked when I've come across them but I've never sought out her fiction.  I plan to do so with Doll Bones, just because it all sounds so bizarre.  Catherynne M. Valente is responsible for the what is easily one of the most original and intriguing series I've ever read with her Dirge for Prester John.  I'm hoping the third and final installment will be out sometime in the coming year.  That's it for what I know of that I'm looking forward but as always this list will grow exponentially as the year goes on.

Lastly, I'm still considering recruiting a few others for the short story blog I mentioned in my previous post and more regular reading of young adult fiction. 

Hoping everyone had an amazing 2012 and that your fridge is overflowing with Bollinger in 2013. 

Saturday, December 29, 2012

The Month in Review and of Things to Come

I'm usually late with these end of the month wrap ups so I thought I'd surprise you and post early.  

I saw a whopping two movies this month; both of which were based off books.  Reacher I saw with my sisters and a few cousins Christmas day not because anyone wanted to see it but because there was no consensus and while no one was excited about seeing it everyone could agree to watch it.  That said, it was an enjoyable way to spend two hours and we all had fun.  I think a lot of people read a book and try to envision how it would work on screen.  I watched Reacher and enjoyed it for what it was but could never stop thinking about what would have been expanded, or further developed in the book.  Also, Hollywood still has no clue how head injuries work.  I'm not movie aficionado enough to say where this problem started but a baseball bat to the doom means you're not getting up for a long time...

The other movie I saw I've been actively planning to dislike for the past six months.  The Hobbit was awesome.  I was blown away by how much I liked it.  It didn't feel as long as it was and much like my thoughts on Lord of The Rings; the film (at least this third) far surpassed the book.  Even though it seems to be the norm I'm not yet used to film length pushing upwards of two and half hours, but in the case of The Hobbit it all worked.  Radagast could have been cut out.  (And if he had to be left in did his face really have to be covered in bird shit?  Really?)  It took them far to long to escape goblin town.  And that 'party' in the beginning could have been trimmed but still that movie flew by and was super fun.  

So much fun (and such a tease as to the story's completion) that I picked up the book and read it for the second time in about seventeen years.  I'm not a Tolkien fan.  His pacing and the sense of story aren't for me.  I do like his sense of history and sheer amount of crap he can cram into a book.  My sole exception regarding stuff by Tolkien that I really enjoyed would be The Silmarillion.  It reads like a history book: non-fiction.  That said Guy Gavriel Kay was that books 'ghostwriter' and I like his narrative voice far better than Tolkien's.  

Other books I read this month were Flights, Coraline, and The Club Dumas all of which were excellent.  

Of particular interest I came across a blog call Storied Beginnings this month.  The owner attempted to read a short story a day and leave comments.  I love the idea.  I know I wouldn't be able to follow through.  (And guessing from the last post on that blog I don't think the owner did either.)  It's a bigger task than it sounds, but I think if I had a little help from a few other interested parties I could put together a pretty bad ass blog.  I may work toward that in the new year; anyone reading let me know if you're interested.  

As far as what is to come; I've gotta work on my best of the year awards which will be up soon.  And next month I'm being ambitious and planning to read a fist full of adult stuff and knock out a lot from my unread shelves.  Everything I'm planning on is kinda big so wish me luck.    

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Flights: Extreme Visions of Fantasy edited by Al Sarrantonio

I should start off by saying 'I've no idea what 'Flights' is supposed to mean and only a vague idea of what the secondary title is supposed to infer.'  While this bothered me, it didn't affect my enjoyment in reading this mammoth collection.  The unifying element is fantasy of all kinds.  There are some great stories, some great writing and on a few occasions, both at the same time.  

Riding Shotgun by Charles de Lint is the connoisseurs gem in this collection.  A man lives his life in shame as he was the drunk driver in an accident that killed his brother only to be given a second chance and see what would have happen had their places been switched.  What we see in the alternate life is anything but what the narrator expects and he quickly tries to find a way to make sure his brother stays dead.  This was an interesting look at the 'one more chance at life' ghost story and it's de Lint's voice and story twist that make it so special.  

Robert Silverberg in The Sorcerer's Apprentice (that has to be the title of hundreds of short stories and novels) also subverts common troupes as the down on his luck, broke, middle-aged man decides on a career change and puts himself in the tutelage of a younger, beautiful sorcerer and the ensuing relationship is anything but cliched.  

Nina Kiriki Hoffman was not content in giving readers the expected story in Relations where a capricious spirit seeks to enthrall a young man with her spells only to find out that she has been subtlety beaten to the punch and that perhaps, despite her anger at being out witted, she doesn't want to fight against him.  

Aside from the unexpected twist in the familiar settings by short story masters Flights was also filled with a lot of humor.  Tots by Peter Schneider detailed an illegal child fighting ring similar to MMA and while I'll understand if you're skeptical, trust me: it was hilarious.  Tourist by Neal Barrett, Jr. is a realistic bus tour through hell with a particular group of 'little old ladies' who have the most bizarre questions and thoughts on the sights they see.  Fallen Angel by L. E. Modessitt, Jr while not exactly written as comedy has more than enough implied jokes and social thought for those who aren't afraid to laugh at the serious nature of church dogma.  Bill, the Little Steam Shovel was easily the most surprising in the collection.  After all, children's stories and Joe R Lansdale should never be put together.  Happily he started swearing in the third paragraph destroying all pretense and farce.  This story felt like a "Thomas the Train" episode gone horribly wrong, with death, sex, swearing and even morals.  While the story was great--and extremely funny in places--parts felt forced and Lansdale was pigeon holing himself into a character's voice that never really felt his own.    

There was also a handful of very well done 'standard fantasy' tales which are always welcome in an anthology of this size and variety.  The Silver Dragon by Elizabeth A Lynn has everything any fan of traditional secondary world fantasy could want.  A Tower with No Doors by Dennis L. McKiernan reads like a fairy tale in the most comforting sense of the phrase as we see a young prince get himself into trouble with a beautiful, damned, young woman who is more than she seems.  Patricia Mckillip delivers with Out of the Woods as she continues to prove genius in terms of short fiction and not so much in her novels, or at least for this reader.  

It's no stretch to say that there is a fair bit of horror in Flights.  What was easily the best inclusion in the entire, near 600 page collection was Six Hypotheses by Joyce Carol Oates.  It attempts to chronicle an entire family's fall into madness and the 'illness' that claimed them.  It's not scary, nor would I call it uncomfortable.  It is without doubt horror.  It's also brilliant.  Perchance to Dream by David Morrell dealt with a man's unique sleep disorder and how it was affecting his life.  Unfortunately while the story was great and the writing more than held up the psychological revelations at the end underminded the power of my imagination and the resulting conclusion left me a bit angry.  Neil Gaiman's--yes, I'm talking about horror in a fantasy anthology and mentioned Neil Gaiman--The Problem of Susan is a profound look at the sole Pevensie survivor from C.S. Lewis' The Chronicles of Narnia.  Ever wonder how Susan's life went post-Narnia?  Gaiman, through a contemporary lens that is sure to be at-odds with Lewis, gives us his take.  It's brutal and terse and very unapologetic and probably far more realistic in direction than Lewis would ever have thought to go.  That last one might have been my favorite even if I never did want to think about Edmund being decapitated.  

If Riding Shotgun is only for the hardcore, and Six Hypotheses for the willing adventurous few, then Golden City Far by Gene Wolfe has to be the mass market appeal system seller.  If ever there were a short story I wanted to be expanded into a full blown novel of it's own, this would be it.  (Which is part of the reason Golden City Far works so well as a long short story.)    A schoolboy dreams and treats his dreams as real.  People tell him he's crazy and his psychologist has a hard time pinning down his ailment.  Other people start affecting his dreams and the dream people interact with folks from his school and readers have a very difficult time understanding what is the real reality: school and football or what we thought to be his 'dreams.'  Wolfe has a way of writing that makes me feel that every now and then I skipped a page, but he also empowers me enough to make sense of things on my own.  All is explained at the end and this story is so good that I feel it would justify the purchase of Flights to the reader who didn't like anything else in the collection.    

There were a few that aren't worth mention and a few others that had no appeal to me (the attraction to Tim Powers and Elizabeth Hand still elude me) but as big and varied as Flights is I should think there is more than a little for everyone to like.  Easily the best short story collection I've come across this year and while I haven't read many, the quality of the collections I have read make that last comment hit hard if only to me.   

Monday, December 17, 2012

Random Free Reading, Shopping, Putting English in it's Place and my First New Year's Resolution

In my reading of short stories I regularly come across the name Nina Kiriki Hoffman.  I'm always blown away by her writing.  I never follow up on her; only to stumble across her name in a later anthology or year's best collection to start the process over again.  I'm calling myself out: my next book purchase will absolutely contain something by Nina Kiriki Hoffman.  She is awesome and a favored author of mine; why have I not treated myself before?  

I looked around for what to buy and why by Ms Hoffman and, in addition to answers to those questions, I came across a buncha free reading by the author.  Should anyone else be curious (which you should be) and can tolerate reading on a computer screen (sometimes I can't) Futures in the Memories Market (great title don't you think?) is at Clarkesworld; Ghost Hedgehog is at; and Firebugs is from Eclipse online.  They are all great short stories though none rival my favorite from Hoffman.  After linking to all those stories I think I'll be getting a novel and a short story collection in my new year's Hoffman purchase.  

I went shopping today to trade in a few books and upon entering Books for Less second store, a local bookseller I give all my money to, I was rendered unable to shop.  I'm so accustomed to the other store, the layout, 'clutter,' the excessive inventory, and the slightly claustrophobic feeling of the store that the Alpharetta location's open spaces breathing room actually worked as a turn off.  Go figure that one out... I think this store had more stuff than the one I'm inclined to like but none of the past years worth of history and romantic involvement to make me like it.

What's wrong with me?  

So to get a dose of 'normal' I went to a Barnes and Noble and while I didn't buy anything I did take notice of a bit of bookstore layout that really appealed to me.  The young adult books (resisting the urge to preach about how stupid this, and other, genre appellations are) were separated by "New Young Adult Books"; "Young Adult Books" which I took to be anything not 'new'; and "Paranormal Young Adult Books".  Perhaps they could do so as the store didn't stock the same physical quantity of all things young adult as they did adult, but whatever the reason, I really liked this distinction.  At a glance I could find the young adult stuff without a trace of vampires, werewolves or any fantasy elements.  (Not that there is anything wrong with that it's just not what I'm feeling right now.)  As cool as I thought this separation was, woe betide the poor book clerk that has to make such a distinction in the "adult fiction" area should ever such a mandate come down... 

Oh, before I left Books for Less I did by Coraline by Neil Gaiman.  It was on the checkout counter and I didn't have to shop to find it.  I'll finish it tonight.  Speaking of Gaiman I found this while looking for Hoffman short stories.  Haven't read it yet but I'm looking forward to it.  I think the title is supposed to be a play on the first sentence of Robert Graves I, Claudius a book that I, and anyone else who has read it, loved.  Okay fine, some of you didn't click the link; I'll entice you with the story's title:    I, Cthulhu, or What's a Tentacle-Faced Thing Like Me Doing In A Sunken City Like This (Latitude 47 9' S, Longitude 126 43' W)?

With the completion of The Club Dumas I'm pretty sure that Arturo Perez-Reverte has become my second most read author behind Gene Wolf.  (I'm not counting David Gemmell, Michael Crichton, or John Grisham as I haven't reading anything by any of them in years.)  I feel stupid saying this but Perez-Reverte has a blog: it's in Spanish.  Ya know; because he's Spanish if the name didn't give it away.  This thought never occurred to me before.  I like him.  He blogs regularly and says interesting things and when I'm not being super lazy, I can make myself read Spanish.  It boggles my mind to think I hadn't come across this before... as if I'm surprised the whole world doesn't speak English. 

The final bit in today's exposé of randoms: I could swear I owned a copy of Michael Chabon's Wonderboys.  I know I do!  I can't find it and it's what I want to read right now.  It's possible I'm dreaming I own something I don't or it's possible it's in my collection and I can't find it.  (Not likely...)  

Where did that book go?!?!

The Club Dumas by Arturo Perez-Reverte

"Listen, Corso, there are no innocent readers anymore.  Each overlays the text with his own perverse view.  A reader is the total of all he's read, in addition to all the films and television he's seen.  To the information supplied by the author he'll always add his own.  And that's where the danger lies: an excess of references cause you to create the wrong opponent, or an imaginary opponent." Page 303  

In which I discover new levels of ambivalence… 

Love it or hate it?  No; that's definitely not my conflict with this book.  I either loved it or I'm indifferent; only I don't know which.  Or perhaps, there is a third option: that I'm in limbo, flux between loving The Club Dumas and feeling indifference; angry at being made to devour a book so compulsively and at its end feeling nothing but uncertainty.   

The Club Dumas is a love letter to books; their history, craftsmanship, authors, collectors, and readers.  It is also a murder mystery, 'lets summon the Devil' kind of affair.  Lucas Corso works in the book industry preforming many varied odd jobs: acquisitions of rare works, authentication of others, restoration.  He never performs any of these task himself, he is a brilliant third party, but it is on the behalf of others that he facilitates a great host of book related jobs.

Flavio la Point has just come across what appears to be an original chapter in Dumas' handwriting from The Three Musketeers and has asked Lucas to have the work authenticated.  Varo Borja, a wealthy collector, is newly convinced that his copy of The Nine Doors, one of three in existence, is a forgery and wants it compared to the other two know copies.  He too contacts Corso with this potentially very lucrative job.

As Corso travels from Spain to Portugal to France to complete these two jobs we meet a handful of people.  We see people who are associated with books to a degree that most readers probably won't have thought possible.  Booksellers and publishers of only the most obscure works.  Collectors with impossibly large, private libraries and those with libraries of a seemingly negligible quantity yet priceless value.  Most interesting of the people we see in following Corso are the slightly sinister Cenzia brothers who are prized restorers of ancient texts.  They not only explain their process of treating works hundreds of years old but also elucidate how forgeries could come about and why one may seek to do so.  In both cases the reasons are stunning and not what you'd think.  

For the duration of the novel readers try to discern a connection between a possible handwritten copy of Dumas' text and a cipher in The Nine Doors that may evoke Satan.  And then people start dying; the previous owner of the Dumas chapter, and both other owners of The Nine Doors.  There are mysterious figures following Corso.  Figures who we come to call Rochefort--Dumas' villain--and also a semi-divine, archangel of deus ex machina named Irene Adler… of 223 Baker Street… 

It's no spoiler to say that Irene is Corso guardian angle.  Only after having read the book I'm not sure what that means.  She represents more than just the hero's convenient assistance and at times hinges on the fantastic yet if it weren't for an illustration in my copy in which she subtly was depicted as having wings (I missed it the first time I looked at the picture) I'm not sure I could excuse her inclusion.  

There is a mystery in trying to establish a connection between the two text in Corso's possession and by the end all things are explained.  Whether or not the resolution is satisfactory is moot and will probably vary from reader to reader.  I quoted the passage in the beginning for a reason: whatever you bring to the table in reading The Club Dumas will probably have a great affect of what you make of it.  If you, like the author or Terry Weyna, have read seemingly everything under the sun since the destruction of the library at Alexandria then I both pity and envy the ride you'd get from this novel.  The connection between the two text is little more than what the reader makes them out to be.  I'm not sure if this is an admirable feat or not, but considering the novel's tension and over all level of reader anxiety due to plot events when you add in whatever your own imagination brings to the table I can near guarantee The Club Dumas is impossible to walk away from.  I have no clue what happened at the end and this is either a great accomplishment or tragic short coming.  

My confusion reminds me a bit of when I read The Red Tree by Caitlain R Kiernan.  If story events were taken at face value then the book was modest fantasy but if upon conclusion of the novel a reader decides 'this woman is insane' then one gets an entirely different (far more fulfilling) reading experience.  The Club Dumas isn't the same kind of novel as The Red Tree where it's possible that the entire story is taking place in the narrator's head, only that the end of each novel made me wonder "What did I just read and was I mislead from the very beginning?"          

I've never encountered a bit of meta-fiction like this before.  At a certain point I had to put the book down and laugh because the author wouldn't stop: Perez-Reverte indirectly name drops Umberto Eco, the title of a book that at the time the author has yet to publish let alone write and passes it off as a historical reference (that one literally took my breathe away The Chevalier in the Yellow Doublet if you're wondering), the incessant references--some overt others equally as subtle--to Dumas, Doyal, Milton, Dickens, Dostoevsky and others.  (In no way does one need to be familiar with the preceding writers to enjoy the book but I should think greater awareness could enhance the reading experience.)  And then there is the Subterranean Press edition I'm reading: a beautiful signed, numbered collectors edition…with typos.  So inherent to The Club Dumas are issues such as a books quality, presentation, preservation, and legitimacy that upon finding a few errs I had to think if the publisher and author were playing a joke to mess with my head while thinking of all the things the Cenzia brothers are capable of doing to a book while 'restoring' it.  Perez-Reverte even makes significant references to fictional books that his own characters have written in his other historical fiction.  The aspect of all this meta-fiction that is to be admired is that all of it felt organic; none of it was forced.  It all felt as if it served the story and had purpose.  An obvious labor of love.  

The author's research really stands out in this work.  He makes talk of book craftsmanship, collecting, storage and restoration among other topics interesting while embracing the fact that such notions may not be among the liveliest to base a novel around.  How he presents what he has researched--all of which is vital to the story--for the most part works and comes across as believable.  Experts in esoteric fields like to share what they know when they have a captivated audience and so even if Corso knows most of what he hears from the people he encounters he indulges their talk if only to pick up on the stray unknown detail and we--the reader or fellow book lover--gobble up every word.  Only once did I feel that I was being preached to and even then what was being communicated was so interesting to me (probably not so much to Corso) that I had no problem excusing the passage.  

There is a word that I've never thought meant anything concrete that is regularly associated with The Club Dumas: literary.  I don't know what that word means and those who regularly bandy it about can't define it in less that 423 pages, rather like postmodern.  For me it's easier to understand this word association looking at an antonym: genre.  The pacing of The Club Dumas is off for a thriller; the characters too well developed and fleshed out for a typical  murder mystery, and yet the heart of the book is the compelling allure and formulaic approach that makes genre fiction work.  (Yet another bit of meta-fiction talked about in the story.)    

It's atmospheric and dark and as we learn more about The Nine Doors, The Club Dumas feels a bit like something that we perhaps shouldn't be reading.  The literary fiction snobs feel free to claim any book as their own as long it is deemed 'good' by the powers that be.  I'm not on of those readers but I doubt they, like I, could decide what to make of The Club Dumas.  For me this novel, with it's overzealous bad guys and unexplained angels, either fell flat after an amazing build up or succeed on a level that I'm currently not able to appreciate.  

Does all that count as an endorsement?  

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

The Month in Review and of Things to Come

So I did a lot of reading this month.  Better still the overwhelming amount of what I read was really good.  It always seems that I have one month out of the year when all of the best stuff presents itself to me at once.  That said I kinda wish my reading for November came earlier in the year to so I'd have more time to gather my thoughts concerning my end of the year awards.  Oh well, thems the breaks. 

This was the first month in a while in which I got through five novels: Between Shades of Gray (a title that I can associate no meaning to the book), Hate List, Paper Towns, and Once was Lost were all unconditionally exceptional.  It's kinda lame to say that as they are all known titles by established authors, some even won awards and the others were all nominated.  I didn't discover anything by saying these were great reads rather I'm reaffirming what so many already concluded.  I'd hate to pick a novel as the best read this month even though I'll essentially be doing that in a few weeks...  I think I've said enough about Fire and this seems to be a safe enough distance from the other titles mentioned in this paragraph. 

I also made a big dent in an excellent short story collection by Al Sarrantonio Flights.  I'll have much much more to say about that in my forthcoming review.  Oddly, of all the reading I did in November Neil Gaiman's story The Problem of Susan was the one that stuck out the most.  The reasons why are many; primarily: I like Gaiman, and I love Narnia. 

Also this past month's reading brought to mind a few essay type things I need to attempt.  One would be on the absurdity and fruitlessness of swearing in a secondary fantasy world if the author is not going to use real world expletives.  The other, which would be much harder to write--that said, both are beyond my ability--would deal the definition of 'young adult fiction,' because existing definitions are lacking to ludicrous. 

So my sister thinks it's hilarious that I'm reading all the 'kid stuff' I've been reading lately and tells me if I'm gonna talk about books I need to get back to the grown up stuff.  Needless to say I'll have more on that later but looking forward to December I do plan on reading more books for big people.  I'm going to finish the decidedly not for children's Flights and also plan to get to The Prestige by Christopher Priest, and The Dumas Club by Artuo Perez-Reverte.  If the holidays don't get the best of me I may manage to knock out another but I'm playing it safe as of now. 

And speaking of things I wanted to be reading this month anyone know what up with Catherynne Valente's newest book in the Dirge for Prester John series?  I was really hoping it would be out now-ish.  Or even right now. 

Christmas... Holidays... Blah...