Hello everyone. Here we go again with another one of these Favorites posts. November was a book heavy month for me. I’m in the midst of penning a new series right now (before I resume Esper Files), which essentially means research – or in my case, justifying hours of reading as “work”. So here we go:
His Dark Materials (trilogy) by Philip Pullman:
Starting out with the heavy hitter. I actually just finished this one in time for the blog, as this is one of those giant novels. Yes, it’s three books, but I get the collated version, so essentially I read like a 1000 pages of tiny print in one go.
On a more positive note, my eye doctor can now afford to go on holiday.
This book series is one of those cult stories; it’s not as well known as some others (*cough cough* Lord of the Rings *cough cough*) but it has a solid fan base. And it’s dominating the Steampunk charts even after all these years. That’s something not even Tolkien could do.
Here’s what I like about it: most of it. The world building is insane (I’m only talking about Lyra’s world here for clarity). The history, the alternate reality, the technology – it’s something all authors aspire to do.
The characters are likable, and that includes the Daemons. I found that to be a clever way to subvert exposition.
But despite it being awesome, the series is not without its faults. Firstly: the editing. I don’t mean spelling and sentence structure and all that grade school stuff.
Whoever was in charge of structuring paragraphs must have never heard of the “enter” key. In the same page you’ll read three scenes that overlap each other, and while this is great for action (something which Pullman fails miserably at) it just confuses the reader during the course of reading.
And yes, I hated the fight scenes. Pullman writes great descriptions, all of his prose is evocative (bar a few scant lines) and the dialogue is fantastic (I am fan of Will in this regard, cos he could have been so annoying but ended up being the best part of the latter half of the series). I think Pullman’s greatest writing strength is in making the character’s thoughts be so precise and so “real” that we instinctively know the characters, and thus none felt out of place.
But the fight scenes… Yuck.
I’m not gonna go into the multiple worlds thing. I hated it in the second book, loved it in the third and the ending… Oh, boy that ending. You should read the entire thing just for the ending.
I had a lump in my throat, I couldn’t face people, I was a mess.
That right there is the mark of a great story.
Cinder Spires Book 1: The Aeronaut’s Windlass by Jim Butcher:
If anyone ever heard my podcast (something I hope to remain buried in the sand of time) there is an episode in which I gush over Jim Butcher. GUSH. Like an eight year old in a candy store.
Jim Butcher’s The Dresden Files is what inspired me to start writing in the first place, and my first self-published series (still ongoing) borrows some of the narrative elements from it.
Now before I go “This is great, read it” and move on, here’s why you should definitely give this a chance:
– Giant airships
– Talking cats
– An intricate socio-economic system that actually makes sense to the freakin’ plot and is, you know… RELEVANT
– Talking cats
And talking cats.
Seriously, just go read this. (And while you’re in that section of Amazon, check out Esper Files too. I heard some people like that too. And the author is really cool. And handsome… Okay, Egan, you went too far.)
Gilmore Girls by Amy Sherman-Palladino:
All hail the best TV writer on the planet. Build her a statue. Fill it with coffee. Drop it over Chuck Lorre so maybe he’ll fix Big Bang Theory before it heads the Two and a Half Men “why-even-bother-with-actually-trying-to-be-funny-we-have-all-their-money-now” route.
I’ve been a fan of this series for years! I watched it a total of five time, can quote good chunks of dialogue (and insults) from it, and I generally use it as a yardstick to measure people’s awesomeness.
(Although it occurs to me that now that I mentioned the yardstick, I gave away the secret… I need a new stick)
Last November brought us four brand new 50-min episodes (and an ending that made us all collectively scream), and a reason for a certain someone to finally purchase a Netflix account.
I won’t give away the plot (Mother and daughter are best friends and go through multiple adventures as they try and get the girl a proper education, while living in a screwball comedy filled small town); nor will I spoil some of the best lines ever (“…of course not. I wouldn’t want you to upset El Duce over here!”)
(PS. I wrote that from memory.)
I will say that as a writer, anyone who wants to know how good dialogue is done, how to give LIFE to characters, and how to really mess with an audience’s emotions and expectations, should at least read Amy Sherman-Palladino’s scrips.
And watch the show. Seriously, it’s really awesome, you guys.
And that’s it for me. I think I’ve raved enough. What about you – read or watched anything cool this month? Leave it in the comments down below or drop me a line at email@example.com.