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Another slow year, but hopefully reading pace will pick up when I finally get to use some vacation days.

FATE'S EDGE by Ilona Andrews
IN THE WOODS by Tana French
SHADOW KIN by M.J. Scott
THE WILD WAYS by Tanya Huff
FATED by Benedict Jacka
THE NEON COURT by Kate Griffin
DOUBLETAKE by Rob Thurman
BLACKOUT by Mira Grant
CURSED by Benedict Jacka
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I'm disappointed but not surprised by how few books I reported reading. 2011 was a year of upheavals for me, capped off by my relocating to New Hampshire. The good news is I did make time to read new authors as well as old favorites. And I bought five times as many books as I read, so even though my reading was curtailed, my book buying continued at its normal pace.

Here's the list for 2011:

CAST IN RUIN by Michelle Sagara
ONE SALT SEA by Seanan McGuire
A SOLDIER'S DUTY by Jean Johnson
BASILISK by Rob Thurman
GHOST SHIP by Sharon Lee and Steve Miller
CRYOBURN by Lois McMaster Bujold
THE LEFT HAND OF GOD by Paul Hoffman
THE DEMONS'S SURRENDER by Sarah Rees Brennan
DEADLINE by Mira Grant
THE DRAGON'S PATH by Daniel Abraham
DARK AND STORMY KNIGHTS anthology edited by P.N. Elrod
RIVER MARKED by Patricia Briggs
CHALICE by Robin McKinley
BLACKOUT by Rob Thurman
A SONG FOR SUMMER by Eva Ibbotson
PEGASUS by Robin McKinley

In addition to the titles above, there were at least a half-dozen books that I started then set aside when I lost interest. And, of course, reading for 2011 also included the submissions for THE MODERN FAE'S GUIDE TO SURVIVING HUMANITY (edited by Joshua Palmatier and Patricia Bray, available March 2012 from DAW Books), so it's not as if I was a complete slacker. But I'm hoping for better in 2012.
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Wishing everyone a happy and prosperous New Year!

Reflecting back on 2007, earlier this month I posted my annual writing summary.

Last year I promised myself that I would try to make more time for reading. I'd set a goal of a book a week, but even though I finished up one last book yesterday, I still fell far short. For each book that I managed to read from cover to cover, I have at least two more that I've never opened, or did open and tossed aside after the opening chapters failed to hold my interest.

Not to mention all the reference books that I skimmed but did not read in their entirety.

That said, my 2007 Reading List is here. )


Dec. 28th, 2007 07:55 pm
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Have returned home after spending Christmas in south Florida with my brother and his family. The land of t-shirts and sunscreen in December is an interesting place to visit, but in all honesty I wouldn't want to live there.

Got back last night and worked today, and will have to work sporadically over the weekend. Keeping fingers crossed that financial systems stay up and running so all I have to do is status checks.

Hope everyone is enjoying the end of year holidays. I've missed hundreds of entries on the friendslist, and must skim in hopes of catching up.

Reading: Finished DOG DAYS by John Levitt, an enjoyable read.
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the hardest part of packing is deciding which books to bring.
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Being sick over the weekend paid off a dividend as I finished Wraith by Phaedra Weldon. Which I thoroughly enjoyed, right up until the ending.

Part of the book's appeal for me was that the heroine had a single love interest. It's now a cliche in urban fantasy that the heroine is torn between at least two competing love/sex interests, usually one tied to the paranormal world and the other part of her mundane existence. Sometimes it's a good boy/bad boy split, other times they are both equally worthy (or flawed).

I tried to think of a recent urban fantasy with a female protagonist that didn't fit this pattern and came up blank. Can anyone else come up with one?

ETA: [livejournal.com profile] libwitch for the win by being the first to come up with an example and reminding me of [livejournal.com profile] suricattus's Retrievers series.
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With a Nor'easter forecasted to arrive tonight, the plan was to get up early this morning, head out to the shopping centers to finish Christmas shopping, and then hit the grocery store before things got crazed.

I woke up feeling ill, and didn't take long to realize that whatever bug has been going around has finally caught me. Still I managed to get on the road only a little later than I planned. Finished up almost everything on the list and had lunch while going over the spreadsheet. (Yes, if you are buying for 18 people, 4 of whom have birthdays within a fortnight of Christmas, you make a spreadsheet. But I digress.)

Made it to the supermarket where people had not yet resorted to stabbing each other over the last gallon of milk or loaf of bread, though undoubtedly barbarism set in as the storm drew nearer.

Came home and collapsed on the couch for a nap. Woke up, ran over to [livejournal.com profile] jennifer_dunne's house to give the cat a double ration of food and explained that spare human may be late tomorrow, depending on how the storm turns out. Latest forecast says our area should get 4-6 inches of snow mixed with sleet and rain, rather than the 12+ plus of pure snow originally forecast, but as usual we'll see what happens when it gets here. It's supposed to start any minute, so I'm firmly holed up in my cave, ready to wait it out.

Reading: Finished HEART OF STONE by C.E. Murphy, the first book in her new series. That's the second book this month, I'm on a roll!
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Just finished studying for tomorrow night's exam. Review questions included such gems as:

Know agencies involved in terrorism investigations. Well here the alphabet list goes on forever--on the federal level it would probably be easier to list agencies that weren't involved in terrorism investigations.

Most common occupation for robbery victim? Taxi driver, followed by convenience store clerk.

Techniques for arson investigation. Lots of stuff on burn patterns, burn damage, testing for fire starting devices and accelerants, checking for financial motives, but much of the key advice boils down to: get experts to help you.

Understand Ponzi scheme and how to analyze it. Ah, the classic financial pyramid. If it sounds too good to be true, it is.

Have I mentioned how much I'm going to miss this class when it's over?

Reading: Finished CRIMINAL INVESTIGATION (9th edition) by Swanson, Chamelin, Territo and Taylor.
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Watching Criminal Minds last night the part that made my jaw drop wasn't the acting, nor the plot. It wasn't the cinematography that gave a disturbing insight into what it feels like when you're having a psychotic break.

No, it was the part where the writer's agent arrived in a limousine to pick him up for a booksigning.

Later in the episode the agent feels guilty for not having seen his client for several months, and thus not having been close enough to recognize that his client was experiencing a mental breakdown.

It reminded me of Ann Crispin's post earlier this month where she talked about how unrealistic portrayals of the agent/artist relationship may shape the expectations of aspiring writers, inadvertently making them more likely to fall for scam agents with their unrealistic promises.

Real agents don't have time to personally hand-hold each of their clients. They don't drop by for casual visits on the off-chance that we might have a few new pages to share with them, nor do they act as surrogate mothers, secretaries, or lifestyle coaches. I'm sure [livejournal.com profile] arcaedia will be pleased to know that I don't expect her to monitor my mental health. Though should I ever make NYT bestseller status and rate a limousine to take me to my booksignings, she's welcome to join me for drinks as we ride.

And in a totally unrelated note, finished WebMage by Kelly McCullough. I'm going to fail at the 52 book challenge I set myself, but it's likely that my 2007 score will be higher than last year's, so that's progress.
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At 10PM last night I started reading ENDGAME by [livejournal.com profile] kristine_smith.

As I passed page 200, I thought about closing the book and getting to sleep, but couldn't make myself stop.

Around page 300, I once again thought about sleep, then kept reading.

By the time I reached the end, I was wired rather than sleepy--impatient to discover how it ended.

This book isn't a rollercoaster ride--it's a freight train that keeps picking up speed. You can't get off, you can't look away, all you can do is hang on. Even though you're convinced that the trip will end in a giant wreck, you're committed to see it through.

I'm sad that the series has come to an end, but happy that Kris wrote such a fitting conclusion.
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Struggling to come up with a decent title for the not-so-sekret project. Having failed at several other methods I'm now compiling a list of suitable verbs and nouns, then playing random mix & match. I'll probably wind up with a title like CHASING KIBBLE or DEATH BY SEMI-COLON.

Luckily I don't need a title at this stage of the game--it would be nice to have, but it's not an absolute requirement.

Reading: Finished DEXTER IN THE DARK by Jeff Lindsay, the third novel in his Dexter series. I enjoyed the book, but not as much as the first two, largely because of spoilers here ) Anyway, I'm looking forward to the new season on Showtime which starts next Sunday.
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Spending the weekend struggling with a scene in the WiP. I can pinpoint exactly what the problem is--I know too much, and am creating an infodump rather than a narrative. But so far each time I fix it, I merely find another place to put in a different infodump.

Reading: Finished CAST IN SECRET by Michelle Sagara yesterday. The third, and so far best book in the series. Though the tissue thin paper was a tad disconcerting--I was constantly afraid that I'd tear a page as I turned it.

Watching: Was lucky enough to stumble across the premiere of Torchwood on BBC America, and finally got to see what folks have been talking about.
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I've reached that stage of not-writing where I am tidying the computer room. Where tidying is a polite euphemism for the pitchfork and shovel required to find buried objects. So far I've discovered the surface of my desk, and sorted through stacks of papers that contained pieces of four different drafts of THE SEA CHANGE. In one stack I had a series of notes that I started to go through, to see if I'd missed anything that could make the book better...

Then remembered that this book is already on store shelves :-)

I have high hopes that I will uncover the floor this weekend, and possibly clear enough space that I can shelve the reference books that are cluttering up the living room.

Reading: Finished Greywalker by Kat Richardson earlier this weekend. Continuing to read the Criminal Investigation textbook and page through histories of the local area, which are proving far more hilarious than their authors presumably intended.
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Curiosity. Because the field of forensic science is changing so rapidly, curiosity and the desire to continually keep learning new things is considered an essential trait of a good forensic scientist.

It's also extremely helpful if you're a writer. At the current moment I'm researching the history behind the Human Genome Project (particularly the politics), requirements for a career as a high school science teacher, the history of the Military Tract of Central New York, and looking for first hand accounts of women police officers from the late 1970s/early 1980s, just to name a few. I need to know more about DNA analysis as well, but that's such a broad field that I need to frame my questions first before I go digging.

Resding: Just finished Forensic Casebook: The Science of Crime Scene Investigation by Ngaire E. Genge. It's a good introduction to the field for those considering a career in forensic sciences, and also appropriate for fans of mysteries and crime shows such as CSI as it includes numerous examples showing when they got the science right, and when they got it wrong. Showing how quickly the field moves, since this book was published in 2002 it's already out of date in some areas, but still worth reading.
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FORENSICS DEMYSTIFIED by Barry Fisher, David Fisher and Jason Kolowski which I picked up at Powell's Books in Portland. It's a basic introduction to forensic science and the various disciplines within--nothing you could use for in-depth research, but enough to get a feel for where I want to go next.

I also took along three mass-market paperbacks and managed to read only about 1/3 of one of them. Very little free time on this trip, as it turned out, and the forensics textbook appealed more than the sci-fi book I was reading, which probably reveals something about both that book and where my brain is at the moment.
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Purchased my copy of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows last night at 12:11AM. Read a bit last night, woke up this morning, read, then went biking for a couple of hours to counteract couch potato syndrome. Came back home, cleaned up, then finished the book.

I can now safely wander the internet (turn on TV news, pick up a newspaper) without fear of being spoiled.
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Back after spending four days down in Florida visiting my brother & his family. Had a great time--spoiled my nieces, spent some time at the ocean, and we even got out for an adults-only dinner at a Brazilian steakhouse.

Marina and Camila were greatly amused by their Auntie Patricia's repeated attempts to fly, and my obvious consternation when I discovered I lacked the necessary feathers. I wished, and wished, and flapped my arms vigorously, and still was unable to take off.

Marina pointed out that planes don't need to flap their wings to fly. Camila was less vocal in her bemusement, though she did help inspect my back to make sure there was no sign that wings had grown in over night.

Recreated a couple of family pleasures for my brother in honor of father's day--Marina helped me make toll house cookies for him, and then later that night he and I played cribbage, while lamenting the fact that none of his friends in Florida play cards.

No writing was done--I didn't even log onto a computer all weekend, so I'm behind on my friends-list. Though I did manage to read a book during the plane flights-MAGIC BITES by Ilona Andrews, which I thoroughly enjoyed.

Two trips in a row has played hell with my novel-in-90 performance, but there are no more trips scheduled between now and when the book is due, so I'll be getting back on the treadmill.
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Reading: Finished Mark Del Franco's UNSHAPELY THINGS last night. It was a good first book--not outstanding, but definitely readable. The Boston setting is well done--in fact it reads a bit like Robert B. Parker does urban fantasy, and the protagonist is engaging. On the downside, there was a bit too much world building, setting up things that ultimately weren't used in this book. And the resolution felt rushed--requiring other characters to step in to explain things to the protagonist rather than him being instrumental in figuring out what was going on. Still I liked it enough to finish it, so if there's a sequel I'll give it a try.

Writing: Accomplished nothing this morning, after being derailed by two lengthy phone calls from family. Will try again this afternoon.
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It was a very busy weekend. I became proficient at dosing the cat with her antibiotics, a life skill I hope I don't have to use again soon. Fortunately [livejournal.com profile] jennifer_dunne returned home last night, so the cat now has her proper human instead of a spare who merely stops by three times a day.

In writing news, I polished up the article on character naming for the STAR chapter newsletter. While doing the research for the article I purchased yet another book of names, proving that you can never have too many. Which reminds me of the conversation that I had with my brother, while he and his wife were thinking of names for their baby.

Patricia: "Which one of us is expecting a child?"
Andrew: "I am."
Patricia: "And which one of us owns seven books of baby names?"
Andrew: "I guess that would be you. Hey, you think we ought to buy one of those books?"

Yesterday I went to lunch at the Cybercafe, bringing along [livejournal.com profile] mizkit's Coyote Dreams, which I couldn't wait to finish. The music system must have been set to shuffle on someone's MP3 player, treating us to everything from heavy metal to power ballads. I wasn't paying much attention when Frank Sinatra came on singing My Way, but as the chorus came up, the patrons spontaneously began singing along.

The rotation also included the theme from Hill Street Blues, which inspired me to go home and purchse my first downloaded song from iTunes. Just hearing the opening bars of that theme I can instantly picture the rain, and the bleak cityscape. It's a great song for evoking despair, which is probably going to be one of my playlists when I get more organized.

Now it's back to the grind--I've finally been allowed to leave the old job, and will be taking a new assignment in the company starting tomorrow. Less finance, more technical. Looking forward to a new set of challenges. Of course, there will be the inevitable transition period where I'm doing two jobs at once, but hey, that's the breaks.
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Finished SMOKE AND ASHES by Tanya Huff last night, a birthday gift from [livejournal.com profile] jpsorrow. A fun read, especially for a fan of Sci-Fi on TV.

August 2017



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