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7/9/23 EMT | Main | CCP Slogans? Or a Roadmap For A Chinese World?
"No person and no force can stop the march of the Chinese people toward better lives!"
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July 09, 2023

Sunday Morning Book Thread - 07-09-2023 ["Perfessor" Squirrel]

070923-Library.jpg

Welcome to the prestigious, internationally acclaimed, stately, and illustrious Sunday Morning Book Thread! The place where all readers are welcome, regardless of whatever guilty pleasure we feel like reading. Here is where we can discuss, argue, bicker, quibble, consider, debate, confabulate, converse, and jaw about our latest fancy in reading material. As always, pants are required, unless you are wearing these pants...

So relax, find yourself a warm kitty (or warm puppy--I won't judge) to curl up in your lap, fire up that waffle iron, and dive into a new book. What are YOU reading this fine morning?


PIC NOTE

All Hail Eris posted the following comment last week:

I did a Pinterest pull on "bathroom libraries" and there were some splendiferous, nay, commodious examples of luxe libraries.

Some are centered on the bathtub, but a few brave examples show a terlit surrounded by shelves.

Posted by: All Hail Eris at July 02, 2023 09:12 AM (CiQt2)

So I thought I'd dig up a pic of a man (maybe me) sitting in his tub surrounded by his favorite friends. I would visit my grandparents when I was younger (they passed away a number of years ago), and they had a shelf of Reader's Digest magazines in the bathroom. In my current house, the bathrooms are among the few rooms that *don't* have books in them, though the master bath does have bookshelves right outside the door.

A SERIES ON SERIES...

As I've been reading the Special Agent Pendergast series lately, it occurred to me that there are several *types* of series, though there are different ways of categorizing them. Let's do a quick recap of some possible categorizations. I'll go into more details about them in future installments of the Sunday Morning Book Thread.

"Closed" or "Complete" Series -- I use this term to refer to series such as trilogies, quadrilogies, quintets, sextets, etc. Any series that has a story that is told in a very specific number of books with a well-defined beginning, middle, and end. Most of these can be found in the fantasy genre, though you'll also find them in the science fiction genre, or even a blended genre of fantasy and science fiction. You can thank the Series That Shall Not Be Named written by a certain Oxford professor for kickstarting this type of series. These series tend to be plot-driven, rather than character-driven, though there are, of course, exceptions to every rule

Open-ended Series -- An open-ended series is much more character-driven than the previous category. Often, they revolve around a single character or even a small group of characters who then go on a series of adventures. Successful authors who write these stories can write them indefinitely if they continue to make money for the publisher. In extreme cases, an open-ended series might be written by numerous authors if the original author passes away and the publisher is able to continue the series. The Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew books are a classic case of this type of series that are written indefinitely. In some open-ended series, you may find character development over time, while in others, the characters are relatively static and don't change much from book to book.

Series-Within-Series -- Some authors choose to write multiple series set within the same universe, thus creating their own massive worlds with complex plots and characters that may crisscross and intersect with each other. Brandon Sanderson's "Cosmere" is a good example of this where he has numerous series of books that are all interconnected through the overarching "Cosmere." Terry Brooks' Shannara series contains numerous trilogies and quadrilogies all set within a linear timeline spanning thousands of years.

Collaborative Series -- This is a somewhat unusual category. I'm not talking about a series written by a writing duo, like Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman. No, this is a series where each book is written by a different author, yet the series as a whole tells a coherent story using the same characters (mostly) from book to book. I have a few interesting examples of this that I'll discuss in a future Sunday Morning Book Thread because I find it a fascinating exercise in collaborative writing. It doesn't always work, though. You can often find them in series that are set in an Expanded Universe like Star Wars or Forgotten Realms.

Anyway, these are just a few ways in which series of books can be categorized. I'm sure there are lots of other variations out there. Many categorizations might be genre-dependent, so I'd love to know if there are specific series categories that may show up in romance, for instance, or westerns, or mysteries that don't show up in other genres. As always, I tend to use examples from my own reading experience and I'd love to hear about your own examples down in the comments.

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BOOKS BY MORONS

ASOS 1 cover.jpg A Symphony of Sorrows (Book 1 of The Vivichemist's Codex) by Keira Zelek

Ebook is available for purchase at $5.99, or can be read for free with a Kindle Unlimited subscription. A paperback version is coming soon, roughly estimated to release within the next 3 months. As of right now, however, I haven't set a price point for it yet.

Link: A Symphony of Sorrows

Description:

One more job shouldn't have mattered.

As a Royal Vivichemical Physician serving the Mantle of the Sovereign, he'd dealt with more than his share of the aristocracy before. Blood, sweat, sleepless nights, and a willingness to do what many would decry as wrong were how he achieved his worth. After all, it takes a certain kind of man to willingly enter the medical profession. And, for three-hundred and sixty-five years, Azarel Vyrzan was considered the best in his field.

He never expected a simple misdiagnosis to cost him everything.

With his Mantle revoked and himself under investigation for murder, Azarel has been forced to remain homebound, spending the last fourteen years of his everlasting life stuck in mundanity. So, when a mysterious letter arrives from an emperor in a foreign land, Azarel figures he has nothing left to lose by accepting a contract halfway across the known world.

He couldn't have been any more wrong.

A Symphony of Sorrows is the first book in The Vivichemist's Codex, a darkly insidious fantasy series filled with courtly intrigue, strange bedfellows, and horrors inspired by the ghoulishness of Victorian-era medicine.

Keira has an additional question for the Horde:

I'm also more than happy to talk to any fellow members of the Horde, and take whatever advice they'd be willing to share with me. Being a first-timer (and an admittedly cocky 26 year old who wants to turn her writing into a full-time career), it has definitely been a very daunting experience trying to figure all of this stuff out, haha.

If it helps at all, my rough estimate for getting the paperback released is hopefully within the next 3 months. The main problem I'm running into right now is figuring out how to do the formatting for it, and if I need to obtain a Library of Congress Control Number before I can actually publish it. I did buy my own ISBN for the ebook, so I know how to do that, thankfully. The part that's irritating me a little bit is that I used the Kindle Create program that Amazon has to do my ebook, and I thought it was also supposed to do formatting for the physical copies. But, as I'm reading through KDP, it apparently doesn't accept files made with Kindle Create and only wants them in some ultra-specific PDF format. So, it's been a little bit of a nightmare trying to figure out the paperback side of things. It is coming, though. :)

+++++

Weirddave alerted me to a new release from Moron Author Matt DiPalma on the Thursday Night ONT:

tears of jet.jpg

You should mention Tears of Jet [Amazon Link - PS], new book by Moron author Matt DiPalma (I don't know his screen name). I won his first book, For Love Of Dora, at the NoVaMoMe a couple of years ago and really liked it. I told him so, and mentioned it on an ONT. He just sent me this one and I'm enjoying it as well. Sci-fi, I'm about 75% through.

Posted by: Weirddave at July 06, 2023 10:14 PM (uwLpe)

++++++++++

MORON RECOMMENDATIONS

Currently I'm on a Lawrence Block kick. Resume Speed is a 2016 novella in book form; crime is involved only on the edges, and it's still terrifically readable. Right now, his short story collection Catch and Release from Hard Case Crime. It contains one story, "Dolly's Trash and Treasures," featuring the ultimate hoarder. The writing is a tour de force: There are no dialog tags, no "he said" or "He scratched his chin," dialog only. Yet we always know who is talking because characters address each other by name, and the voice of the title character is very different from the people from Child Protective Services who are visiting her, etc.

I want to copy a page or two of this and bring it to the guy in my writing group who complains he often does not know who is speaking in my work. He seems to think you have to have a dialog tag a lot more often than you do.

Posted by: Wolfus Aurelius, Dreaming of Elsewhere at July 02, 2023 09:10 AM (omVj0)

Comment: I teach writing to students. Not creative writing, though I encourage them to use elements of storytelling in at least one of their assignments, as that will make for a more engaging paper. When we learn how to teach writing, we are encouraged to model the behavior we want to see. For example, showing the writer in the writing group a sample and then demonstrating the process through your own writing is one way to illustrate just *why* that writing technique can be used effectively for telling a story.

+++++

I recently read an oldie-but-still-goodie: The Conquest of Gaul by Julius Caesar (by Julius Caesar). It's nothing but an account of battles, marches, massacres and betrayals -- and yet it's fascinating and very "readable." All the Romans have basically the same three or four names in different order, and all the Gauls have incomprehensible mishmashes of vowels and Xs, but Caesar's a good enough writer that you never have any trouble following what's going on, or who's betraying who.

One rather grim but evocative element is how Caesar's treatment of the Gauls gets worse over time. At first he's trying to win hearts and minds, resolve their disputes with each other and treat them fairly, but after a decade of this shit he's selling entire tribes into slavery and cutting off the hands of all the men in a village to get his message across that you Don't Fuck With Caesar.

Anyway, it's a classic, it's good, and I have no idea which of the dozens of English translations is the best one.

Posted by: Trimegistus at July 02, 2023 09:20 AM (QZxDR)

Comment: There a lot to learn from the conquerors of the past. They all had to put down rebellions among the populations they conquered. And in the end, the empires they founded eventually collapsed. There's a lesson there, I'm sure, but today's leaders are too blind to see it. Remember, THOU ART MORTAL!

+++++

My recommendation this week is Impact, by Douglas Preston, of Preston and Child fame. Abbey Straw is a young woman with remarkable intelligence and a limited potential, growing up poor in a coastal Maine town. Working as a waitress, she has to regularly decide between saving to return to college or buying things like lenses for her telescope. One night, she is out with her telescope, and sees a meteor hit the earth. Driven by discovery and the potential for selling a valuable specimen, she goes in search of the object. Meanwhile, Wyman Ford is tasked by the US government to travel to literally the other side of the world to trace the source of some gemstones that appear to be nothing ever seen on the planet before, that have a refraction index higher than diamonds, and which also happen to be radioactive. At the same time, a NASA scientist has found evidence for a gamma ray point source on the planet Mars. How are these three separate incidents related?

This is a fast paced and well written book, and like his books co-written with Lincoln Child, the science is accurate, if unbelievable. Highly enjoyable.

Posted by: Thomas Paine at July 02, 2023 09:30 AM (DZzNH)

Comment: Thomas Paine has recommended a number of Preston & Child books recently. I can't blame him. I picked some up cheap at a library book sale. Now I've been blazing my way through the Agent Pendergast series. Definitely interesting characters and weird mysteries that usually have a mundane solution of some kind, if a bit far-fetched in some cases.

+++++

I have finished reading James Fenimore Cooper's "The Spy".

It is a novel about espionage and fighting during the American Revolution, providing an interesting window into a different era and a different (upper class, somewhat Tory) sensibility. It can be captivating at times.

The sentences are longer and the descriptions go on for a bit longer than standard English-language writing does nowadays. Perhaps it hasn't felt the influence of college writing classes.

I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Posted by: PG at July 02, 2023 10:04 AM (84jHt)

Comment: Novels have changed a lot since 1821, when this book was written. So yes, the language, syntax, and structure will be unfamiliar and even jarring to the modern reader, who tends to prefer short, quick, simpler texts. Still, there is a delightful elegance when reading passages from early American novels. Cooper's father was a Congressman in the fledgling republic, so Cooper no doubt would have heard amazing stories of heroism and intrigue from those who lived through those dark times (he was born in 1789). Cooper's own personal life was also quite colorful.

More Moron-recommended reading material can be found HERE! (865 Moron-recommended books so far!)

+-----+-----+-----+-----+

WHAT I'VE ACQUIRED THIS PAST WEEK:

I read one of the Agent Pendergast novels by Preston & Child that I bought at a recent library book sale. So I decided to buy a few more to fill in the gaps in the storyline. The books are largely independent (with a few exceptions), but it helps to read all of them to get a better picture of the overall story arc. Also, they are pretty well written and highly entertaining.

  • Special Agent Pendergast Book 13 - White Fire
  • Special Agent Pendergast Book 14 - Blue Labyrinth
  • Special Agent Pendergast Book 15 - Crimson Shore
  • Special Agent Pendergast Book 16 - The Obsidian Chamber
  • Special Agent Pendergast Book 17 - City of Endless Night
  • Special Agent Pendergast Book 18 - Verses for the Dead
  • Special Agent Pendergast Book 19 - Crooked River
  • Special Agent Pendergast Book 20 - Bloodless
  • Special Agent Pendergast Book 21 - The Cabinet of Dr. Leng

WHAT I'VE BEEN READING THIS PAST WEEK:

  • The Cabinet of Curiosities by Douglas Preston & Lincoln Child -- Agent Pendergast must solve a hundred-year-old mystery while also stopping a murderer in the present.
  • Brimstone by Douglas Preston & Lincoln Child -- Agent Pendergast investigates a series of murders that have a whiff of demonic energy associated with them.
  • The Book of the Dead by Douglas Preston & Lincoln Child -- With the help of some associates, Agent Pendergast breaks out of a maximum-security federal prison to stop his brother Diogenes from implementing an evil scheme worthy of the Joker.
  • The Wheel of Darkness by Douglas Preston & Lincoln Child -- Agent Pendergast is tasked with retrieving a stolen Tibetan artifact that allegedly has the power to wipe humanity off the face of the earth.
  • Cemetery Dance by Douglas Preston & Lincoln Child -- Agent Pendergast must solve a Scooby-Doo mystery involving zombies that killed his friend.
  • Fever Dream by Douglas Preston & Lincoln Child -- Agent Pendergast finds out his wife--who he thought had been torn apart by lions while on safari--had, in fact been *murdered.*
  • Cold Vengeance by Douglas Preston & Lincoln Child -- Agent Pendergast disappears under mysterious circumstances while on a hunting trip with his brother-in-law.

That's about all I have for this week. Thank you for all of your kind words regarding the Sunday Morning Book Thread. This is a very special place. You are very special people (in all the best ways!). The kindness, generosity, and wisdom of the Moron Horde knows no bounds. Let's keep reading!

If you have any suggestions for improvement, reading recommendations, or discussion topics that you'd like to see on the Sunday Morning Book Thread, you can send them to perfessor dot squirrel at-sign gmail dot com. Your feedback is always appreciated! You can also take a virtual tour of OUR library at libib.com/u/perfessorsquirrel. Since I added sections for AoSHQ, I now consider it OUR library, rather than my own personal fiefdom...

PREVIOUS SUNDAY MORNING BOOK THREAD - 07-02-23 (NOTE: Do NOT comment on old threads!)

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