Books, Recountings

recountings: georgette heyer and how to run a drug cartel

I’ve been reading a steady stream of factual books. This is shocking, for my reading habits generally are ‘fiction with a sparse, tiny, weeny smattering of factual’.

But no. Not this month. Nor last month. I’ve been reading books and they’ve all been off my factual shelf.

(Quite literally. I have a shelf dedicated to factual books. It’s at eye level. I haven’t necessarily read them all, but they do make me feel intelligent.)

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Georgette Heyer: Biography of a Bestseller

by Jennifer Kloester.

I wouldn’t say that I loved this book – I’ve even removed a star, for I like to re-award stars after a little thought marination.

I liked to learn of Georgette’s personal life because I’m a stalker even though what I read was a tad depressing.

Why I Didn’t Love This Biography:

  • There was a heavy focus on bills, and the need to pay them. Georgette was the family bread-winner and she had to write to keep her family’s head above water. It was a little depressing to be constantly reading about them – and it must have been even more so to have this heavy burden.
  • Her letters were one-sided. We only really read her letters to people and though I love the woman’s work, constantly reading of her very. strong. will and so very self-deprecating nature was a little … overwhelming?
  • I don’t think we’d have got on. I know. It’s an enormously sad fact, but I rather think I’d be diving under the sofa or out of the window if she was coming. She sounded like a strong character who I’d rather admire from a distance. A great distance.
  • Rather unconventional, she seems. (Like Yoda, I speak.) Her relationship with her husband was a meeting of minds and hearts, but quite passionless. And for me, I find this rather dispiriting. She wrote such wonderful novels, and I’d like to think she had a complete Happy Ever After.

She once said that she was to be found in her work. I think I’ll enjoy finding her there, rather than in her biography.

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Narconomics: How To Run A Drug Cartel

by Tom Wainwright

This book. This book. I couldn’t put it down. I came home from work, found this had arrived, picked it up, and gobbled the whole thing down in one afternoon/evening.

It. is. so. interesting.

I’m not entirely sure how Wainwright does it, but once I’d finished reading this book, I felt that I’d completed a course in:

  • business studies
  • economics
  • criminology
  • how to run a drug cartel
  • how to destroy a drug cartel

and found it all fascinating. Every bit of it. This is quite astounding for business and economics are not two words that bring much excitement to mind.

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oh yes. I just love the thought of business studies

He is one of the luckiest journalists alive just to have survived his research,‘ says the Washington Times in the first page blurb. And he is.

But honestly, if you want to be informed about the war on drugs, on how it could be more effective, on how the drug cartels work and how their franchising is a bit like McDonald’s (for realz!) I’d highly recommend this book.

It’s the best one I’ve read this year.

Happy reading!

Books, Quotables

quotables: cloud of witness

Yes, yes – the mystery is all very interesting, but it’s the characters that make this book so very sparkling.  cloud of witness

Clouds of Witness

by Dorothy L. Sayers.

No decent-minded person would know how to spell ipecacuanha out of his own head.”

– page 125

“What luck! Here’s a deep, damp ditch on the other side, which I shall now proceed to fall into.”

A slithering crash proclaimed that he had carried out his intention.

– page 57

“He seemed particularly cheerio, you know,” said the Hon. Freddy.

“Particularly what?” inquired the Lord High Steward.

“Cheerio, my lord,” said Sir Wigmore, with a deprecatory bow.

“I do not know whether that is a dictionary word,” said his lordship, entering it upon his notes with meticulous exactness, “but I take it to be synonymous with cheerful.”

“May we take it that he was in exceptionally lively spirits?” suggested Counsel.

“Take it in any spirit you like,” muttered the witness, adding, more happily, “Take a peg of John Begg.”

“The deceased was particularly lively and merry when he went to bed,” said Sir Wigmore, frowning horribly.

– page 248

Books

tropes i would like to see more of

I read a lot. And when I find certain things (Tropes? Themes? i no do wurdz) in fiction … I perform an inner happy dance and gobble the book down whole. Here are a few reasons for such exuberance, expressed in words. And gifs. Gifs are gifts.

mawwied couples

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I … have a dream. A dream that a healthy marriage will be portrayed in fiction; where the lead character would be married and that this would simply be the backdrop to the actual story.

Sometimes it’s just nice to read of a stable relationship; to not get readerly stressed when oh, no! look! they’re not communicating again. Gee, I feel so shocked.

And sure – there can be some conflict in their relationship but not major conflict. There is a difference.

Books I’d Recommend:

188230The Amelia Peabody Series by Elizabeth Peters: think archaeology, romance, humour, lots and lots of dead bodies, and Egypt. And a cast of characters you will grow to love over a nineteen book series. Though, you know, it should come with a warning.

WARNING! READING ANY OF THE AMELIA PEABODY SERIES WILL INSTALL A STRONG DESIRE TO:

  1. brandish a parasol
  2. find your very own Radcliffe Emerson.
  3. war with a dastardly arch nemesis
  4. solve grisly crimes in Egypt
  5. be a terribly good archaeologist

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just do it!

I cannot respect characters that have good intentions, but are side-tracked by a pair of bootiful, bootiful [insert colour here] eyes.

If you’re going to take down an evil emperor, stand by a resolve, keep to your morals, or read every single book in the Great Library of Alexandria … then you should do it. You should just darn do it.

Kill the bloke. Don’t eat that ice cream. Kick temptation in its face. Invent time travel.

Do not, I beg you, think, it doesn’t matter that he killed my best friend and thousands of innocents, but I can’t kill this evil king because he might possibly have a Tragic Past and more depth than a puddle.

Feelings. Bah. So much selfishness is committed in their name.

15839976Books I’d Recommend:

The Red Rising Series by Pierce Brown: Darrow needs to bring down an entire class system. And by golly, he just goes for it. The series is bloody and brutal, but I like it. I like it a lot.

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë: this is one of my favourite classics. Because Jane Eyre? She stands by her principles – even though it means she loses the man she loves.

a slow burning romance

If you tell me a character loves just for the sake of love and oh he said ‘I love you’ so they definitely ARE IN LOVE AND IT’S TWU WUV AND YOU WILL BELIEVE ME. JUST BECAUSE I SAID THEY ARE … I won’t always be able to see it.

I like watching a romance grow – slowly, steadily, quietly. The sort that creeps up on a character until they think: oh, that’s what it is.

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Sure, ‘love at first sight’ can happen; in fiction and real life. But I adore reading fiction where you can believe and see that maybe, just maybe this is love – not because the character declares it every. other. page (I could say that I am a dragon-slaying astronaut, for sure, but that don’t make it so) but because we – the reader – have watched it grow.

Books I’d Recommend:

Devil's Cub (Alastair, #2)Gosh. This is a hard one. Buuuut … I’ll pick these two. And one of them – in a shock twist that surprises absolutely no one – is a Heyer:

The Devil’s Cub by Georgette Heyer: I view this book as one of the most wildly romantic books I’ve read, purely because of one, rather ridiculous statement that Vidal passionately utters in a climactic scene.

The action begins with the lead kidnapping the heroine. The heroine isn’t impressed. She shoots him. And thus marks the beginning of a beautiful relationship.

Harvest of Rubies by Tessa Afshar: containing a cringeworthy scene full of second-hand embarrassment, this book has a marriage of convenience that changes into something more as the heroine grows and the lead realises that hey, maybe he kinda leapt to conclusions.

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happy reading!

Life, On Writing

highlights of text butchery

thepunone.JPGI’ve been quietly editing Insalted for some time now. However, only recently did I bite the bullet and print the whole thing out.

There’s a lot of it. I don’t know if it’s my dramatic usage of paragraphs, the halts for Bolded Lists (I haven’t a better name for them), or if I’ve completely got the spacing wrong, but I’ve ended up with 334 pages to edit.

!!!

Usually, I just employ a liberal use of a pen, butchering this and scribbling out that. HOWEVER, with this manuscript, I have a better plan. As per usual, I butcher … but I also use highlighters and sticky notes.

I have four colours and these stand for a sub-plot, a mega-plot, background info, and THE ROMANCE THREAD.

(And yes. That deserves capitals. I’m quietly proud that this story HAS A ROMANTICLE ELEMENT!!!!)

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like this cover. but with more clothing

Why Using Highlighters Is A Highlight of Editing:

  • You can look back on a butchered page and think: my gosh, this looks legit! Maybe I am a Proper Writer after all!
  • It teaches you to never underestimate the importance of the highlighter in validating your career choices.
  • You can actually keep track of each plot line – how much of this plot is in this chapter? Do I need more? Less? How much ROMANTICLE ELEMENT!!!! is in it?
  • If you are a visual person, you can sum up what happens per plot line at the beginning of the chapter, and strike it through with the appropriate highlighter. It looks very pretty! And is useful. That’s 100% my reason for using them.

workspaceistidyMy work space isn’t very tidy. I have several coloured labels that er, I thought were sticky notes when I bought them. (SPOLIER: they weren’t.)

Now, they hang about like I did around other earthlings, wanting to be cool and useful but never quite making it.

(HANG IN THERE, LABELS! YOU’LL FIND YOUR SPACE YET!!)

I have highlighters, sticky notes, pens, hair things, soap, books, tea, an empty purse, and a laptop for music just chilling on the desk with me.

It is clutter, but I am of the opinion that I work better with clutter than without. (I have no wish to test this theory.)

Recently, I butchered into the wee hours and  … I felt like a Proper Writer. I was haunted and hunched over with a blanket about my shoulders, eyes stinging, hand wielding pen and highlighter with fervor.

It was a wonderful feeling; I am doomed to plenty more of it.

SIDE NOTE: I’ve discovered that THE ROMANTICLE ELEMENT!!!!!! comes more easily when I’m tired. I haven’t re-read what I corrected last night, but I’m sure that it’s all coherent.

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Books, Life

whatcha reading?

I dreamt that someone dared me to follow them as they grabbed a killer whale’s fin and dove into the dark, cold depths of the ocean. I followed and took huge breaths underwater. I didn’t drown. It was a weird dream.

Everyone should gasp in awe though, because clearly I’m destined to be a mermaid now.

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Reading The Hobbit has stalled. The fault does not lie with Tolkien, but rather with myself. I haven’t charged my kindle, therefore, I cannot read The Hobbit.

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yes, my reasoning is very lazy

10975327I’m part way through Samurai, The Last Warrior by John Man. It … wasn’t quite what I’d expected, but so far, three things have been learned:

  1. Satsuma is an actual place.
  2. The Samurai had guts. (And yes, that was a terrible pun and a dreadful reference to seppuku.)
  3.  The book is centered around Saigo Takamori. I would have known this if I’d read the back cover when I bought it.

During my lunch break, I either pick up Samurai, attempt to eat melons, or read Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World by Jack Weatherford on my phone.

GKATMOTMW (I’m shortening its title. To make it easier) is quite fascinating. And long. It’s really long. But that’s okay. The subject material is one that I enjoy.

My interest in Genghis Khan was first piqued when my elder brothers started to read The Conqueror series by Conn Iggulden, and was cemented by listening to the truly excellent Wrath of the Khans podcast series by Dan Carlin.

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it’s not about *that* khan

You can’t say that Genghis Khan was a good man. The death that followed in his wake was immense. (Millions. Millions died because of him.) His methods were brutal. But he was brilliant. Utterly, astoundingly brilliant.

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I’d highly recommend the Wrath of the Khans series. (Head’s up though – it’s not for the weak of stomach.) Dan Carlin’s podcasts are always my go to listening material.

Well, I have work this evening and there’s quite a bit to do before I get there. Editing. Editing and organising and not stopping to read a book.

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can’t … resist … the pull …

happy reading!