What we've been reading...

Melissa Proffitt Melissa at Proffitt.com
Wed Apr 5 19:49:08 EDT 2000


On Wed, 5 Apr 2000 10:17:32 +0100, Hallie O'Donovan wrote:

>1.  "Skellig", by David Almond.  I know someone on the list mentioned this
>a while ago, but can't for the life of me remember who it was.

I keep hearing about this one all over the place.  I guess it's time to find
a copy.

I've had family here for the past five days, which is fun but exhausting,
and I'm beginning to think I'm permanently losing brain cells--but here's
what I've been reading:

Thanks to the list discussion on Sherwood Smith, I finally got _Crown Duel_
and _Court Duel_ from the library.  VERY enjoyable.  Enough so that I
ordered my own hardcover copies (not out in PB yet).  After I read them, I
tried to track down some of the earlier discussion to compare my own
reactions.  Sarah said they were predictable--totally true; I think there
was maybe one thing that surprised me.  Just another example of how much our
own preferences affect our reading enjoyment.  They were predictable, but I
liked seeing the story unfold anyway.  If I'd read these when I was younger
(not physically possible, but still) I would have been totally blown away.
There's a feel to the world that I very much enjoyed.  I think my only
complaint was that there was so much worldbuilding that never really got
used, like the passing references to a person or a culture that came from
another world.  It didn't seem out of place in the world, but it wasn't
relevant to the story, so I was never sure how much attention to pay to
those side comments.  Another thing that intrigued me was how similar the
two main characters were to Elizabeth and Darcy in _Pride and Prejudice_; on
the surface, they were completely different, but their underlying motives
and impulses were practically identical.

I also went out and got one of Tamora Pierce's Magic Circle books, _Sandry's
Tale_.  This was definitely a series that I've--outgrown?  I hate to use
that word, because there's always the suggestion that anyone who *does* like
it is immature.  In any case, I can't enjoy her books any more.  Too bad,
because her worlds and her magic are usually very interesting.  The main
trouble I had was with her writing style--the way she puts words together,
as opposed to her characters or her world.  It drove me crazy in a way I
would be more specific about if this were a Tamora Pierce email list.

Then I read a couple of books by Tim Powers just to go to the extreme
opposite end of the spectrum.  His stuff is so intense and bloody that I
can't just pick it up any old time.  But _Last Call_ was very good.

Now I'm working my way through P.C. Hodgell's Kencyrath books.  Nyah nyah
nyah, all of you who don't own _Seeker's Mask_.  :)  (Seriously, if it were
a cheaper book, I'd let everyone borrow it.  But it's still nearly
impossible to find, it weighs a TON and it's signed.  Someday Meisha Merlin
will get their act together and everyone can get it.)  Every time I read
_God Stalk_ I wonder what I was thinking the first time.  I sincerely did
not understand this book at first.

And this leads me back to DWJ:  I mentioned earlier how personal preferences
affect reading enjoyment a lot.  (This is naturally my own opinion which is
in one sense Right and in another sense is open to debate.)  One thing that
pushes a book out of the realm of the merely enjoyable into something I love
is when it has a certain feel to it...something indefinable, but a
combination of the writer's style and the kind of world it is and how the
characters react to one another.  Among other things. :)  P.C. Hodgell has
it; Garth Nix has it (oh, thanks SO much for the _Sabriel_ recommendation!);
Susan Cooper has it.  And DWJ has it in spades.  I can think of five of her
books, just off the top of my head, that I adore for this reason.  And
THEY'RE ALL DIFFERENT.  All Susan Cooper's books, for example, have the same
ambience as one another.  But _Power of Three_ and _Fire and Hemlock_ and
_Hexwood_ and _Archer's Goon_ and _Howl's Moving Castle_ are all totally
different.  I can't think of any other writer who does this, especially
since her fundamental writing *style* is always the same.

Enough blathering for now, it's time to feed the beasts.

Melissa Proffitt
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