Jan. 15, 2019: The Reader Expansion Challenge

A Biblio Paradise Reader Expansion Challenge

Since this is a blog about the love of books and reading and book-related things, I thought it would be fun to have a Reader Expansion Challenge, where we expand our own reading and share what we’ve discovered and enjoyed.

There are a couple of caveats:

–Most months, you will be asked to read a book by an author you haven’t read before in any of your regularly-read genres; a new-to-you author whose work you want to try.

–If you’re moving out of your regularly-read genres, and there’s a familiar author you trust across genres, that’s a great starting point.

–Extra kudos if it’s published by a small press and is by an author that’s not yet well-known, but don’t feel hemmed in by the suggestion.

–You CANNOT promote your own books. That’s not what this is about. This is about finding great books outside of your normal reading experience and sharing them. It’s not self-promotion for writers. This site has special dates for that. Although it’s a great way for writers to support each others’ work and find new living authors to support.

–Your discoveries and comments go on the main blog page on the designated page for that part of the challenge. Just post a few paragraphs about how you chose the book/author, your response to the book, and what you learned from the stretch. Please do not put it in comments on the Information page. They will be deleted.

Note: This post is on the Main Blog Page. I am setting up an additional page so people joining the party throughout the year have the information. 

–I encourage people to read books that fellow commenters enjoyed, and then share their experiences in a future post. I’ll also consider asking some of the authors to come by and do an interview, if there’s interest.

–Invite fellow readers and writers to join. Share the link. Use the hashtag #ReaderExpansionChallenge.

–Have fun with new-to-you books and authors that you discover, and that are recommended by fellow readers.

Dates:
The dates are when you POST about the book you’ve read, not when to start reading. So you should start hunting down your book now that you will post about in February!

February 19, 2019: Read a book in a genre in which you don’t normally read.

March 19, 2019: In honor of International Women’s Day (which was on March 8), read a book by a woman whose work you’ve never read before.

April 16, 2019: Read a book in your favorite genre by an author whose work you have never read.

May 21, 2019: Switch it up! If you usually read fiction, read non-fiction; if you usually read non-fiction, read fiction.

June 18, 2019: Read a stage play. NOT a screenplay. It can be one you’ve seen, or one you haven’t. Libraries often carry play scripts, or can order them. Or browse Drama Book Shop or Samuel French or second hand bookshops. Note the difference between reading the script and watching the play.

July 16, 2019: Read a book of poetry. If you don’t usually read poetry, you have a wealth of choices. If you love reading poetry, try a new-to-you poet.

August 20, 2019: Re-read a favorite book from childhood. How have your perceptions changed? How do you feel about it now?

September 17, 2019: Read an anthology of short stories in your favorite genre that contains new-to-you authors (and it can also contain familiar ones). Are you going to read longer works by any of these authors?

October 15, 2019: Read something Halloween/Samhain-oriented in any genre you wish, by a new-to-you author.

November 19, 2019: Read something with a family-oriented theme, in any genre, that you haven’t read before.

December 17, 2019: Read a winter-holiday-themed book, in any genre, that you haven’t read before (and feel free to share any favorite winter holiday-themed books you read over and over again).

What next?

Read a book in a genre in which you don’t normally read about, and post about it on the February 19th post that will go up on this page!

 

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Midnight Enchantments: Tim Powers


Midnight Enchantments is a celebration of books, authors, and characters who bring magic into our lives.

Midnight Enchantments: Tim Powers
By Cerridwen Iris Shea

Remember Compuserve Forums? That’s how long it’s been since the first time I read a Tim Powers novel. I was on a readers’ forum in Compuserve, and I wanted an interesting book, something unlike anything I’d ever read before. One of the other forum members, knowing I read tarot cards, suggested Tim Powers’s novel LAST CALL, where one of the major plot actions is high stakes poker using tarot.

I loved the way Celtic mythology of the Fisher King wove within the urban fantasy context set, in all places, Vegas. I love the way tarot wove through it. I couldn’t put it down — I read it straight through. The magic within the book had its own momentum. You couldn’t see how Scott could win against these odds, and yet couldn’t bear him to lose.

It’s one of those books I’ve been afraid to re-read in the intervening years, afraid I won’t love it as much as I did the first time I read it. The breathless joy with which it captured me might never be recreated. But I know it’s in a box downstairs, waiting to be unpacked in the new house, and I know, when I finally unpack it, I’ll re-read it.

Quite a few years passed before I read the other books in the trilogy, EXPIRATION DATE and EARTHQUAKE WEATHER. I enjoyed them, but none of the others packed the punch to me of LAST CALL.

I’ve read many of his other novels through the years. THE STRESS OF HER REGARD, with a premise of Byron and Shelley dealing with vampires, and THE DRAWING OF THE DARK, about a struggle between Muslim and Christian magicians were my favorites. DECLARE, on the other hand, just annoyed me. I felt like he was hitting me over the head with a religious two by four, and I didn’t like it. And then I felt guilty about the reaction, because I’d always held his work in such high esteem.

You can learn more about LAST CALL and Tim Powers’s other work here.

–Cerridwen Iris Shea wrote for Llewellyn Worldwide for sixteen years. She writes the Merry’s Dalliance Pirate Fantasies, and teaches workshops all over the world. This is her busy season. Visit her website: www.cerridwenscottage.com

Midnight Enchantments: Lily Ivory


Midnight Enchantments is a series featuring essays on the genre, books, and characters we love in paranormal fiction/urban fantasy, et al.

Midnight Enchantments: Lily Ivory
by Cerridwen Iris Shea

Lily Ivory, hereditary witch, the is primary protagonist in Juliet Blackwell’s delightful Witchcraft mysteries: SECONDHAND SPIRITS, A CAST OFF COVEN, HEXES AND HEMLINES, and the upcoming IN A WITCH’S WARDROBE (scheduled for July 2012).

Lily’s spent a good deal of her life on the move. Now, that she’s settled in San Francisco, running a vintage clothing store, she finds that she WANTS to put down roots. She WANTS to have friends. It’s not always easy to make friends when you’re used to being on your own, and it’s not always easy to find your place in a diverse magical community, which San Francisco supports. But Lily is a woman of intelligence, ingenuity, AND magic, and she learns from her mistakes.

She’s also got Oscar, the familiar given to her by the sexy, mysterious Aidan, a powerful local witch. She grows fond of the odd little fellow, who morphs into a pig around civilians, adds power to her spells, and, oh yeah, spies on her for Aidan.

Lily’s magic is hereditary. She was also trained, by her grandmother, and there’s some sort of secret about her father connected to magic, tidbits of which are revealed in each book. She’s got the family grimoire, and is trained in its use. You couldn’t find the spells she uses in a book at Barnes & Noble — and wouldn’t want to. Her spells are for the well-trained practitioner. And yet, she also knows how to align her magic with others in the community: her friend Bronwyn, who’s Wiccan, and Bronwyn’s coven; Aidan, upon occasion; the voudoun priest Herve LeMansac. She’s not a “my way is the only way” kind of witch, nor is she a “if we all envision white light, the nasties go away.” She’s practical (most of the time) and knows how to marshal resources.

Her love life is a bit of a tangle, but that adds spice to the books. She’s not limited by a relationship yet — there are still several interesting possibilities.

One of the things I truly love about the series is the care and detail spent dealing with Lily’s time in her shop. She doesn’t let magic take over her life; magic ENHANCES her life. It truly gives her joy to find a beautiful piece of vintage clothing with a history, and find the right person to give it a new home. She’s good at her job and loves it. How often do we read books where characters seem to have jobs, but we never actually see them work? Since work is such a huge part of most of our daily lives, it influences our characters. To see how Lily’s job reflects and enhances her character is a wonderful thing.

Lily is one of my favorite characters in modern paranormal fiction. She’s the kind of woman I want as my friend, and the kind of witch I want watching my back.

You can find out more about Lily on Juliet Blackwell’s website.

Cerridwen Iris Shea wrote for Llewellyn’s calendars and almanacs for sixteen years. She also writes the Merry’s Dalliance fantasy pirate adventures. She teaches tarot workshops, and is thrilled to finally have her own herb garden and still room. Find her on the web at www.cerridwenscottage.com. This is her busy season.

February Reading

Here’s a taste of what I read in February.

Don’t worry — blog tours, interviews, etc., to resume soon! 😉

WRITERS AT WORK FIFTH SERIES. Edited by George Plimpton.

KISS HOLLYWOOD GOODBYE . Anita Loos. Memoir, by turns interesting and frustrating. Good background for THE FIX IT GIRL. (Re-read)

HELL AND EARTH. Elizabeth Bear. Fascinating fantasy novel set in Shakespeare’s time and faerie. Some reservations about it, but, overall, fascinating.

2 Books for Confidential Job #1. It’s confidential, so I can’t discuss it here, but it was good!

DEATH OF A BORE. MC Beaton. Hamish Macbeth mystery. Interesting for character, setting, structure.

DIARY OF VIRGINIA WOOLF, VOL. II. Dipped into here and there for inspiration.

A NOBLE RADIANCE. Donna Leon. I love these mysteries, set in Venice. They always surprise me, they always make me hungry (so much great food and wine in them), they always are a joy.

THROUGH A GLASS DARKLY. Donna Leon. Ibid.

KITTY AND THE SILVER BULLET. Carrie Vaughn. This is the second Kitty book I’ve read. I like the character development. My only criticism in this book is that the character who is the “betrayer” is not close enough to the readers for us to feel the full impact of the betrayal. The character is too peripheral in the overall story, and one figures who it is, because of the character’s placement, but never why.

DEATH OF A MAID. M.C. Beaton. Another Hamish Macbeth mystery. I find it interesting where Beaton chooses to stay within the confines of genre, and where Beaton chooses to break those confines.

I think I read some other books this month, too, but I can’t remember them.