Thursday, December 31, 2020

Year In Review

2020, man, right? Whoa boy. 

 One of my goals coming back here is selfish: I like getting prepub books from Netgalley and they like when you review the books that they give you. So I've got a list of books that I got advance copies of--many from several years ago--that I did read and form opinions on. I'd like to post those opinions to get partial credit, even if it's way overdue.

I'd also like to start blogging what I'm in the middle of again, because within a few hours of finishing a book it becomes hard to talk about. I need to be right in the guts of it to really do that; I want to try it.

But let's take a moment to talk about 2020 as a reading year! I can't pick apart this year from other years, but I can tell you that I'm reading a lot more romance than I used to, that I have library books that are overdue by MONTHS, and that my book count would be significantly higher if I counted book-length works of fanfiction, but I'm far too reliant on Goodreads to pull that off.

I look back at the list of books I read and I literally can't believe this was all this year. This was the year I started reading The Innkeeper Chronicles? But...but that was in the Before Times! It was just in January? I am relying entirely on Goodreads for these records; if it tells me that I read The Rules and gave it five stars, I'm going to have to believe it, I guess.

Some exciting bests this year! The aforementioned Innkeeper books, which Sarah K. has been pushing at me for years and I resisted because the covers are pretty darned cheesy. But then my book club friends got into it and I gave it a try and now I am desperately waiting for Ilona Andrews to write the next book about Maud and I have a whole new breed of warlike spacefaring vampires to be weirdly fascinated by.

The Rules for Vanishing was one of the scariest books I've ever read; it is like someone took Tim Burton and stripped all the candyfloss and gave the script to, I don't know, Ridley Scott maybe to film. 

I already posted about Catfishing on Catnet and am absolutely chuffed to bits (as my son says in imitation of his favorite YouTubers) to have an ARC for the next one, which you'll hear about as soon as I read it. 

No real "worst" books of the year; a few 2-star outings, but none that I had high hopes for. Nothing unfinished and nothing hate-read, which is really for the best.

Oh, my book club is new this year! Or at least from the very end of last year. It's really quite the best. It was all over Zoom from the get-go, because the three of us live in different states, but we vacation together most summers (sigh) and we have nicely dovetailing taste in books. It's the first book club that so rarely feels like a chore, because we only pick books we're all excited to read, and our to-read lists have enough overlap that we'll never get through it all. 

And we chat about what else we're reading, which is usually things we all want to read, too. Sometimes we throw out two books just because we are all excited about them. It's just great to talk to L and E every two or three weeks. 

So 2020 was rough, but it was also the year of the book fairy and Camp Book Club, and the year I read three Penric & Desdemona novellas, reread the whole Murderbot series, and discovered the Innkeeper Chronicles. Whatever else is going on in the world, book-wise I can't complain.

Happy new year, everyone.

Saturday, December 26, 2020

Over My Head

You know the thing where you're reading a book out loud to a kid and you start doing a bit--an accent, silly voice, or funny face for a certain character--but as the book goes on, you realize how much trouble you've gotten yourself in by starting this? Like you start reading the Batman comics with the Batman voice, but realize on page 3 that you're going to lose your voice before the end of the first issue if you keep trying this?

I knew I was stretching when I decided that the first person narrator of Mars Evacuees should have an authentic (lol) English accent. But hey, I can do a bad English accent for half an hour a night for a few weeks. It's easy!

It wasn't very far into the book, though, when the titular evacuees are gathered together from all over Earth and sent to Mars. And since I'm doing our narrator Alice's voice, I pretty much have to do the Australian accent that Carl and Noel have. Other main characters started flying at me--the Scottish scientist, the Swedish snob, several robots. 

But I've got in under control. Sure, switching from the Midlands to the outback repeatedly in a conversation is tricky, but I am an artist!

I even managed when we threw in an alien race whose language is mostly vowels and who extend all the vowel words in English. I'm pretty proud of that one, actually.

By the beginning of the sequel, Space Hostages, I'm an expert. Dr. Muldoon can talk about terraforming with Mr. Rasmussen (I'll admit, my Swedish accent leans a little German; luckily my kid doesn't know the difference), Thsaaa can develop a French accent (yes, this is canonical, they moved to the Alps) and I am PULLING IT OFF. 

And yes, they have introduced another alien race, who speak through mandibles in a language of mostly clacking. They call themselves the Krakkiluks, and that is actually very fun to say in an Australian accent.

I really thought I had hit Peak Readaloud Complexity. 

Today, we got a new species. They're kind of bat-people, and they speak a tonal language that appears to be a cross between birdsong and yodeling.

Can anyone recommend an online voice coach?

Monday, December 14, 2020

Your Friendly Neighborhood Book Fairy

I think I've found my calling.

It is my ultimate goal in life to drive around town leaving random piles of books on the porches of the good people of Medford, Massachusetts. That's right, I'm the book fairy.

It started when the Friends of the Library did an online book sale--we post bundles of books on Facebook every Thursday morning; first person to comment can buy the item, (offbrand) PayPal us the money, and either pick their books up at a central location or, for a purchase of $10 or more, have them dropped on your front doorstep. On Fridays, I drive all over town and drop off the books.

Then came the grab bags. Tell us who your reader is and what they like, and for $10 you get a pile of used books. Most of them are for kids--a 4 year old boy who loves vehicles and taking things apart; a 7 year old girl who's reading chapter books already, a 12 year old who likes history and adventure. 

Occasionally, though, I get my favorite--an adult who wants funny memoirs, smart romance, thrillers and sci-fi and YA and I get to pick out all my favorites, make a big pile of books I wish I could read again for the first time, or the ones I can't wait to read because all the reviews are SO GOOD. 

And I drop them on someone's porch. Can you imagine, a big bag of fun books just appearing on your porch? Even though you ordered them, even though you paid for them, it's still the dream, right?

I'm the book fairy; I'm getting my business cards made up tomorrow.