For Sale

Jan. 27th, 2013 10:09 pm
helblonde: (Flocke and seal)
I took a load of books over to Half Price Books so I could trade them at a loss for new story books. I've saved a few which I hope might appeal to some of you.

The Materials and Techniques of Medieval Paintings by Daniel V. Thompson. Brand new, never been opened (it's a duplicate) $10
The Fashionable Dancer's Casket, or the Ball-Room Instructor by Charles Durang. 1996 reprint of the 1856 work. New condition. $5
Biological Evidence from Anglo-Scandinavian Deposits at 16-22 Coppergate (The Archaeology of York: The Environment) by H. K. Kenward and A. R. Hall. It's a bit banged up from traveling in a suitcase. $50 obo
1000 Hats by Norma Shephard. New condition. $30
The Folkwear Book of Ethnic Clothing by Mary S. Parker. Hardcover. Minor wear. $15
The Thyroid Solution by Ridha Arem, M.D. Paperback. $10

Reading

Jun. 9th, 2012 12:19 am
helblonde: (Default)
I recently finished Steven Pinker's The Blank Slate: The Modern Denial of Human Nature. It was a fine book, once it got past a rather dreary (but academically required) first chapters that dealt with what he was arguing against.

Once I was done with it, I needed something a bit lighter, so I picked up Around the World in Eighty Days, which I had never read. That was fun!

I followed that up with a trilogy by Pamela Aidan that my grandmother gave me. It's Pride and Prejudice from Mr. Darcy's perspective, drawn out into three books (moo). Aidan did a reasonable job of mirroring P&P, but missed a bit in getting the social details right. It is, thankfully a romance, not porn (remember, I got it from my grandmother), but I'm sure it's much closer to what women wished men felt when falling in love than what actually goes through their minds.

We've been reading the kids books from my childhood library, which is pretty broad. Grandma, before she went batty, was a chiildren's librarian and gave me lots of great books when I was a kid. I am revisiting old friends, and the kids are having a ball, too. One thing stands out to me, though: more recent publications seem to be about TV and movie characters instead of independent stories and characters. Even older characters - Clifford, The Berenstein Bears - seem to be intent on milking the cash cow.

We just picked up The Little Engine That Could. I noticed something that interested me in the pronouns. The first engine, the one that broke down, was female. The ones who refuse to help are all male. The engine that could was a lovely feminine blue (remember that the blue=boy/pink=girl color assignment changed after WWII and this book was originally published in 1930). So, it's a bit of a girl-power book. Who knew?
helblonde: (Default)
I've been reading a lot of nonfiction lately in an effort to feel like an adult and get edumacated.

I've run into a several books now where the designer/whoever does the layout puts part of the text in a call-out box to call attention to it. I find it aggrivating. I understand that someone thinks the sentence is important and all, but since it's not a new idea - it's in the main body of the text  - it just looks like the publisher is bulking up the page count. I promise, I'm a growned up person and can figure out the important bits myself. It's not just parenting books, which are written for idiots*. I've found this in business development books, too.

Oh, and Ms. Big Margins, you haven't written a text book. Save a tree and cut back on the white space.

On the other side of things, I really liked and recommend wholeheartedly, Rethinking Thin by Gina Kolata. It looks at the history of dieting and the current science about the biology that thwarts dieting. It's well researched and written.



*You lost me at "Your child is a brightly burning flame..." *eyeroll*

Book Sales

Sep. 16th, 2009 12:39 pm
helblonde: (Shadayim)

Dover is haveing a 60% off sale online: http://store.doverpublications.com/by-subject-bargain-bin.html

The Half Price Books on Boscell at Auto Mall Parkway in Fremont (next to the giant Joann's, durn their eyes) is having a paper back clearance: $1 each or 10 for $5. I'm helping!
helblonde: (Default)
E.E.Knight can't write for anything. It's a shame that he has created a really interesting world in his vampire Earth series. After each book I have to ask myself whether the world is interesting enough to justify reading the next one because the writing is so poor.

Steven Erikson can write. I have one complaint, though: he uses the word "turgid" too often.
helblonde: (Just B)
I'm going to start this book report off with a rant. No, wait, I have more than one rant.

Why is it that book publishers no longer put the number that book is in a series (e.g., Book 17 in the Milking the Cash Cow saga) on the cover or in the introductory pages? That is really starting to tick me off. If I pick up a book in a series, I want to start with the first. If I like it and return to the bookstore for the sequel, I want to know that I'm then picking up the second in the series. Not the third, not the fifth, the second.

I want this information to be easy to find. Putting the number on the cover is best. Including a list of "other books by the author" in the first couple of pages is almost sufficient, as long as you publish the titles of the series in order. Making me guess by including reviews of other books by the author (a practice I consider self-congratulatory masturbation) is not adequate for communicating this vital information. 

Labeling the books with the order would also mean that we could skip the paragraphs or pages of background information, which is, let's face it, boring as hell. Of course, if more authors (and publishers) could find it in their creative hearts to just write single stories instead of making everything into a trilogy or cash-cow series, then this would be a moot point. It has been a long time since I've found a sci-fi, fantasy, or mystery novel that was a stand-alone book. More authors should try them.

Speaking of boredom (and, incidentally, going back to the topic of self-congratulation), I really hate to see authors who have written good stuff get so full of themselves that they forget to listen to their editors. For instance, I think this is where David Weber is screwing up. His early works are pretty darn good. His recent stuff needs a good editor to pare out the extraneous crap.

When I skip ahead in a book out of boredom, I know that the author has not been listening to his editor. The last few Weber books I haven't just skipped ahead a couple of paragraphs. I've skipped chapters. This is not the mark of an engaging writer. This is the sign of a writer who doesn't consider his editor to be an ally in creating the best possible book. That's a real shame.

Finally, I think I may be done with Robin Hobb as an author. She is an incredibly talented writer (which I realize would normally be a reason to continue reading her works), but I've gotten tired of the way she always screws over the protagonists in her stories. I don't read fantasy for that. Gritty unpleasantness is what mysteries are for. I like fantasy to be a little shinier. Now, Hobb is no Terry Goodkind, who should have skipped the writing and just gotten therapy, but I just can't swing another screw-the-hero book. (I'm looking at you, too, George R. R. Martin.)

Teh Dumb

Jan. 10th, 2009 04:00 pm
helblonde: (Tongue)
Not my brightest moment... )

I did read Emma Bull's Territory this week: Doc Holliday, Wyatt Earp, and a little magic. It was really well done. She does an excellent job of letting the reader feel the main character's disbelief of magic and his slow process of coming to grips with it.

I've also been reading a lot of Dashiel Hammett (Thin Man, Maltese Falcon - yes, these were books before they were movies). Mostly his Continental Op books. Hammett is the granddaddy of the hardboiled detective novel and he is good.

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