Thursday, November 13, 2008

Day 1 - Six Books

I think I was a little later coming to the island but I still managed to snag six of my favourite books. Two weepies, a romantic farce, a fantasy trilogy, an urban fantasy and a little bit of Shakespeare.

My first weepy - The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger tells the love story that takes place between Henry and Claire. Claire first meets Henry when she is 6 and he is 36, though he won't meet her for the first time 'til some years later when he is 28 and she is 20. This happens because Henry suffers from a genetic condition whereby he can find himself pulled into the past or the future without warning.
"I'm Clare Abshire. I knew you when I was a little girl..." I'm at a loss because I am in love with a man who is standing before me with no memories of me at all.
By turns uplifting, heart-rending, bittersweet and hopeful. It is a story that stays with you long after you've put the book down. This was one of those books that affected me so deeply that I couldn't read anything for two weeks afterwards. And flicking it through it now as I write this blog tempts me to re-read and rediscover it again.

Onto weepy number 2. A Crack in Forever by Jeannie Brewer tells the story of Eric and Alexandra who meet and fall in love. But instead of the happy ever after they anticipated they have to deal with the fact that they aren't going to have a HEA as Eric is first diagnosed with HIV and then AIDS.
I was avoiding doing a hard thing - something I had become expert at - and it was time to confront it.
I never could get Eric to admit it, but he was a genius.

This book is often accused of being overly sentimental in Amazon reviews, but I think it is beautifully written. And though I've never been able to read to the end without crying, (don't think I've ever seen those last pages unblurry) at the end it reaffirms what is important - that giving of yourself is the most important thing. I don't care if that makes me sentimental.

Think we might need a little cheering up at this point. A Civil Campaign by Lois McMaster Bujold is probably best described as romantic farce (sci-fi space opera romantic farce that is). It follows the troubled courtship of Ekaterin Vorsoisson by Miles. Whatever genre of books you like there is a book in the Miles Vorkosigan series for you. Whether it's YA, spy thriller, mystery or romance. My favourite section from the series begins with Brothers in Arms and culminates four books later with A Civil Campaign.
"Madame Vorsoisson," said Mark with dignity, "is a very sensible woman. When presented with compelling facts, she doesn't let a thoughtless emotional response overcome her clear reason."

Miles ran his hands through his hair. "Yeah, I know."
And like all good farce there's a food fight. :) One of the few books that has brought tears of laughter to my eyes. Though I recommend reading the preceding books in the series first.

Kelley Armstrong's Bitten is the first book in The Otherworld series and introduces us to Elena Michaels, the world's only female werewolf.
" knew the only person in the apartment was Philip. Yet you went up there and tried to protect him. Why?"
Clay hesitated, then said, "Because I knew it was what you'd want me to do."
If you just wanted to read one urban fantasy, this is the one I'd recommend you try. Probably the book I re-read most often and every single time I read it I find something new to enjoy.

Finally for my last two choices, I think I was taking the Desert Island thing quite seriously. :)

The Complete Ivory by Doris Egan is nearly 900 pages long and would certainly help pass the time on a desert island - this was before the heroes and the huts turned up. The trilogy follows the adventures of Theodora and Ran. Theodora is an anthropology student visiting the planet of Ivory, a place where magic is real. Whilst there she discovers she has a magical skill and becomes involved with Ran - a powerful sorcerer.

I've only read this trilogy once but what sticks with me are the wonderful characters and storytelling and the wish that Doris Egan was still writing novels - she now writes for TV. Ran would make a great hero for the island. When he and Theo return to her world where his magic doesn't work, he takes a job working in the sewers (or something similar my memory is not fantastic) as this is the only job he can get. He does this without complaint whilst she gets her head straight and decides what he already knows, that they're better off on his planet.

Last choice was 12th Night because I wanted there to be some Shakespeare on the island and this is the play I know best. Through some fluke I ended up studying it both for GCSE (age 15-16) and at A-Level (age 17-18). It has some of the most beautiful lines and is also very funny. My favourite film version stars Ben Kingsley and Helena Bonham Carter. Here's a little snippet - I hope.

Will be back tomorrow, with seven heroes.


Jenre said...

What a great selection of books.

I love 'Bitten' the heroine is so strong, yet still very likeable. I don't think I could read 'The Time Traveller's Wife' again. I was an emotional wreck for days after finishing it!

Tracy said...

I have heard such great things about The Time Traveler's Wife - recommended to me many times - but I just haven't read it yet. I really need to work on that as it sounds wonderful.

I'm not familiar with any of your other books except Bitten which I loved. I loved reading the story from Elena's pov. I have to say after reading the first 2 books in that series - Elena's voice - that when I got to book 3 and it was from Paige's pov I just couldn't get into it. I've tried to read it 3 different times but it was a DNF for me. I haven't gotten any further in the series since then.

LesleyW said...

Jenre - I haven't re-read TTTW yet but I know I will one day. But flicking through it just took me straight back to the first time I read it.

Tracy - As Jenre said, it's a very emotional read, but I think it's worth it and it's definitely one of my favourite books.

Re. The Otherworld series, maybe you could try and pick up Broken which returns to Elena as narrator?

DonnaB said...

Great books, Lesley! I've read them all except the Doris Egan. The last couple of years my taste for fantasy has waned, but I'm sure it will come back again -- my book preferences run in waves -- and I'll keep Egan in mind.

I love Bitten, of course, and have read it many, many times. I agree there's always something new there and the characters are so great, it's always a pleasure to visit them again.

And the Miles Vorkosigan books are among my favorite! The great thing about Miles was that as you read his stories, you totally forgot he was anything but a dashing, handsome hero. I've read Bujold's work outside the series too and it's all very, very good. She's a wonderful writer.

Hmmmm. This post makes me want to read Bitten again! LOL

LesleyW said...

Donna - If you read this, would be interested in knowing what you thought of A Crack in Forever, if it isn't years since you read it.

And whilst researching quotes for A Civil Campaign I realized it's ages since I read the Miles books. I think I read somewhere that a new one is due soon. Or maybe that was wishful thinking.

little alys said...

Gah- All these tempting books. I'm skipping the first two, thankyouverymuchfordepressingmenow.
*blows raspberry at Lesley*
The Complete Ivory sounds very good (and I'm adding it to buy list >_<, darn you! *shakes fist*). How long is the Lois McMaster Bujold series?
And I'm curious about Kelley Armstrong now. >_<

Carolyn Crane said...

What fine picks! TTTW is such a great book. And BITTEN. I think you have chosen two of the best books going. Frankly, I've never heard of people disliking or being meh on either. Have you? They are both so good.

Okay, and I love that you brought 12th! The others I haven't read, but the Bujold sure is tempting. It sounds funny. I stopped the otherworld series at Stolen, but I should totally get Broken.

LesleyW said...

Little Alys - The Miles Series is quite long. But on the plus side if you like the books it means you have loads to read before you run out. Kind of better in a way rather than having to wait months for a new release.

Series starts with Cordelia's Honor (This is the first two books in the series combined) which tells the story of how Miles's parents met.

Hopefully below there's a link to Lois McMaster Bujold's wikiepedia page which has a reading order.

LesleyW said...

Carolyn Jean - TTTW and Bitten are definitely two of my favourite books.

Although Broken does refer back to events that have happened in intervening books - DSM, IM, Haunted etc. I think because of the way Kelley Armstrong has written it you'd be able to pick up what was going on very quickly. And it is a werewolf centric book. This is also the book where Jaime and Jeremy get closer. :)

Sarai said...

Crap must you people continue to give me more and more books I have no hope of digging my way out of the massive TBR pile I have growing daily? And Now?

Great picks! I have Bitten, well actually I have every book she has written and yet haven't read any *ducks* not sure why

DonnaB said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
DonnaB said...

<< LesleyW said...
Donna - If you read this, would be interested in knowing what you thought of A Crack in Forever, if it isn't years since you read it.>>

Lesley, It's been a few years, but I remember it quite well. I thought it was a very, very sad book, although I'll grant that it is beautifully written. It touched a little too close to the bone, a little too close to my own losses. Someone recommended it to me and I've never understood why they thought it would make me feel better.

I'm not one of those people who loves to go to a movie and cry my eyes out, and the same goes for books. I know it's supposed to be cathartic and uplifting and death is a reality and isn't it beautiful and all that, but it just makes me sad. And I don't read books to be sad. There's plenty of sadness in real life.

But lots of other people feel differently and I would recommend A Crack in Forever to them. It's a loving story, beautifully told.

DIK Ladies said...

Sarai - My TBR pile is now sentient it's grown that huge. I dread thinking about it, but it doesn't stop me buying more books. It's an illness I tell you, I can't help myself. :)

LesleyW said...

Donna - I've only read it A Crack in Forever a couple of times, but it remains one of my favourite books I think because sometimes I put more stock in trivial things than the important stuff. And I see it on my bookshelf and it reminds me where my priorities should lie.

But I understand about how you don't want to read sad endings, especially when the situation touches close to home.

If I go to see a film I expect the hero and heroine to be alive at the end. I admit I am a little bit more flexible with my books but they have to be exceptionally well written. Anything that's put there for shock value or because the writer thought they were being clever will not make me buy future books.

I think both A Crack in Forever and The Time Traveler's Wife work because they are so well written. But I wouldn't recommend them to anyone who was feeling down and wanted cheering up. In the head space I was in a the time I did find them ultimately uplifting. Though it took me several days to 'get over' reading TTTW.

jessewave said...

That's a terrific selection. I would like to read The Time Travelers Wife but I'm not good with books that make me cry *g*.

LesleyW said...

Wave - I won't lie, it did make me cry, and in one place I was in floods and had to put the book down. But it made me smile and laugh too. It affects you because you are so drawn in to the character's and their lives.

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