Thursday Thoughts: Love Triangles

The latest prompt from Ok, Let’s Read is on… love triangles!

October 16: Love Triangles – Are you an out and proud hater of love triangles? Or, do they not bother you all that much? Do you feel like love triangles are overdone and have a tendency to be similar? What is it that you like or dislike about love triangles in books? Do you think that one genre or section of books overdoes the love triangle thing more than others? Do you think love triangles can be okay if done correctly?

I’m not really a hater of love triangles, as long as they feel authentic. You have to genuinely feel that the character in the middle could have feelings for both his/her paramours, and that they could have feelings for him/her. It has to be handled like they’re all people, not brainwashed adoring harems. It has to feel like more than a plot device — something necessary to the characters, as grounded in who they are and where they’ve been as their love or hate or indifference toward their parents.

Obviously, the genre everyone talks about for love triangles is YA, with The Hunger Games and its imitators. But it’s been a staple for hundreds of years — hello, Arthuriana. Although, I love Arthurian stories, but not many have ever really made me believe the love between Lancelot (or Bedwyr, the other common choice) and Guinevere and the love between Arthur and Guinevere, at the same time. Rare is the writer who can make me feel like there is no other way for it to happen. Guy Gavriel Kay somewhat manages, and John Steinbeck definitely succeeds.

All in all, I guess I’m pretty ambivalent? It just has to make sense.

Thursday Thoughts: Reader Problems

This week’s prompt from Ok, Let’s Read:

October 9: Reader Probs – What are some of the “whiny” problems you find yourself coming across as a reader? Do you deal with book hangovers often? How do you react when a character you like is killed off? Do certain books you might be reading effect your daily life? Do you catch yourself day dreaming about characters in your books? In other words, how is the magical world of reading ruining your life?

I have a problem with all media, and that’s that when I come to care a lot about a character, I then get reluctant to read/watch when anything bad happens to them. So I am several seasons behind on Supernatural, never made it past Kill Ari part two in NCIS, etc, etc. (Sometimes I get through this by reading spoilers.)

I wouldn’t say reading is really ruining my life, though. Unless it’s through procrastinating from transcription to read, so I end up transcribing at 3am instead of sleeping — or spending all the money earned through said transcription work. The daydreaming and so on does happen, and it keeps me interested while I have to stand and work at the clinic, or when I’m volunteering at an event. It’s even better when I’m volunteering at the library!

My main problems are just making sure I’ve got a book to hand at all times, and a light to read by…

Thursday Thoughts: Bookish Fandoms

This week’s prompt from Ok, Let’s Read is about bookish fandoms…

Do you have any experience with fandoms in the bookish world? What fandoms do you consider yourself to be a part of? Have you ever created something pertaining to your favorite books as a part of the fandom (i.e. artwork, music, fanfic, cosplay)? Can you share your creation with us?

I’m less into bookish fandoms than I am into stuff like the MCU, the Young Avengers comics, Captain Marvel, etc. I can’t think of any strictly bookish t-shirts I have, for example — I’ve got two Captain Marvel shirts, some Avengers and Captain America ones, etc, but it’s mostly comics and games. I do like getting involved in events, like The Dark is Rising readathon that happened last year, and I’d have loved to go to the recent anniversary celebration of The Fionavar Tapestry and so on.

If you count Arthuriana as one big fandom, well, I know all the Arthurian songs of Heather Dale off by heart, and have written a bunch of stories and poetry based on the Arthurian legends (usually taking them and skewing it, so I’ve written about Tristan and Isolde from Mark’s point of view, etc).

Thursday Thoughts: Novellas

This week’s prompt from Ok, Let’s Read is about novellas.

What are your general opinions on novellas or short stories in a series or otherwise? Have you read any novellas? Do you always make sure to read the novellas in a series? Do you read them where they belong (i.e. between the correct two books) or are you not too bothered about that sort of thing?

They can be interesting. Sometimes they drive me mad because they’re in some obscure anthology, which I only want for that one story. Or they’re just not available anymore. Still, they can add something interesting to a series, and I do try to read them where they belong in a chronological order. Sometimes, that really doesn’t work — I read The Assassin and the Pirate Lord, by Sarah J. Maas, for example, back before the first novel was released, and I didn’t really care enough. It’s an interesting method of trying to whet people’s appetites, but you have to make it really good if you’re going to do that.

I have a lot of opinions about short stories because I like to write them. You can’t just think of them as a watered down novel; they’ve got to have all the elements of a good novel, but concentrated. You’ve got to tighten up the writing until every word is important, every paragraph advances something. I don’t mean just plot-wise; a good paragraph could help build up the world, the characters, or yeah, the plot.

For sci-fi fans, I’d definitely recommend Alastair Reynolds. I loved Troikawhich is a 100 page-ish novella, and I remember being very enthusiastic about Diamond Dogs, as well. Reynolds has that knack of taking an idea that could fill a whole novel and focusing in on it, staying with it without getting distracted, and delivering something really powerful.

Thursday Thoughts: Whens and Wheres

This week’s prompt from Ok, Let’s Read is about where you read:

Where do you spend the majority of your time reading? Are you the kind of person who can fall asleep reading in bed? Do you read in public? Why or why not? Where would be your fantasy reading location?

I’m not really the sort to pick a place and stick to it — I read too much for that. But there are trends, of course. I read propped up near the front desk when I’m on my clinic shift; I read on the bus on the fifth seat back if I’m not getting travel sick; when I’m at my parents, I read in my desk chair with my feet on the bin; in Cardiff, I mostly end up reading sprawled out on my bed. Sometimes, when I want to ignore my computer, phone, etc, I go into the spare room and flop across that bed.

In the winter, I can often be found reading while huddled up to my portable gas fire. Now that is lovely.

I don’t fall asleep reading in bed; I do find that I’m getting sleepy, of course, but I’ve never woken up ages later with the book on my face or anything. There’s always a point where I realise I have to sleep now, and then I put the book aside. It helps that I have to wear glasses even to read, I’m that short-sighted, so I have to remember to take my glasses off and put them away safely before I can sleep comfortably.

I do read in public, wherever I can. I usually have my ereader now, which probably puts a stop to potential conversations with random people about what I’m reading, but normally I resented the interruption anyway. I do like heading off into the woods nearby and finding myself a quiet spot: last summer it was a bench under some enormous conifers. That was public, if a curious raven counts as an audience. I haven’t had chance to go back this year, but there’s another spot I’m thinking of higher up the mountain, just a little off the path, which is in a nice patch of sun — probably better than the shady spot under the conifers now we’re getting into autumn.

One thing I would quite like is to be able to just take a book and go sit in a castle to read. Castell Coch isn’t that far away, but I’m not sure how they’d feel about me commandeering a window seat near one of the arrow slits and putting my feet on the stonework.

Thursday Thoughts: Covers

This week’s theme from Ok, Let’s Read is about covers:

Are you someone who likes your books to look very uniform or do you usually not care to much about that? How do you react when there’s a cover change in the middle of a series? What are your opinions on movie-tie-in covers with the actors from the movie adaptation? Which book covers are your favorites?

I’m not too bothered about covers. It does annoy me when I’ve been collecting a series for a long time and then the covers change — Robin Hobb, sorry, I’m looking at you. I had nine books and then the covers changed, what’s with that? Also, I quite liked my old set of Neil Gaiman books: I sometimes find the old editions still on sale, but there’s a lot more variation in the covers now. Probably because he’s written more children’s books, graphic stories like Truth is a Cave in the Black Mountains, but still, rar! But it doesn’t bother me too much, especially when I’m collecting the series in ebook. I’m pretty resigned to it, I think: I can be quite obsessive about other things, and it’s not particularly good for me!

Movie tie-in covers… I’m not a big fan, because I usually think they’re not as nice as the original covers, and sometimes I am so not in favour of the casting, etc. Especially when it’s white-washed. I don’t know if they ever made tie-in covers for the Earthsea TV series where Ged was white, but I wouldn’t touch that with a barge pole.

My favourite book covers tend to be ones with really pretty fantasy art. Kinuko Craft and Thomas Canty do good stuff. Just pulling from the covers I already have loaded on here, here’s some Kinuko Craft and Thomas Canty…

Cover of The Sun and Moon and Stars by Steven Brust 81075 Cover of Wonders of the Invisible World, by Patricia McKillip

Thursday Thoughts: Audiobooks

Aaaaand this week’s theme from Ok, Let’s Read:

Do you listen to audiobooks/Have you listened to an audiobook in the past? What books? Do you enjoy audiobooks? Why or why not? Are there certain genres that you feel might lend themselves better to being read in audiobook form?

Audiobooks! I love listening to audiobooks, particularly while I’m crocheting or doing something else that similarly occupies my hands but not (too much of) my mind. For a long time I was just listening to the BBC adaptations of Dorothy L. Sayers’ work, and the mammoth set that is The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings: I’m now supplementing that with a bit of Ngaio Marsh read by Benedict Cumberbatch, and I have some other books on the queue: some Iain (M.) Banks, one of Chris Holm’s, Trudi Canavan… I love the BBC audioplays of most things best: they do great casting, and they have a great range of stuff. My favourite was probably the adaptation of The Dark is Rising. It’s different, but I can accept that, because that’s what adaptations have to do. (Same reason as I reluctantly accept Faramir being less noble in The Lord of the Rings movie, because the reasoning makes sense. Also why I accept that some people will enjoy The Hobbit film, but I don’t: it’s an adaptation, and I can accept why they’ve done it that way, it just doesn’t work for me.)

So yeah, right now I’m listening to Artists in Crime (Ngaio Marsh) and Dead Harvest (Chris F. Holm). I’m struggling a little bit with Dead Harvest, even though I love the novel itself: it’s not abridged, and I wasn’t sure how I felt about the narrator at first, though by now I’ve decided he sounds perfect. Just a pity he doesn’t change his voice a little when Sam changes bodies…

The downsides to audiobooks for me, really, are when I disagree with the adaptation, the choice of narrator, the abridgement, etc. Also the pace: I’m a fast reader, and in the time it took the narrator to get to chapter three in Dead Harvest, I could’ve been on chapter ten by myself. Still, it’s a different medium and I try to enjoy it for what it is.

In terms of genres, no, I don’t think there’s a particular genre that lends itself to the form. I do think there’re styles that do, though: something with a lot of dialogue, and less by way of visual description, or with a good first person narrator, for example. So much depends on how the adaptation is done.

Thursday Thoughts: ARCs

Today’s theme from Ok, Let’s Read is about ARCs:

As a blogger, YouTuber or generally bookish person, have you ever received an ARC? Did you request it or did they reach out to you? What advice regarding ARCs would you give to bloggers/reviewers who are just starting out? Do you have a preference between physical ARCs and eARCs? Do you have a specific plan or technique you go buy in order to stay organized when it comes to reading and reviewing ARCs?

Yep, I get quite a few ARCs. Direct from authors, agents, or via Netgalley, Bookbridgr, Edelweiss… I’ve had them both ways. With ARCs, the best advice is to request a lot, but only what you want to read; read everything you get; send feedback in whatever way they ask you to. Honestly, the easiest one so far has been Bookbridgr, though that’s only applicable in the UK. Netgalley and Edelweiss do have good ways to build up your reputation by downloading the ready to read ones, so that’s also a good option.

I don’t have a preference re: physical or ebook, though ebook seems less urgent somehow, so they can just… mount up. I have difficulty staying organised; honestly, at the moment it’s pretty out of control. Help?!

Honestly, though, I’m not calculating about it. I just request what I like and review it when I can.

Thursday Thoughts: Gender Trouble

Thursday Thoughts this week, prompt via Ok, Let’s Read.

Gender Bias & Sexism – What is your opinion on males reading books “geared towards women” such as YA contemporary, romance, most new adult, etc? In that same vein, what’s your opinion on females reading comics and graphic novels? Do you agree that sexism, or at least gender bias’, are apparent in today’s bookish world? Are you someone who “breaks” these bias’?

I… have a problem with this question. I’m not a fan of people overemphasising gender in the first place. My dad cooked the meals and ironed my clothes, my mum earned the money to put food on the table. I played with Polly Pockets and Barbies, my sister played with Action Man, and we both fought tooth and claw — with each other, and with local boys. I don’t see that rigid ideas of gender do anyone any good; it’s mostly cultural stuff that enforces the differences, and most people are somewhere on the spectrum, not plonked solidly at a point marked ‘girl’ or ‘boy’.

That being said, of course there’s bias in the bookish world, especially in the market place. There’s constantly people on Goodreads wanting to filter reviews by the reviewer’s gender, because they don’t agree with ‘the opinions of females’. Some authors choose gender neutral pen-names to just dodge any sexism. If a woman writes urban fantasy, it goes in paranormal romance. If a man does, it goes in fantasy or maybe horror. Women are constantly objectified on book covers, and you should see some of the abuse female writers get — Kameron Hurley leaps to mind.

And yeah, I do break these biases. I read Georgette Heyer’s Regency romances, and I read the Captain America comics. I read hard SF. I read non-fiction that I seriously have been told is ‘too difficult for a woman to understand’. Blood and guts and gore don’t bother me, while flowery sex scenes make me want to puke.

I’ve been glared out of comics shops because I’m female-shaped, or blamed for other people being pushy, or told they don’t sell ‘girl’s comics’ like Ms. Marvel; the bias is there, but I say fuck it and go give someone else my money. Best thing to do — that, and complain to the managers.

There are people out there who feel constrained by these biases, of course, and I hope that doesn’t last forever. Mind you, a couple of Christmases ago, my male cousin asked for a copy of Twilight for Christmas, so if we ignore his taste in books, I think that does show that there are plenty of people who just don’t care.

Thursday Thoughts: Bookstores

This week’s theme for Thursday Thoughts, hosted by Ok, Let’s Read, is “bookstores”. Which is actually a suggestion I made, so hee. (P.S. Looks like we’re running out of themes, so do go and drop in some prompts.)

My Favorite Bookstore – When it comes to buying books which store is your favorite? Do you prefer big chain stores or independent bookstores? Do you even have any independent bookstores near where you live? And, here’s the one that’s going to be the most revealing; How often would you say you go to the bookstore? Do you buy something every time you go there?

It really depends on what I’m looking for. For example, if I’m looking for comics, I avoid Forbidden Planet. I either go to Waterstones for TPBs, or my local indie for individual issues. It’s a tiny little place, I think the walls might be supported with comics/comics merchandise, and it looks like you can order online, so hey: Comic Guru.

Generally, the Waterstones stores in Leeds, Wakefield or Cardiff are where I do the bulk of my shopping. There is an indie bookshop in Cardiff, but it doesn’t have the biggest stock ever. If there’s something I want to order, they can do that, but if I just want to browse, I want to have a reasonably big store to wander around in. The indie is really friendly, but so are the staff in all the Waterstones stores I frequent, too. Some of them, I’ve been seeing working there for ten years. And yes, I recognise them and often they will also recognise me. Gulp. I might spend a bit too much time in bookshops. The reward system in Waterstones is good though…

There’s a secondhand bookshop in Cardiff that’s great, too. Generally I’d go there if I’m looking for something unusual, something I won’t come across as a glossy paperback. Lots of classic SF and fantasy there, as well as a big section for general fiction, etc. Some rare books too, I think, and a lot of individual issues of classic comics. All in all: you never know what you’ll be able to find there.

How often I go there, well — every few weeks, probably? Or whenever I’m close by. I don’t always buy something, but I quite often do, because I’m a fast reader and, more importantly, weak.

Mind you, at the moment, I don’t go at all. Book ban for me until WorldCon.