Sunday, September 02, 2007

Laura's Home!

I picked Laura up at the airport on Friday, and we've had an extremely laid-back time since then. She's tired after her travels (and her extreme working hours and jet lag), so we've done some quality sleeping-in and napping. And we've done some quality reading. I really enjoy just reading with Laura. We'll take opposite ends of the couch and just read for hours, occasionally sharing funny parts or well-turned phrases. It might be my favorite way to spend a day off.

The books have been good, too. I read Cherie Priest's second Eden Moore novel, Wings to the Kingdom. I liked it a lot, almost as much as the first in the series. I've had Wings sitting on the shelf for a while, but I had put off reading it after I finished Dreadful Skin; while Dreadful Skin had three of my favorite book virtues (brevity, interesting characters, and good use of language), I didn't much care for the ending. It didn't so much end as just stop; it ended in the same way the second Pirates of the Caribbean movie ended. It took some time to work my way back to reading another Cherie Priest novel. But Wings to the Kingdom was definitely worth reading.

I'm also simultaneously reading Peter Watts's Starfish and Tim Scott's Outrageous Fortune. I'm really digging Starfish; I picked it up after reading Blindsight online, and reading bits of the author's cool, cryptic webpage about Starfish. I'm almost finished with it, and I'm enjoying it a lot so far. The character development is wild and interesting, and the author does it in creative ways. I'm curious about how the story wraps up. It's not at all obvious what's about to happen next; part of this is conditioned by reading Blindsight, which had an ending I never would've predicted, even though the entire story is essentially told in flashback, and you see what happened to the main character on the first page (though you don't understand it until the end). I started Starfish when I needed a break from the Tim Scott novel. Outrageous Fortune is a little too strange to get into easily; we're dropped a little too suddenly into a surreal world that's not explained very quickly. The book is funny and quirky, but the reading experience is very superficial because it's too hard to relate to anything that's going on or to any of the characters. Then again, I'm only 80 pages in; my view might change later. I'll keep you informed.

I also started and finished Kat Richardson's Poltergeist. This'll be the first urban horror series I've gotten hooked on in quite a while; I like the main character, and I like the writing. I also really enjoy the cover art, by Chris McGrath. This is incidental to my enjoyment of the book, but I have to say that the cover art is what made me pick up Greywalker in the first place. And I had to read a few great reviews before I picked up my first Charlaine Harris Sookie Stackhouse book; the cover just looked too goofy to hold a good book within it, like a cheap, colorized Edward Gorey knockoff.

I'm typing this on Laura's new laptop, and I've gotta say I think I like Dell's laptop keyboard a lot. It's a close second to the slightly-curved ergonomic layout on some of Acer's laptops. On the down side, I had to retype a bit after Vista restarted itself. Without warning. I was typing along, and -- blip! -- my browser closed, and the OS informed me that it was restarting to install updates. Grrr. I'm sorely tempted to just strip Vista and install XP on this thing, regardless of what problems and trauma that might cause. I'm also noticing that a 15.4" widescreen is more than I really need. Most of what I do on a computer these days is all about typing, and it's not comfortable to type full-width on this size screen. My ideal typing box is six or seven inches wide, so that's all I really use anyway; I could pretty easily get by with a 12" screen. Small screen equals longer battery life equals more typing; this would probably be best for me. Also, I think I'd have fewer distractions on a smaller screen. Then again, I also like the idea of a huge desktop-replacement laptop with a 17" screen and a full keyboard. Of course, it's academic anyway. We just bought this laptop, and we're not affording another for a few years.

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