The Ask and the Answer is the second book of Patrick Ness‘s Chaos Walking trilogy. The first book, The Knife of Never Letting Go, impressed me.

The distinctive feature of the Chaos Walking world is telepathy, with the interesting twist that women don’t broadcast. Crucial to the second book is the further twist that some men don’t broadcast either. One such is the evil and manipulative President Prentiss.

That word manipulative is particularly important, because it brings me to the main way in which Ask didn’t work as well for me as did Knife. The main characters Todd and Viola are manipulated by Prentiss and by his arch-enemy, Mistress Coyle. That would be fine, had the author’s manipulation of these and other characters not seemed intrusive.

That said, I found Ask engrossing, and Ness does move the pieces into place for a cliffhanger even more dramatic than the one on which Knife ended. So I’m looking forward to Monsters of Men, the third book, which is due out next year.

I gave Ask a four-star rating, while I gave Knife the maximum five. I refer to ratings at Goodreads. I’ve just resumed activity there thanks to prompting from uberbibliophile Nicholas Whyte.

BookSprouts, GoodReads, etc.

December 27, 2008

There are already several book-oriented social media sites. I favor Goodreads these days, while others prefer Library Thing or Shelfari.

My first impression of BookSprouts was that it’s entering an arena in which there are already several strong contenders. But I followed the link from the TechCrunch article, signed up, added a few books to my collection, and otherwise tweaked my BookSprouts profile.

BookSprouts differentiates itself from the other sites mentioned above with its emphasis on book clubs. In fact, for those steeped in social media, I might liken it to a book-specific Ning (and in fact, some of the social networks at Ning are book clubs).

BookSprouts is of course also different because it’s newer. In fact, BookSprout emphasizes its beta-ness and love of feedback. So I wasn’t surprised to find that it currently lacks some of the features I sought first, such as:

  • Import from other bookish sites, where many already catalog their books.
  • About page: who’s behind BookSprout?
  • Help: there is a link, but it doesn’t seem to lead to any help.
  • An API.

I mention the (lack of) API because the time may be ripe for a way of spanning the bookish sites, a sort of Book Connect. I note that Goodreads has an API. I also note that Goodreads has groups, which look rather like book clubs.

Goodreads Widget

November 14, 2008

WordPress.com, the host of this and millions of other blogs, does not allow Flash. That makes it impossible to use widgets such as the one that shows the books I’ve told Goodreads that I’m currently reading.

But is it really impossible? You never know until you try…

Bookish

February 15, 2008

I love (semi-obligatory Valentine’s Day reference) books, and have a few book-related things to inflict on you. First, I have an account at Goodreads. Actually, I’ve had one for a while, but I’ve recently started using it, thanks to a couple of friend requests.

Second, I’m delighted to report the blog-to-book deal for Strange Maps.

Third, Adam Koford’s recent post at Drawn! might have been written for me. That’s not just because it recommends a Complete Idiot’s Guide. It’s because it concerns people who think that they have a children’s book in them (and there do seem to be an awful lot of us), realize that such books are usually illustrated, and think that this means that they need to find an illustrator before submitting to a publisher.

Adam states that “publishers never want to see unsolicited manuscripts with art.” He also refers to the problem of requests to provide illustrations for someone’s book, or idea for one. I’m glad I didn’t ask him if he wanted to work with me on mine. I’m also glad that he has already done an illustration for one of my stories.

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