Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Rainy Day Poem

It's raining again YAY!!!!  I love the rain I love the rain I love the rain.  Perfect excuse to curl up with a good book and a cup of coffee.  Here is an awesome discovered poem I found
Rain Poem
Click the link to learn more about discovered poems.  I found it to be a really cool concept.  Now off to gaze out of my office window at the raindrops wishing I was home reading!

Monday, April 29, 2013

Magic Killer Candy

After a couple weeks of supreme business I finally got to get in some good reading yesterday, and by good reading I mean I sat down and devoured two books in one sitting!  To be fair we got a brand new couch (more on that tomorrow) and I was so exhausted I don't think I could have done more than turned a page if you paid me, but still it was nice to have 8 hours of straight up reading time.
The book I am going to ramble on about today is called The Candy Shop War by Brandon Mull.  I loved loved loved loved loved his Fablehaven series (posts about these are coming I promise), and was kind of disappointed in the first book in his Beyonder series, so I was not sure what I was getting into when I started this book.  Turns out it is a fabulous romp through the world of magic candy, think Willie Wonka, with more candy makers and less Oompa Loompas (though there are plenty of henchmen). I started this book Sunday morning and didn't stop until I was finished, it was that good.  So I've noticed my synopsis/plot summations are getting pretty long so I will try and keep it short, but who are we kidding we all know I love to ramble :-)
Nate Sutter has just moved to the small town of Colson.  He will be entering the 5th grade and soon meets up with some new friends, Trevor, Summer and Pigeon.  The three have a treasure seeking/detective/trespassing club that they invite Nate to join once he shows a willingness to defend the group from three 6th grade bullies by the names of Denny, Eric and Kyle. School starts and Nate, Summer and Pigeon are all placed in Miss Doulin who turns out to be a very strict teacher.  After school they meet up with Trevor and decide to explore the new candy shop that has opened called Sweet Tooth Ice Cream and Candy Shoppe.  They are greeted by the owner and candy maker Mrs. White who shows them all kinds of wonderful treats.  She keeps a jar of penny candy that changes on a daily basis and trades the children treats for work.  The children are all thrilled with the arrangement and work hard, cleaning, stocking, and generally helping in exchange for eggnog milkshakes, butterscotch brownies and other mouthwatering delicacies (I have to admit that I stopped reading here and made a pan of walnut chocolate chip brownies 'cause I just needed something sweet to eat while I read this book).  One day Mrs. White tells the children about some special magic candy that she has made.  She tells them that if they are willing to preform some unusual tasks that she will pay them in magic candy.  The children though skeptical agree.  They go and collect dusk beetle eggs in
mushrooms and receive Moonrock candy in return.  Mrs. White cautions the children to only eat them where they won't be seen and that once you have placed it in your mouth you can not take it out and save it for later.  The kids go to there secret meeting place, eat the candy and then start bouncing around like they are almost weightless.  After the effects wear off (which happens as soon as the candy is gone, or you spit it out) the children are eager to earn more candy.  The next task Mrs. White has for them is simple, pass out samples of her special white fudge, warning them not to eat any as it will diminish the effects of any of the magic candy she will give them.  The kids give it to their parents, siblings and Pigeon (who is quit the smarty pants) gives some to their teacher. The children notice that after giving out the samples, people have become obsessed with the stuff, eating it every chance they get and lining up at the candy shop for more.  On their way to the candy shop for their next assignment the children are approached by a strange looking man who claims to be Nate from the future.  Obviously the kids don't believe him and are even a little scared.  The man wanders away with a final warning, digging up graves is not right.  With this cryptic warning in their heads the kids find Mrs. White who is ready to give them their next task.  The tasks start to get progressively more and more ethically shaky, breaking into museums and stilling artifacts, digging up graves.  She keeps the kids interested by giving them all kinds of candies that help them with their tasks such as Shock Bits that allows the eater to release one shock against a person, or Proxy Dust which allows one to control a little doll.  Eventually she asks the kids to erase
somebodies memory, which overrides any excuse they had been making up to this point. They realize that she is not a good person.  The person she was trying to poison is one Mr. Stotts who runs an ice cream truck and also has magic candies.  He is more willing to share information with the kids, but he still sends them on missions and pays them in candy, like Ironhide jawbreakers that makes the user almost invincible.  On one of these missions Trevor gets trapped in a mirror world and is out of commission until they can figure out a way to rescue him.  A man named John Dart appears and finally tells the children the whole story of how all of the magican's are after a treasure hidden in Colson.  Magic works best if you are young, but the one thing a magician cannot do is make themselves younger (which is why they were using the children to do all of there work).  Hidden in Colson is a draught of the Fountain of Youth, which would make any magician the most powerful in all of the world.  Much chaos ensues and Nate ends up time traveling to the past, future and finally splitting into three people in the present.  They manage to defeat Mrs. White by slipping the Clean Slate memory wiper into the cup holding the Elixir of Youth, making her a child with no memories.  Everything is eventually returned to some state of normal and world is saved.

Yeah so maybe not so short in my synopsis, sorry, but there was so so so much going on in this book, I did not even cover a tiny bit of it!  This book had it all, adventure, magic, candy, fat men who squirted orange goo.  I liked that the story always had something more to tell you, that you felt you had it all figured out and then something else would pop up.  The pacing was good and consistent.  The characters were pretty stock, but it was more about the friendship and group then about the individual characters.  I liked how the author
figured out a way to remove the parents from the role of authority, giving them the fudge and turning them into borderline zombies was a great way for the children to be able to run amok in a semi-believable way.  I also liked how the author showed how scary it was for these kids to not be able to depend on their parents, that they realized that they did need them and missed them acting like responsible adults.  I am a sucker (haha did you see what I did there, I said sucker and this book is about candy teeheehee...ok I'm going to drink my coffee now) for books that...crap....I never know how to describe it.  I like it when you take an ordinary thing like, sewing, cooking, gardening, candy and make it into something magical.  I find candy pretty magical to start with, all of the varieties and combinations, and then you add some magic and voila a happy premise for a good book.  Seriously I could probably just read a catalogue describing all the magic candy available (Harry Potter is a good one for this too, Honeydukes anybody?).  I like how the kids had to choose between right and wrong on more than one occasion, especially when it wasn't always clear.  I like it when a book shows people, especially kids put into these situations as I feel to many books just give the hero(s) carte blanche to do what they want because you know, they are the hero's.  Over all in case you can't tell I really enjoyed every page of this book, right to the very end.  I love this authors style and am totally excited to see that another book in this series just came out.  I give it 9 out of 10 Moonrock Candies.

What is your favorite candy?  Do you still turn into a wide eyed 10 year old whenever you go into a candy store?  What kind of magical candy do you wish existed?

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Art Of The Fart

Been spending a lot of time with the nephews and at this age they are all obsessed with bodily functions, more specifically farts.  These little boys can have a whole 45 minute conversation on the art of the fart.  They love the sound, the love to say the word, they laugh hysterically whenever one happens, it's pretty cute.  Here are some books devoted to the art of the fart to enjoy with your little (or not so little) ones.
Walter the Farting Dog (Walter the Farting Dog Series #1)
Walter the Farting Dog
There are several books in this series, each of them hilarious and the best part is you can get your munchkin one of these
Walter the Farting Dog
Farting Walter Dog
So that you kiddo can fart along with the books, my sister may or may not want to ban me from her house after sending this to Lil G.
The Fart Fairy
The Fart Fairy
You've heard of the Tooth Fairy, the Sugarplum Fairy, and even Evil Fairies...but the Fart Fairy, that is a new one.
Really Stinky Fart Jokes
Fart Jokes
Because if there is one thing better than a fart it is a good fart joke!
Papercutz Slices #5: The Farting Dead
The Farting Dead
Flatulent Zombies OH NOES!

I hope you all enjoyed today's foray into the fascinating world of flatulence and will take some time to share a good fart joke with a special child (or child like man) in your life.  Happy reading everybody 

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Really Rosie

I have been having the most wonderful time this last week playing Aunt to all of my nephews and nieces, both blood and adopted.  We have been singing, dancing, farting, laughing, and telling silly stories.  All of this silliness and laughter makes me think of my Mamma, mostly because she is the one who taught us that silliness is what makes the world go round :-)  One of my most distinct memories of growing up is listening to my mom sing the songs from Really Rosie a TV special based on the books in the Nutshell Library
Nutshell Library
Sadly the recording of the show is only on VHS, but the songs are available for purchase. I remember Really Rosie being inventive and loud and fun...just like my Mamma.  The stories in this collection are awesome, my favorite being Pierre: A Cautionary Tale in Five Chapters and a Prologue.  Mamma played the lion in this story when she was in school and we used to love to listen to her gobble up the troublesome Pierre.  These books were written by Maurice Sendak of Where the Wild Things Are fame.  I think everybody needs to get a set of these books pronto and find the nearest kid and read them out loud, cause these are the type of books best read out loud.
What childhood books remind you of a certain loved one?  Do you have a shelf solely dedicated to nostalgic books of your past?  How sucky is it that I can't find this on DVD?!?!?

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Sins Of The Father

Time to review Bitterblue by Kristin Cashore.  It has taken me a while to put the review for this one together, because I am still trying to figure out the best way to review it.  I don't think I will go overboard with the synopsis in this one, because there is so much to it that I would just muddle it all up.  So let's start with a bare bones summation.

As always some Spoilers for all three books ahead.
Bitterblue has been the official Queen of Monsea one of the Seven Kingdoms for 8 years now.  At present her biggest struggle is to find a way to break free from the oppressive council of her advisers.  Bitterblue was thrust into the ruling of her country at the tender age of 10, when her mother was murdered by her father Leck, who had been using his Graceling power of mind control to keep a horrifying grip on the country.  Leck was killed during events in Graceling and Bitterblue assumed leadership of the broken country. While the people helping her run her country while she was still a child mean well, they have forgotten that children grow up, and Bitterblue is now an adult.  To try and learn more about her own kingdom, Bitterblue decides to go out at night in disguise among the people of her city.  Here she meets up with a clever thief, a Graceling with unknown talents and his printer friend.  Through these two Bitterblue learns that the reports she has been getting from her advisers have been falsified for some reason.  Bitterblue also starts to learn just how much havoc her father wrought upon the country.  The majority of the book is a mix of Bitterblue trying to find out who is trying to squash information from the past from being reveled, trying to become an
independent ruler, juggling her feelings for her Graceling thief, and missing her friends.  After much searching, Bitterblue finally discovers some truths about her fathers past. At some point in time Leck and his father had lost their way in the mountains that cut off Monsea from an unknown country and ended up in the Dells (which is the setting for Fire) which is more advanced then the Seven Kingdoms.  Leck spent most of his childhood in this country of Monsters and medical advancement, honing his Grace of mind control.  In a fight with Fire, the human monster, he was sent tumbling back down the mountain into Monsea where he used his powers to get adopted into the royal family.  Missing the Dells, Leck tried to recreate what he could, building his castle in the glass roofed style of the Dells, commissioning sculptures and artwork incorporating the landscape and Monsters, and terribly trying to bring about scientific advancement through experimentation on humans.  It is this last thing in particular that made Leck so horrifying and perverse.  He would use his mind powers to not only torture and kill his people, but he would compel his own advisers to do the actual harm to people.  It is the memory of what they were forced to do under the kingship of Leck that has made Bitterblues advisers (who were all around when Leck was king) to try and bury any breath of what happened during his reign. Rembering what they had done, drove most of them mad.  This cover-up was wide spread and included arson, and even murder as a way to keep the heinous past hidden.  Eventually Bitterblues friends find a tunnel that leads from Monsea to the Dells and Fire from the previous novel comes to visit Bitterblue.  The young Queen realizes what it was her father was doing and decides to spend the rest of her reign trying to heal her country through revealing the history and then addressing the problems.  There are side plots, and love stories, and all that good stuff scattered throughout the novel as well, but this is essentially the gist of it.

This is not a happy, fun-filled story by any means.  It is fairly dark and I have heard many people complain about the brutality featured in certain parts.  I understand that some people are more affected by this then others, and certain experiences may make this a painful book to read.  I did not find any of the descriptions gratuitous  I thought any mention of violence, rape and torture where done only when the story needed it to point out certain aspects of Leck's mentality.  There is also the after effects to deal with, and Bitterblue herself is border line depressive on occasion.  All this together makes it a bit of a difficult book to get through.  This book is also much less action packed then the other two book were.  The whole of the story takes place in one city, and most of it is driven by discovery and conversation   There is a heavy dose of politics and enough hemming and hawing to drive a person crazy. It seemed that most of the characters had forgotten to take their happy pills and were constantly snipping at each other in very childish ways.  The level of the arguments usually amounted to "nyah nyah nyah" which did get a tad tedious after a while.  All this being said it is not a bad book.  I actually liked that the author was willing to take us to a bit of a darker place.  The realistic after math of such a twisted leader would be pretty bleak.  The idea that some people
would just like to bury the past and try to move on, versus the people who need to have answers before any healing can properly take place is one that rings true.  The notion that people would go very far, even to the extent of murder to try and cover up a shameful past is also something we know happens in real life.  I also really enjoyed getting some insight into Leck's head.  He was a monster of epic proportions  he used his powers to hurt everybody else, and even worse took great pleasure in it.  His true talant lay not so much in mind control, but in his ability to know what would utterly break a person.  You see where even with this power Leck was unhappy, you see glimpses of a person trying desperately to get back to a time and place where he thought he was happy.  This does not give even the slightest excuse to the atrocities he perpetrated, but it makes his character that much better and gives him a motive for his cruelty.  Bitterblue herself was a decent character.  I wanted to shake her sometimes and say "You are the Queen you dummy, just do what needs to be done, you don't have to ask permission!", but when you have had guardians watching over you your whole life, it is not as easy as that.  She retained some of her sassyness from previous books, and is of a different cloth then either Katsa or Fire, so it is nice to see an author not reusing the same hero mold.  The author tries to bring in a lot of politics from the real world into the books (gay rights, education, ruling styles, etc.) to varying
degrees of success  a few of them seemed forced into the plot.  Some of the plot got muddled and confusing, I'm not 100% sure I actually understood everything I was supposed to, and the ending came on fast and disjointed. Over all I would say it was a decent book and fit into the world the author created in the previous two books very well.  It was a nice link between Graceling and Fire, which when first read do not seem to have a lot in common. This book also has some cool illustrations and maps, and a fun tongue in cheek type of glossary included, which I really enjoyed.  I give the book 6 out of 10 monster statues.
What did you think of this book?  Did it help tie the first two together?  Do you prefer action or intrigue?  Do these darker books make you think, or just cringe? How awesome was the cover of this book!?!

Monday, April 22, 2013

Earth Day

Happy Earth Day Everybody!
Now get outside and read a good book in your favorite outdoor spot.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Explaining The Unexplainable

Read an interesting short story yesterday in the collection Ruby Slippers, Golden Tears.  The story is called The Fox Wife by Ellen Steiber.  What really caught my interest (besides it being a good little story) is that she says she was inspired by medical accounts in Japan in 1892.  She took these records and married them with the kitsune lore in Japanese culture.  The point of this being that before people knew about certain illnesses, especially of the mental variety, many times they were attributed to something magical.  Since I find the human body and mind fascinating, and I love reading I decided to do some digging around and see if I could find some other common threads in the illness/magic realm  (yeah that didn't quit make sense to me either).  As I was digging around, I found many instances where historians, doctors, researchers and bloggers with too much time on their hands have found lines linking folklore, fairy tales, and legends to real life diseases, illnesses and injuries.  Here are a few examples.

Changelings/Autism- It is amazing how closely the symptoms of autism (especially the more sever forms) match up with old descriptions of changelings.  Imagine that you have this lovely child that seems to be perfectly healthy, then one day you start to notice your once loving child refuses to be touched.  The child pulls away from it's family, has outbursts over the oddest things, seems to hyper-focus on seemingly pointless tasks.  With no frame of medical reference, it would make sense to feel that your child had been replaced by a strangers baby.  Other illnesses that tend to manifest in childhood may also have contributed to the changeling myth.  What I personally find so fascinating about these clear descriptions of autism (excuse me while I climb my up on my soap box for a moment) is that it seems to point towards autism being around for a lot longer then people think.  I know many a child that has not been immunized because somebody convinced them that autism wasn't around until we started immunizing our kids, or that autism is new and contingent on pollution and environmental factors.  While certain environmental factors may play a role (we still don't know a lot about autism) stories about changelings and their dead on descriptions show us that in all probability kids have been afflicted with autism for much longer then anybody realizes, and definitely long before immunizations (getting down of my soapbox now).

Epilepsy/Demonic Possession - Anybody who has had, or witnessed a seizure can tell you it is pretty terrifying.  As an EMT I have dealt with many many many seizures and every time it hits you how crazy it looks.  We know for the most part what causes seizures, but can you imagine back before we had a name and a cause for it, seeing a person just start contorting, flailing, uttering strange sounds, eyes rolling into the back of their heads.  It is no wonder that people were convinced an evil spirit had taken possession of a loved one.  It got even worse when a person had a disease like epilepsy that caused seizures on a regular basis.  It's one thing for a person to suffer one seizure (caused by a high fever or extreme illness), but then be "rid of the demon" and never have another episode.  It would be quit another back in the day to continue these seizures even after a ceremony to excise the demon.  This also lead to a lot of unnecessary incarcerations and even deaths.

Ergotism/Witchcraft-Who would have thought something as innocent as rye flour could be a possible cause for the hysteria of the Salem Witch Trials?  Among the usual jealousy, over zealousness, and greed which is really all a group of people really need to persecute their fellow man, a theory that a crop of rye may have been infected with a fungus that when consumed produces some very interesting effects.  There is an LSD like hallucinogen affect for some people.  A person could suffer from debilitating stomach pains, akin to being stabbed in the belly (which many "victims" of the "witches" described during the trial"  There may be sores, neurological issues, and mania.  Any time a large number of people had unexplained pain or illness, they just attributed it to witchcraft, because really what else could it be.  The biggest problems came when there was no obvious cause for the pain, if I accidental cut myself and see it bleed and feel the pain, it is not witchcraft, if my stomach feels like somebody is stabbing it, but I don't see any marks or can find no cause, then it might be witchcraft. It is interesting to see in history how people can take even the most minor of things and blow them out of proportion.

Oh man there are so many more of these especially when you start dealing with things like schizophrenia, OCD, porgeria, just so many illnesses that we now if nothing else can name as a scientific disease.  This is why it is so important to keep writing stories and keep reading books, it gives us a glimpse into the past and shows us that we are dealing with some of the same things today as people did hundreds of years ago.  It will be int resting in 100 years for future humanity to read our books and stories and say "hey I think they were talking about (insert name of some undiscovered ailment here), can you believe this is what they thought it was?"  Humans have a need to have an explanation for everything, especially when things go wrong. Before we had science and wide spread education, people used magic to try and explain the unknown. Thinking over some of the more contemporary books I've read, I think this generation tends to write about more intangible illnesses, mostly of the mental variety.  Liar is a good example of a modern folk lore take on a potential mental illness.  It is written in the same feel and style as a way to explain something that may not yet be explainable.

What diseases/illnesses do you recognize in your favorite folk tale?  What diseases do you think future generations will look back at us and shake their heads over?  Do I read way to much into simple stories?

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Where No Bookcase Has Gone Before

With the warmer weather approaching my thoughts turn to the stars and all things SciFi.  I have been watching all my favorite space shows, alien movies and reading all my futuristic books.  Here are a few items to help you explore your scientific nerdy awesome side.
Tardis Bookshelf
Books, a way to make sure the inside contains more then it appears from the outside
Lightsaber Bookends
Use the force to keep your books where they belong
Stargate Bookshelf
Ok ok I know it isn't an "official" Stargate, but I think it looks like one and it's my blog...so there :-)
Star Trek Bookend
A classy way to add some geekery to your home
Captains Chair
Now you can read in comfort and command your underlings all at the same time.
I am well aware that there are several uber geeky super awesome neato nerdy shows that I did not mention, that just means there is more for another post :-)  Happy reading everybody!

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Bratty Cinderella

Haven't been to bed in about four days so please forgive me if I am a tad incoherent (at least more so than normal).  Finished Princess of Glass by Jessica Day George.  This is a sequel/follow up to Princess of the Midnight Ball and mostly follows Poppy, the extroverted twin and one of the twelve Princesses forced to dance for the King Understone.  This is a blended story, partially a retelling of Cinderella and a bit of a continuation of the first story.

Spoilers Ahead For Both Books
Quick plot points.  We start with a creepy prologue in which a women is viewing a dark haired girl and a prince by magic.  It appears that these two are perfect for whatever nefarious plot she is thinking of.  Moving along we find that in the wake of the war that tore this part of the world apart and the untimely deaths of several of the princes owing to the curse of the twelve Princesses a sort of Princess/Prince exchange program has been put into place.  As a result the Princess Poppy ends up with a cousin in the country of Breton.  We see that although a master at it, Poppy refuses to dance now that the curse on her and her sisters has been lifted.  It seems while many people know that there was a curse, the exact nature of it is not widely known.  Meanwhile the Prince of Damerhavn , Prince Christian is also sent to Breton, where the king is determine to marry him to either one of his own daughters or some other woman of his kingdom.  To this effect several balls are thrown to try and get a suitable girl for the Prince.   At these dances and dinners that they attend, Poppy adamantly continues to refuse to dance, preferring conversation or shockingly cards
when they are available.  Prince Christian meets her and is taken in by her easy manners and lack of stuffy decorum.  Poppy's cousin Marianne is in love with Dickon and both sets of parents approve whole heartedly to the match.  It is decided that Marianne shall have her own birthday ball in between the Queens Gala and the matchmaking ball set up by the King of Bretnor for Prince Christian.  While all this has been going on a new maid has been employed by the house hold.  The lady Eleanora, now known as Ellen was an Earl's daughter who had fallen on hard times after the ruin and death of her family.  She is now in the employ of the house as a servant and she sucks at it.  She burns things, breaks things, drops things and to make it all worse she is sulky and sullen about her new position.  One day the household receives invitations to the gala, with the invitation going to every eligible lady.  Ellen asks if she may go and is given permission by Marianne's mother the Lady Margaret, she even offers to help the girl get a gown.  Ellen refuses, saying she won't take charity and she will find her own gown.  Lady Margaret reveals Marianne's and Poppy's gowns to them, Poppy's being a beautiful stunning dress embroidered with red poppies.  When they arrive at the ball everybody is very much enchanted with Poppy's beautiful and unique dress, when in comes a mysterious girl, wearing a glittering, dazzling version of Poppy's dress.  On the mysterious girls feet are glass shoes that shine like rubies.  From the moment she walks in, every males is instantly obsessed with her and every female hates her.  The girl, who is called Lady Ella, monopolizes the Prince for the whole night.  Only Poppy and the newly returned Roger, brother to Marianne's Dickon, can see that Lady Ella is actually the maid Ellen. Suspecting magic is at work, the two go to work on countering the effects.  Much to Marianne's dismay 
Dickon along with the Prince and all the other men are obsessing about the Lady Ella.  Poppy tries to confront Ellen about the ball, but the maid claims that she did not go.  We switch to Ellen's perspective and see her call to her "godmother" by walking through a doused fire, ending up covered in soot. She arrives at a palace of glass and is dressed and pampered by this mysterious benefactor.  The only bad part is when she is ready for shoes, her godmother pours molten glass directly on her feet to make them.  At Marianne's birthday ball, Lady Ella once again puts in an appearance, but this time copying Marianne's dress and stealing all the attention for herself.  Fed up with this affront to her friend, Poppy and Roger make a potion, and knit charms to protect their friends.  As the friends start shaking off the enchantment, Poppy and Roger follow Ella and see that she is indeed Ellen the maid, transformed by magic.  Poppy goes to confront the girl again and finds her in her bed, her feet turning to glass as a result of the spell.  Eventually they figure out that the godmother is actually a witch called The Corley who is trying to make up for her goddaughter's death.  After they figure out the plan, they decide that Poppy will take Ellen's place and try and stop the curse.  Poppy dresses up in Ella's dress and slippers and goes to the ball.  The witch figures out the plan and captures both Poppy and Ella.  She challenges Prince Christian to figure out which one is his true love, he correctly identifies Poppy even while under the spell.  A merry chase ensues, the witch is dealt with and the three couples (yes there are three couples, it does makes sense...kind of)all live happily ever after.
Lack of sleep is starting to catch up with me so making sense is totally optional from here on out :-)
I liked this book for the most part.  It was not earth shattering, or life changing, but I did enjoy reading it.  I liked that the story of Cinderella was actually parceled out over three girls, each one having a piece of the original story.  I liked how the flavor of Cinderella was clear through out the story, but the plot did not necissarly follow the original. Poppy was one of my favorite sisters from the first book, so having her be the main character in this book was fun.  I found myself appreciating the fact that the author showed us the after effects of the war and the curse from the first book.  Acknowledging that even thought he curse is broken, that does not mean everything just goes back to hunky-dory land.  The long lasting effects of decisions is a major factor in these books and is dealt with in a way that is usually not seen in YA books. I also like the way the author allows her characters to be of mixed temperaments  and to see the good and bad in different ways of thinking.  Poppy is a bit brash and used to doing as she pleases, but when Lady Margaret gently corrects her in certain situations, Poppy realizes that a bit of gentleness and courtesy are not bad things.
Marianne is shown as a bit of valley girl, but has her own mind and knows how to use it.  Ellen, our poor tragic fairytale princess is a brat, and I loved it.  Eventually you feel sorry for her and wish her well, but I loved that she wasn't all sweet and good and humble, accepting the lower status life had given her.  In real life I do not know a lot of people who could go from a lady with maids to being a maid to a lady without some sort of issues.  It would be humiliating, heartbreaking, and sad and Ellen reacts in a very realistic manner. I love the examples of families being there for each other.  So often in fairy tales we get wicked stepmothers, scary overbearing fathers, and jealous siblings.  In this book Ellen's employers are not only kind and generous, but try and help her get to the ball, and it is her own fault she gets into trouble.  A refreshing change of pace from the normal noble cruelty we see in the originals. As with a lot of books of this genre, the magic/curse plot resolution got a bit confusing, another example of how a good idea is hard to resolve in any coherent manner.  The love between Christian and Poppy was a little rushed for my taste, but not as bad as some I've seen.  Overall I enjoyed it and would recommend it to people who like retellings,  fantasy, magic, and a quick easy read.  I give it 7 out of 10 glass slippers.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013


This is what I feel like today
I need to get some sleep :-)

Monday, April 15, 2013

The Host Or The Movie Where Everything Needed A Kiss

Just in case anybody is not aware how absolutely amazing my Hubbin is, he voluntarily took me and baby sis to see The Host. This is a movie based on the book The Host by Stephenie Meyer, yes that Stephenie Meyer, the one who wrote the series that shall not be named.  My baby sis had recommended the book to me and I found myself actually enjoying most of it.  Copious amounts of teenage angst aside, I thought the book was very well thought out and the ideas had some originality to them. You can read my ramble on the book for more details of what I thought. Since I was up visiting her, and we both had read and mostly enjoyed the book, Hubbin was sweet enough to take us to see the movie (he even bought us chocolate!).
The movie was...long...really really long...with lots of kissing.  So much kissing, everything was about kissing.  When a character was mad they kissed, when they were sad they kissed, when they were happy they kissed, when they were bored, scared, tired, hungry, excited, dirty, clean, confused, whatever they kissed.  So if I had not read the book I would probably think that the invading aliens were just here for some kisses.  The visuals for the movie were pretty spot on.  Everything that was shown really captured what the author wrote in the book, so that was really cool.  My favorite was how they portrayed the actual physical being of the aliens, just spot on.  The casting was pretty well done as well, with all the requisite pretty young things, with just enough grizzled experienced folk to make things semi-plausible.  Saoirse Ronan (I love that name!) was cast as Melanie/Wanderer and did an excellent job at portraying the old soul in a new body. The only real issue I had with that character is that we don't get a whole lot of Melanie in the movie, there are
occasional flashbacks, but since they are mostly kissing we don't get a whole lot of Melanie's personality coming through...though to be honest she kind of drove me nuts in the book, so maybe less Melanie wasn't so much of a bad thing.  For as long as the movie was, they did not actually get a whole lot of alien history in to the story.  One of the things I loved about the book was that Wanderer was this revered soul that had traveled the galaxy and who's job it was to teach, first the other souls and then later the humans about all the places she had been.  I found this not only interesting, but very helpful in showing the reader that these aliens were not warlike conquering evil creatures.  In most cases they worked with "lower" life-forms to enhance the world that they came to.  It is made clear that humans are a very different species then ever encountered and that free-will from the host species is not really something they had to contend with before.  I thought that they came of a bit more aggressive in the movie, especially in regards to Wanderer who seemed less of a revered soul and more of your run of the mill soul who is only good to help interrogate the body it is inhabiting.  Hubbin did not find the movie aliens aggressive, he said that he got a sense that they were mostly peaceful, so that may just be my reading into things.  The other part I wished they had put in and did not was the fact that the aliens seemed to not want to put a soul into their own human babies.  Wanderer in the books says this will probably save humanity from further inhabitation because they will not want to have their human children "souled".  Other then these types of things the movie kept to the book surprisingly well, almost to its detriment because the pacing was really really slow.  There was a lot of sitting and gazing into space and
kissing.  I know I have mentioned this a bunch already but there was SO MUCH KISSING.  If they were not staring pensively into space they were kissing...all of them...all of the time!  Overall it was not a bad movie, just slow and not as rich and nuanced as the book, but also not quit as angsty so there is that.  The visuals were stunning and amazing, and the casting was pretty yummy so at least you had something to watch while they were kissing.  The music was awesome and watching the movie made me want to go reread the book. The contacts they used for the inhabited humans was a bit distracting and the shoes on most of the females were just hideous, but I guess that does not really have that much to do with the movie, also the aliens must have found a sale of metalliac silver spray paint, 'cause that was all over everything.  Overall I would give the movie 6 out of 10 alien soul invaders. Favorite line in the movie "kiss me like you want to be slapped!"
What did you think of the movie?  Do you find it odd when you wish there was more of a book in a movie and yet want the movie to be shorter?  How much kissing can there be in one movie?!?

Friday, April 12, 2013

Wineing and Reading

Had the most perfect evening last night.  Started with coffee, chocolate cheesecake and a trip to the bookstore.  After we got home and I had some quality Hubbin time, he poured me a glass of our favorite red wine (Dreaming Tree Crush Blend) and I settled into my reading chair with all the doors and windows open, letting in the fresh yummy breezes.  As I sipped my wine and read my book, my Hubbin asked if the wine went with the book, which got me thinking which type of wines pair best with which type of book?   Here is what I came up with, your taste may vary :-)
Sauvignon Blanc -This lighter, drier wine pairs well with books that are dashing and active.  Science Fiction goes especially well with any Marlborough, New Zealand variety.  Starborough is my favorite to sip while zipping though the stars in Enders Game or fighting of parasitic aliens in And All the Stars.

Riesling-This sweeter wine is excellent for drinking while reading any Regency era story.  In particular a nice German Riesling (especially if it comes in a blue bottle) pairs well with any Jane Austen novel.  The sweetness of the wine, makes it more sippable then gulpable, forcing me to be refined and elegant.

Malbec-This red wine has a bit of everything, herby, fruity, and not to heavy. This tends to be my go to wine for all things Gothic.  Any book that features large drafty houses, locked doors or a potential scandalous mystery screams for a glass of this red wine.  This was a must have when I was reading The Twin's Daughter.

Sparkling Wine-Champagne is the most recognized of the sparkling wines, but I usually prefer something on the very dry side.  I usually like to drink sparkling wine when I am reading any sort of book set in a major city, especially contemporary books.  I think it captures the hustle and bustle and potential elegance of the urban center.  Bunheads was read while happily sipping a bit of the bubbly

Dreaming Tree Crush Blend-As I mentioned earlier, this is our favorite red wine.  I can drink it while reading just about anything, but it goes particularly well with zombies, vampires and the occasional poltergeist.  I polished of several bottles of this delicious elixir while reading Feed the first book in the Newsflesh series and can't wait to repeat the experience with the next book.

What is your favorite book/wine pairing?  What else do you like to drink when you read?  Would you believe I'm really not drunk all of the time, regardless of what my ramblings sound like?

Thursday, April 11, 2013

O. Henry Book

The weather is beautiful at the moment, making me want to get outside and explore.  This sculpture, which is part of a three piece set, is in honor of the author O. Henry
O. Henry Book Sculpture
O. Henry is famous for stories such as The Gift of the Magi which has been retold in many forms through out the years. I love artwork like this because it combines my love of books with my insatiable need to be out doors.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Is My Shirt Red...Crap

I love Star Trek.  I love every incarnation of it, series, movies, books, parodies, all of it.  I spent many a happy Saturday night lying on the floor with my whole family, munching on popcorn, cheese and crackers and Daddy's all whip cream sundae's  To this day every time the opening theme of any of them come on and I am taken to a happy family place.  All this being said, I also am very aware of some of the shortcomings of the franchise, especially the older versions.  One of the biggest phenomena if you will is the Redshirt.  The redshirt was a minor (usually you did not even know their name) character that was put with an away team, or on a mission, or even just at a strategic bridge station...only to be killed in some manner.  This brings us to an entertaining little book aptly called Redshirts by John Scalzi who along with being an author, was also a creative consultant on one of my favorite shows Stargate Universe (man I miss that show).

Quick synopsis along with SPOILER ALERTS!
Ensign Andy Dahl has the great honor of being assigned to the Intrepid, the flag ship of the illustrious Universal Union (also known as Dub U).  He is joined by a group of other new recruits and is assigned to xenobiology to do whatever it is xenobiologists do.  Dahl notices strange things right off the bat, like when a main bridge Lt. Kerensky comes down with a mysterious flesh eating plague that killed off the other member of his away team (what was his name again) and the crew only has six hours to find a cure before the Lt.
succumbs to this dreaded mysterious plague.  The crew in xenobiology show Dahl "the Box" which is exactly what it sounds like.  They put the sample in the box, hit a button and in 5 hour and 50 minutes a "cure" pops up on there pads, the only problem is that is it missing one crucial component.  Dahl is then told to run to the bridge and present there findings to the main science officer.  Dahl questions why they can't just send it to his pad since that would be faster and less confusing, but the team is adamant, the cure will only work if Dahl presents it in person and then the science officer can give them the last piece of the puzzle. Dahl does as he is told, and oddly enough the cure works, not only does it work, but it works so well that Lt. Kerensky has no lingering effects and is ready for the next mission in less than a week.  Already on alert for strange things, Dahl and some of his fellow recruits are sent on an away mission with the miraculously healed Lt. Kerensky and find themselves in ludicrously contrived situations.  The recruits also find themselves acting in ways that are contrary to survival, and find random facts popping into their heads.  Eventually all of this strangeness leads the friends to Jenkins, a recluse who lives in the walls of the ship after his wife was killed on an away mission shortly after joining the Intrepid. He informs the friends that he has figured out that they are characters connected to a badly written Science Fiction show from the past. He shows them some pieces of data that suggest that Intrepid is a badly written rip off of  a show called Star Trek and that when they find themselves in these crazy situations that is when the Narrative takes over.  When the show is not running everybody is free to attempt to live normal lives.  Part of this Narrative is that the main bridge crew never die, but on every mission at least one of the "newbies" always bites the dust, usually in a very pointless and horrific manner.  Another part of the
Narrative is the ridiculous time limits put on certain things, as a way to raise the tension.  The friends decide to travel back in time to when the show is being produced and try and convince them to quit killing of minor characters in non-sensical ways, or better yet, quit making the show all together.  They kidnap Lt. Kerensky to ensure the success of the mission and land in the year 2012.  After a bit of wrangling they manage to get a meeting with the shows producer.  The weird thing is all of the crew have doppelganger actors who look just like them.  They finally convince the cast and crew of the show of what is happening and they agree to wrap up the show without any unnecessary deaths and then end it.  They also discover that the son of the producer (who played one of the extras on the show) is in a coma.  The friends decide to switch the actor for the crewman and in some sort of mumbo jumbo, heal the actor who has become the crew member in the future and allow the crew member turned actor to finish his life (I know it dose not make a whole lot of sense in he book either).  The friends return to their own time and hopefully become the masters of their own lives again.  Dahl is still troubled and talks to one of his friends who was the only one who did not seem to have a role to play in this story.  Dahl surmises that the story was never about the main bridge crew, but about him and his friends stopping the show.  There are a couple of what the author calls codas that are written from the viewpoint of the people in 2012 after learning about the crew members wrapping things up in a nice big red bow.

I found that I liked the first half of the book much better then the second half.  The minor crew members finding out that they were merely pawns in some badly written TV show and then the things they would do to try and circumvent it were both intriguing and hilarious.  I loved when the author showed the duel thought process in the characters that were about to die, and I liked how ludicrous some of the situations these poor people were placed into (ice sharks! I'm pretty sure the SyFy channel has made this movie :-) )  The rituals
and rules the crew came up with to try and survive this randomly present Narrative were well done and showed a desperateness to stay alive along with a dose of humor.  Once the crew got to 2012 things got a little less entertaining.  There were some great parts right when they arrived, meeting there alternate selves, trying to navigate "the past" and all that good stuff.  After they got to the bigwig meeting, everything just got weird.  They never tried to explain the connection between the TV show and how or why it affected supposedly real people from the future (which is fine, not everything needs to be explained.), but then they would throw random stuff in an almost afterthought manner into the mix.  The way they healed the producers son, and some of the coda stuff, just felt unnecessary and in a different vein than the rest of the book.  Overall I enjoyed it.  I was looking for something a little bit different, and something with some humor, and this book provided both of these things for the most part.  I would suggest this book for anybody who has watched any sort of SciFi show on a regular basis.  I give this book 7 out of 10 tricorders.
What shows did you watch with your family growing up?  Do you still get nostalgic chills when you here "Space the final frontier..."?  Are any of you even remotely shocked to find I am a Star Trek fanatic?

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

I Feel An Adventure Coming On

Oh man, the weather has finally turned nice, the bitter cold that kept me wrapped in blankets is gone!  Now I feel the need to go on an adventure...where do you think I should start?
Fictional Places Sign
There are so many options to choose from.  Should I start in English country side with a little Jane Austen?  Maybe I will take a little side trip to Oz and play hide and seek with the flying monkeys. Oh I could stop and have a spot of tea with the Mad Hatter in Wonderland. Or maybe I will just go out and discover something brand new, something I have never heard or seen or tasted or felt before!
Where will you go on your next adventure?  Why does seasons changing bring out the need for adventuring? Do you prefer your adventures in a book, or in real life?

Monday, April 8, 2013

Dewey Decimal

I love libraries. I love the endless possibilities that they offer to just about anybody.  I love that they have been around forever.  I love that you can have your own personal library right in your own home.  Here are some things that will let you keep a bit of your library with you at all times.
Fairy Tale Dewey Decimal ID pendant
398.2 is the ID number for fairy tales using the Dewey Decimal System
Personal Library Kit
Now you can turn your books into your own personal library, complete with old school date stamp
Shhh! Bag
Perfect bag for toting around a mini-library
Library Paradise Found Shirt
Here is a shirt to show the world where true happiness lies :-)
Use Your Library Poster
A vintage style poster to add some library art to your walls :-)

Hopefully this will inspire a trip to your local library, or maybe encourage you to make your own bookshelves into a home library, or maybe build a 33 story tower library in your backyard, each floor decorated by genre and/or theme filled with millions of books! :-)  Happy reading everybody.