Wednesday, November 27, 2013


Happy Almost Thanksgiving to all of my American readers.  I will be at the station, bossing my ambulance for the next couple of days so this is the last post until Monday.  Here in America we are celebrating food this week, I know, I know it's supposed to be about being thankful, and it is and I am and also there is a ton of really good food :-)  I have also noticed that food plays a big role in many books.  It is a way to establish time, place and status.  Exotic made up foods let you know you are somewhere unknown, when bread crusts are mentioned you know you are probably on the lower side of the class level.  Feasts, markets, snacks all help to add dimension to a story.  Here are some of my favorite food mentions in books.
Little House Series- This is probably one of my first full on book/food experiences. Food plays a huge role throughout the series and shows just how hard one had to work just to have food to put on the table.  I loved all of the descriptions on how food was grown, butchered, processed, prepared and consumed.  I must have driven my family crazy trying to mimic it all.  Some of the foods I wanted to try after reading this series- Vanity Puffs, cracklings, fresh churned butter, apple pie for breakfast, fresh maple syrup candy.
Harry Potter Series- These books are a great example of using food to help define a different world and different classes.  In the beginning just the ability to eat as much food as one wanted for each meal was one of Harry's biggest delights after arriving at Hogwarts.  The addition of variety and the novelty of wizard only foods just added to the atmosphere.  Of course after learning about the house-elves the immensity of these meals took on another meaning entirely.  One of my favorite scenes is still the first time we are introduced to Honeydukes and all of the delicious variety of magical candies seen within.  Some things that sound like fun to try- Berties Every-flavor Beans, butterbeer, chocolate frogs, Fizzing Whizbees, Ice Mice, Pepper Imps.
Chronicles of Narnia-My first introduction to books, also my first introduction to the importance of food.  From the turkish delight that tempts Edmund, to the mysterious feast on the outmost island at the end of the world, food in this world can have some serious consequences.  Food is also used to show community as when the Beavers feed the children a simple yet hearty and warming meal.  Food is used to mark the different cultures, people, and places within the realm that Narnia dwells.  To this day I still want to go to a giants kitchen and swim in a big cup of coffee!  Some food from my favorite realm that sound worth a try- Sticky marmalade roll, turkish delight, toffee candy plant fruit, buttered toast, frothy hot chocolate.
The Girl Who series- I have not finished this series yet (it's not even completely written yet) but the food in these stories is just so imaginative and descriptive that I have to include what I have read about already.  This is fairy food and by eating it our hero September must come back to Fairyland every year.  Again food is used to highlight the various regions and peoples that September meets along her journey and they are as varied and creative as one can get.  These stories also play on the Greek stories of Persephone and how eating the pomegranate seed compels her to return to the Underworld for a set amount of time each year. Some foods that I would gladly get stuck in Fairyland for- Pumpkin soup, The Elephants Fiery Heart Coffee.
So many many many many more that if I start naming them I will never stop!
The Candymakers- Ok so this one may have less to do with food as a whole and be more about candy, but in my family we eat dessert first so that makes it food!  The candy plays a pivitol role in this book as a way to teach, comfort, enjoy, amaze...well pretty much everything.  I think the main thing about the candy in this book is the way that each character goes about making his or her candy.  Some are methodical, some go for looks, some for taste, some just throw stuff pel-mel and hope for the best.  Each style, flavor, and design represents so much about each character in the book that you end up learning more from the candy then you do anything else.  Some tasty treats that I would like to try- Bubbletastic ChocoRocket, Pepsicle, Neon Yellow Lightining Chew, Oozing Crunchorama.
Ok so those are just a few books where food plays a role in defining the book, I know there are zillions of others, but these are the ones that made it on this year.  Next year we will add some more. On that note as much as I love the food aspect of Thanksgiving, I am also very thankful for so many things this year.  My whole family on both sides have been making progress in work, health, family and general awesomeness, Hubbin has been doing great in school, I have been having an awesome time at the station, and my bookshelves are full.  Most of all I am thankful for the sheer amount of loving family I have.  I have my friends who may as well be family, my station brothers and sisters, my inlaws and outlaws, my blood family and my adopted family and most of all my amazing Hubbin who loves me, spoils me, encourages me and makes me feel like the smartest, sexiest, most amazing person on the planet on a daily basis.  Happy Thanksgiving Everybody!

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Floating Jellyfish And Flying Machines

So among other random things, I have realized that most of the books I am reading are sequels.  On top of that I realized I haven't done ramblings on any of the original books, so to remedy that for at least one book here is the complete and utter long winded rambling of Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld.  I was not sure what I was getting into with this book.  I love this authors world building skills and have yet to be disappointed by any of works so that was a point in his favor.   On the other hand as much as I like steampunk (and I really love steampunk) I have had a hard time getting into to it in book form.  Part of it is that steampunk to me is so very visual, it is a bit hard to convey it without sounding like a parts or fashion catalogs...but more on that in a different post.  Needless to say I was wondering where on my love it or leave it scale this book would fall into.  Shall we find out? As always SPOILERS AHEAD.
This book is an alternate history, set in a World War I type of era.  We see that there are three main groups occupying Europe at the moment.  The Darwinist who have learned to manipulate genetics and turn various living creatures into vehicles and tools.  The Clankers who have captured the power of steam and can create just about anything from metal and gears.  The Neutrals who essentially are people and places who have not been converted/captured to one side or the other yet.  We start by meeting teenage Prince Aleksander (known as Alek) the son of Archduke Ferdinand making a daring escape with a few trusted advisers  in a walker, which is a huge metal man type of machine that doubles as a tank.  We learn that his parents have been murdered and he is next on the list.  We then meet a young Scottish woman named Deryn who's dream it is to fly.  She takes on the name of Dylan and with her brothers help joins the British Air Service.  We
switch back and forth between these two learning about each one and the world they live in.  Alek learns how to pilot and repair his walker and other machines, all while trying to find a place to hide.  Deryn ends up on a huge living ship called Leviathan which incorporates whale DNA among other things to create a huge living airship. While on board Deryn meets Dr. Barlow a woman who has been instrumental in the DNA creation of various ships and tools.  She is now transporting mysterious eggs, which must be protected at all costs. The airship is attacked by German clanker airplanes and the while they were defeated the airship suffered much damage.  The ship crash lands in the hiding place of Alek and his band.  Alek and Deryn convince everybody to work together to use parts from the walker to help fix the airship.  In the process both Deryn and Dr. Barlow learn the truth of Alek's identity and in return show him the eggs.  The ship is repaired just in time to escape the German Herkules (a giant clanker machine) and head towards Constantinople.  This ends the first book in the series.
As you can probably tell by my brief (for me) synopsis the plot was pretty straight forward.  The author sticks pretty closely to the events that led up to the real Great War (which is what WWI was called originally).  The plot is fine, nothing mind blowing but solid and moves forward at a good pace. The characters are also solid. I especially like the character of Dr. Barlow as she maintains the perfect balance of femininity, class and brains.  The real appeal to me in this book is the world building.  This in general is what I read Scott Westerfeld for, his stories are always good, usually with some social commentary, characters are solid with enough variety to keep from getting to bored, but to me his strength lies in the way he creates his worlds.  In the Uglies series I kept going back over and over into this world he created, wanting to keep exploring it.  He again gave me that feeling of a complete world, with its own culture, rules and flair.  Iespecially was entranced with the Darwinist Beasties.  I still have dreams of riding in a Huxley which is essentially a floating jellyfish that has been modified into a single person hot air balloon.  I thought this was a great twist on the steampunk idea.  Not only to have the Clankers steam powered machines (which were all pretty cool and epic) but to add a bit of a twist with the animalistic nature of the beasties.  The author created a world where the reader can live in long after they have finished the book.  The plot of the book feels like one of any number of stories that can be told in this world, and I like it.  Don't be fooled by the size of the book.  The font and margins actually make it bigger then it reads and it is chock full of the coolest illustrations by Keith Thompson.   I could totally see this book being made into a Miyazaki animated film.  I would totally recommend this for any steampunk fan, Scott Westerfeld fan, or fans of a really well built world who like a little adventure.  I give it 7 out of 10 floating jellyfish
What type are you a metal Clanker or a a animal Darwinist?  Do your prefer to soar in the clouds, or speed over land?  Is it weird that I regularly have dreams about floating jellyfish?

Monday, November 25, 2013

The Biggest Library In The Universe

So if anybody missed it I am a super geek.  I am also a very behind the times super geek, there is all this fantastic geekiness in books, movies and television and I have to admit I am about 3 years behind the curve.  To start to remedy this situation I have been binging on various geektastic series, shows, and movies.  On Sunday I had a few free hours and instead of doing laundry, cleaning the house, paying bills or showering I decided to get a marathon Dr. Who session in.
To all of you who got to watch the 50th anniversary this week..pbltttt, I will get there when I get there.  I have a confession to make about this show, as much as I absolutely love it, I can never watch more then a couple episodes in a row because folks I am telling you it is brutal.  There is an emotional raking over the coals that happens in even the most light hearted of episodes.  I broke that rule yesterday and have been trying to keep my heart wrenching sobs to myself.  What does any of this have to do with a book blog you may ask.  Well for one thing all of my books are taking to long so I am running out of material to write about ;-) Two the episodes  called Silence in the Library and Forest of the Dead was all about the books (Spoilers ahead).  Seriously it was literally the biggest library in the universe.  A planet built around a computer core, filled with a print and digital version of every book in existence, and being added to all of the time!  The
visuals were stunning, the whole of the two episodes set in rooms full of books, buildings full of books, gardens full of books...made me want to start construction on my 33 story library tower of awesomeness.  The worst part of the whole thing is that eventually it has to be abandoned because of stupid flesh eating swarming alien dust thingies so nobody can ever visit this amazing wonder again (sob).  The computer at the core of this massive library houses the mind of a girl who was dying of an incurable disease and her father built here this library for her mind to live in for all cool is that!  Anyways that is how my love of books and my love of the good Dr. dovetailed neatly into one beautiful, traumatic, amazing, brutal two episodes.
What do you think of using books in TV shows?  How great a dad is he that he gives his kid an eternity of books?!?  Am I stretching this whole books in other media thing to far?  Do you know that even though I am an EMT and have to write the word stretcher in every single one of my hundreds of reports that I cannot spell stretch without spell check?

Friday, November 22, 2013

Not Now I'm Reading

Too many books not enough time.
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I think I will skip eating, sleeping and peeing for the rest of the day and just read.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Ender On The Big Screen

As I mentioned last week, we went and saw the movie version of Ender's Game and it was totally worth it.  I had read the book to my Hubbin on our daily commute (yep I married a guy who lets me read my favorite books to him all the time, I think he's a keeper) so he was just as excited and nervous as I was to see what they would do with it.  As always SPOILERS AHEAD.
I am going to assume that if you are reading this you have either read the book or watched the movie or both so I am not going to go into a lot of plot details.  In fact lets start with the plot.  I thought that the movie did an excellent job with keeping the important parts of the plot of the story completely intact.  In fact the only thing they really left out was the political shenanigans of Ender's older siblings, which in all honesty we figured would happen.  It makes sense in the context of the movie because a) it does not have a direct impact on the rest of the plot (for this book) b) it would be boring to watch people typing on the internet for hours at a time c) if you are not interested in obscure philosophical ideas it's kind of pointless and boring.  They did however leave in Peter's cruelness and Valentines bond with Ender which I thought was well done and necessary.
They used Petra as Ender's besty instead of Bean, which irritated me a bit 'cause I loved Bean in the book, but I understood they were trying to add some femaleness to the male dominated story again nothing that altered the plot. The ages of the kids that went to battle school was raised, but I understand that they can't show 6 year olds beating the crap out of each other and get a decent rating...though it did take a smidge of some of the horror of what they were doing to these kids away. They also altered the ending a bit, making it more of a complete movie and less open ended, again worked perfectly for the movie.  Onto the casting.  I think when it comes to making a movie from a book, especially such a well known book that has been around for years, casting is key.  The wrong person in a part can be distracting and irritating and just wrong (I'm looking at you Josh Hutcherson as Peeta). This movie got the casting dead on.  Asa Butterfield was a genius choice as far as casting goes, he was by turns tough, smart, lonely, angry, scared all while maintaining a weird genius socially awkward calm that was perfect. I can watch Harrison Ford in anything and his turn as Colonel Graff is no exception.  I liked the change of Major Anderson to a female for the film and Viola Davis was wonderful to watch in that role.  My favorite (other then Ender) casting choice may have been for the role of Bonzo, the older, competitive boy who feels the need to prove himself against Ender, Moises Arias was superb for that role.  In some ways I am glad that they waited for so long to make this movie as the visual effects were stunning.  The landscapes, the space battles, the school, all done beautifully.  I especially loved seeing the scenes in the Battle Room come to life and wish we had been able to watch even more battles.  As you can probably tell I loved this movie, it did justice to one of my favorite books, not glossing over any of the difficult points which make it such a discussable story.  I would recommend it to anyone who has read and loved the original book. I give it 8 out of 10 Asteroids.
What did you think of the movie?  Do you ever read a book and edit it for a movie in your head?  Are you shocked that I actually approve of a movie of a book?

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Topsy Turvy

I need more bookshelves...I also need more walls for more bookshelves.  Seriously it is starting to become a fire hazard with the amount of books I have stacked all over the house.  I wonder if you could make an entire house with nothing but bookshelves...hmmm.  Anyways here are a few topsy turvy bookshelves for weirdo bookworms like us!
Which Came First?
Trying to decide if I love this or if it would eventually drive me bonkers?
Book Igloo
All I need is a coffee maker and a wine rack and I would be set for life...actually I would need like 30 of these things, and I would just hop from one to another depending on which books I felt like reading.
This is a piece called Disaster, but I think it looks more like books are spilling over from a portal of another universe.
These are awesome and crazy and head tilting all at the same time, I love it.
DNA Bookcase
A bookcase to show off your own special bookworm DNA
What is the twistiest bookshelf you have ever seen?   What is more important in a bookshelf, looks or how many books it holds?  Is it crazy if I start buying books to match my shelves?

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Mystically Sensible

Ok I am finally awake enough to attempt a semi-coherent rambling.  I finished this book last week and have been mulling it over trying to figure out how I am going to talk about it.  The book is called The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater and is apparently the first book in a series.  This is a book that had me thinking about it when I wasn't reading it, always wanting to go back to this little piece of the world the author has created so that is a good thing, the weird thing is I can't really remember the plot...hmmm, anyways here is a quick convoluted synopsis that is probably missing the point of the book, but we will discuss that in a few minutes.  As always SPOILERS AHEAD.
Blue will kill her true love with a kiss, yep this is how the book starts, no punches pulled, Blue Sargent better never kiss her true love.  See Blue is the daughter of a psychic. Not a fake one who uses your own stuff to make vauge generic references to a nebulous possibility, but an honest to goodness see possible paths for a specific individual or group psychic.  Maura (Blue's mother) and Blue live in a house full of psychics and other women who have a finger on the pulse of the spirit world, including Maura's semi-famous half sister Neeve who has recently shown up.  This group lives in Henrietta VA which contains what they call a corpse road.  On St. Marks day every year Maura (or this year Neeve) goes with blue to an old ruined church and watches the spirits of people who are going to die that year pass through the road.  They can then use this information to give general warnings of imminent death (mostly old people) to the residence of this little town.  They cannot prevent them, just give people time to get there affairs in order.  Blue cannot see these spirits, her gift is not one of sight, but of essentially being a signal boost to allow the others to see and hear more clearly.  This year is different though, Blue see's the spirit of a young man who tells her his name is Gansey.  The only reason Blue can see him is he is either her true love, she is the cause of his death or both.  Obviously Blue is a little freaked out by this, but being a sensible sort of girl, just resolves to stay away from boys for the year.  Meanwhile in town we meet a gang of four boys all who go to a super elite school called Aglionby who's mascot is a raven, hence the students being known as Ravens Boys. The boys are Gansey (yep the one who is supposed to die this year), a super rich, super smart, super eccentric boy who is
searching for the supposed burial place of the legendary Welsh King Owen Glendower.  He is obsessed with this quest, using as a way to prove he is worth more then his money. His friend Adam, a scholarship student who is very aware of money and the fact that he does not have any.  Adam is a practical sort who does not want to take handouts from anybody, including his friends.  He is also regularly beaten by his father, especially now that he is hanging out with his "rich" friends.  Ronan is a troubled little rich boy who's father was murdered a couple years earlier.  He has become completely wild, controlled only by Gansey's constant influence.  Ronan is described as sharp, he does not care for convention or even rules and will say what ever he wants.  He is under the thumb of his older brother until he can graduate from Aglionby and get his share of the money.  Finally we have Noah, a very quiet boy who you keep forgetting is there until he is mentioned.  He does not like to go out much and keeps to himself, always appearing a bit disheveled and messy.  Gansey has recruited his three friends to help him find and awaken what he call ley lines, lines of power that criss cross the globe while trying to help all three of his friends get through school and life in general.  They meet Blue while she is working at a local pizza joint, initially making a really bad impression and reinforcing her pre-conceived idea of what a Raven Boy is, being the sensible (are you sensing a theme here) person she is, she has made it a point to never get involved with the Raven Boys as they always lead to trouble.  Eventually Adam gets to talk with her and leaves a good impression, even obtaining her phone number.  This is where the actual plot gets a little crazy and convoluted and a wee bit mixed up so I'm just gonna say that the boys go see Blue's mother and her friends for a reading, learn all kinds of crazy stuff and Blue ends up hanging out with the whole foursome.  They eventually find this wooded area that is all kinds of weird including a note in Latin on a stone from a future Ronan.  More stuff happens and Blue finds herself alone with Gansey doing some recon.  They stumble onto a skeleton and (SUPER SPOILER) they discover it is Noah, yep Noah is a ghost.  His killer is a man named Whelk Barrington (don't worry even in the book they know it is absurd) who used to be a rich Raven Boy but lost everything when his father was arrested for illegal activities and now he is forced to be a poor teacher.  He killed his friend Noah in an attempt to awaken the ley lines on his own quest to find Glendower, as a sacrifice is required.  More stuff and craziness and Blue learns a bit about her father (he mysteriously appeared from the woods and then disappeared after she was born) and that Neeve has been messing with the Dark Arts.  They all end up in the weird woods trying to save each others lives when Adam decides to sacrifice himself, but not his life to awaken the ley line and have control of it?!?!  This was not very clear at all. Anyways the epilogue has the crew reburying Noah's body on the ley line so that he can continue living as a solid ghost, Adam finally moves out of his abusive home, Ronan informs everybody that the raven he has been taking care of was plucked from his dreams, and Neeve has vanished.  A weird abrupt ending, but we will see how it continues in the next book.
As I am sure you can figure out I glossed over a lot of the plot, mostly 'cause I'm still not 100% sure what the plot was. The whole feel of the book was reminiscent of the Susan Cooper The Dark is Rising series, it was a page turning experience but by the time I was finished I still could not tell you the story.  What I really found fascinating about this particular book was the characters and there interactions with each other. I love books about friends, I love books about family, I love books that examine these relationships and acknowledge that as much as they love each other there are still difficult times.  Blue was about as awesome as a female character as I have seen in a long time.  She lives in this world straddled between the spirit/nebulous/arty space and time her mother and friends occupy, and the practical/sensible/work-a-day world the rest of us have to try and survive.  Blue believes in the spirit world, knows that the ley lines, corpse road, future readings and all that are real and have a part in her life.  She also knows that you have to pay bills, finish school, and even socialize on occasion.  Her attitude towards falling in love is great, she is not cold or bitchy about the fact she is destined to kill her true love, rather accepting and aware of the situation.  I think I like her so much because she tends to act and react the same way I think I would in these types of situations which makes her very identifiable, at least to me.  The four boys, there history (or what we know of it), there relationships with each other are just so perfect.  Gansey as the glue who holds them all together, yet is constantly saying the wrong thing and pissing his own friends off.  Adam who cannot tell the
difference between a handout or charity and a true selfless gift from a good friend.  His inability to accept anything from anybody, while Gansey just wants to make Adams life, if not easier then at least safer and this is a constant sore point between these two incredibly good friends.  Ronan may be one of my favorite characters of all time.  He is so twisted and tortured (though we never really find out why in this book) but the way he deals with it is just bizarre and perfect.  As I said before he is described as sharp, as if he will cut anybody who gets to close.  He has tried to commit suicide at one point and now is just wild.  He fights anybody he can, especially his perfect and proper older brother who holds the reigns to the family fortune, he is bitter, sarcastic and has no qualms about cutting somebody down with his words.  Ironically he is the one who eventually forces Adam to leave his abusive home, takes care of an abandoned baby raven he names Chainsaw, and with a few entirely blunt and honest words can actually make you feel better. Gansey tries to keep him reigned in enough to at least finish school and not hurt himself, he is the only one who can get Ronan to stop and think for even a second.  Noah is interesting, he starts out as the quiet one, and I figured something was up because he was obviously supposed to be part of the group, but was missing or ignored a lot.  The revelation that he was a ghost was not to surprising for me, but learning a little about him was fun in that context.  The boys interaction with Blue was done superbly I thought.  She initially is attracted to Adam (who is the one who asked for her phone number) and joins the group on there research trips because of him.  She is quickly accepted into the group and essentially becomes the fifth person in the group, to the point when she goes with any one of them on her own, it feels weird.  Each boy has a different interaction with her, but they are all positive and friendly.  She is not a force to break them apart (though there is potential later for a rift between Ganesy and Adam over her) but one more facet to the dynamic.  She is taking things very slow with Adam, even telling him she does not want to kiss him (though not the reason), no insta love for this sensible girl.  It is really nice to see a girl be actual friends with boys, not always a potential love interest.  Speaking of friendships, I love love love the portrayal of Blue's mother Maura and her housemates.  We meet a couple of the other tenets and they are all as vastly different as the boys are, and they share a similar bond with each other.  They have there moments of snappiness as all people who live together do, but seeing adult females bond in a healthy way is a great example not only for Blue, but for anybody reading this book.  It was weird to read this book and love the characters and relationships so much, and still not really know what the story is.  There are mysteries that have not been solved yet, but that does not bug me really.  The two things that got to me were the almost lack of cohesion between the characters stories and the plot story, I had a hard time tying the two together. I also did not like the ending of this book at all (big surprise right, I almost never like endings :-) ).  The open endedness was fine as it is part of a series, it was the way it ended.  First off, the whole bit where Adam supposedly sacrificed his self, or free will, or something never really solidified, I am not sure exactly what happened, or what changed, or...well anything.  After this nothing really seemed to change, the epilogue said nothing of what happened after this big climactic event, we just see them going about there most of the book never happened.  All in all I love the characters and will continue reading the series just for them if for no other reason.  There is a lot to take in and hopefully future books will straighten out some of the basic plot details. I give this book 7 out of 10 raven beaks and will be reading the next one shortly.
What is your favorite part of a book, world building, characters or plot?  If at least one of these elements is strong is that good enough to keep reading or do you need more?  How much coffee do you think it took me to write this epic post?

Monday, November 18, 2013

What A Weekend!

As always seems to happen on Monday's had a great post planned and folks, I love you all, but I am just to tired to even spell my own name right now.  That being said the reason I am so tired is a good one.  Had weekend duty and ran my little hiney off, while hanging out with the awesomest crew ever!  We also had our installation night (where we promote officers, hand out awards, and drink more then is probably good for us).
EMT Field Guide
I was honored to receive EMT of the year for our department (yeah I've gotta brag a little) and then turned right back around and staffed some more :-)  I really love what I do, and books make those late nights a little easier.  So if you have a first responder in your life give them a hug and a Barnes and Nobles gift card (or Starbucks, we really like coffee too!).  Going to go hunt down coffee now.  Happy Reading Everybody!

Friday, November 15, 2013

You Know THAT Part

Sometimes you read a book and there is THAT part, like the Red Wedding scene in A Storm of Swords and then you recommend or loan the book to somebody and you just can't wait until they get to that part.  I'm pretty sure this is how it goes down.
This is what happened with my poor Hubby when I forgot to warn him about a certain event involving a certain house elf in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.  He still hasn't forgiven me :-)  Also for a great laugh watch the reactions to people who watched the Red Wedding on tv and have never read the book, ooh revenge is sweet for all those people give us a hard time about actually reading the book!
What books do you know have THAT part?  What is your favorite reaction of other people who have read it?  Do you spoil it for people, or let them walk into the terror/horror/intense sadness all on there own?  

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Literary Thumbprint

So I was feeling adventurous/lazy the other day and was putting random words combined with book into my preferred internet browser to see what would happen.  One thing was, there is a book for EVERYTHING, the second thing was there were many exclamations of "how the heck does that relate to a book in any way shape or form?" And lastly I found my newest item to place on my "Want this sooooo bad list".  What could this new item be?  What could a spoiled rotten little pirate princess like myself possibly find that she hasn't seen and wanted already?  Drum roll please......

Book Thumprint
This my friends is a custom art job that is made by sending the artist Cheryl Sorg a clear thumbprint and a list of your favorite books.  She then combines them to literally make your literary thumbprint, seriously how awesome is that?!?!  It is a tad on the pricey side, but it is custom made, awesome and something you could keep forever.  They also have a kids book version too that is pretty spiffy.  So what do you say folks, I think we should all throw in a couple bucks and get your favorite book blogger this for Christmas ;-)  I am your favorite right?  Happy Reading Everybody!

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Games And War

Went and saw the movie Ender's Game this weekend and was gonna do an awesome amazing post comparing it to the book by Orson Scott Card until I realized I have yet to do a rambling on this amazing book.  So to remedy that I will do my rambling now and movie comparison next week...maybe...anyways as always SPOILERS AHEAD!
Ender Wiggans is a third child in a future Earth where there is a two-child policy and special permission must be given to have any more.  Ender's parents are given permission because they have already produced two extremely smart children and the IF (International Fleet) needs smarties.  Why you ask does the IF need smarties, well some years back an alien force known in common terms as "the buggers" tried to invade Earth, resulting in two very destructive wars, won only when Mazar Rackham pulled of a mysterious ploy and destroyed the enemy ships.  This was the driving force uniting the world despite its still divided leadership.  The IF uses these child geniuses to help plan and eventually execute a preemptive attack on the bugger aliens.  Ender is chosen to go to Battle school at the very young age of 6 because of a fight he had.  He
fought a bully and not only won, but continued to beat him long after he was down, when asked why he didn't stop, he said he wanted to not only win this fight, but all future fights as well.  This places him in a different category then either his older brother Peter who was not chosen because he enjoyed violence, or his older sister Valentine who was not chosen because she could not use violence even when necessary.  It seems Ender has the balance they are all looking for. This is tested many times through out the book, with one of Enders greatest fears being that he will turn into Peter and hurt living things just for the fun of it.  At Battle School, Ender is purposely isolated mentally from his fellow peers, constantly being set against the older students, being singled out for praise in front of people who are desperately seeking approval. All of this lends to his mental isolation and loneliness.  Eventually he is introduced to the Game, a zero-G simulation where there are mock asteroids and the students play a form of capture the flag against each other.  Ender quickly learns new and inventive ways to use the tools at hand and the adults keep making it harder and harder. During his down time Ender plays a weird little mind game on his tablet that allows him to explore a fantasy type world, encouraging him to come up with alternative ways to beat an unbeatable game.  We learn that the game learns from Ender and is not controlled by any adult.  He is given command of a ragtag army of washouts and newbies whom Ender forms into an exceptional team who wins even when they are given crappy disadvantages.  Bean is one of these scrappy little students and he becomes Enders right hand man.
Eventually they pit him against a boy named Bonzo Madrid, who is a very aware of rank and power.  After beating Bonzo's team in the Game an altercation happens with Ender once again being forced to physically fight, this time he ends up killing the other boy (not on purpose).  After this Ender tries to quit and is sent home for some R&R.  Meanwhile back at home his brother Peter and sister Valentine have set themselves up as adult orators using the anonymity of the internet to publish essays and conversations.  These are so well done that they actually start influencing politics on Earth. Colonel Graff (the guy in charge of Battle School) tells Valentine that he knows it is her and Peter writing the essays but that he will keep quiet because he finds it useful.  He asks Valentine to convince Ender to come back to school, which she does.  Instead of going back to Battle school, Ender is taken to Command school and tutored by the war hero Mazar Rackham.  He is told that he will be doing simulations against Rackham and is given some of his old Battle School classmates as sub-commanders.  All of this isolation and pressure once again get to Ender.  At his final test simulation Ender sacrifices all of his resources to get the device to the bugger planet that will obliterate all life. Ender accomplishes this, hoping to be kicked out for undue ruthlessness, but is instead told that these were not simulations but actual battles.  They did not tell Ender or his crew because they did not want him to hold back anything.  Ender is understandably angry that he has essentially been tricked into ruthlessly killing thousands of men, not to mention genocide of another race. Life happens and Peter becomes Hegemon (a world leader) and Valentine joins Ender on a colonization exhibition to one of the buggers old home worlds.  Ender knows he cannot return to Earth because he will just be used again, especially if Peter gets his hands on him.  He arrives on the planet and feels a familiar buzz in his head, following it he finds a rough approximation of his old mind game.  He follows it through and finds a single dormant queen egg the aliens left to hopefully restart their species. They leave a message for Ender stating that they did not know Earth was inhabited by sentient beings as they only recognize collective consciousness.  The message goes on to ask Ender to find a place to hatch and raise the Queen, hopefully giving the species another chance.  Ender takes on the title Speaker for the Dead and does just that.
As always this is just the bare bones.  There is so much more to this story, even though it is not a long one, it packs a huge punch.  I find myself going back to this book many times, always finding another angle to it, finding another thing to think about, to consider. This book asks you to consider a lot of things, and sometimes it tries to justify things like violence, and lying, but mostly I think it lays out what happened and asks the readers to make there own call. The biggest theme of the book (in my own very limited to what I read and got out of it opinion) is what is considered justifiable for the greater good.  If taking a select few genius children and completely screwing them over ok if by doing so if you can save millions of lives?  What about just for the potential to save millions of lives?  At what point do we draw the line on the individual, or even small group vs the good of the many?  How do your views change when you look at the idea as a
generic one on paper eg. subject A shall be subjected to numerous mind isolation techniques, physical tests, and social pressure to produce a commander capable of saving the world, vs when you get to know subject A as Ender, and realize that what you call mind isolation techniques is akin to torture and you have to witness the whole process, look into those young eyes, watch the actual pain and suffering for the off chance you can mold him before he breaks into what you hope can maybe save the world?  Is genocide ever justified?  Does lying to Ender give him a free pass on the genocide?  Since he did not know that was what he was actually doing is he absolved from all responsibility or does he still have to answer for pulling the trigger regardless, and does the fact that he was willing to do it for a simulation mean he would have done the same thing if he had all the information?  Obviously I could go on and on and on and on, and I haven't even touched on his siblings, family, political, social or long term health aspects of any of this yet!  All that to say this book is a great discussion/heated debate starter.  It is a great leaping of point for many a conversation and I think that is exactly what this book needs is to be discussed, bu every body, so go read it and come back and comment so we can have that conversation, so excited! Also just because it is so cool I love all of the different strategies Ender and his team come up with during the various Games.  That type of thinking is very entertaining and intriguing to me and I could have read a thousand scenarios in the Battle Room!
What book do you go back to time and again?  Do you like books that tell you exactly what they are trying to say or do you prefer ones open to interpretation?  Am I once again proving myself to be the Queen Geek?

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

True Heros

Ok so I know this post is late, but I spent the last 24 hours at the fire station with no computer access so let's pretend it is yesterday ok? Great.  I want to express my appreciation for all of the veteran's and active duty members and their families.  As I have probably mentioned before, being a defender of our country is not just an individual choice, but one that affects a service members friends and family on a daily basis.  Every time we want to bitch and moan (excuse the language) about how awful this country is (and it has it's moments), remember why we have the freedom to express any opinion we want.  When we walk into a bookstore and can choose any book of the shelf, buy it and read it without fear of imprisonment, remember who was willing to sacrifice to give that freedom.  We may have issues in this country, but we have been blessed enough to be able to not only whine about them without fear of reprisal, but to do something about it as well.  We have a very rich and storied history in this country, and we have people from all walks of life willing to put everything on the protect it, not just once, but many many many times over.  Please remember that while we have one day a year set aside to honor them, they risk everything ever day.  So try and find a veteran, service member, or family of one who serves through out the year and thank them, because they need our thanks more then once a year.

Friday, November 8, 2013

I Like Big Books

Hmmm, so I was going through my current reading list to decide which books I would do for my next rambling when I realized...they are all big books.  Seriously 4 out of 5 of my current books are over 300 pages with at least two of them being in the 400 range, and one of them is in itty bitty print with super thing pages!  So it may take me a while to get to the next books on my pile, but that is ok 'cause if the book is good (and so far all of these are awesome!) then I want as many pages as possible.  As I gaze longingly at my bookshelves I realize that I have books of every shape and size, some are big honkin annotated tomes of classics, some are short little paperback quickies, some are beautifully illustrated stories, some are fat, juicy little things, but they all have a story
 hidden in there pages.  That being said I do have a soft spot for big books...if it is a good one.  I am not a fan of a book that goes on and on and on when it could have gotten the point across better with about 200 less pages.  However to me the mark of a good book is when you are on page 200 and still have 2/3rds of the book to go and you can't wait to read every single page, or you finish and realize that you just consumed 500 pages of awesome goodness and didn't even realize how long the book was!  If you can not only maintain my interest for that long, but make me want to continue reading, then you madam or sir have done an exceptional job.  Of course the down side to my big books is that they do take a little longer to read (not a bad thing for me, saves me money, but a bad thing for a blog that is supposed to have ramblings on it), and they are a bit more awkward to haul around.  Usually for these big books I either get a copy in paper back (seriously have you tried hauling around Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix in hard cover?!?  I still need regular physical therapy to straighten out my spine) or I use my handy e-reader, which means I can carry a literal ton of 600 pagers in one little portable device.  Of course all of these big fat books (especially the ones I splurge on and get a hard cover edition to keep on the shelf) look really impressive and make me look really smart :-)
What kind of books do you like to read (long, medium, short)? Is it easier to read big books in hard cover, paperback or e-reader form?  Does a huge collection of short stories count as reading a big book?  Have you ever tried to read a big book in the bathtub

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Pride (POW!) and Prejudice (BAM)

The other night I spent absolutely exhausted, stumbling through the stacks at one of my bookstores.  I am sure the people working there either thought I was drunk, or the zombie apocalypse had finally happened.  I had a gift card just begging to be used, and I was going to use it come hell or high water or zombies.  Did I mention I was really really tired.  So here I was stumbling through the stacks and just running my fingers along the books, hoping to suck a little energy from then when all of a sudden I just had to sit down and rest (seriously tired folks).  As I was sitting there I looked to the shelf across from me and lo and behold I was in the Jane Austen section.  With all the places I could randomly collapse in, this was a pretty good one.  I started scanning the shelves to see what other things I could add to my already extensive Austen collection, when I saw a thin book covered in plastic.  Hmmm, I picked it up and lo and behold it was Pride and Prejudice in comic book/graphic novel form!  Yep somebody had taken my beloved book and turned it into a series of five comic books, the collection of which I held in my hand.  Of course I had to buy it (along with a Zombie Choose-Your-Own-Adventure book for the Hubbin) and so I did.
Last night me, my bubble bath and my glass of wine decided to have a go at this little concoction that was essentially a 50 page Pride and Prejudice.  Are you ready?  If you haven't read the orginial (shame on you) then beware 'cause SPOILERS AHEAD!
The book itself kept the story line of the original book.  Bingley arrives. Mr. and Mrs. Bennett tease/annoy each other. the ball where Bingley falls in love with Jane and Darcy scorns Elizabeth.  Jane gets sick, Elizabeth staying to comfort her...while Darcy unscorns her. Elizabeth meets Wickham and hears his tale of woe. Darcy dances with Elizabeth at the Netherfield Ball, rest of Bennet family makes fools of themselves (except Jane). Mr. Collins proposes and is refused by Elizabeth. Mr. Collins proposes and is accepted by Charlotte Lucas.  Bingley and co move back to London. Jane goes to London, Elizabeth visits Charlotte in Kent. Elizabeth meets the formidable Lady de Bourgh. Darcy and cousin visit Lady de Bourgh and spend time with Elizabeth. Darcy proposes against his very character and Elizabeth obviously refuses and throws his meanness back in his face. Darcy writes letter explaining everything. Elizabeth is confused. Jane is rejected by Caroline and decides that Bingley is never coming back (aw sad). Elizabeth goes with her aunt and uncle to where Darcy lives, she runs in to him at Pemberley (think life styles of the rich and famous times 100) his family estate. Elizabeth is introduced to his sister and they all seem to be having a grand old time. Elizabeth gets a letter informing her that her youngest sister Lydia has run away with Wickham (back when this was the worst thing EVER!). Elizabeth tells Darcy everything, Darcy says goodbye.  Elizabeth goes home while her father and uncle search London for the naughty lovers.  Lovers found and married.
Lydia and Wickham come to the Bennets house and flaunt there stupidity.  Lydia lets slip that Darcy arranged everything.  Bingley and Darcy return to Netherfield.  Darcy, Bingley, Jane and Elizabeth take many walks.  Bingley proposes to Jane and of course Jane says yes.  Lady de Bourgh comes to forbid Elizabeth to marry Darcy (which is hard considering Elizabeth said no in the first place) to which Elizabeth says she will do whatever she wants.  Darcy proposes again, Elizabeth of course says yes.  Elizabeth moves and becomes the Real Housewife of Pemberley, with favorite sis Jane near by.  Everybody lives mostly happily ever after. The End.
Yep that is pretty much how the comic book went, technicaly all of the story line was in there, but in a very abrupt on to the next thing sort of way. It was strange because for each of the points mentioned above, there is specific
quotes that fans of the original book will identify and remember and that was pretty much all the dialog consisted of, if you had never read the book you would probably be a little lost.  The art work was pretty good, with only a couple things that did not appeal to me.  For some reason all the smiles looked like deranged clown which was a bit disturbing.  The sisters were all drawn gorgeous super model style, and Darcy...well lets just say I might have a crush on another cartoon man now (don't judge me :-) ).  All of the other characters are drawn in a fairly stereotypical buffoonish way, even characters like Charlotte (who looks like a shrew-witch) or FitzWilliam (who looks like a fat bank owner) get treated badly by the artist.  This is not to say he is not talented, the art work is very well done, I just don't like the portrayal of most of the characters.  There were several characters and side story lines left out (which makes sense considering how short it was) so overall it felt like I was watching Keira Knightly's movie version of the book compared to the Collin Firth mini-series version of the book.  The first one again gets the basic idea across, but loses most of the richness and depth of the full blown six hour mini series.  Overall I am glad I own it, it is one more unique piece to the collection, and it is fun to read the whole thing in like an hour.  I give it 6 out of 10 accomplished ladies.
What do you think of adapting classics to other mediums?  How do different peoples interpretations of classics change there specific adaptions? Should I probably stay away from Etsy with my Austen obsession?

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Reading Will Fix It

Hi All, just a word of warning, I am tired, sore, cranky, snuffly, tired, sore throaty, achy, tired.  I think you may get the idea.  Had a super long night at the station last night, a very good and productive night, but a very long night all the same.
But no worries, I have a stack of books and a fairly easy day at work today.  So I'm just gonna get through the day (mmmm coffee, sweet blessed nectar of all things good!) and go home and curl up with a glass of wine, chocolate, a good book, and a bubble bath until I feel all better.  Happy Reading Everybody!

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

The Ramblings That Never Were

I'm in the middle of a fantastic book, seriously loving it, not really surprised that I am loving it because it is the second book in a trilogy which is part of a whole over arching story by an author I have yet to have any issues with.  Yep this it the 8th book I have read by this author and have loved every word.  Cool you say. Which books? When did you read them?  Where are the ramblings.  Oh you say, that reminds me, there are several books you mentioned that you loved and yet when I go look, no rambling...why?  To answer this question that probably only I am asking is a bit complicated, the easy answer is because it is too hard.  I don't know how to articulate the complicated (or simple) plots in a non overly loquacious (isn't that the best word ever)way. These are the books that I can't tell you why I love them so much, in fact a lot of them break my favorite book rules.  The one I am reading now is in the dreaded first person!  A lot of times it is fairly easy for me to pin point why I love a book so much, the subject matter, the characters, the pacing, the writing.  Sometimes I just don't know why I love a book so much, I just do.  I will say a lot of the books I have trouble writing about are ones with really complicated plots, mostly because I do not sum up very well, I like to talk and I think everything is important so my posts have the potential to become as long as the books themselves, the other option is to jump around, but I think those get very jumbled and confusing (see any of my Song of Ice and Fire ramblings). Sometimes I think I just don't want to break whatever spell these books have on me, I know certain ones are safe to gush about, especially the classics (hence my HP and Narnia love in my ramblings), but I don't want anybody to point out anything bad and ruin my experience in some of these books (I know selfish and dumb, but hey).  All of this to say, maybe I will attempt to be brave and get some of these down for you all, or maybe I will keep wussing out, or maybe you can all just tell me how crazy I am :-)  Happy Reading Everybody!

Monday, November 4, 2013

You're A Wizard Harry

Who here has not wanted to hear those three little words "You're a wizard", I know ever since reading Harry Potter and the Philosopher (Sorcerers)Stone (now known as PS) that I am convinced that my letter got lost in the Owl Post somewhere.  If that last sentence made any sense whatsoever then you are in the right place.  That is right people today is the first post in my Harry Potter (HP) re-read!  This will be a bit different from my usual ramblings because I am not gonna sum up the book, mostly because the few people who have not seen it, watched the movie, played the games, or visited the theme park can get the complete plot from one of the zillions of sites dedicated to the HP phenomenon.   That being said as always SPOILERS AHEAD!
First off here is a list of things I did for the PS reread.
Read the book by J.K. Rowling (It is only called the Sorcerers Stone in the US)
Watched the movie
Played the Book 1 Level on Lego Harry Potter
Went through the first book on Pottermore
All of this combined with rehashing it with my siblings, parents, Hubbin and anybody who would listen to me made for a great experience.  And now for some completely random thoughts on this book.  This is the book that made me give up my snobbish "well I don't read books just because everybody else is reading them" attitude.  I was house sitting and had run out of books (I know sounds like the start of a horror film) and picked up PS because it was there.  I remember starting on the first pages, not really expecting a whole lot and finding myself looking up and hour later realizing that it was now dark.  I promptly made myself a cup of coffee, canceled all non-essential plans and classes (this was during my college days) and tried to figure out if I could afford to call in sick to work.  This book completely drew me in.  This was my start to my great HP adventure that would grow to consume my whole family, and later my Hubbin.
I think even though this is not my absolute favorite book in the series (that would be Goblet of Fire), but I loved how it introduced this whole entire world to us, through a person who knew even less then we did.  The idea that we can exist along side all of this wonderful magic, and to watch Harry's joy and confusion (which let's be honest, we would all be feeling if we got taken to this world) really hit home with me.  I loved how everything was introduced in a practical way, and that most magic seems to have some type of purpose.  On the flip side I also love how certain wizards had a fascination with Muggle (best descriptive word ever) technology, even referring to it as magic of its own kind, reminding us that magic is all a mater of perception and while we may not be wizards, we all have our own brand of magic too. This is one of those books where you live in the world that was created, long after you have closed the covers on the pages.  This to me is the ultimate test of a good book/story.
This gets me to the other thing I love about this book.  We are not introduced to the top tier group as our guides to this madness.  We have a boy who has been
neglected and downtrodden with little to no self-esteem who is more clueless then the reader is as our hero.  Our sidekicks (though I would argue by the end of the book we end up with more hero's then sidekicks) consist of a lower middle class boy who has either perfect brothers, or class clown brothers to live up to, no easy going for our favorite red-headed best friend Ron.  He is constantly trying to stand out as outstanding at something,  yet finding it difficult to even maintain good enough.  Hermione is every kids worst nightmare, the know it all, who is not only extremely proficient at magic, but being Muggle born knows the other world as well.  Unfortunately socialization is not her strong suite, and she isn't even all that pretty (which is a smart girls saving grace in most books, ugh eyeroll).  Add to this the clumsiest boy who may have ever survived his fifth birthday (aw I love my Neville) and our guides to the wizarding world are far from perfect.  It is this humaness, these kids who react just like normal 12 year olds would react, regardless of them going to a school for magic, or a boarding school, or a public school.  The magic aspect is just one more facet to these all too human kids.
Ok moving on to some other media.  I love the movie.  The casting was sublime (seriously Maggie Smith AND Alan Rickman my life is complete) and this is what made the movie for me.  I had read the book at least twice before the first movie came out and I was very anxious because this world and especially the characters had become a major part of my life (if you were wondering just how geeky I am I think that last sentence probably summed it up nicely).  There were a few castings that did not 100% what I had in my (Mr. Weasly and Professor Quirrell being two) but on the
whole I was astounded how closely the actors matched what I saw in my head.  Of course after the first movie I had visuals in my head for all the books going forward, which usually irritates me, but since they matched so well, I could deal with it.  The trio (Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, and Emma Watson) not only pulled of there characters wonderfully, but you could see the actual growing of a friendship that is the basis for the rest of the series.  This movie very much set the tone as far as visuals and music went so very beautiful.  I think you could tell that the author had a hand in the movie, because a lot of what made the book successful was also put into the film, you know the little things like tapping the brick, and Quirrell twitching and stammering, and even the owl that distracts Dumbledore.  You can never replace the book, but I thought this is one of the best adaptions of a book I have ever seen.  I think of all the HP movies this is my favorite, just because it is that first real glimpse of magic and awesomeness, and after it is more like returning home then it is so wondrous.
Playing the Lego Harry Potter games makes me very very very happy.  They are funny, interesting and add one more dimension to the HP universe.  My favorite things about the Lego games is that they are geared for the younger crowd so some of the more scary elements are comiced up (that is a word I promise). For instance, when they go into the woods, instead of a dead unicorn, they find a sleeping unicorn in Hagrids hut and he is helping it.  You play little episodes so it is less of a full blown story and more like vignettes.  You also get to explore a lot of places.  In the first book you see Diagon Alley, Hogwarts, The Forbidden Forest and the Quidditch Pitch.  All in all a humorous non-frustrating way to get a little HP time.
Pottermore has improved greatly from when it first launched.  It used to be kind of clunky and a wee bit confusing, but the new interface is very nice.  It still has a few glitches, and we are still missing the last three books, but they have been steadily adding to the site.  This is a great place to hang out with other HP fans and get your own Hogwarts experience.  In the first book you get to go get your wand, school supplies and get sorted into your house (I'm a Slytherin).  The artwork is gorgeous and there is a ton of extra tidbits the author has thrown in, background about certain characters, where she got some ideas, the books and myths she used in her stories.  Totally worth checking out.

Whew, you sick of my undying HP love yet?  In case you haven't figured it out.  This first book in this magical series makes me so very very happy.  The budding friendships, the first innocent look at magic before we are terrorized by the evil, the shiny newness of this world that is so different and yet so familiar. There is so much to love about this book, and I agree with the people who have declared it a classic, it sits next to my Narnia's and Lord of the Rings books on my favorites classic shelf at home.  Ok I will quit gushing now so I can go start on the next book!
Here are a few other great Harry Potter obsession sites for you to check out while reading this series.
Mark Reads Harry Potter- Follow along chapter by chapter as a guy reads HP for the first time, it is like reading it for the first time all over again, very cool and since he goes chapter by chapter you can follow along if you like.
The Harry Potter Lexicon-Pretty much the wiki of HP, a great place to look up your favorite spells, or get a handle on all of the characters.  Also great for those tricky British words for us 'Mercans.
The Leaky Cauldron-Your place for EVERYTHING HP, books, movies, games, park, news, chit-chat, debates, even issues of the Quibbler.
What is your favorite part about this first book?  How innocent do they all seem?  What part of the wizarding world would most like to visit? How much convincing would it take for me to get my husband to buy me compete sets of every cover of these books?  How geeky am I?