Archive for the ‘Purchases’ Category

Feminine compensation

Thursday, April 23rd, 2015

For some reason I seem to pick up more novels by female authors at second hand bookstores than as new editions. Here I have to add that I read quite more novels by men than women although I try not to be biased when I check up on a book. The thing is just that many female authors do often use a quite feminine style and typical themes like romance, triangle relationships and family. These do not automatically avert my interest. Foremostly it depends on how it is handled. Unfortunately, for me, there are more often similarities than fresh or different approaches.

Now I am digressing a bit here. My note on finding more female authors at second hand bookstores originates from the fact that those of which you find new editions often follow the popular trends and genres as these sell better. Finding female authors that don’t is usually a matter of luck when browsing through the shelves. On the second hand bookshelves there is no presentation or selection. It is a random collection of novels that have been put back into circulation and often they are older ones with titles which aim less on their target readers as older fantasy and science fiction (I have been talking about this genre actually) did not have such as they have done for the past 10 to 15 years. The chance is thus larger that I check something written by a female author.

I have picked up four novels, of which one is an omnibus of three, but two female authors of which I have read books before. This made picking them up easier. The first is the Chronicles Of Morgaine by C.J. Cherryh, consisting of Gate Of Ivrel (1976), Well Of Shiuan (1978) and Fires Of Azeroth (1979). Cherryh has written quite a bit of science fiction but those novels do not appeal to me. Another (later) fantasy series by Cherryh did appeal to me and I quite enjoyed then, enough to give this other fantasy series a try. It was cheap, I have to admit, so the threshold was low. The other novel is The Master Of White Storm (1992) by Janny Wurts. Although I did not enjoy her early work much I do enjoy her recent series. This novel seems to fall in between the two. It may disappoint or surprise. I picked it mainly up because I had not seen it before in any bookstore so getting it cheap pushed me forward to give it a try.


The lost works of Robert E. Howard

Friday, April 3rd, 2015

I am a bit exaggerating with the title of this post. The thing is that Robert E. Howard is mainly famous for his Conan stories, which have frequently been republished, while some of his other protagonists have made some name of their own like Kull and Solomon Kane, although that would be more among the fans. Howard however wrote lots of stories during his relatively short life which in most cases were series focused on a central protagonist. These works are not that easy to to come across as they are republished far less often and not in great numbers so when one does find them you should not hesitate to pick one up.

I have now actually picked up three story collections. Like most of his stories they were written in the 1930′s but I will only refer to the collection edition that I got. All that I obtained were published in the 1970′s and in excellent condition. The first series is called Tigers Of The Sea (1979) and are centred around Cormac Mac Art, an Irish pirate during the Dark Ages. The second is Worms Of The Earth (1976), about a Pictish King fighting against Rome, and the third is The Lost Valley Of Iskander (1976), which focuses on Francis X. Gordon, better known as El Borak, a Texan gunman in early 20th Century Afghanistan. All three collections are barely 200 pages and not all are complete, although Howard left plenty of unfinished stories as well, so completeness is always troublesome when you are dealing with an author who wrote stories to get some quick money. Nevertheless Howard’s stories are quite unique despite their pulp nature as his prose shows great quality and power that has found resonance with many readers. For that reason it is worthwhile to collect his stories.


The Pandora sequence

Tuesday, February 17th, 2015

Frank Herbert is one of my favourite science fiction authors. Even so I haven’t read as much of his work as I should have. Perhaps it is because I rarely come across his lesser known works in the bookstore here in the Netherlands except for the Dune series and a few other novels. One series that has been translated is the Pandora sequence, consisting of a prequel and a trilogy, the latter co-written by Bill Ransom. The strange thing about this series that it is hard to find the full series. I first read it as a teenager in my local town library although they only had like two of the novels. As a result I never read the whole story and to be honest I pretty much forgot about it. In 2012 the whole series has been printed anew again and now I have taken the chance to order them online so that I can read it all. The prequel was written by Frank Herbert alone and is called Destination: Void (1966). The trilogy was completed after the death of Frank Herbert in 1986 and consists of The Jesus Incident (1979), The Lazarus Effect (1983) and The Ascension Factor (1988). It has been more than 15 years ago that I read some of the novels in the series and I have forgotten pretty much all of it except that it took place on a water planet, ironically the opposite of Dune. I have to say I will enjoy reading a whole series as I am still reading plenty of ongoing ones.


Good intentions

Thursday, January 15th, 2015

What better way to start the new year than by buying some new books? First off I picked up a up a trilogy by G.W. Dahlquist. The three novels are supposedly a hybrid of fantasy and science fiction. The style and approach of the novels caught my interest. I’m not sure how good they will be but my gut feeling is positive. The three novels are The Glass Books Of The Dream Eater (2006), The Dark Volume (2008) and The Chemickal Marriage (2012). Now that I think of it; I have bought complete series just before or after the new year the past few years as well. At least reading a completed multi-volume series will improve my mood for the novels of the plenty ongoing series I am following.

The second thing I bought were two volumes containing the Lives (ca. 120) by Plutarchos (or Plutarch for those who prefer popularized names). I have had the Dutch translation for some ten years, but that translation only cover about two-thirds of the biographies of the great Roman and Greek men of antiquity. This particular edition is one of the few complete editions and set up according to the original structure in which a biography of a Roman was partnered with a biography of a Greek that shared certain similarities. It was not that expensive and I don’t mind having something duplicate because for classical works I prefer to read the Dutch translations when the material is about the most famous times in Roman history as pretty much all English translations use the ugly popularized versions of the names instead of the actual ones.

With these books I can enjoy some good reading for the coming weeks, although I should spend a little more time catching up on my reviewing. Another ‘good’ intention. One knows how those go.


A bunch of books

Saturday, December 13th, 2014

It has been a while since I last wrote something about the books I’ve bought. It is not that I did not buy anything since then. If I want to write about my purchases it should be about a couple of books and I have to have the time free to write something about them. And that is mostly what it has been. No batch purchases and if I had some I did not find the time to write something up. Writing down a review is more important and I have been trailing on my reviews-to-do list for some time as I’ve been too busy or preferred reading to posting.

Things have calmed down a bit and today managed to get a bunch of books, although most credit goes to the bookstore which put them up for 1 euro a piece. Even then I remained picky. I can buy any book but will I be motivated to read each of them? I have a fair number of books on my shelves that have been lying there for one or more years. Some I do intend to read when I am in the mood, some others I purchased cheaply and I was willing to give them a go at the time. Times however change and often when I do a viewing of my bookshelves I keep saying to myself that I am not the mood to read that kind of story. Maybe some other time. And so to prevent that category of books to grow I need to be picky. Usually I stick with my gut feeling, which is often right, after reading the back of the book or by reading some sentences in some random pages to get an idea of the style.

My pickiness lead to the selection of three books, all fantasy and all written by female authors. First is Arrows Of The Sun (1993) by Judith Tarr, second is The Gates Of Twilight (1996) by Paula Volsky and third is Feast Of Souls (2007) by C.S. Friedman. The last one is the first of series, the Magister Trilogy and I have read novels by Friedman before. That I haven’t picked up more of by her already discloses that they make me enthusiast, although my reviews are fairly positive in nature. The ideas for the new novels simply did not entice me. I am thus least sure on picking up this novel. It was cheap enough to give it a try, but I probably won’t read it anytime soon. Perhaps on my next vacation.

I picked up a fourth novel, new and all and also fantasy, by John Gwynne. It is the second novel of The Faithful And The Fallen series, which is called Valour (2014). I have to admit that I was not sure about buying it. My review of the first novel, Malice, was mixed. It had some good stuff but it also had weaknesses. This instalment will probably decide if I will drop the series or not. Even so, I am not in a hurry to read it. Maybe during the Christmas holidays.


A dive into history

Friday, May 23rd, 2014

I take the field of literature in a broad sense. As I have mentioned before I like to read books from earlier times which are often not truly novels but relatively contemporary narrations of historic events. As they are written in the times they author lived in he writes from his own cultural and social perspective which gives each of these narratives a unique feeling.

These days many webshops provide the option to create wishlist. Here you can store items you don’t want to buy yet, usually because they are of lesser priority or because they are too expensive and you want to wait for an acceptable discount. Recently I decided to clean up one of my wishlists a bit as I realized many had been in there so long they wouldn’t get a serious discount soon and that I have been buying cheap books for such a long time now that its not that bad to buy some books for a more regular price.

The batch that I have purchased covers a wide range: Books XI to XIV of the Library (30 BC) by Diodorus Siculus. It is the only work that covers the period of Greek history between the rise of Athens and Sparta after their victory over the Persian Empire in 480 BC and the conflict that would mark the decline of Greek power in 431 BC. The books continue until 401 BC, but for that period contemporary historic works have survived and Diodorus Siculus uses these much as source. In a way the work by John Zonaras is similar. Books XII and XIII of The Epitome Of Histories (1134) covers Roman history between the years 218 and 395, which also lack suitable sources. More contemporary is History Of The Lombards ( 799) by Paul the Deacon, who lived in Italy in the eight century. The man who conquered the Lombards was Charlemagne. A combined book I bought contained two biographies: The Life Of Charlemagne (836) by Einhard and Charlemagne (887) by Notker the Stammer, of which the first is more famous as Einhard was knew Charlemagne personally. Next follow several books from the later Middle Ages: The Orkneyinga Saga (ca. 1200), a history of the Orkney Islands around they years 1000 and earlier. No author is known. The same is the case for Njal’s Saga (ca. 128o), which provides detailed stories of life in Iceland. And finally are two chronicles of the Crusades: The First is narrated by Ralph of Caen in the Gesta Tancredi (1118), which describes the Norman participation, and The Chronicle Of The Third Crusade (1222), written by multiple authors and thus not clearly attributable, in which the most powerful rulers of that time joined in like Frederick Barbarossa of Germany and Richard the Lion Heart of England. Both narratives are eyewitness accounts of these events.

It is a grand set of works. They are of course not on top of my read list but regularly I am much in the mood to pick something like this up for a different kind of read.

A travel kit

Friday, May 2nd, 2014

Whenever I go on a trip one of the first things that are put on my things-to-not-forget list are books. I don’t have a car so all long-distance traveling I do is by public transport. This means I have plenty of time on my hands to do something. In most cases I read. If the trip takes some time longer I need more books, although that depends on the activities I might be doing. I don’t know beforehand, but my motto is that carrying more is always better than carrying less as this might result in the risk having nothing to do or being forced to buy something rubbish instead to read.

Finding some good books for travel is not easy. Usually they are not the books on top of my wanted list and often leftovers. Books by authors I have read before I considered readable enough without me getting absorbed too much that I spent more time reading than planned. This year I obtained a pretty nice stash, all by authors of which I have a positive opinion. The first is a contemporary novel, for a change, by Michael Chabon. He is one of the few contemporary authors whose work I have always enjoyed, so I am quite content to read Telegraph Avenue (2012). The other author is Richard Morgan. The books that I have read were both fantasy novels. The pair of novels I have picked up now are both science fiction. That is pretty different fare and it is guesswork if it will be to my liking and possibly it has a very different style and approach.  The first is Altered Carbon (2002) and the second Broken Angels (2003). At least I have a full travel kit now and should not have to worry lacking having something to spend my travel time on.


Go West

Friday, March 21st, 2014

As often, when I am very satisfied with a newly discovered author, I ransack the available books published, if not too expensive. In this case, after having started reading The House War series by Michelle West and discovered that there are two series that should best be read after the first three books, I got both series.

The first series is The Sacred Hunt duology, containing Hunter’s Oath (1995) and Hunter’s Death (1996). The second series is The Sun Sword, encompassing six novels: The Broken Crown (1997), The Uncrowned King (1998), The Shining Court (1999), Sea of Sorrows (2001) and The Sun Sword (2004). If you have counted, these are five, as the fifth novel, The Riven Shield, is strangely out of stock and even second hand books of average quality fetch a rather quite high price. I dislike having a poor quality edition next to a good set, so I have no choice but to wait until it comes back into stock. I don’t know if I will start the series before then. It will depend partially on my interest for the rest of my read pile.