Friday, August 30, 2013

Falling Into Deja Vu

Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver is a book I have been back and forth about reading for a while now. It falls into the teenage angst category and I usually can only take so much of that, but I had heard a lot of decent reviews on it by some reviewers I trust, and it had the added bonus of being a daily deal cheapo ebook, so on the list it went.  I wanted one last "summer" read before I got into my more broody fall books and in general books about teenage girls fall into my summer reading category so that is how reading it came about.  I am glad I did, it was definitely full of teen angst, and if you have seen the movie Groundhog Day you will have a basic idea of the hook, but I thought the over all book was a good look at how one see's themselves.  Ok here we go, quick convoluted synopsis, as always SPOILERS AHEAD! (Also big kid language and some not so child friendly situations)
Samantha is dead, yep no real mystery or suspense, our main character is dead (not a bad start to a teeny-bopper book right!).  The story is about how she died and what comes after.  After we learn Sam is dead she goes on to tell us how it happened.  I will break up this synopsis the way she does 'cause that will be the most effective.
Day 1-Sam gets ready for Cupid Day, a pre-Valentine ritual day at her highschool where students dressed as some form of Cupid hand out roses with notes attached to them to the students from other students.  It is kind of a popularity contest to see who gets the most roses.  She gets a ride from her loud, beautiful, brash friend Lindsay, who is the ring leader of this group of popular seniors.  Also in the group is Ally, a talented cook with body image issues and Elodie a sweet, fun loving girl.  They arrive at school and steal the last close parking spot, causing another girl to be late (details like this are important to the over all story).  They go to class and Sam cheats on a chem pop quiz, flirts with her math teacher and gets several roses from her friends, including one from her old friend Kent (whom she rarely speaks to anymore as he would put a dent in her popularity) and one from her hot and popular boyfriend.  She meets her friends for lunch and they
viciously tease a girl named Juliette, calling her Psycho and singing rude songs.  Sam's boyfriend Rob meets up with her and reminds her that they are going to have sex for the first time that night after a party at Kent's house.  The girls go to Ally's house and get ready for the party, hitting the vodka pretty hard before they even leave.  At the party Rob (already drunk) paws at Sam, again reminding her of there "special" night later.  Sam and her friends continue to drink until Juliette shows up at the party and calls each of the girls a bitch.  In retaliation the girls push Juliette around and dump their drinks all over her.  Eventually they are ready to go and Rob has had so much to drink he passes out.  Disgusted Sam decides to go home with her friends.  The all pile in the car and go driving into weather that has turned wet and slick.  Sam notices little things about each of her friends, and especially the state of Lindsay who is driving, which is to say she is not sober at all.  All of a sudden a white flash appears and the car goes off the road, slamming into a tree.  There is light, noise and pain and then the sensation of falling.
Day 2- Sam wakes Cupid day.  She is understandably confused and tries to figure out what happened.  She finally decides it is a cross of deja vu and a weird dream and continues with her day.  Since she made them late, they do not get there parking spot and have to park further away from the school making them late.  As the day goes on Sam realizes that she remembers everything that has happened,
except for a few minor changes.  The day pretty much progresses as before ending in the car crash.
Day 3- Sam wakes up again on Cupid day, realizing that she has to find a way to make things happen differently she convinces her friends to stay in that night and have a slumber party instead.  We get to know a bit more about there friendship, and it is actually pretty sweet to see four teenage girls this tight.  Later, after everybody is asleep and Sam if feeling pleased that she has not died in a car crash the phone rings.  It is somebody calling to tell them that Juliette (the girl they have been mercilessly teasing) has shot her self in the head.  Everybody reacts to the news differently.  Ally and Elodie feel guilty about all the teasing, but Lindsay brushes it off, stating it is not there fault, that Juliette made her own choice.  Later Sam goes through old year books and finds out that Juliette and Lindsay used to be best friend.  She goes to sleep and wakes up...
Day 4-Cupid day again, apparently not dying the night before did not change anything and she has to go through the day again.  Angry, tired, sad and frustrated she takes the day to do all kinds of crazy stuff.  Making out with her hot math teacher, cutting classes, pissing off her friends on purpose, feeling trapped by this never ending time loop. She ends up hanging out with people she normally does not hang out with, and learns a lot about how her and her friends actions are effecting others. She also finds herself caring what other people think, even knowing nobody will remember any of this when the day repeats itself. The day ends with Kent putting her to bed at his house and her realizing that she likes him way more then Rob (who is kind of a jerk).  She goes to sleep and wakes up to...
Day 5-This is the day she decides to do something different every day, since she is stuck in the endless cycle anyways.  She makes a list of everything it is possible to do in a day.  This day she decides to stay at home with her little sister Izzy.  We learn a lot of Sams history in this chapter, that she used to be unpopular until Lindsay decided to be friends with her.  She tries to impart as much as she can to Izzy and spends the evening with her parents.  She also runs into Juliette's younger sister and decides to try again to stop Juliette from killing herself.  She ends up at the party, talking with Juliette in the woods by the side of the road.  As hard as she tries she cannot stop Juliette from throwing herself in front of a car zooming down the road.  Turns out the car is Lindsay's and it causes the accident that was supposed to kill Sam, but kills Elodie instead as she was the one in the front seat.  Sam stays at Kent's house as he consoles her as best he can and she finally falls asleep.
Day 6-Sam wakes up and decides to try and fix everything, thinking maybe if she can save Juliette she can save herself and life will finally continue.  She sends Juliette a dozen roses for Cupids day, is nice to Kent, dumps Rob, scrubs off the mean sayings they wrote in the bathroom, just tries to fix everything in general.  She goes to the party and tries to talk to Juliette.  Again she ends up at the edge of the road, trying to convince Juliette that things are going to be better, but it is still in vain.  This time Juliette jumps in front of a semi truck.  Sam drives her friends home (at this point she has learned to stay sober) and takes Lindsey home last, finally learning about how she put the blame on a bed wetting at camp back in the fifth grade on Juliette, nicknaming her Mellow Yellow even though it was Lindsay who wet the bed.  This was the point where Lindsay became popular and Juliette became shunned.  Kent takes Sam home and they kiss.
Day 7-Sam finally realizes what she needs to do to move on.  She treats the day like any other, only making small adjustments from before.  Putting a single nice note on Juliette's rose, dumping Rob, not cheating on her chem test.  Little things, but important.  The biggest thing she does is arrange for other rides for the girls at the party, telling Lindsay that driving drunk will only get people killed.  The girls finally agree and get dropped off at the party.  Kent comes and picks up Sam to take her to the party and she apologizes for being a jerk and kisses him.  She catches up with Juliette, again trying to convince her to not kill her self, again she fails. This time though when Juliette jumps, Sam jumps after her and pushes her out of the way, getting killed herself.  In the epilogue Sam tells us that once you accept your death it isn't bad.

That synopsis does not really sum up what I liked about this book.  There was a great arc to Sam's understanding of her actions and her friends actions, and even the consequences of their inaction's leading up to the point of her death.  It is a pretty brutal look at the current state of teenagers (and humans in general) today.  There is a lot of drinking, smoking, sex, and all around destructive behavior, but unfortunately from some of the calls I have run, this is not an abnormal thing.  This book examines not just the teenagers, but other factors that influence there actions.  Parents and their lack of control or knowledge about there own kids, teachers who have there own questionable motives on occasion, peers, jobs, money, status all of these things go into how a person acts and reacts.  I think one of my favorite parts about this book was how at the start Sam really did not understand how her words and actions affected other people.  The hierarchy of popularity was one she accepted, calling it preparation for the real world of haves and have-nots. Even when she realized that there may be consequences, she still believed that it was not her problem and it was the others that should deal with it.  She comes to realize that popularity is pretty arbitrary and has very little to do with reality and more to do with luck and the willingness to let it be the status quo. She also realizes her earlier assumptions about people, including her own friends was usually completely wrong.  This leads to her trying to "fix" things through out her repeating day, but even this does not always work as she is still working on her own assumptions.  I have to say I love that even after understanding her friends flaws, and knowing that there way of doing things is wrong, at the end the four girls are truly friends, not letting anything, not boys, money, or issues come between them.  It is nice to see (as convoluted as it sometimes is) a story where friendship between females, a fierce loyalty we usually only see in military bro stories take center stage.  This book reminded me about everything I hated in high school (and I actually had it pretty good) and made me very glad that I am no longer dealing with that shit for lack of a better term.  This book was not perfect, it had its cringe-worthy moments and the angst was definitely present, but over all I would recommend this book.  I would especially recommend it to anybody who has to deal with teens, has a teen or pre-teen, or just wants something to think about.  I give it 7 out of 10 Cupid Roses.
How do you feel about books set in high school?  What "group label" did you get stuck with?  Did you ever sneak a book into your textbook like I did?

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Go Away I'm Reading

Also I just got a huge cup of coffee, so I will see you all tomorrow!  Happy Reading Everybody

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Dreaming Of Books

A wee bit on the tired side today, was at the station two nights in a row, but man do I love every second of it.
Dreaming of Books
I cannot find a source for this picture, if anybody knows who the artist is please let me know. Happy Reading Everybody!

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Renaissance Reading

Hit up the Maryland Renaissance Festival this weekend and had the best time ever! The turkey legs were greasy and yummy, the ale was cold and plentiful...and so were the corsets :-)  Hubbin even got me a pair of black feathered wings (there is a debate on if they are angel wings, or something else...) which I wore while running into absolutely everybody, so AWESOME!  I have always liked this era of history, with all the court intrigues and almost wars it's like Ye Olde Soap Opera.  Here are some other books set in this time period of sex, ale, and madrigals.
Six Wives: The Queens of Henry VIII
Six Wives
For you history buffs, this is a great book.  Using immense research skills, and a writing style even us fiction lovers can appreciate this biography is a great way to dive into Renaissance reading.
The Other Boleyn Girl
I am not usually a fan of straight historical fiction, but this book was a great read.  It was a bit on the girly side, and I learned more words for lady-bits then I thought possible, but it kept my interest all the way through.  Please skip the movie though, it was horrible in every way possible.
Mary, Bloody Mary (Young Royals Series)
The Young Royals Series
This series follows the lives of the young girls who would go on to play a pivitol role in the Tudor era of rule. These are historical fiction for YA, but I really enjoyed reading them even as an adult.  I especially liked that each girl/woman got her turn to voice her part in each book.
One of the things I liked so much about this fantasy book, is that it reminded me so strongly of the Renaissance era.  The political intrigues, the religion, the clothes, the various classes, all present in this alternate world.
Tree Shepherd's Daughter (The Faire Folk Trilogy #1)
The Tree Shepherd's Daughter
Of course no Renaissance post would be complete without mentioning my favorite Renn Fest series.  I love the variety of fair's our heroine is involved with, and the hiding in plain sight for elves and fairies always makes me look a bit closer at the folks at my Renn Fest.

Hopefully there is something on this list for everybody.  History, fiction, fantasy, adult, YA, all kinds of fun stuff.  Happy Reading Everybody!

Monday, August 26, 2013

Slogging Through The Scorch

Sometimes I just have to force myself to finish a book and that's all there is to it.  I had expected to get through The Scorch Trials (the second book in the Maze Runner Trilogy) fairly quickly, considering I read the first one in about a day.  I had mixed feelings about the first book, but wanted to finish up the trilogy, if nothing else to see what the heck it was all for.  I really tried to go into the second book with an open mind, but ugh, I had a really hard time with it.  To me it had all the problems of the first book with very little of it's good points.  Anyways here is a quick and probably jaded synopsis (I apologize to those of you who love these books, it is just my own personal take see this post for a fuller explanation).  As always SPOILERS AHEAD!!!!
This book starts off where the last one left off.  The boys awaken in there nice cozy beds ready for some well deserved R&R.  Of course this does not make for a good story so instead they are set upon by crazy, sick, oozy people called Cranks.  Apparently the disease called Flare takes up residence in your brain and eventually makes you cuckoo.  Luckily for our boys they are safe behind barred windows.  Shaken up, but determined to figure out what the heck is going on they go to find there rescuers from before.  As they wander into the kitchen, trying to find some answers, they come upon the horrifying sight of all there rescuers dead and hung from the ceiling...WTF!  They all gather and talk and discover that instead of Teresa in her
room it is a boy named Aris who informs the Gladers that he was the "Teresa" in another Maze situation that was completely identical except that it was full of girls instead of boys. The only other differences are that more girls made it out then boys (well duh! :-) ) and that his partner Rachel got killed in front of them, since they didn't have a Chuck to jump in front of her.  A man appears behind a force field and informs the Gladers that they have all been infected by the Flare and that they had exactly two weeks to make it 100 miles across the Scorch (an area that has been devastated by a mega sun flare ((this has a serious SyFy channel feel to it)) and is pretty brutal on its own) and make it to a safe haven where they will all be cured. So off they set and as you can probably guess all kinds of horrific, non-sensicle things happen to them (seriously a head eating ball is just one of the horrors they  deal with). Teresa also shows up randomly to add additional torture to poor Thomas (who is still our main character).  After many deaths and injuries they make it to this city type place that is over run by Cranks in various states of the disease.  They make a tentative alliance with a pair named Jorge and Brenda who have just been diagnosed and exiled.   The group gets separated, Jorge and the Gladers wander around and Brenda and Thomas get into a couple of scrapes.  Cranks are crazy and do crazy things.  Eventually they all meet up again to continue across the Scorch.  Teresa shows up again with Group B (the girls) and captures Thomas.  They are supposed to kill him, but he talks the girls out of it.  Teresa and Aris get together and kidnap Thomas and take him to this box thingy that is supposed to kill him.  It releases some gas that heals him and Teresa and Aris said it was all part of the plan that he felt betrayed...yeah.  Thomas is understandably unable to forgive Teresa, or even believe anything that anybody is saying at this point.  They all meet back up with the other groups at the supposed safe haven site.  About 30 minutes before the deadline, weird monstery humany things appear and start trying to kill the kids.  Most of them hang on long enough to get to the deadline.  A ship appears in the sky and collects the kids.  They tell them that they are safe now (we've heard that before) and that everything will be explained.  Thomas falls asleep to Teresa talking in his head, telling him that WICKED (the group behind all this crap) is good.  The book ends with a memo talking about removing the mind wipe and telling the kids which of them are immune to the Flare.
Whew done with that!  I have not been so happy to finish a book in a while...and I still have two more to go!  This book had all of my most hated pet peeves in a second book.  It felt fairly pointless and unnecessary.  The whole point of the book seemed to be to torture teenage kids...and that is about it.  We do not get a whole lot of information about the world, or WICKED that we did not get in the first book.  In fact the only thing that was really new was the fact we find out that it was Thomas, Teresa, and Aries choice to go into the
Maze.  We keep seeing the WICKED people talk about patterns, and creating patterns, and that all this pointless stuff will result in patterns...but not a single mention of what the heck it is.  I will give the author props for inventiveness when it comes to the myriad of tortures he puts his characters through.  Walks down pitch dark tunnels resulting in peoples heads being eaten by balls of metal, random boxes of fear, giant monsters men who can be taken down by popping orange bubbles.  All very terrifying.  The character development was not as complete as the last book, while the friendships between Newt, Minho, and Thomas stayed refreshingly intact and very bromance, the new characters were just kind of tossed in there to further the "plot" which is pretty sparse to begin with.  Overall not one of my favorite books, it was very frustrating to watch these kids get jerked around, tortured, hurt, killed, lied to and then tell them "it's for a reason, but we won't tell you the reason".  As a reader, I personally can only take so watching characters get relentlessly punished with out any payoff, it starts to feel icky and squirmy, like I only am reading it so I can watch them suffer.  Like I said earlier, I will finish off the series to see if there is any pay off, but I think the open mind part is starting to suffer.  Those of you who enjoyed these books, please let me know in the comments why, because I really want to know!

How does this book compare to other second books in YA dystopia series?    Have you ever made your self finish a series?  How does one come up with head eating metal sphere of doom?

Friday, August 23, 2013

Impromptu ReDesign

Hello Everybody!  In case you haven't noticed I decided to do a redesign of the blog last night.  Yep totally random, hey even though I have a thousand and one things to do at this exact moment I am going to do a total and completely unnecessary redesign of my own personal blog right NOW sort of thing.  I do that more often then my poor Hubbin probably likes, but what can I say, impulse control issues.  Impromptu upending of my life in big and small ways is not abnormal for me. Once I was having a bad year, yep not a bad day, week or month, a whole entire year of crappyness.  Anyways I had to move back in with my parents and as wonderful as they are it was not something I wanted to do.  I moved into half of a partially finished basement to help take care of my brother who was all broken to pieces (that's a fun story) and it was just miserable.
 So being the completely random person that I apparently am I went and bought purple paint, not just any purple paint, but a deep, rich, dark, awesome purple paint.  Luckily for me my Mamma is an incredibly amazing person and instead of freaking that her 20 something daughter was going to randomly paint her basement purple, got out a brush and helped :-) (she may have just been feeling guilty for passing on the "redecorate when life sucks gene" 'cause I totally got it from her).  Oddly enough transforming that basement corner from a room of gloom to a piece of rich purple heaven actually helped me a lot, it gave me a sense of control, and a space that was completely my own in all the chaos.  Having a space to curl up and read in the few minutes I had between jobs and school was my 15 minutes of therapy a day, and having that space be so utterly mine was the trick I needed to safely escape for a while.  Anyways, I use my need to change stuff around me as a way to control life when it gets crazy, or to make a token change when I feel things are getting to stagnant, or just 'cause I feel like it.  I hope you all enjoy the redesign and feel free to leave me any suggestions or stories on random chaos you have caused just for kicks and giggles.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Let's Go Buy Something

The title of this post refers to one of those priceless moments when my nephew lil G crawled in bed with his visiting Nana (my Mamma) at 3am and whispered oh so sweetly in her ear "Nana lets go buy something".  What can I say he's just living in a material world and he is a material dude.  In this vein I have found a random assortment of things I would love to "go buy".  Alas my bank account tells a different story, oh well looking never hurt anybody right...
I Love Reading 'I Found My Love In A Book' Necklace in Blue
I Found My Love In A Book Pendant
Sweet, simple and goes with all of my fall sweaters!
Shakespearean Insult Mug
Coffee, Shakespeare, Insulting my coworkers before 10am! Whats not to like about this mug?!?
It Was A Dark and Stormy Night Board Game
Oooh I want this soooo bad, and then I want to invite my Mamma and Sisters over to share a bottle of wine or three and play with me!
Bookworm Socks
Finally the missing piece to my Super Bookworm Girl disguise
In the Library Perfume
In the Library is a warm blend of English Novel*, Russian & Moroccan Leather Bindings, Worn Cloth and a hint of Wood Polish (this is the actual description of the cool is that!)

What random bookieness would you like to buy? Would it be wiser to just save all my money for actual books?  How does one obtain a literary sugar daddy/mamma? Who wants to come to my house, drink wine, and play Dark and Stormy Night?

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

The Book Lover Art

I saw this piece by Karen Alibone and just fell in love
The Book Lover
I just adore the circusy/fairy/impy/booky vibe this picture gives off.  I also love that there is some color to it as well.  Happy Reading Everybody!

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Circumnavigating Fairyland Again

Just got my copy of The Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland and Led the Revels There and it is beautiful. I am saving it for just the right crisp fall day...or maybe a dark and storm night...or maybe a chill overcast afternoon, regardless I just know it is not time to read it yet.  I decided to reread it's predecessor The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in A Ship of Her Own Making both to refresh my memory and because it is such an AWESOME book (yes the capitals are necessary).  Since this is a second rambling, I will try and hit on a different view than I did on the first one found here. As always SPOILER ALERTS

Thoughts on this second read.  Since I already knew the story, and was expecting all of the awesome words and amazing visuals (which were just as great the second time around)  I was able to read into the emotions of the book a bit more this time around.  What really struck me this time, is that while it is a whimsical, fun, visually appealing, logophiles dream it is actually quite a heavy hitting book on an emotional scale.  In the midst of all the revelry and sheer coolness of fairyland is  many sad and hopeless beings.  The story of the Marquess who used to be Mallow is just heartbreaking and really plays into the idea that childhood is a passing phase and those who cling to it in an unhealthy manner tend to act in irrational ways.  I read a short novella called The Girl Who Ruled Fairyland--For a Little While which gives us a quick glimpse into Mallows rise to power and that makes her story all that more wretched.  I love how the author uses our heroine September as a lens in which to filter normal human emotions and reactions.  The whole adventure starts because she is your typical kid, a little selfish, a little heartless, and with no real thought for the future.
 As the story progresses you see this little girl grow in empathy, sympathy and practicality. Everything from giving up her shadow to save a child's life, to the ability to get past preconceived notions and standards in the building and sailing of her ship.  To cut ones hair and go naked, not to mention realize that surviving is not a crime (evidence by her feelings in eating the fish) all to save her friends is a testament to this little girls bravery.  The interactions between the denizens of Fairyland show just how far reaching consequences actions can have, in some cases for people you may have never even met.  The Marquesses need to make Fairyland tame, and a nice place for children, to try and keep them from harm by becoming a dictator like bureaucrat is reminiscent of what it feels like adults do for children in our own world, the sometime overly cautious, overly bland life they so carefully maintain for the protection of children, when all they want to do is be free to explore and have adventures.

This book has become more than a story, more then pictures filling my head and a longing to go ride a leopard of the wind, it is a book of ideas.  What makes a person good or bad.  If you are trying to do good, but bad comes of it what does that make you?  What about doing something bad to precipitate a good outcome?  What if what you do hurts a few, but helps a lot.  Is a bland yet safe existence better than an exciting yet dangerous one?  What makes a grown-up, a child, or a wyvearary? All of this stuff and so much more and yet if ones wants or needs one can read this book as a simple, gem like fairytale, just immersing oneself in an amazing world.  I am really excited to read the next book, from some of the reviews I've read it sounds like September is in a teenage stage which should bring about a whole host of new ideas.  Thanks for listening to my "deep thoughts" rambling.  Happy Reading Everybody!

Monday, August 19, 2013

Getting On The List

As my bookshelf space gets more and more limited I like to think of my TBR list as a kind of VIP list that books are clamoring to get on. We know this is not true of course, that I am a shameless book hussy and will bring home any book with a great cover, but a girl can still pretend to have standards :-)  In all seriousness folks, it is always interesting (to me at least) to see how a book does get on my list.
Known Author/Series-as with most people, I am a creature of habit, if I recognize a name on a book I am a zillion more times likely to pick it up, or be on the look out for the that particular author.  The next book in a series is always a pretty safe bet, if I am not already rabidly waiting at the store for the next installment to come out. When I was younger this is how I got the vast majority of my books.  I stuck pretty close to series and authors I knew, only branching out when I ran out of books, or my Mamma made me (thanks Mamma!).  I will be the first to admit that these are the first shelves I go to when I hit the bookstore/library and only after I have exhausted this route do I move on to other ways of putting books on my list/in my basket. Some examples that have made it on my list (Anne McCaffery, Orson Scott Card, Robin Hobb, The Princess Series, Fablehaven, A Song of Ice and Fire)

Popularity- I used to have a thing against reading books just because they were popular (which is kinda crazy considering my penchant for certain classics, which if you think about it are probably the definition of popular books).  I was in a stage for the longest time where I only read books nobody else had heard of in some hoity toity lofty idea miasma of coolness (no seriously that is totally accurate).  The book(s) that finally broke that stupid wall down for me was of course the amazing Harry Potter series.  Of course not every popular book is a good book (I'm looking at you Twilight), but there are many many many books that are worthy of the buzz and popularity.  Since starting this blog, I will sometimes read them, just to say I have and can continue my streak of snooty superiority, snug in the knowledge that I have actually read the book.  That being said, here are some books/series that made me glad I jumped aboard the bandwagon. (The Hunger Games, The Book Thief, Anything by Jane Austen)

Movies/TV-As much as I hate to admit it movies and TV shows made from books do play a role in my book choosing.  A lot of the time I have already read the book before the movie/show is even dreamed of, but in some cases the movie actually introduces me to the book. Sometimes I hear of the movie/show, go get and read the book and even eventually watch the movie/show (my Hubbin hates it when I do this).  Sometimes I watch a movie/show and find out that it is actually a book, or it gets me interested in a book that never really held that much attraction before.  Either way several of my book choices have been directly influenced by the movie.  Here are some of my favorite books that have been bought and loved via movie/TV inspiration. (Sherlock Holmes, Stardust, The Walking Dead, Percy Jackson Series)

Recommendations/Reviews- I have found some of the worst books this way, but I have also found some of my most treasured stories through personal recommendations and reviews.  I think this is a tricky category because as I have mentioned before I feel books are like art, what person genuinely and legitimately loves, will appear to another person to be no more then splotches on a piece of canvas.  It is also really hard to get a recommendation from somebody and then hate the book and then have to find a way to not hurt the recommenders feelings.  I found the best way is to find people who share similar tastes in life with you.  My baby sis can recommend a book and 9/10 times I LOVE it.  Same with review sites, I love reviews, but find that people (as they should) always come at it with there own idea and do I.  I have however found a couple of sites that seem to sync up with my tastes and I have a 8/10 record with most of them, so that works out pretty well in my favor. Here are some awesome books I would have missed without these great recommendations. (And All the Stars, Any Tamora Pierce book, Ella Enchanted)

Covers-I know your'e not supposed to judge a book by its cover, but sometimes I can't help it.  Normally this actually works for a book.  In general if I am already gonna get a book, the cover doesn't really deter me (though I will pay a bit more for a nice cover).  Sometimes however, I am in the mood for a bit of a gamble and I will walk the stacks and let a picture, color or title catch my eye.  Oddly enough this has resulted in some AMAZING finds.  Not really much else to say about this method, so here are some books that I urge you to judge by there covers.  (Wildwood Dancing, Zombies vs. Unicorns, How to Ditch Your Fairy)
There you have it folks, 5 ways to get onto my VIP TBR red carpet list :-)  As you can probably tell there is a reason my bookshelf is full to bursting, with more books on the list, just waiting to be bought, read and shelved.  The best part is with these sources my list is essentially never ending...I should probably go get some more shelves :-)

How do you decide which books go on your TBR pile/list?  What is the oddest way you have discovered a favorite book?  What recommendations do you have for me?

Friday, August 16, 2013

Netflix For Books

Tired today so just a quick nod to my friend the library this morning
Public libraries and Pinterest
Hope you enjoy, have a great weekend and Happy Reading Everybody!

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Games Old And New

Just finished Future Games, a short story collection edited by Paula Guran.  I picked this one up because it had a cool premise of games of the future, and I was hankering for some good SciF, also I recognized a lot of my favorite authors names on the front cover.  I'm not sure what I was expecting, but I wanted games, or altered games, or space games. While I did get a few of these, the vast majority of the stories were about traditional games, played in a fairly traditional manner with a couple minor tweaks, mostly the fact that they were played against aliens as a first contact.
Baseball was the dominating sport in this story with three of the stories being directly about baseball and another one it playing a decent roll.  There was also football and hockey played pretty straight across the board as well.  As I am not a baseball fan, and except for in Distance by Maya Kaathryn Bohnhoff, the story was about the actual game, it got a little boring for me.  I guess with a title like Future Games I was expecting something a little more futuristic.  That is not to say there were not some great stories in here.

Will the Chill by John Shirley-The first story in this book was just like I expected.  A super athlete who hurls uninhabited planets against another competitor doing the same thing.  This definitely futuristic sport was cool enough to be a story in it's own right, but going inside this superstars head and learning about the results of his obsession with winning just put into the awesome category.

Man-Mountain Gentian by Howard Waldrop and Listen by Joel Richards-Both of these stories did a great job in taking something traditional (sumo and martial arts respectively)  and totally placing them in a different environment, one where the brain and mind were what won the matches for you vs the traditional brute strength.

Kip, Running by Genevieve Williams-This story was one of the few that really showed you a potential future Earth.  The story was fun, pacing was great and the fact that it was set in future Seattle didn't hurt at all.  I also liked the amount of character development the author managed to get into such a short amount of pages.

Name That Planet by Elizabeth Ann Scarborough-This one just cracked my up. An intergalactic game show complete with gooey aliens, a shiny toothed host and an intergalactic conspiracy.  I loved how familiar and alien this story felt all at the same time.  This is most definitely a future game :-)

Ladies and Gentleman This is Your Crisis by Kate Wilhelm and The Survivor by Walter F. Moudy-Both of these stories feature The Hunger Games like settings, long before that book existed.  In both of these stories the prominence of television, the callousness of the audience, and the government sanctioned murder/death all serve as chilling harbingers of a world not as far off as we would like.
Overall I found about every other story in this collection pretty great, which to me makes it totally worth it, but I have been known to buy collections for just one fantastic story.  I think that this book also shows that even if you are labeled (by yourself or others) as a SciFi Geek, Nerd, Dork or whatever that your interests can be wide and varied, that even that bespectacled Star Trek collector can be just as much of a beer swilling baseball fan as the next person. Overall I would recommend this book to SciFi fans, sports fans, or just people who like a glimpse of aliens playing baseball.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Dragons Everywhere

In case you haven't noticed from my recent posts, I am pretty into dragons.  I love how they can be portrayed in so many different ways, feral and animalistic, old and wise, beautiful and clever, magical and mysterious.  Some morph into other shapes, some ally with humans, some are fierce warriors and others are civilized professors, and of course there are always the comical, cute and cuddly dragons.  Here are some of my favorite books/series about dragons. Obviously there are many many many more that I love that either feature dragons, or have dragons in them, but these are the ones that the dragons tend to be the main focus.
Dragonriders of Pern: Dragonflight, Dragonquest, The White Dragon
The Dragonriders of Pern
This is my ultimate, favorite, totally in love with series about dragons by my ultimate favorite totally in love with author Anne McCaffery.  This series spans a ton of books, and combines genre's in a way I have never seen before.  The intense bond between the animal and rider, the politics, the world building, the history, the characters, the story, just so much to read in these amazing books.  In fact I think I'm gonna go reread one now.
Inheritance Cycle 4-Book Trade Paperback Boxed Set (Eragon, Eldest, Brisingr, Inheritance)
The Inheritance Cycle
This series is about as EPIC as they come.  I have to say I really love the story arc of the main character Eragon and his dragon Saphira.  There is everything you could want out of an epic fantasy story, dragons, knights, evil, love, elves, dwarves, magic, sword fighting, epic battles, epic journey's, epic everything!  A must read for fans of  J.R.R. Tolkien
Ship of Magic (Liveship Traders Series #1)
Liveship Traders Series
This series combines my love of the open ocean and dragons and good writing all into one neat little trilogy.  Dragons in this series are dealt with in a completely new way, which the author took her time to reveal.  This made an an amazing series even better, because you not only got a solid story and great characters, but a bit of a puzzle to keep you turning each and every page.
The Enchanted Forest Chronicles: Dealing with Dragons/ Searching for Dragons/ Calling on Dragons/ Talking to Dragons
The Enchanted Forest Chronicles
Hahaha I love these books, they turn every conception of the Princess/Dragon/Knight in Shiny armor trope upside down and inside out. This thoroughly entertaining series is perfect for all readers young and old.  I find it especially great to show the younger generation that you can be a kick-ass girl and still know and even enjoy the domestic arts.  I also love how the main dragons are girls and that they have the title of KING!
A Tale of Two Castles
A Tale of Two Castles
This book from Gail Carson Levine made me remember why I loved her so much in the first place.  This fun little novel stars Elodie a wanna-be actress and a dragon detective who takes her in when she needs help.  This take on a fussy yet smart dragon is both humorous and touching, especially the friendship that grows between the dragon and the girl.  If you liked this authors other books, especially her earlier ones, you will find much to enjoy in this one as well.
Besides the fact that this is supposed to be a series/trilogy/duology or something like that, it is a pretty good book.  Again with a different take on dragons making this book very interesting (I know my grammer is atrocious today).  I liked the politics, religion, and history of this book, so much so that I wanted to know even more about this little world.  The mind garden aspect of our main character was probably worth reading about on its own.  What is a mind garden you ask, and what does it have to do with dragons?  Well go read the book and find out.
Tooth and Claw
Tooth and Claw
I just finished this one, and it reminded me of just how much you can do with a dragon.  I loved this one because it was very Austenesque with it's high society, class structure, strict morals, but it still retained a sense of non-humanness to it that I loved.  The dragons while civilized still devoured each other as part of society, death is normal, and having there scales sponged of blood is just a part of an upper class meal.  The contrast between a form of gentility and the fact that these are still dragons was just wonderful to read.

What is your favorite Dragon book/story/series?  How do you prefer your dragons to behave?  How badly do you want a dragon of your very own?  What would you feed a dragon now days?

Monday, August 12, 2013

Dragons And Austen

I AM THE CHAMPION MY FRIEEEEND!  Sorry a tad bit loopy this morning ('cause that is something new). Had an incredibly busy weekend, but a very very productive one.  A lot of things were accomplished including finishing up a couple of books on my list.  One of the books was Tooth and Claw by Jo Walton.  A couple of my favorite review sites had done a piece on this book, touting it as a mix of Jane Austen and Dragons.  These being two of my favorite things how could I refuse?  As always spoilers ahead!
This book skips around between characters which works well for the book, but bad for reviews so most of my rambling summation will be less in book order and more in character order.  We start with the death of Bon Agornin, a merchant class dragon who has raised himself to the class of gentility.  His son the Blessed Penn (who is a parson) is there to help his father in his final moments.  Bon Agornin makes it very clear that all of his gold and his body are to be given to the younger three of his five children as the older two have already been established in good society.  Both the gold to increase wealth for his son Avan and dowries for his younger daughters Selendra and Haner, and the consuming of the body to increase the size and
strength of the young dragons.  You see this part of the world is populated by civil dragons, who come complete with there own rank structure, rules, and religion.  One of the tenets of this world is that when a dragon dies, or is determined to be weak they are to be consumed by other stronger dragons who then grow bigger.  Dragon meat is the only way for a dragon to grow and it is considered the most precious of stuff.  Bon Agornin dies and the family gathers to partake of his body.  Penn takes the eyes as is the parsons due, but defers to his fathers wishes and eats none of the body.  In defiance of his father-in-laws wishes the Illustrious Daverek not only devours a large portion, but insists that his wife (Berand, the oldest of Bon Agornin's children) and there dragonnetts eat as well.  This leaves a pitiful portion to be shared by the three youngest.  Angered over this Avan decides to sue his brother-in-law, heading back to the city with his share of gold to begin proceedings.  Haner is sent to live with her oldest sister and her family, who will also take over Bon Agornin's estate.  Selendra is to go home with her brother Penn and live with his wife and dragonettes.  Before they can all take leave Selendra is propositioned by another parson the Blessed Frelt who wants to marry her, even though she refuses, he keeps pushing up against her.  This causes the maiden dragon to turn from a maidenly gold to a bridal blush.  In this society when a maiden blushes she is no longer a maiden, but essentially spoken for.  Once a maiden is married she continues to darken, eventually turning to red as she lays her clutches.  An unmarried pink dragon is quit scandalous.  Penn is worried about his sisters coloring, telling her if it does not go away quickly she will have to marry Frelt.  Amer an old servant who helped raise the family gives Selendra a potion to drink, warning her that while it will turn her back to maiden gold, it may inhibit her ability to turn pink when she is actually ready to marry.  Selendra agrees to this and returns to gold. Everybody then leaves the estate to go to there new respective homes.  This is where I will start following individual characters for the most part.  Avan the younger son returns to the city where he gets the ball rolling on his case against Daverek.  He also returns to his companion, the lipstick pink Sebeth.  Sebeth is a very pink dragon who is not married and yet shares Avan's bed on a regular basis.  What little history we get is a bit on the tragic side.  She is also a proponent of the Old Religion which while not illegal has been pushed underground.  Avin is in love with Sebeth, but feels he does not have the money or status to negate her fallen nature.  As the suit progresses Daverek uses his money and influence and just all around bullishness to scare everybody away from helping Avan with his case.  In the end Sebeth goes home to her dying father, is made heiress of one of the grandest estates in the
area and marries Avan.  Moving on to Haner and her plight.  Haner is sent to live with her oldest sister Berend who is married to the Illustrious Daverek.  She has turned into a bit of a snob and while she loves her sister,is more concerned with keeping her temperamental husband happy. She is working on her second clutch of eggs, which is a dangerous prospect for a female dragon, many of them dying in the laying of there clutches.  Berend is working on her second clutch very close to the first one, which is risky, but what Daverek wants.  To achieve this Berend has eaten one of her first clutched children, the weakling Lamerak.  While this seems really harsh, this is the way of dragons.  On this note Daverek takes Haner, and Berend on a tour of his estate, stopping at a home which has just had a recent clutch.  As the lord of the estate Daverek is entitled to devour any dragonette, or dragon for that matter that he considers weak or excessive.  He cruelly takes one of the farmers dragonettes and eats it, sharing with his wife and sister-in-law.  Haner is horrified at the wanton cruelty of her sisters husband and starts to rethink the way of things.  She becomes engaged to a young dragon who shares her ideals of better treatment for servants, and less eating of other dragons.  Berend while attempting to lay her third egg dies and leaves her dragonettes and sister in the uncaring custody of her husband.  They are all summoned to the city to give testimony in the case against Daverek and Haner ends up locked in her room.  On to Selendra, who is my favorite part of the story.  Selendra goes to live with her brother Penn and his wife Felin and there two dragonettes Wantos and Gerin.  They live in the estate of Exalted Benandi and his mother, who is essentially the ruling matron.  The Exalted Benandi or Sher is a young dragon who does his best to stay out of his mothers way.  He is a good friend to both Penn and Felin and falls hopelessly in love
with Selendra.  Selendra returns his affections, but finds herself stubbornly staying a maidenly gold.  Terrified that she will not be able to blush, therefore not be able to give Sher children, she first refuses him, and then when his mother sets herself against the match, puts forth impossible tasks for him to accomplish before she says yes.  They are all summoned to the city to give testimony for the case.  Sher accompanies them to try and woo Selendra and also to convince Daverek to not make Penn testify since it would compromise his position in the church.  While at Davereks house Sher and Penn request to see Haner.  Daverek insists that she is sick, but when they go to find her, they see that she has been locked in her room and starved. They rescue Haner and bring her back to the rest of the family at Sher's house.  At the trial Sher is so angered by Daverek that he legally challenges and kills him, graciously offering his body to the family.  Inspired by his bravery Selendra goes to lick his wounds and immediately blushes a beautiful bridal pink.  The estate and money all go to the four remaining siblings and everybody gets married and lives rich and happy.
Overall I enjoyed this book, it did have a Austenesque feel to it which was pretty cool, and the dragon society was very well built.  It was kind of weird because I did not find myself waiting to get back to it, but when I was reading it I enjoyed it thoroughly. It is hard to put this book into any one genre, it has dragons so you could call it fantasy, except for if you replaced the dragons with humans it would definitely be historical fiction.  You can definitely see the different Austen books that are referenced, Sense and Sensibility, Pride and Prejudice and Persuasion being the most recognizable.  I think what I liked best about this book, was the obvious differences from the aforementioned books.  I think that the author established very well that this was a world of dragons, not people.  Things like death, eating each other, living in caves, binding wings as a sign of servitude among other things all helped to remind the reader that while genteel and civilized we are dealing with a society much different then our own.  The contrast of a dragon being fanatical about hierarchy
and propriety, then turning around and devouring her youngest child was very cool, and warranted.  I also liked the idea of the blushing female dragon, her place in society dictated by her color and marital status.  In a lot of books, the status of ones maidenhood is mostly speculation and hearsay with little or no proof, yet it tends to be the ruin of many a young maiden.  In this book the visual is so striking these poor girls don't stand a chance.  The fact that Selendra changed after just one uncomfortable crowding of an unwanted suitor shows you just how perilous there situation is. I enjoyed how all the different aspects of society were explored, from the humble servants, the hard working tenets, the scraping city workers, and the landed lords and ladies.  I even liked the bits of history that came through. My biggest issue was probably the ending (big surprise right).  It was rather abrupt and I wanted more of an epilogue for each of the siblings and some of the solutions to the big problems were a bit pat.  Overall I would recommend this book to people who like Jane Austen, and/or alternate fantasy. I give it 7 out of 10 dragon claws.

Friday, August 9, 2013


Sorry for the lack of posting yesterday, I spent most of it trying not to move the upper half of my body.  I somehow managed to tweak one of long muscles in my neck/shoulder and every move was excruciating yesterday, good news is I feel much better now.  As a treat my Hubbin found me the most amazing game using his new Leap Motion gizmo on his computer called Gorogoa. Now why you may ask am I talking about computer games on a book blog?  Well the answer is very simple...'cause I want to and it's my blog :-)  Oh and also this game plays just like a book.
It is one of the most beautiful things I have seen in a while.  The way you have to think about the game, and it's space made me feel like I was traveling through a book. Essentially your little character sees some weird and wonderful creature invade his home town and goes on this weird yet wonderful journey (involving books of course) to get all the pieces to a potion.  The game takes a while to figure out, but once you do it is pretty mind blowing.  If this was a picture book I would totally get it for my nephews, very awesome.

Have you ever played a game and thought, wow this would make a great book?  What about movies?  Am I just a tad to obsessed with turning everything into a book?

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Water Song

Hello all, picked up an extra shift at the station last night so if this rambling is a bit more rambely then usual, that may be why...or I'm just in an extra rambley mood (spell check hates me right now).  Today's rambely ramble is on Water Song by Suzanne Weyn and is a retelling of The Frog Prince.  This book is part of the "Once Upon A Time" series (not the TV show) that has various authors "re-tell" classic fairy tales in a short book form.  This has kind of been a hit or miss series for me, some of the books are amazing, some are ok and some flat out don't make any sense.  For me this was one of the ok ones, as always SPOILERS AHEAD.
Emma is a wealthy British girl who has found herself trapped at her families estate in Belgium as World War I, or The Great War as it was called then rages on around her.  Her mother has died in a bombing, leaving Emma and two Flemish speaking servants stuck until her father can get to her. While trapped, Emma receives a letter from her beau back in England essentially breaking up with her. In a fit of rage Emma throws her gold locket with his picture in it down the well. Meanwhile a young American Jack Verde who has joined the British Army has been caught in a chlorine gas attack and has stumbled into the well on Emma's property as a way to rinse of the burning gas.  Emma regrets her impulsive decision to throw her locket away as it is not only a family heirloom, but it contains the pictures of her parents.  She decides to go down the well to look for her locket and discovers Jack, barely able to cling to the ladder in the well.  While they are down there German soldiers come and pull them out, using some quick thinking, Emma tells the soldiers that Jack is her American husband and that they both live at the manor (this is before the Americans joined the war).
 The Germans take over the manor, using it as a base of operations and lock Jack and Emma in her parents bedroom.  Emma and Claudine help nurse Jack back to health, along with the help of Jack's spirit dreams in which he sees his deceased mother who had a gift for healing and spells.  When Jack wakes up he and Emma engage in a constant stupid poor boy vs spoiled rich girl spat (which quickly gets annoying). As Jack reveals his history, a life in the Louisiana bayou, mother dying young, time in a home for boys, and his decision to join the British army, he tells Emma that he can hold his breath for a very long time. A couple pages later Jack is demanding a kiss and the promise of true friendship in return for getting her locket out of the well. Insulted that he would ask her for a kiss she decides to go find the locket herself.  Her foot gets stuck in a crevice while she is under water and she is saved by a mysterious giant frog man. Jack reveals that he is in possession of the locket and gives it to her, he then reminds her of the pact, telling her she has to be his true friend and that she owes him a kiss, which she refuses to give.   Meanwhile the German soldiers tell Emma that if she wants to keep herself and Jack alive, she will need to spy on the villagers when she goes into town for food.  Emma feeds information that she knows is common knowledge to the soldiers, keeping her from turning traitor.  She makes an attempt to escape, but her promise makes her come back to try and help Jack.  At this point some Allied soldiers are captured, including Kid, a young soldier who fought with Jack.  Kid is wounded by a bullet and Jack goes back into his spirit dreaming to learn how to heal him.  Jack is successful.  At this point Jack and
Emma have fallen hopelessly in love with each other, but neither is willing to admit it.  Kid is taken away for questioning by the Germans and Jack finds a way to keep him alive even after he is shot again.  Later Emma helps him escape to a sympathetic farmhouse and he tells her about the giant frog man that saved him. Emma and Jack use a secret passage they find to eavesdrop on the Germans and decide to escape.  Jack thinks it is to dangerous for Emma and puts her to sleep with a potion.  She wakes up and goes after him, only to fall into a swamp.  Jack dives down and rescues her she kisses him and tells him she loves him, and then they are promptly chased by the Germans.  They run and Emma is shot in the arm and her head is grazed.  Jack makes a raft and they are rescued by the Allied force.  Emma joins the U.S. Army Signal Corps and finally joins Jack when the war is over.
I liked the idea of this book much more then I liked the book itself.  The historic context was pretty cool, and I have been into the WWI era, especially in Europe lately so this was right up my ally.  The writing itself however was pretty simplistic and rote.  I am not sure if it is because the book was so short, or this is just how the author writes, but the characters were severely underdeveloped.  Jack was probably the most talked about character, but his story had a weird mix of too much going on with not enough explanation.  Was he the son of a voodoo queen, an orphan, a champion swimmer, a man of mixed heritage, all this random super special stuff that just got shoved into random places.  Emma never got beyond the rich girl with rebellion issues, her "spirit and fire" came off as petulant and defensive until she fell hopelessly in love with a guy she knew nothing about after three days.  The rest of the characters in the book each had one tidbit that was supposed to set them apart, but no follow through.  There were some cool bits about what was going on during that time period, and it was nice not to have the Americans be the hero's for once.  Mostly I wanted less googly eyed reasons that they were so in love with the perfectness of each other for half the book and more of the story, which if had been more developed I think could have been awesome. The story also was a weird mix of repetitive (get caught, make up a story, fight/bicker, fall in love, sneak out, lather, rinse, repeat) seriously the sequence happened at least three times before the end of the book. The author did get pretty much all of the major plot points of the original story in (the golden ball down the well, the petulant princess, the frog "prince", sharing the bed with the frog), but even some of those felt like a stretch on occasion.  Overall I think more story and less lovey dovey would have made this a better book.  I give it 5 out of 10 golden balls.
What is your favorite retelling?  Do you like it when they use a historical setting to re-tell a fairy tale or do you prefer a magical one?  Do I expect way to much out of short young adult novels?