I'm currently rereading one of my favorite series the Kate Daniels books by Ilona Andrews, who is actually the husband and wife team Gordan and Ilona Andrews. Seriously, if you haven't read these, they're one of the best urban fantasy series on the market, and they have one of the best worldbuilding premises I've come …
I recently finished reading A Gentleman in Moscow for the book club I participate in. I have to say I found it to be one of the more enjoyable books I’ve read for the club so far. For a book about a man stuck in a hotel for most of his life, it was surprisingly entertaining.
A few weeks ago I quit a series in disgust. It started out OK but rapidly devolved into something actively painful to read. The final book I read (#6) was so bad I literally yelled at my e-reader on the train. Normally my inclination would be to focus on the good in a novel, but this blog is supposed to be about what I’m learning and I learned a lot from this series despite it’s increasing awfulness.
Roy Peter Clark’s The Art of X-ray Reading: How the Secrets of 25 Great Works of Literature will Improve your Writing was the other direct inspiration for this blog and probably actually better at explaining how to learn from a text than Science Fiction 101 ever was. I’m borrowing pretty heavily from his terminology so far so it’s only fair that I write about how I’m doing that before we go much further.
A few weeks ago I was reading a book from a series who's promo text promised “Magic. Romance. Rivals. Perfect for fans of Throne of Glass, Falling Kingdoms, and Tamora Pierce.” And it was feeling familiar. Too familiar. Halfway into the second book I realized why - it had basically the same structure as Tamora Pierce’s Protector of the Small series. Which, in itself, is not inherently bad. But this book was doing it badly. Not awfully, just enough to be subtly, and increasingly, annoying. It got so bad I put the book down.
When I was about thirteen, I discovered in the depths of a Vroman's bargin bin a thick* book with the title: Science Fiction 101. Well that’s clearly a book meant for me, I thought. I had only recently decided that writing was something I'd like to do and this book came with the byline "where to start reading and writing science fiction." Perfect.