Sunday, August 8, 2010


I managed to finish another Honor Harrington book by David Weber. Well, actually, Storm from the Shadows (Disciples of Honor) is a Honorverse book, meaning it doesn't center on Honor herself but on a few dozen people in her universe. Yes, I know center and few dozen don't really belong in the same sentence; that was one of the problems I had with the book. Honor Harrington is a space captain zooming around several space empires in an ongoing space-opera.

The plot follows the manipulations of the evil Manpower group, who have secretly infiltrated several societies and are pulling strings to bring everyone to war while launching their own top-secret attack. Unfortunately, the story is buried beneath hundreds of pages of repetition, with identical banter being exchanged by dozens of officers and bureaucrats and evilness plotted out in huge detail and super space weapons being explained and launched and good heavens! somebody free this poor two hundred page book from its thousand page straight jacket.

It is a very strange brain space to be in when I come out of a Laurell Hamilton story and a David Weber book with much the same reaction. C-

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Two Silly Books

Help, I'm falling behind again! I've read two books this week, and pieces of many others.

Another for my second-in-a-series challenge is Elaine Levine's Audrey and the Maverick. I had read her first book and thought it went OK, except for some severe silliness on the protagonist's part. Unfortunately, the minor problem in this one was that there was no problem. Audrey spends the entire book terrified, but I have no idea why. Every time she panics and does something silly, I'm left confused, because either there is no threat, or she could have walked away from the problem. And the delicate way the hero confesses to being partly black left me with a bad taste -- it felt less like a historically accurate issue than one expected to shock and titillate modern readers. And why is Julian a maverick? Because he's a sheep farmer? 

Bullet (Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter), by Laurell K Hamilton, has a lot of very detailed multiplayer sex scenes, made more shocking by the players' tendency to stop and talk at odd moments. Very odd moments. On the other hand, there was some plot development; something is going to happen so Anita and her friends have started preparing for it. Mostly by sleeping with various people so that more people can "join the team." Which is fine, but honestly I'd rather just take it as given and use the pages to actually do something about the problem. The story line progresses along, novelette by novelette, with a few hundred extra pages per book for descriptions of hair, clothes, and loins, both still life and in action.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

My First Manga: Emma

I've peeked at a few mangas, mostly from my sons' shelves (they are particularly fond of Hikaru nu Go) but I've never read one all the way through. I've heard recommendations for Emma: Volume 1 by Kaoru Mori, so I summoned it from my library. It was interesting how long it took me to master reading it.

I proudly remembered to start from the back, since manga is read from right to left. And then I had to figure out on almost every spread that I should start with the right page. At the top right corner. My eyes really hated to skip over the left panels, and reading speech bubbles in the correct order drove me crazy. It didn't register with me that of course you read the bubbles on the right before the ones on the left, and my reading speed is faster than my reaction time, so that I'd usually read the wrong one before remembering where to look for the right one. I got to watch myself learn the mechanics of reading all over again, which will hopefully give me more patience helping my nephew practice.

The story itself held my attention through these troubles; Emma is a maid in Victorian England who captures the love of a rich merchant's son. But Emma and the boy's father know that this connection is impossible. The loving attention to all details of English life keep the pictures lively, and I forgive the silliness of the elephant riding maharajah because of the fun of the illustrations. The story moved a bit slowly for me, and it took me a while to learn to tell the characters apart; the style of pictures is different from American comic books, so I had to learn how to read the illustrations as well as the text. I'll probably request the next in the series to see where it goes. B