Blog Hop: Turning Back the Pages of Time

book-blogger-hop-finalToday’s Book Blogger Hop question is: Do you read historical fiction?

I do, although I suspect I read less than I think I do.  Along with actual historical fiction, I read a decent amount of fantasy books set in magical past eras–or as I like to describe the time period of my Beyond the Tales books, in the “faux medieval” era (loosely medieval, but I never worried too much about the details).

When I read historical fiction, I like books set in the first half of the 20th century,  the Victorian era, Napoleonic wars, Elizabethan…or ones that go all the way back to the Roman Empire, or ancient Greece.  With occasional forays into Camelot-era (though mostly that involves fantasy!)  I think the mere way I describe eras probably  indicates a preference for British historical fiction.  I tackled the enormous tome of London a few months ago, which pretty well covered everything of the last 2,000 years.  I especially liked the Roman era, both Julius Caesar and the days of Londinium.

There’s something fascinating about very different time periods, when life was very different–and, perhaps, the same to a surprising degree too!

Do you read historical fiction?  Do you have a favorite era?

Writing Wednesday: Worldbuilding and Mythology-Making

I’ve been working on Phantom revisions and Princess Beyond the Thorns planning concurrently for the last few weeks.  I’m more than halfway through this pass of Guardian of the Opera, Book Three, and I’m nearly done with character creation for my next project.  I’ve recently turned to worldbuilding instead, figuring out the fantasy world this new book is set in.  It’s separate from my Beyond the Tales series, so it calls for entirely new decisions!

I got surprisingly far into the process before I realized there ought to be a pantheon of gods specific to this world–something that wasn’t in my previous fantasy series at all.  I worked out a handful of major gods (although they all still need names!) and the last bit of character-building I’m doing is deciding who (and how) each character worships.

Here’s my initial notes on the major gods, though it may change as I write…

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There is a pantheon of major gods, and a large number of small, local gods identified with places. Gods are not considered to have a fixed gender; people will regard any god by whatever gender feels most approachable/comfortable to the individual. Tendencies shift in different areas and over different eras. The major guilds generally have a chosen patron god, and many people have one they most connect to, but this is nonexclusive. Even priests/priestesses of a particular god may occasionally worship another. People usually have statues or emblems of their chosen god. Small villages will have a chapel suitable for all the gods, including the local one. Larger towns and cities will have temples specific to each major god. The major gods are:

  • God of Passion (Love and War) – worshiped by warriors and the current monarchy; also presides over weddings
  • God of the Sea – the most changeable god – worshiped by sailors, fishers
  • God of the Hearth – most popular among the common folk, especially anyone dealing with food
  • God of the Arts – many of the major guilds
  • God of Wisdom – the rest of the major guilds
  • The Traveler God – popular amongst misfits and outcasts
  • The Veiled God – followed by dark enchanters

Book Review: Quit Like a Millionaire

On a friend’s recommendation, I recently read Quit Like a Millionaire by Kristy Shen and Bryce Leung.  And then by coincidence, my book club picked the same book after I’d already started it, so maybe this one is a trend at the moment.  It was interesting, readable and…probably useful?

Despite the co-authors listed (who are also married), the book is told entirely from Kristy’s point of view.  That seems like the correct term, because even though it is a book of financial advice, it has a very strong personal voice, and large sections are about Kristy’s life and experience (with Bryce, eventually).  The first section is largely about her deeply impoverished childhood, first in China and eventually after emigrating to Canada.  After becoming a tech engineer and marrying Bryce, the book shifts focus into investment advice.  And ultimately, after Kristy and Bryce quit their jobs with a million dollars invested, how they secure that investment and live as retired thirty-somethings.

This is in many ways a very easy financial book to read.  Large sections read almost novel-like, and Kristy’s voice is friendly and engaging.  Perhaps predictably, there’s an inverse relationship between easy reading and usefulness.  The parts about her childhood are very readable and interesting but have limited practical application (some philosophy around placing value on money and possessions).  The parts about investing, while pretty good for chapters about, you know, investing, are tougher to decipher but much more directly relevant to the key question.

Continue reading “Book Review: Quit Like a Millionaire”

Friday Face-Off: The Most Notorious Pirates

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It’s time again for the Friday Face-Off meme, created by Books by Proxy, with weekly topics hosted by Lynn’s Book Blog.  The idea is to put up different covers for one book, and select a favorite.

This week’s theme is: “I’m disinclined to acquiesce to your request.” – A cover featuring Pirates

Lynn already posted with Peter Pan, but I thought back to my pirate-fandom days…and thought of A General History of the Robberies and Murders of the Most Notorious Pirates by Captain Charles Johnson.  I bought a copy back when I was writing a novel about the Golden Age of Piracy, and the history of the book is as interesting as the book itself.  Published in 1724 (so, pretty much in the last years of the Golden Age itself), it’s the source material for most of the famous myths about pirates.  Plus, no one really knows who the author was!  Some theories say it was secretly Daniel Defoe, but there’s hot debate on the subject.

Despite the book’s long history, I found only a few covers readily available–this is the first time LibraryThing has let me down for this meme!

This seems a pretty standard piratical cover, with sailing ships and a looming skull.  Though the double S in Johnson (not seen anywhere else I’ve read about) is a little questionable…

Continue reading “Friday Face-Off: The Most Notorious Pirates”

Writing Wednesday: Masks Upon Masks

I’ve been balancing revising the Phantom and plotting for NaNoWriMo lately.  I’m almost done putting together background for major characters for my NaNo novel, and I’ve gotten through the (I hope?) most difficult section of my third Phantom novel.  I got past the opening, very rushed section (now very expanded) and am into a good stretch that’s already pretty solid.  So it should be clearer sailing…at least until the last couple chapters, which I’m pretty sure are rushed again!

For now, here’s a bit that I wrote forever ago that didn’t call for hardly any revising…and which is something of a fun nod if you’ve seen enough versions of the Phantom!

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My attention lit on the narrow table at the far side of the room.  It was a dark wood that matched the bed, and a row of masks lay lined up along its length.  I went that way.

There was Red Death’s skull mask and the metal half-mask I first saw the night Buquet died.  Next to it was the cream-colored one he had worn the day we first spoke in the auditorium, and for Easter at Notre Dame; it matched in style the black mask Erik was wearing now, cut to hide everything but his mouth and chin, but the different color made it so much less ominous.  A similarly shaped one I didn’t recognize lay beside it, pale gray, cut in more gentle curves at its bottom and suggesting a hint of curved eyebrows above the narrower eye holes, a similar hint of cheekbones below.  That one actually wasn’t too bad, having a serene aspect.  Still, I reached instead for the last one, the familiar white half mask he wore most often, covering from forehead to jaw.

“Here.”  I held it out to him.  “It’s by far the least forbidding.”

TV Review: Elementary, Season One

I was recently lamenting Hollywood’s apparent need to force all platonic, opposite-gender characters into romantic relationships, and received a recommendation (thanks, Beedrill!) to check out Elementary as a contrast.  Happily, my library had Season One on DVD, and I had an opening in my “mystery show” viewing slot.

Elementary is a Sherlock Holmes-reimagining, set in modern-day New York (though Holmes is still British), following the adventure of recovering-addict and consulting detective Sherlock Holmes (Jonny Lee Miller) and his sober companion/eventual friend Joan Watson (Lucy Liu).  Consulting with the NYPD, it follows the usual mystery show format of a murder-a-week, with a later in the season arc involving archenemy Moriarty.

I was reluctant to watch this show back when it first appeared because the gender flip of Watson was weirding me out.  I think gender flips in general are interesting, but I had assumed Hollywood would do what Hollywood does and wind up with an eventual Holmes/Watson romance which just feels deeply, deeply wrong on some level, no matter who is what gender or orientation.  So it was good to hear that wasn’t the direction the show went, and I can verify that at least in Season One there isn’t even a hint of romantic interest between the show’s principal characters—which I find all to the good, because their friendship is more intriguing.

Continue reading “TV Review: Elementary, Season One”

Blog Hop: Duplication (Duplication Duplication)

book-blogger-hop-finalToday’s Book Blogger Hop question is: Do you own more than one copy of a book?

Only a few.  I don’t feel a need to own multiple copies of most books, since I only need one copy to read it.  But there are a few where different copies have provided a different value.  I don’t think the particular books I have multiples of will surprise anyone…

I have four copies of Gaston Leroux’s Phantom of the Opera–the cheap, paperback, bad translation copy I bought first and highlighted all over; the fancy, annotated, good translation copy; the French copy, just…because; and the illustrated copy because illustrations!

I also have a paperback Anne of Green Gables that’s part of a full set, and a 1914, “thirty-eighth impression” hardback, in the style of the first edition.  I have several of L. M. Montgomery’s books as both paper and audiobooks, because I wanted to  listen to them on audio and the library, alas, let me down on that score.

I have a complete Sherlock Holmes collection, and a paperback of Hound of the Baskervilles (my favorite, and easier to carry).  I also have a volume of Shakespeare’s complete plays, and a dozen or so individual plays as paperbacks (easier to carry, and better footnotes–actually, sidenotes, as I like the Folgers editions).  I have two copies of Walden–I inherited one I’m keeping for sentimental reasons, and also keeping the one I had already done all my underlining in.

And I think that’s it for duplicates!  All the other 700 or so books on my shelves are individual. Do you keep multiple copies of the same book?  If you don’t usually, what reasons would lead you to?