Rachel Neumeier

Fantasy and Young Adult Fantasy Author

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Recent reading: The Twisted Ones by T Kingfisher

Okay, so, it’s not like I’ve read through the entire backlist available for T Kingfisher / Ursula Vernon. I’ve got several of hers on my TBR pile and a vague notion she’s got a lot of others out there. But I’ve really enjoyed all of her books or stories that I’ve read so far, so when I noticed The Twisted Ones, I was interested and also ready to trust her to write a horror story I could stand to read. I was in the mood for horror because hey, Halloween. I didn’t actually read this book in time for Halloween, but I think I might have ordered it on Halloween, so that counts, right?

So, The Twisted Ones.

When Mouse’s dad asks her to clean out her dead grandmother’s house, she says yes. After all, how bad could it be?

Answer: pretty bad. Grandma was a hoarder, and her house is stuffed with useless rubbish. That would be horrific enough, but there’s more—Mouse stumbles across her step-grandfather’s journal, which at first seems to be filled with nonsensical rants…until Mouse encounters some of the terrifying things he described for herself.

What I expected:

Good characterization. I didn’t expect a first-person narrative, but that’s what this story offers, and with a distinctive, engaging voice, too. Mouse is a freelance editor, by the way. On the second page she describes her job this way: “I turn decent books into decently readable books and hopeless books into hopeless books with better grammar.” I did laugh, yes.

This is a contemporary setting – apart from the dark fantasy / horror aspects — and Mouse sounds just right for a contemporary protagonist, but she is definitely not a cookie-cutter Modernday Plucky Female Protagonist or anything like that. She’s herself. I easily believed in her.

What I didn’t expect:

The dog. I don’t know why I didn’t expect the dog to be this important because I did see a review that assured me the dog didn’t die, but I thought the dog would be a minor character. Nope. He is quite central all the way through. When Ursula Vernon refers to her Hound on Twitter, I guess it’s a literal hound; that is, a scenthound and not “hound” being used as a generic term for “dog.” She sure knows hounds, and she brings this one to life.

In The Twisted Ones, Bongo is a redbone coonhound, and his name bothered me a bit because I know what color Bongo antelope are, but I also know what shape they are, and I kept feeling like a dog named Bongo might have a terribly roached back.

This is a bongo antelope. This is not the way a dog’s back should look.

If a dog’s roached back is extreme enough to remind you at all of a bongo’s back, that would be a dire fault with serious fitness consequences. I had to specifically stop myself at first and visualize a correctly structured redbone coonhound every time I saw his name. Like this one:

This is a really nice coonhound from Grand River Redbones. A grand champion, many other titles. I’m linking their site because I hope they don’t mind I borrowed their picture to illustrate this post. Now you have an image for the dog in The Twisted Ones, though that was an older male and this is a younger female.

Anyway, I did get used to the name eventually, but as a personal request, if any of you ever name a fictional dog, please do not name him after an antelope with seriously undoglike conformation. For example, “Klipspringer” would be a bad name in exactly the same way that “Bongo” is a bad name, plus of course a bit too long to spit out in a hurry if you are frantically calling for your dog to come back when he has jerked the leash out of your hand.

Well, yes, that was a digression.

So, despite his name, Bongo is a fantastic character and the relationship between him and Mouse is actually by far the most important relationship in the story, so if you are keeping an eye out for a book that doesn’t have even a trace of romance, here you go. Naturally I found this a highly appealing focus for a story. Also, if I hadn’t known the dog lived through the story, I might not have been able to tolerate the part where he gets lost in monster-haunted woods. I mean, this is actually a literal nightmare for me. Not the monster-haunted part, obviously, but the lost in the woods part. The fear of a dog getting out and lost is  both a (fortunately occasional) nightmare and a source of a constant low-grade paranoia during my waking hours. Losing a dog is about the worst thing ever, as far as I’m concerned – and as far as Mouse is concerned, too. Why do you stay in a terrible house surrounded by monster-haunted woods? Well, because your dog is out there in the woods and he might come back, so obviously you can’t leave.

What I expected:

Clever plotting.

What I didn’t expect:

Such great reasons for the protagonist not to run away like a bunny, the way any sensible person obviously would. At first Mouse doesn’t run away because her dog is so blasé about the house and not nervous about the woods and just does not seem weirded out (most of the time). I loved this. The oh-so-sensitive psychic dog is kind of a cliché. Bongo is not one bit like that. Eerie supernatural things have to really whap him upside the head before he notices them.

Then, when things get scary, Mouse would very much love to run away like a very fast bunny, but she can’t, because Bongo is lost in the woods. And then there’s another great reason for her to stay even after he reappears. T Kingfisher makes those decisions almost believable, though I don’t know about that last part, I might have said – probably would have said – the hell with this, my dog and I are outa here.

What I expected:

A gothic-ish horror novel with good atmosphere, without too much death and gore, and with the good guys coming out all right at the end of some clever plotting. This just seemed pretty likely given the other books I’ve read by T Kingfisher / Ursula Vernon.

What I didn’t expect:

This is really more dark fantasy than horror.

There’s this neat creepy passage, central to the story and often repeated, which I will now share with you:

I made faces like the faces on the rocks, and I twisted myself about like the twisted ones, and I lay down flat on the ground like the dead ones.

There, that is genuinely creepy, especially the way it gets into Mouse’s mind. I like poems and stuff in fantasy novels and this may not be a poem, but it is the same basic idea. It was used very effectively to provide an eerie feel to a setting that seems mostly normal at first.

The plotting is indeed pretty clever. No surprises there.

What carries the book:

Mouse, Bongo, and a handful of well-drawn secondary characters. Very nice writing. A brisk pace that neither lags nor rushes. Tension, but not tension that is wound up so tight you can’t stand it. Knowing from the start that the protagonist and her dog are all right at the end reduces the tension to just about the ideal level as far as I’m concerned. I don’t like horror that is too horrific. This isn’t. As I said, it’s perhaps more dark fantasy than horror.

Who should read this book:

If you like a creepy, atmospheric, faerie-adjacent dark fantasy/horror story that isn’t very gory or too incredibly grim and doesn’t have a high body count, then here you go. If you also like dogs, especially scenthounds, then this is definitely a must-read. Anybody who loves Robin McKinley’s books, most particularly anyone who liked her Shadows, should absolutely read this book. The Twisted Ones also did remind me of Sunshine, but this is a smaller, more intimate story. The world beyond the immediate setting is basically ordinary and unimportant; the cast is smaller, with fewer important secondary characters; there is no broad slow-motion war between Evil Supernatural Creatures and the rest of us; none of that. But the style is not dissimilar, Mouse has very much the feel of one of McKinley’s protagonists, and of course there is the dog.

I haven’t been keeping track of the books I’ve read this year – a ton of re-reads and relatively few new-to-me books – but if I had, this would wind up near the top. Highly recommended.

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Effective first lines — for query letters

Janet Reid just posted a whooooole bunch of first lines of queries, with a note about which ones worked and comments about how they failed. Note that these are first sentences of queries, not novels. Have that in your mind and click through — these are pretty neat to read. I would probably have written my queries differently if this blog had been available at the time, though I have to say, I don’t really remember exactly how I did write them.

Anyway —

Most interesting failure mode: The querier presented a logline — a summary of the story or at least of the initial setup of the novel — as the first sentence. Those are so hard to write! Many were quite good, including this one:

Richelle Elberg 

A pile of dead coyotes rotting in the desert is shocking, but it’s the discovery of two bloated human bodies–hidden amidst the carnage–that really gives Detective Em Thayer a jolt.

That’s a fine one-sentence summary to set up a detective novel, don’t you think? I don’t think the dashes are necessary, and I say that as a card-carrying member of the dashes-are-great club. But if I saw this description of a detective novel, I would read the rest of the back cover and the first page.

At least for Janet, however, that is not the best kind of first sentence when writing a query letter to an agent. She wants to see the character and the problem in the first sentence.

Some of these are indeed very enticing. For example:

Kate 

In twelve months, the supercomputer grafted to eighteen-year-old Sil Sarrah’s brain will kill her.

and

Jenn Griffin 

Batty Betty finds an abandoned young boy in her woods and takes him home–for keeps.

and

Luralee

Being on display in a spiked iron cage on the hottest day of the year is painful and humiliating, but not as serious as his other problem.

I would absolutely use the character’s NAME in this sentence. Almost never works to reserve the character’s name, imo. But other than that, I really like this! Would could possibly resist reading the rest of the query?

Here’s another:

E.M. Goldsmith 

Phaedra damned herself by chasing her murderer straight into Hell.

Good heavens, yes, that is a great opening for a query! Also a great description of the set up. This would make a great tagline to put on the front cover of the book.

Kate Higgins 

This time she was absolutely, positively going to win, this time she was going to cheat the right way.

Even better! Despite the comma splice, I love this. It’s hard to pick a favorite, but I think this is mine.

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Blog / The Craft of Writing

Showing rape in SFF

Here’s a good post from Marie Brennan at Swan Tower: Thoughts on the Depiction of Rape in Fiction

Brennan has an archive of good essays at her website, many about the craft of writing. This one demonstrates that. Here’s a sample from near the beginning:

There are a lot of reasons you might have one of your characters be raped. Some of them are better than others; all of them are things you should think about.

1. I need to show that my villain is evil.

. . . okay. But why rape? Why is that your go-to method for showing he’s evil?

It’s one thing if you’re writing a mystery about a detective hunting down a serial rapist. In a story like that, the bad guy raping people is the entire point. But if your villain is a genocidal tyrant? Then I kind of give the side-eye to the notion that you need rape to convince me he’s bad. If that’s true, you haven’t done a very good job writing the “genocidal tyrant” part.

This is a serious topic, obviously, but I did chuckle at the last sentence of the excerpt above. That’s definitely true.

The broad category of “worst things I’ve seen in fantasy novels” doesn’t include many instances of rape — I know other readers say their experience differs in that regard, but I think the books I’m reading must not overlap much with the ones they’re reading.

The “worst things” category does include Gedder, in Daniel Abraham’s The Dagger and the Coin, who burns down a city after blocking the gates so that no one can get out. There is a genocidal tyrant, even though Gedder is not really a tyrant, at least not at the time, as he doesn’t have that much power.

Enough to burn down a city with the population locked inside, though.

It is not necessary to show Gedder doing anything cruel, in person, to an individual. In fact, showing him being cruel on an individual level would make him less awful. A villain who glories in being vicious is probably not as utterly horrifying as a villain who sort of stumbles weakly into mass murder, then justifies the act afterward.

Ugh.

This moment, and this character, are not the only reason I never went on to the second book in that series. But they contributed to that reluctance.

A good example of epic fantasy with a gritty edge and many villains, some quite complex and some simpler, is The Shadow Campaigns series by Django Wexler. I will note that in that series, Wexler shows attempted rape. But he never shows successful rape on screen.

Off screen, in a character’s backstory, yes. Marie Brennan has something to say about that too:

2. I need to motivate one of my characters.

. . . okay. But why rape? Why is that your go-to motivation? …

… time and time again, we have female characters being motivated by rape, and male characters being motivated by the rape and murder of their wives/sisters/daughters.


Try harder. Think about the emotional impact of everything else this character has experienced, and what else you can use if the current material isn’t enough. Ask yourself why rape is the best answer to this question, when it’s about as fresh as having a Dark Lord with Armies of Monstrous Minions as your villain. 

In Wexler’s case, there is in fact a reason why rape is one motivator for Jane (not the only or probably the most central motivation, I’ll add). This is the case because being sold into slavery/marriage was the whole point of that home for girls where she and Winter were both held for part of their childhood. It wasn’t incidental. That institution set up everything about Winter’s backstory as well as Janes.

Being sold to that brute was not only a motivator — again, not the only one — for Jane; having Jane sold that way, and failing to save her, was a central motivator for Winter. So in this case, that element of the backstory ticks both boxes for the “time and time again” comment Marie Brennan makes.

Why it works: Lots of reasons, I think. It’s in the backstory; it’s not only non-explicit, it’s not shown and barely referred to; the rapist is killed because of his act; the victim is the ones who kill her attacker; Jane’s primary motivation comes from other issues that have only a tenuous relationship to that aspect of her backstory.

And most of all because of the complicated way the whole situation feeds into Winter’s backstory and into the relationship between Winter and Jane. The primary problem for Winter was that Jane asked her to murder the man for her and Winter couldn’t bring herself to even make a serious attempt to do that. Not only did that motivate Winter’s escape from the home, it became for her the central defining failure of her life. Then later, well, Winter’s and Jane’s shared background has a ton of ramifications and in fact the relationship between those two characters is arguably the central pillar of the whole series.

So, Brennan’s essay is definitely a good one and well worth reading. And Wexler’s series is definitely one I’d pick over Game of Thrones, not only because of treatment of rape in the respective series, but just because as far as I’m concerned The Shadow Campaigns is just a better epic fantasy.

In fact, it would be great to see it turned into a TV series. If we were voting on next epic fantasy series to be picked up for TV, I’d vote for it. I’d even actually watch it.

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Blog / The Craft of Writing

Killing your characters

Can you kill important characters? Sure. Happens all the time.

Should you? When does that work and when does it fail, or perhaps go over the top? Let’s take a look at various examples of SFF novels featuring the deaths of important secondary characters and/or the deaths of protagonists, and consider why those do or don’t work.

As it happens, I’m not personally too keen on authors who slaughter characters left and right for no good reason. I’m thinking here of Game of Thrones. It was one thing when Martin set the reader up to think Ned Stark was going to be an important protagonist and then killed the character early in the series. That was a way to break important assumptions for how the story was going to unfold. It increased tension in a good way, for a good reason — who else might seem too crucial to die, while actually headed for an early grave?

But besides that, as I recall, from time to time Martin also introduces a new pov character and then kills that character at the end of the chapter. I mean, what is even the point?

On a related note, personally, except in murder mysteries, I detest the trick where the author kills the pov character with whom he opens the book. When that happens with a new-to-me author, it’s probably going to be a DNF moment.

Even more annoying than that are authors who set out to manipulate you by introducing a very likable character specifically in order to kill her. (It’s always a “her.”) If this manipulation is too blatant, it’s a real turnoff. I’m thinking of all of Steven King’s recent books, here, where very likable characters are obviously present solely to function as tearjerkers upon their gratuitous deaths, which is why I eventually stopped reading King’s books.

However, it’s not like I’m opposed to character death per se. The pathos created by a sympathetic character’s death can be very useful when it’s done well and for a good reason. In a recent WIP, I deliberately killed a particular secondary character after going to some trouble to make the reader like him. Even though his death wasn’t at all important to the plot, it wasn’t gratuitous either; on the contrary, it was essential. I had to do it because without the death of that character, the deaths of a couple hundred other people would have passed without a blip on the reader’s emotional radar. They weren’t known, they were just a faceless mass. The death of the one character served as a proxy for all those deaths, giving that whole scene emotional heft it had completely lacked before.

I’ve killed other characters, of course, and I’m sure I’ll kill more in the future. Sometimes it’s necessary to get the plot to work and sometimes it’s necessary to add emotional weight and sometimes for some other reason — you know, there’s an infographic for this — here:

I think this is a very good infographic! Best touch: having “removes an extraneous character” on both sides of the graphic.

Perhaps somewhat iffy: while the death of a secondary character may be motivating to your primary protagonist, the modern author may wish to avoid having all the female characters exist solely to motivate the male protagonist through their abuse and/or death.

I will also just note, considering the above infographic, that if I’d known how The Great Escape ended, I probably wouldn’t have watched it. I prefer less realism and more survival in my WWII fictionalized novels and movies.

But, though I really like the above infographic, I believe that the whole thing can be boiled down to this: two things are always, always bad when killing a character —

a) The reader can see the strings you’re pulling. You should indeed do things for a reason, but your manipulation should not be nearly that visible.

and

b) Killing a dog. Sorry. Other sympathetic characters may have to die, but the dog should live happily ever after.

Incidentally, T. Kingfisher’s The Twisted Ones, which I’m about a quarter of the way through now, features a Very Good Dog. The dog is an important character AND important to the plot AND really well done, because Ursula Vernon / T. Kingfisher knows her dogs.

And right up near the beginning, the author makes it clear that the dog lives by throwing in a casual line: “… but because he’s a coonhound and all nose, we both survived.” or something like that. I bet that is not a chance occurrence. I bet she deliberately chose to let the reader know this up front, to avoid alienating those readers who won’t touch a book until they can be sure the dog lives.

I really like the story so far, by the way! Getting creepy, but without overt gore or anything of the kind. It reminds me just a bit of Sunshine by McKinley, even though it’s very different.

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The magic of creativity

From Maggie Stiefvater, over at tor.com: Five Books About Artists and the Magic of Creativity

As a fantasy reader, I cut my teeth on stories of fairies stealing away ordinary musicians and returning them as troubled geniuses, weavers knotting the future into mystical tapestries, men climbing mountains and returning as poets with fraught and mystical tongues. 

Ooh, ooh, I have one! (Or several). But first let’s see what Maggie Stiefvater has picked:

Fire and Hemlock by DWJ.

Okay, well, I know that quite a few people pick this one out as their favorite story by Jones. I have to admit, it isn’t one that I go back to very often. I admire its structure, but I like nearly every other book of hers better than this one. Unlike Steifvater, who says, “High myth and dreary reality blend seamlessly on the ordinary streets of ‘80s Britain in this novel; music and magic are inseparable in it. Jones … has written many novels, but this is the one I return to the most. With its dreamy, tongue-in-cheek style, it feels more like a memory than a novel.”

Yes, well, I’ve read it a couple of times, but my favorites are Dogsbody and some of the Chrestomanci stories. And Derkholm. For the dreamy tone, I actually prefer The Spellcoats to Fire and Hemlock.

Anyway, after DWJ, Stiefvater picks out a couple of books I’ve heard of but haven’t read. Then this one:

Taran Wanderer by Lloyd Alexander

It has been so long since I read this series that I have honestly forgotten a lot about it. One of the things I’ve forgotten, apparently, is anything about music or making. Let me see … Stiefvater says: “When I first read this one as a child, I found it the most dull—why did I have to read about Taran apprenticing with various craftsmen and artists while sulking that he was probably unworthy for a princess? When I reread it as a teen, I loved it the best of all of them. Taran takes away a lesson from every artist and artisan and warrior he meets, and the hero he is in book five is because of the student he was in book four.”

Oh, yes, that brings it back. I actually liked this one from the beginning. I have always liked stories about learning to do stuff. When I hit a training montage kind of thing — a “time has passed, he learned all the stuff” transition in a novel — I feel a bit cheated. Or sometimes more than a bit. I like the learning part. I won’t say it can’t be drawn out over-long, but I will say that for my taste that seldom happens, even when the training part of the book takes up most of the story, as in CJC’s The Paladin. Or the entire story in Sherwood Smith’s A Stranger to Command.

I didn’t mean to pick out just stories where someone is learning the arts of war. That was just a coincidence. I loved the Harper Hall stories best when first read all the Pern books, and in large part that was probably because of Menolly learning to be a harper.

Okay, and the last of the ones Stiefvater picks — click through to see all five — is Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel.

I liked that one a lot. Here we’re talking about actors rather than musicians. Stiefvater says, “The end of the world has come and gone, illness ravaging the population, and what is left in its wake? In St. John Mandel’s vision of the end of the world: artists. Actors, to be precise. We have ever so many apocalypse stories that show us the ugly side of humanity, but Station Eleven stands out for highlighting the opposite. Yes, there are survivalists with shotguns and ugly truths in this version of the end of the world, but there’s also art, creativity, synthesis, the making of a new culture. …”

Of course we do see a lot of the end of the world too, as this story moves back and forth through time and shows the apocalypse as well as the post-apocalypse.

Okay! As always with a five-part list, I feel that a lot of good choices for this theme were left on the table. I don’t think it will be at all difficult to add five more, thus creating the proper ten-part list.

Given that last choice, I now have actors on the brain. I can immediately think of three SFF novels where actors are very important. None of them really meld magic and artistry, but neither does Station Eleven, so that’s fine.

6) The Dagger and the Coin series by Daniel Abraham, starting with The Dragon’s Path.

Several things about this novel put me off the series, though from time to time I think of going on with it. This latter impulse is due mainly to Master Kit, the leader of a troop of actors. The actors are a great component of the story and Master Kit is by far my favorite character in the story so far.

7) The Republic of Thieves by Scott Lynch.

The link goes to a post of mine about the book, so click through if you wish, but rest assured, acting and actors are at the heart of the story. In a couple different ways, actually, considering the overall plot.

8) Not the same as the apprenticeship volume of Taran Wanderer, but I instantly thought of Castle Behind Thorns by Merrie Haskell. Fabulous and unusual story, where the protagonist is by himself, fixing up a ruined castle, for quite a long time.

9) Melding music and magic? Come on! Obviously the very best example ever is Song for the Basilisk! Remember that dreamlike journey into Fairie and out again? Not to mention the opera that’s being planned, and trying to teach Damiet to sing on key, and, and, and … no comparison for pouring music and magic together into fantasy. Except maybe for The Bards of Bone Plain, and honestly I just never liked that one as well as Song.

10) Music … magic … let me see … I know I have another one on the tip of my tongue … oh, right:

Bardic magic! Dragon harps! Horns that sound when a stranger steps through your door! And so on.

Who’s got another choice for melding artistry into fantasy? Drop it in the comments.

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Alien intelligences

The elephant as a person

…  the search space for nonhuman language use should rely on two general criteria. First, we need behavioural evidence for flexible, intelligent hypersociality that could make language development a viable investment for natural selection. Second, we need evidence of information exchange, using signals that have enough acoustic variation to make it physically possible that they could encode syntax. Dogs meet the first criterion but not the second; many songbirds meet the second criterion but not the first. There is a loose consensus among comparative psychologists that the zone of possibility for both criteria currently boils down to the following animals: parrots, corvids (crows, ravens, jays), toothed whales (dolphins, porpoises, sperm whales, orcas) – and elephants.

Elephants use multiple channels for signalling to and with one another. One channel, generating vibrations in the ground, is used for long-distance transmission. Soft, low-frequency vibrations in the air, emanating from both the trunk and the gut, seem to be the main medium at close quarters. (The familiar trumpeting might not involve enough acoustic variation to be useful for anything other than broadcasting urgent emotions such as fear and anger – but it’s clearly used to communicate warnings.) In addition, elephants have a range of standard trunk and head gestures that carry mutually understood signals. Finally, they clearly communicate information by touching one another in specific ways and places. They have receptors for processing information from this tactile probing – which, given their precision control and highly labile trunk lips, supports fine discriminations.

A database of elephant recordings is now starting to accumulate in the research community. It attempts to capture acoustic, visual and tactile signals, matched to behavioural observations. But the problem of interpreting these data is vastly more formidable than decoding encrypted human text or vocal messages. If elephant communication has syntax, and if this syntax relies on cross-channel modulation, we shouldn’t expect the rules of elephant grammar to map on to the syntactic categories of any human language. Elephants inhabit deeply different lifeworlds from humans, have different hierarchies of motivation, and make different perceptual discriminations. And, except in the crudest terms, we don’t know much about what elephants might want to say to one another.

Much, much more at the very long article linked at the top of this post.

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Somehow not too excited

This caught my eye:

Eye Drops Shown to Temporarily Reverse Far-Sightedness in Adults Could Replace Reading Glasses

How temporarily, you might wonder, as I did. Very temporarily, it turns out:

Kedar told Forbes that the drops, which are made out of chemicals that are already found in common eye medications, were shown to immediately reverse farsightedness for a number of hours.

Wow, a number of hours. The article also says:

“CSF-1 can potentially alleviate the burden of reading glasses and offer a meaningful solution for billions of people living with age-related farsightedness worldwide.”

Speaking as someone who just got reading glasses less than a year ago, and is not thrilled about it … I cannot imagine voluntarily putting eyedrops into my eyes multiple times a day, when I could just pick up reading glasses multiple times a day.

Obvious problems with the eyedrops:

–You can take off reading glasses at a moment’s notice. Once the eyedrops are in, you are stuck with their effects for hours.

–You have to, I guess, carry them with you, as the effect is so temporary.

–You have to put them in your eyes.

Now, I fully realize that some people put eyedrops into their eyes all the time. But I could hardly tolerate eyedrops that one day last winter when I was at the ophthalmologist’s, having my eyes checked.

It seems to me we already have a meaningful solution for billions of people — that is probably an overstatement, since I assume that not every single person over fifty needs reading glasses — but anyway we have a solution for people living with age-related farsightedness. This solution is called “reading glasses.”

Get back to me when you have eyedrops that offer a permanent fix for age-related farsightedness. Until then, no thanks.

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Coming to TV

Tamora Pierce’s Tortall Books Are Coming to TV

At least, maybe. According to the linked post, the books have been optioned. While that’s nice, it’s not definitive. Lots of books get optioned but never go anywhere — The Floating Islands was one of the horde of those books.

But still, though I came to Tamora Pierce’s work late, I’m fond of them. They might work quite well as a TV series.

There’s no word yet on which of the Tortall books will be making it into the series, and whether the different storylines will be combined into one massive plot, or if each season will follow a different character. Since all of the series (minus Provost’s Dog) build off one another, fill in their gaps, and share characters, we’re going to assume the former. If so, we hope they give the individual storylines the space and thought they deserve, as each of the different series are very much rooted in their main characters.

My favorite set was the Protector of the Small series.

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11 Scary Books

From Book Riot: 11 Scary Books So Terrifying, Readers Wish They Never Read Them

Pretty sure I will not be reading any of these, but since it’s Halloween, here you go: books that are too scary, at least for these readers. Let’s see what’s on the list:

Oh, here’s Pet Semetery. Actually, that is one Stephen King novel I never read, even though I’ve read most of his earlier novels. Even Cujo (which I didn’t like at all, but that’s a different rant). Basically, we all know that nothing good ever comes of bringing pets back from the dead, right? Right.

I haven’t read any of the others, though a few — Heart-Shaped Box — have been on my radar.

But the horror novel I’ve actually purchased for Halloween is this one:

Did you know T. Kingfisher had written a horror novel? Quite a step from Nine Goblins and so on.

When Mouse’s dad asks her to clean out her dead grandmother’s house, she says yes. After all, how bad could it be?

Answer: pretty bad. Grandma was a hoarder, and her house is stuffed with useless rubbish. That would be horrific enough, but there’s more—Mouse stumbles across her step-grandfather’s journal, which at first seems to be filled with nonsensical rants…until Mouse encounters some of the terrifying things he described for herself.

I do read horror now and then, especially if I’m fairly sure my favorite characters will come out all right at the end. This one, I’m trying because T. Kingfisher wrote it. I don’t think it will be so horrific I wish I hadn’t read it. We’ll see!

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Sale!

Via Book Bub, I see that the Sunwolf and Starhawk trilogy by Barbara Hambly is on sale right now — $2.99 for all three books.

First book:

An excellent fantasy. When the men of a town are enslaved, the ladies of the town decide they’ll do whatever it takes. Including making a mercenary an offer he can’t refuse, to train them to fight.

Second book:

Possibly even better than the first book. Mysterious murders, curses and demons, and especially well-drawn secondary characters.

Third book:

Not my favorite of the three, but a decent conclusion to the trilogy.

Well worth $2.99. If you don’t already have the trilogy, grab it quick while it’s available at this price.

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