Monday, April 30, 2012

Atlas Obscura

In honor of Obscura Day (I know I'm a little late, it was on April 28th) which celebrates new and unusual places I thought we could explore some maps of our favorite places.  Now the ignorant may say these places don't exist, that they are "imaginary" or "not real", but we know better right :-)

Middle Earth
Marauders Map
Game of Thrones
Just in case you can't decide where to go!
I hope you have enjoyed our little trip through just a few realms of possibilities.  I would love to have a couple of these professionally framed to hang in the big huge library of my not-yet-existent castle.

Where would you like to go?  What maps would you like to see made?  Do you believe these places are "not real" or have you just not found a way in yet?  Happy exploring everybody!

Friday, April 27, 2012

Quoth The Owl "Pottermore"

Cool new multi-media thing going on in the Harry Potter world.  A site called Pottermore is finally open to the public.  It is a combination of an interactive book and a bit of a social media site.  I have been through the site and have to admit it's a pretty nifty place for us Potter addicts. The main part of the site is a shortened version of the books with 2 to 4 interactive scenes per chapter.  While you can get the gist of the story from the brief phrases that accompany each scene, you will be much less confused if you have actually read the books.  The site suggests reading the book along with the interactive one for the best experience.
Throughout the book, you unlock other things to do as well, such as getting your wand, obtaining a Gringotts account, buying school supplies and selecting your pet/icon (mine is a Tawny Owl).  You eventually get sorted into a house, learn to cast spells and brew potions.  You can collect various objects through out the chapters such as books, Galleons, potion components and random objects.  My favorite part is the new content that J.K Rowling has put in for us to unlock.  It is either new information about characters and places that never made it into the book, or her own personal inspirations for certain things (like why she has the Dursley's address as  Number 4 Privet Drive).
The more social aspect of it comes in after you have been sorted into your house (I'm in Slytherin), obtained a wand(12 inch Sycamore with a Dragon Heartstring, surprisingly flexible) and learned the art of brewing potions.  Once you have accomplished all this you can participate in wizarding duels with other houses (I have yet to win one), brew potions (would be a lot more fun if it didn't take so long, then not work if you can't get right back to it) and gain house points by finding various objects throughout the scenes.  As of right now only Harry Potter and the Philosophers Stone is available, the other 6 books should be out later.  This kind of sucks because once you have finished the book (which really didn't take me that long) there is not a whole lot to do other then brew potions and duel, neither of which for me hold my interest for all that long.  Overall I think it is a fun little site, that can only improve as long as they stay on top of it.  I will probably pop back and check in on it as least once a week or so, and the extra content is definitely worth checking out.

What do you think of interactive sites for books?  Does it promote reading or is it just another excuse to zone out on a computer game?  What house/pet/wand do you have?  Isn't it great that you are never to old for Harry Potter?

Thursday, April 26, 2012

You Spin Those Fairy Tales Right Round Baby Right Round

Anybody who has been following this blog at all knows I love a retold fairytale (well at least a really well written one) so when I was browsing the bookstore shelves for an completely different book imagine my delight when instead I accidentaly stumbled upon these little beauties by Jim C. Hines.  The series is comprised of four books: The Stepsister Scheme, The Mermaids Madness,  Red Hood's Revenge, and The Snow Queen's Shadow.  The books tells of the adventures of Danielle (Cinderella), Talia (Sleeping Beauty) and Snow (Snow White) who are all part of the Queen's "secret service".
 In "The Stepsister Scheme" we start of after the wedding of Danielle to her "Prince Charming" Armand.  She is introduced to Talia, an incredibly physically gifted, skilled assassin/bodyguard, and Snow a beautiful, flirty sorceress.  Danielle learns that both of the girls are refugee princesses and the Queen has taken them under her wing and formed a private team of kick ass princesses to help her with "unofficial" business. The story quickly gets under way when one of Danielle's former step-sisters kidnaps her husband and sets of a whole crazy chain of events, culminating in Armand's rescue, the announcement of a little prince to be and the bonding of eternal friendship between the girls.
"The Mermaids Madness" sees our fearless trio take on a crazed mermaid in this ingeniously twisted tale of Little Mermaid.  Queen Beatrice and Princess Daniel are tasked with the yearly renewal of peace between them and the mermaids or undine as they prefer to be called.  Instead of meeting with the king as planned they are met by his mad daughter who has been jilted by here human lover and now vows revenge on all humans. By the end of this book we see Snow's powers increase, find out how deep Talia's love for Snow is, and Queen Beatrice is grievously injured.
 "Red Hood's Revenge" takes us to Talia's homeland which gives us a whole new setting and religion to contend with.  This book also gives us another messed up fairy tale in the for of Little Red Riding Hood.  I liked this one because it really mixed up several stories into one while seamlessly moving the story along.  Roudette is an assassin who has been successful in every kill, except for Talia and she is out to remedy the situation. When finishing this books we have met Talia's son's and learned her crazy history (totally mind blowing version of Sleeping Beauty), met Talia's lover, and found out the awesome powers of Roudette's cape.
"The Snow Queens Shadow" finishes off the series. After a tragic event Snow casts a spell beyond her control and unleashes a demon that takes over her body, but she leaves behind a little help for the other two girls.  We eventually end up in Snow's home country and find out more of her story and results of her mothers madness.  She kidnaps Danielle's son to help her work stronger spells and the girls follow after.  I'm not going to tell you what happens in the end because it would spoil it for you...but it is the last book in the series.
I really enjoyed how Mr. Hines spun these characters out of these old fairy tales.  Each girl had her own personality, flaws, and strengths.  Blending the various tales together into one cohesive world, with various countries, politics and religion helping to explain some of the differences was pretty genius. The books are a lot of fun, and while there are plenty of light hearted moments and happy endings, the author does not shy away from some pretty heavy stuff. I could go on and on and on about each book, character, story and situation but I think I would rather you all go read them and then we can have a big discussion later.

Do you like the blending of different stories, or is it easier to deal with one at a time?  Do you think these are fairly original re-telling's or do you think you can only take it so far?  How cool are the covers!?!?

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Getting Down with Downton Abby

I like so many of you am obsessed with Downton Abbey and have been trying to figure out a way to write a post about it on my blog.  Hubby says it's my blog and I can write what I want, but I have been trying really hard to keep it literary centered.  Now though I have the perfect excuse... Downtown Abbey Books!!!!!
The Real Downton Abbey
This book is the story of Lady Almina and Highclere Castle which is the iconic building where Downton Abbey is filmed.  This book shows what was really going on during this era and tells a great real-life story.
The World of Downton Abbey
This book is a mix of behind the scenes of the show and little tidbits of history and a ton of amazing photos.

The show itself is extremely addicting. I stumbled upon it one sick day and was hooked.  It is set in England, and the timing is set by the mention of the recent sinking of the Titanic, which resulted in the death of the heir to Downton Abbey.  This pretty much sets of the whole series, which includes the aristocratic"upstairs" and the serving class "downstairs".  The show follows the Crawly family, friends, servants, enemies and so forth through many trials and tribulations and joys, some huge such as WWI, some of the more minor domestic sort.  I think what really makes it enjoyable for me is the unique time period (WWI era) which I have not seen a lot of.  It was a period of a lot of change in England, where the upper crust had to learn to see other classes as more equal then before, where servants were employees with rights and not paid slaves.  Gender roles were changing, class roles and the lines separating them were changing all in all a very exciting time period.  The show really brings all the change home by showing us stories about every kind of folk, not just the Crawly family, but there servants as well to really give us many perspectives on any given issue. I highly recommend this to pretty much everybody, and if a novelization ever comes out I will be the first in line to read it.  Also Maggie Smith ROCKS!!!!!
Who else here is obsessed with this show?  Did I put enough of a literary spin on it to justify talking about it on a book blog?  Is Maggie Smith one of the most amazing actresses (not to mention comediac genius) out there?

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Monday, April 23, 2012

Amelia Bedelia

A little nostalgia for all of us old folks :-)  Amelia Bedelia books used to be my absolute favorite books growing up. My siblings knew if they wanted me to read a book to them, pick Amelia Bedelia and chances are I would agree.  These books about a quirky literal-minded housekeeper (who later took on roles as wedding shower planner, teacher, band member and so forth) was my first introduction into puns.  The illustrations match the stories perfectly and I never could wait to see the expressions on the various peoples faces when they got to experience a literal quirk of Ms Bedelia.  The main premise is Amelia Bedelia is usually left with a list of directions and tasks she needs to finish, which she tends to interpret quit literally.
 For instance one of her directions is to draw the drapes when the afternoon sun comes in the windows, she draws them on a large canvas and sets up the drawing in the living room. She makes a date cake by cutting up dates from a calendar and gives the bride an actual shower. She always has good intentions and can usually make up for her oddness by her fabulous baking skill.  I really love these books :-)

What is your favorite Amelia Bedelia book?  Do you know anybody this literal minded?  Would you keep a housekeeper like that?

Friday, April 20, 2012

Recycle Your Reading

In honor of Earth Day on Sunday, I thought I would share a few idea's on how to recycle your reading.
The best way I think is to donate your finished books to a library, hospital or nursing home (if you can bear to part with them that is...I'm not very good at this).

ipod book holder
You can repurpose your book into something useful like this nifty book turned ipod case.
Where the Wild Things Are Clock
You can bribe a child (or an adult who refuses to grow up!) into liking you by turning there favorite book into something cool for their room, just make sure you have an extra copy!
Book Counter
If you can't bear to part with your books you can always incorporate them right into your furniture.
Su Blackwell Art
You can turn a book into a piece of art
Book House
Or you can be like me and love your books so much, you just make a way to literally live in your books :-)

What is your favorite way to recycle books?  Is it okay to repurpose a book if it was just going to get thrown away?  Do you watch for me on "Hoarders: The girl who wouldn't give up a single book"?

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Flying Books

This short movie is just incredible, I really want to go find this place and add my own story to the collection
This is now available as an interactive book on most tablet devices as well. I have to admit I spent a very long time immersed in this great little story.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Everything You Wanted To Know About Dead Bodies, But Were To Afraid To Ask

Here is a little change of pace from my normal reading palette, a book called Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers by Mary Roach. This extremely funny, yet informative book gives us a glimpse of what happens to human bodies after they die. It starts off with a brief history of the human cadaver and its many uses in the advancement of science...and some not so savory uses.  She then goes on to detail various ways donated bodies are used. There is the most known and accepted use of organ donation and the all
encompassing "scientific research" categories, but she goes on to find a lot of other not so well known, but just as helpful uses as well. Ms. Roach does her best to actually go to the sites that these various procedures are carried out and asks questions a normal person would be dying to know.  She visits a plastic surgery lab where students must perform adequately  on cadaver heads before being allowed to touch a living face, a decomposition farm where bodies are placed in every imaginable environment to help police determine various times of death, talks with a man who used cadaver to do a "reenactment" of a plane crash to help determine what happened.  The list goes on and on.  The best part of this book for me was the real human curiosity and the perfect tone of humor the author brings.  She looks as it, not as a professional, but as a normal everyday person asking the questions we are all afraid to.  The foot notes in this book are the best part, they are hilarious and break up what can start to feel a little dark.  Ms. Roach always seems to treat the subject with respect without getting to macabre over the whole thing.  I would highly recommend this book to most people (unless you are really squeamish, then don't go near it) it is totally different from any other book I've read and pretty much is awesome.  I give it 7 out of 7 sugar skulls.

Do you think reading about dead bodies is something you should only do around Halloween?  How bad do you want to donate your whole body to science?  How do you come up with a topic like "what happens to dead human bodies" as a humor writer?

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

My Poor Feet!

Got to spend a lot of quality time with the family this week and had a lot of fun, but I got to say the feet are glad of a little break :-)  I will try and get back to writing actual posts about actual book related things soon.  In the mean time start giving me some idea's of what kind of post you would like to see.

My Poor Feets!

Monday, April 16, 2012

Busy Busy Busy

The family has been here this week and we have been very busy!

We spent some time at the Cherry Blossom Festival in Washington DC
The Cherry Blossom Festival
Went to a ton of Smithsonian Museums

Spent some time in Amish Country
Lancaster County
Now we are getting ready to head back out...wish me luck and have a great day everyone!

Friday, April 13, 2012

Cyber Cinderella

Finished Cinder the first book in the Lunar Chronicles this week.  I broke my rule about waiting to start a series until a couple books are out so now I have to wait for the next one :-(  The book was pretty cool, it was probably one of the more original retelling's of Cinderella I have read in a while, and there are A LOT of those out there.  This version is set in the future after World War IV and the story is set specifically in New Beijing giving a cool futuristic Asian flavor.  Cybernetics have become advanced enough for use in humans, but they are considered second class citizens to a lot of the population.  Our heroine Cinder has even more cybernetics then your average cyborg, and is stuck as the ward of a woman who wants nothing to do with her...except of course the money she brings in as a mechanic. Cinder has no memory of her life before the age of eleven when she woke up from the surgery that turned her into a cyborg.  Cinder meets Prince Kai when he brings in a robot for her to fix and they hit it off pretty quickly.  Meanwhile a plague is ravaging Earth and the cyborgs are being drafted to be experimental guinea pigs for a cure. After her stepsister falls ill, Cinders stepmother "volunteers" her for the experiments while gaining a payment for the sacrifice.  Cinder
Glass Slipper
turns out to be immune from the virus leading the main doc on the project to change her status to one of a true volunteer.  She runs into Prince Kai again (who still has no idea she is a cyborg) and more awkward flirting ensues.  On the political side of things, Prince Kai is dealing with the devastating illness and eventual death of his father, which makes him have to assume the role of Emperor very quickly.  To complicate matters is Queen Levana of the Lunars.  The Lunars are a people of Earthen origins who moved to the moon many years ago and have evolved the ability to manipulate bio-electrics as a result, essentially they can make almost anybody see, hear, and feel what they want.  Queen Levana is especially skill at this and has used the ability to establish a malevolent dictatorship over the Lunars going as far as to kill her sister and niece to secure her throne.  Queen Levana has her sights set on Earth and is trying to trade a cure for the plague in exchange for a marriage to Kai.  This part gets a little weird and not quit clear for me, so we will move on.  Eventually Cinder finds out some shocking things about herself that most of the readers will have guessed at long before it is revealed to her and the book ends with Cinder escaping and a set up of the next book.
Video Trailer is a little cheesy, but it gets the point across

The author Marissa Meyer did a pretty good job, especially considering this is her first book.  She kept almost every element of the original Cinderella story, while still coming up with a fairly original plot and setting. There also seemed to be bits of other fairy tales in the story as well, a strong Snow White vibe and a bit of Rapunzel as well.   The characters were pretty good, I especially love her little robot Iko.  The plot twists were not to suprising, I could see them coming a mile away, but that did not affect the story too much.  The whole Lunar thing was a bit sketchy, it seemed like there "gift" was just a way to justify some things that would never fly without some sort of reason/excuse, but the idea was still pretty solid.  I am glad that I knew it was going to be a series ahead of time so the ending wasn't as abrupt and I am looking forward to reading the next one.  I give this one 8 out of 10 white chocolate raspberry stars :-)
What do you think of a futuristic cyborg Cinderella?  Is throwing mutated alien/humans into a classic fairy tale insane or genius (or a little of both)?  What fairy tale would you like to see set in space?

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Books In the Bath

One of the best stress relievers I can think of is a nice relaxing bath with a glass of wine and a great book. Here are some examples of taking it to the next level :-)
Bathtub of Books
Bookshelf and Bathtub combo
Nifty Little Book Holder
Bathtub of Knowledge

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Stairway of Books

If I ever have stairs I am so getting my Mamma to paint this for me!
Storybook Painted Staircase
What books would you paint on your staircase?  Do you like the different colors or would monochromatic look cool too?  Is it possible to take the book theme to far?

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Golden Book Dress

How stunningly awesome is this!!!!
This dress is made entirely of recycled Golden Books, yep those same books you used to read when you were a kid.  I remember when I was little I used to love to line them up on my bookshelf and see all the pretty golden book spines in a row.  These pictures hardly do it justice, check out the website for how he made the dress and some really stunning photos!

Just a quick note, I will be running around like a crazier then normal person this week so if my posts are short or completely incomprehensible you will know why.

Monday, April 9, 2012


In honor of Easter (I know it was yesterday, but I like to extend my holiday's) I have gathered some literary inspired eggs, hope you enjoy.

Pride and Prejudice
I love these little Elizabeth and Darcy eggs

Alice in Wonderland
Whole bunch of the gang from Alice in Wonderland

Queen of Hearts
Amazing painted egg, go check out the link for other amazing art
Harry Potter
Aw what cute little HP guys

Lord of the Rings
A little creepy, but it works
These are actually kinda pretty

I hope you have enjoyed these literary masterpieces and maybe inspired to make some yourself (send pictures!)