Monday, March 31, 2014

Nailed It!

I love the current trend in nail art, I love the colors, the designs, the extra little baubles, so many ways to be creative.  I unfortunately cannot do the whole nail art thing as mine get shredded on a regular basis when I am on working at the firehouse, but that does not keep me from appreciating other peoples art...especially when they combine it with my love of books :-)

Dressed Up Nails - The Catcher in the Rye freehand nail art
Dressed Up Nails
 The Catcher in the Rye, love the orange
Gnarly Gnails
I like the solid nails with the single Wicked pic
The Art Nouveau look of this The Great Gatsby riff is awesome
Smashley Sparkles
All our favorites from Harry Potter
Smashley Sparkles 
Matilda and her flying books!
There are bunch more really cool designs out there, but if I keep adding to this post it will never get posted.  Send me pics of your favorite book inspired nail art.  Happy Reading Everybody.
How much time do you think gets spent on these nails?  How quickly would I chip these suckers?  Are you amazed at how I can link books to just about anything?

Friday, March 28, 2014

It's Just Like (Insert Name Of Currently Popular Book Here)

Sometimes I hate blurbs, and I almost always hate comparisons in blurbs, you know the ones that go, "If you liked the Hunger Games read this book (Even though the book is about a nursing home where they put on a bake sell to raise money for their hair salon every year, but hey they play Bingo at some point so that's a game so yeah)".  Seriously people not every book has to be compared to the Hunger Games, or Twilight or Harry Potter or Charlaine Harris!  This is most prevalent in YA, with publishers who I am sure are trying to capture some of the magic and big bucks that the popular titles bring in.  I understand that dollars are tight,
but when it is a misleading comparison, I think it just hurts the books credibility.  I know that the author's have very little say on what goes on the cover of their books, and I am sure many hate that their books are being compared or touted as the next (insert currently popular book here) which makes it even worse!  When it comes to genre books people seem to think that the only story set in these is the one that made it currently popular.  Every YA dystopia is now "just like the Hunger Games" when we all know that is just not true.  We have series like The Maze Runner which was in my opinion not only less well written then the Hunger Games, but other then being a dystopia and centering on teenagers (as YA is wont to do) it is completely different.  On the other end of the scale we have excellent books like The Giver (which is being made into a movie, I am partly totally excited and partly terrified they will ruin it!) which was written long before the Hunger Games and other then being a dystopia has very little in common with it.  Yet both of these books have been touted to be similar to the Hunger Games.  It was the same with vampires for a while, forget the original (and scary and disgusting and dangerous) Dracula, nope all vampires now have to be sexy  and brooding and in love with 17 year old girls.  Not every book that has magic in it is the same as Harry Potter (though to be fair those books were/are constantly being compared to The Lord of the Rings and Narnia, which again while all are fantasy are not the same type of story at all!  I guess I understand trying to draw in audience in because 
they read a certain type of book before, but there is so much more to most books then their genre and sometimes plastering another books name all over can be detrimental as well.  I personally did not enjoy the Twilight series very much, so when a book said "for fans of Twilight" all over it, it made me reluctant to pick it up, which potentially sucks 'cause I now know there are some great books (some not even about vampires) that have that blurb stuck all over it.  I understand I am being picky, that this is a marketing technique that obviously works, but still it annoys the crap out of me and makes me want to scream THERE ARE OTHER GOOD BOOKS BESIDES THE CURRENT POPULAR ONE OUT THERE!  But I don't, I try and get past the blurb and read the book on its own merit, loving it, mehing it, or hating it regardless of what the cover says.
What is one of your book pet peeves?  Is it overly picky book bloggers?  How much do the blurbs influence your book buying?

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Book Path

Hello All, just a quickie today (tee hee hee I said quickie...note to self, spend a tad less time at the firehouse :-) )  Anyways I am getting ready to go hiking with my sweet Hubbin.
Who knows maybe we will follow this trail today?!?  Happy reading everybody!

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

5000 Swooning 12 Year Olds

Saw the Divergent movie a couple days ago based on the first book in the Divergent series.  A couple of my station sisters have been reading the books with me and wanted to go see it.  Of course the only day we all had free was opening night, so off to buy our tickets we went.  We bribed the boys with Bourbon Carmel Milkshakes (sooooo yummy!) and off we went.  As always SPOILERS AHEAD.
The movie was OK, it seemed to be sanded down from the original story to more generic teeny bopper gook, they took out a lot of the tensenes between the Dauntless recruits and replaced it with lovey dovey gush.  They also changed to format of the challenges which kind of sucked  because I thought that was one of the best parts of the book. The producers or writers seemed to have the same problem with the faction premise that I did and mentioned Human Nature being a problem on a couple of occasions to try and nod to the fact that the way factions are set up would never really work.  I did like the casting for the most part, Zoe Kravitz as Christina was probably the best character in the movie (and one of my favorites in the book).  She looked the part, acted the part and generally kicked butt.  I liked the casting of Eric as well, he did not follow the book description but Jai Courtney played the cool cruelty like a pro.  Shailene Woodley as Tris was fine and Theo James as Four is hot and brooding, but nothing super special.  Over all I wanted to see more of
 Tris's journey like we did in the book, the struggle to shed her Stiff personality and become who she really is never came clear in the movie.  It was a weird mix of the movie trying to pack everything in and yet not really hitting any of the main points.  The other unique experiance I had with this movie is seeing it on opening night with 5000 swooning teenage girls who added their own special soundtrack and entertainment value to the whole proceedings.  The Chicago scenes were pretty cool, it's weird seeing somewhere you lived all decrepit and blown up (even if the stupid pink building survived) so that was nice.  Over all it had a very generic teeny bopper feel that did not capture the best parts of the book, and did nothing to dispel my dislike of the faction system.  The music was pretty awesome though. I will probably not watch it again, but I am glad I saw it at least once and will be interested to see where they go with the second and third book and movies.  But I think I will stick to the Hunger Games.
What did you think of the movie compared to the book?  Is it possible to do a YA book as a movie and not make it teeny boppery?  Am I a horrible wife for dragging Hubbin to see this?

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Mary "Meanie McMeaniehead" Poppins

Hello All!  I have a thing for old children's books, they tend to be very different from the sweet, sanitized books we read our kids today.  A lot of these books have been made into movies that have also toned down some of the old fashioned disdain people seemed to have for their children, to the point where most people have never actually read or heard the original stories.  One that is getting some attention right is Mary Poppins by P.L. Travers.  There is a Disney movie version made famous by the wonderful Julie Andrews and a new movie out (which I have yet to see) about how the story went from a book about a vain, snarky nanny to a movie about a sweet, loving singing nanny called Saving Mr. Banks all of this served to catch my interest enough to read the original story.  As always SPOILERS AHEAD.
This book is more of a collection of stories strung together then it is a true singular story.  Essentially the Banks children, Jane, Michael and the baby twins John and Barbara are in need of a nanny and who should come floating in on her parrot handled umbrella but Mary Poppins.  She waltzes in and whisks the children away on several adventures including tea on the ceiling, mediating between a spoiled dog and his overprotective owner, a strange after hours party at the zoo and dates in chalk drawings.  All the while our favorite nanny is actually (excuse my language here) kind of a bitch.  She is constantly being mean and rude to the children, especially the older ones, denying that their adventures ever happened.  She is also very very very vain, constantly looking for reflective surfaces to admire herself in, she also has a penchant for fine clothes, always buying something new.  The book ends with Mary Poppins leaving without even saying goodbye, just ditching the kids in the middle of the day and flying away with no warning, or nanny lined up or anything.  The parents are actually the nice ones in this book, even if they are a bit flaky and you kind of feel bad that they end up in the lurch they are in.  And that is the end of book one.
I know not a very detailed synopsis, but it is a pretty short book.  I loved reading it and love how snarky and borderline mean Mary Poppins is, a far cry from the spoon full of sugar version in the movies.  This seems to be a thing back in the day, they had no problem having authority figures be...well not very nice, but always for the good of the children.  It is nice to see kids expected to behave and to be loved and disciplined in an appropriate manner.  I would love to see what would happen if you tried to publish a book like this now a days, cries of cruelty would abound, yet the children in the books loved their nannies and had many adventures and learned many lessons with them.  I would recommend this book to anybody who misses the old days, like to read about other era's or is just looking for some entertainment.  I give this book 7 out of 10 snakeskin belts.
What old children's story surprised you when you finally read it?  Is it ok to be snarky to kids?  Which versions do you prefer?  I really like kids I swear it!

Monday, March 24, 2014

Green Hair And Feather Boa's

Hello All, Did you all have an amazing weekend like I did?  I hope so.  I got to go with the Hubbin and my bestie L to SHAMROCKFEST and yes it has to be said in all caps...with excessive screaming.  We had a blast, drinking beer
Eating yummy, greasy, salty did I mention yummy fair food
Fair Food
Watching all the crazy dressed up people (of which I as one of, hence the green hair and feather boa's)
It's St. Patrick's Day
And of course listening to the awesomest music ever!

Dropkick Murphy's for the win!!!!!!  We had so much fun, so much, beer and so much music and now off to read about fairies and Irish music and all things AWESOME.  Happy Reading Everybody!

Friday, March 21, 2014


Hello All, sorry about the crazy timing of my posts, but work is happening at all I guess is this blog :-)  Just finished The Different Girl by Gordon Dahlquist.  I had heard a ton of good things about it from various sources and the cover was yellow...and we all know my weird obsession with yellow covers.  It is not a long book, I read it over the course of two days, but could have easily knocked it out in couple of hours, but it is packed pretty full.  As always SPOILERS AHEAD!
Veronika is one of four girls who live on a remote island.  The four girls are identical except for the color of their hair.  Veronika has red hair, Isobel has lemon yellow hair, Caroline has brown hair and Eleanor has black hair.  The story is told in Veronika's voice and lends an innocent air to the whole book.  We watch as the four girls have lessons, take naps and live a very simple basic life.  The girls are told that their parents died in a plane crash and that they were taken to the island to live.  Right off the bat you can tell that there is something different about these girls.  The girls are all told to take a walk and observe various things around the island for a specific amount of time and then report back.  They at first find it difficult to separate and make their own decisions on where to go, but it gets easier over time.  Veronika eventually even goes so far as to make a decision to stay past her allotted time to continue to study something.  The girls are constantly questioned and taught to think about things, but seem to be very well cared for by the only other people on the island.  Irene and Robbert.  The lives on the island are interrupted by the arrival of May, the different girl.  When she first see's Veronika and her sisters she screams, letting us know that they are even more different then originally thought.  May's arrival changes everything and the girls, especially Veronika and Caroline start to display curiosity and start making their own decisions about May.  Eventually we find out that May was on a boat with her Uncle and his friend, and that the boat they live in was attacked.  This caused the boat to blow up and May to wash up on the island.  Their is a constant curiosity on the girls part and a constant fear/frustration/curiosity on May's part as Robbert and Irene try and figure out what to do with her.  Irene and Robbert try and continue the girls lessons, adding in more questions and trying to get them to think.
 Eventually Robbert tells the girls that they were built by 8 mothers and 8 fathers who were on the plane that crashed, but the plane did not crash, it was blown up on purpose and the plane with the girls, Irene and Robbert escaped.  Apparently in the future (I'm assuming this is future Earth although it is never clearly stated) it seems that people are afraid of the AI/robot/cyborgs (again never fully explained) that the girls are.  It seems from the vague tidbits we get that there are schools that all children go to that tends to brain wash them into a certain style of thinking.  Eventually another boat comes to the island, scaring May into taking the four girls into hiding, while Irene and Robbert greet the boat.  Caroline decides she need to go get Robberts notebook and leaves the other girls.  While they are hiding the people on the boat apparently shoot Irene and Robbert, destroy the little compound they had been living in and leave.  Caroline shows up with the notebook, but is broken and falls to her "death" on the cliffs below.  The remaining three girls and May use the notebook to rebuild the little compound and are living there still.
This book is different, it is less of a story and more of an idea.  The point of this book is not to explain what is going on in the outside world, though we get a few hints of a possible dystopia, the point is more about the girls and how they think.  If I had to pick a point to this book...I'm not sure what it would be, and yet it is fascinating all the same.  The decision to use one of the four AI girls as the voice of this book was spot on.  It gave an uninformed, yet present voice to all the happenings.  Everything we know is from an almost emotionless, yet innocent perspective and it makes you think differently about things...which may be the point.  The patience and obvious care that Irene and Robbert have for the girls, obviously goes beyond just programming a machine, a certain parent child bond seems to be apparent in their actions.  The
disconnectedness, yet bond the four girls share is an odd one, but it makes a weird sort of sense.  I think my favorite part about May was her frustration in the four girls.  They knew they were constructs, yet they thought of themselves as alive and sentient.  May on the other hand at times had a hard time getting past their differentness, sometimes letting the idea that they were machines get in the way of getting to know them.  In the end though May bonded with them and called them friends.  This book is a really different (there is that word again) mix of man and machine, thinking and feeling, logic and intuition.  It is really hard to talk about, because it is really hard to explain.  Go read it and tell me what you think.  I give it 7 out of 10 AI's
At what point does a machine become human?  At what point does a human become a machine?  Is this a really heavy book for YA or am I just older then I thought?

Thursday, March 20, 2014

The Shirt Says It All

Some shirts to express the extent of your awesome bookworm there was ever any question
Hunger Games
9 3/4
Gatsby Party
So go out and show your bookishness and let the world know you are a bookworm!

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

This Is Why You Should Always Read The Book First

YAWWWWN!!!  Hmmm oh it morning? afternoon?  I may or may not have stayed up to the wee hours of the morning binge watching Game of Thrones.
You see I just got season 3, and of course we had to watch the first two seasons to makes sure we were all caught up sooooo....yeah.  I have gotten my sweet Hubbin hooked and he is just as bad if not worse then I am about binge watching this show.  It is kind of weird watching this show, knowing what is coming up, and since my husband likes spoilers he has to put up with me getting pre-sad or happy over various character happenings. SPOILERS AHEAD FOR BOOK AND TV SHOW.  Of course season 3 is the season that made all the non-bookies go running for the books as to never again have to live through the agony of another Red Wedding.  I however do not get the pleasure of watching Hubbin get all shocked since after the Dobby incident I have to tell him who and how everybody dies, but still pretty funny to watch all the non-bookies freak out.
If they thought that was shocking, just wait until Season 4 and the second half of book three (am I right my fellow bookies!) I am still thoroughly enjoying the vast majority of the TV show, almost as much as the books, the casting is still about 98% spot on and very much enhances my enjoyment of both the show and the books.  Well I still have a couple more episodes to watch before I head off to the fire station for two days, so if my posting is spotty that will be why.  Happy Reading (and watching) everybody!

Sunday, March 16, 2014

The Faraway Country

Top O the morning (or afternoon or evening) to you I hope you are all having a wonderful St. Patrick's day.  I love St. Patrick's day, it combines all my favorites Ireland, faeries, myth, history, beer, everything awesome. Around this time of year I love reading one of my favorite books The Hunters Moon by O.R. Melling, the first in the Chronicles of Faerie.  I have talked about this book briefly before but wanted to go in more detail about it. First a quick synopsis and then I will go on and on about it as usual :-).  As always SPOILERS AHEAD.
Gwen and Findabhair (called Finn) are teenage cousins who set off on a quest around Ireland to find adventure and magic.  The girls get more than they bargained for when they decide to sleep in an ancient burial mound.  The King of Faeire's and his host come to the girls and offer to take them to the other realm.  Finn always the impulsive one immediately agrees while the more sensible Gwen hesitates and refuses. Gwen is also visited by a ghostly apperation who tells her she can trust people with red hair.  Gwen wakes up to Finn missing and sets off on a quest to rescue her cousin.  This is harder then it sounds (even though it seems pretty hard to begin with) because Gwen is naturally a follower not a leader. Remembering the advice of the ghost Gwen gets a ride from Mattie, a red haired business man who against all odds still believes in the old ways.  She also meets up with Katie, a red headed farmer who still sets out milk for the local Brownies.  With her new friends help, Gwen finally chases down the fairies and with the help of Midir, the faerie
Captain who on occasion can turn into a fox makes it to the faerie ball.  When they arrive Gwen see's a party that is beyond her wildest dreams, dripping with jewels, colors, music, sights, sounds it is everything a faerie party should be and more.  Finn arrives with Finvarra the King of Faeire who is wild and handsome and charming and awe inspiring and everything one could want in a Faeire King (and also one of my book crushes).  Finn tells Gwen that she is Finvarra's new queen and that she is there by choice.  Finvarra tries to convince Gwen to stay as well, but she is not yet ready to give up her mortal life.  She is tested with the food of the faeries and fails miserably, but escapes anyways.  She continues to follow the faeries around trying to find a way to rescue Finn, even though she is repeatedly told that she is there of her own free will.  Gwen eventually ends up on Inch Island in the care of Dara the "king" of the island and his great aunt.  Gwen learns more about faeire history (yes I am aware I am spelling faeire a thousand different ways) and learns that the fairies must give a willing mortal as sacrifice to an ancient entity known as the hunter, if this does not happen the world of faeire will be devoured.  Finvarra wanted Gwen to come so that she could be the sacrifice so that his new love Finn would not have to go.  Gwen with the help f her new friends decides to try one last time to rescue Finn.  As they go
on the rescue Finn appears, telling Gwen that she has only come back to say goodbye, that she has volunteered to be the tribute to save the land of faerie, a land she has become Queen of, a land that she now loves.  In his defense Finvarra declared he would go in her stead, but she would not let him.  Gwen and her friends decide that enough is enough and that they will fight this monster instead of giving in.  Finvarra whole-heartedly agrees to the plan and they collect Katie and Mattie to make the sacred number 7 and set off to fight the monster.  An epic battle ensues and they lose.  To save Finn, Finvarra offers himself as tribute.  The remaining group mourn his loss, especially Finn and all agree to meet up a year later to celebrate/mourn their loss.  As they meet up, a young man who looks like Finvarra appears.  Apparently the monster only took his immortality and left him to live the life of a man.  The group agree to help him adjust and they all live happily ever after.

This book is just so full of faeiry, history, adventure, magic, love, humaness, humor, drama, scenery, pretty much everything.  I cannot even do justice to the amazingness that is this book.  One of my favorite things about fairies and magic is if you ask any given person, they will give you a different opinion or idea on what they think they are, and for me, this book is for the most part how I view them.  Wild, old, ever changing, this is how I think of fairies. The fact that this book is set in Ireland, and that the author adds so many little bits of history and myth and tangles them all up, just makes it even better for me.  Some specific points that catch my attention every time I read this book.  First off the heroine is not the skinny, classically beautiful one that gets the faerie king.  She is the overweight, scared one that ends up with the 100% human boy. Gwen
makes a believable transition from a self doubting scardey-cat who would follow Finn's lead, to a self-possessed young woman who was not only capable of making decisions, but leading the charge to execute them.  I like that Gwen made mistakes, and that there were consequences to her mistakes. The bits of history are awesome, I love books that make me want to do further research and this is one of those.  I love the mix of modern and ancient.  The idea that fairies are still here, that the old ways are still followed, yet the hereditary king of Inch Island talks about getting a collage education and keeping his families tourist business open.  Again this is very similar to how I feel about life in general.  I think it is important to remember the old ways, to understand and keep tradition in a certain sense, to believe in magic, but I find it equally as important to live in the world we live in, to continue forward and to survive and thrive in the present.  My favorite thing in this book is the portrayal of the Fair Folk and their world, the variances of it, one moment as columns of light, riding horses of starlight across the sky, the next dripping in jewels in a magical royal ball, and yet again in the next nature's children with leaves and flowers for clothes reveling in the moonlight.  I just love love love love love these visuals.  Ok obviously I love this book, it appeals to me on many levels and to me is the perfect St. Patrick's Day read.  I give it 9 out of 10 faerie revels and can't wait to read it again.
What is your favorite fairy book? Did you ever think that St. Patrick's Day would have its own genre of book?  Is a grown woman believing in faeries awesome, or a bit weird? How awesome is the cover?

Friday, March 14, 2014


Hello all, all kinds of good stuff going on over here.  First of all I am working on a major revamp of certain sections of the blog, so stay tuned to see how that turns out.  Second of all today is my last day at my current job and then it is on to new adventures.  Because my schedule will change so drastically I wanted to warn everybody that the times of the new posts will be more often then not later in the day instead of the morning like they are now.  Posting may be a bit spotty over the course of the next few weeks as I try and settle into my new schedule, but I will do my best to cause minimal disruption of the flow.  Hopefully this new schedule will allow me more time to read and more time to do some more research and visit new places and have more and awesomer adventures so stay tuned!
M.C. Escher
This has nothing at all to do with today's post...I just really like M.C. Escher and this is one of my favorite collections of his work. :-)  Happy Reading Everybody

Thursday, March 13, 2014

12...No Wait 15...Wait Nope 17 Children (Soon To Be 18)

So…technology…it kinda sucks sometimes.  My computer is actually down right now so I am writing this offline on a different computer and hoping I can copy and paste it over shortly…of course if you are reading this that means it worked, if you’re not then I am just another crazy lady typing to herself.  All of these stupid tech issues make me nostalgic for the simple days when all I needed was a library card and a good book to make me happy.  In this vein I decided to hunt down some of the old books I enjoyed as a child.  One such book was/is called Mrs. Purdy’s Children by Ruth Loomis.  I had a hard time remembering the name of this book and then I had an even harder time tracking down a copy to buy.  I eventually found a copy to buy from the Ulysses Township Library in Ulysses NE.  I am now doubly thrilled, one to finally find a book from my beloved childhood and two to have the added bonus of it looking and smelling just like the one from the library I used to read as a child, that’s right total sensory experience here folks.  Mrs. Purdy’s Children is an older book, first published in 1970 which makes it about 20 years old the first time I read it.   Despite its slight datedness I still love this quirky little story.  As always Spoilers Ahead!
Mrs. Purdy has 12 no wait 15 no wait 17 children, yep that sounds about right 17 children.  Lucky for Mrs. Purdy her children are all capable responsible people who have worked out their own way of running the house hold.  We have the older children Henry Jr., May, April, Willy, Ernest, Connie, Lancelot, Galahad, Emily, June, Sue, and another boy whose name I could never figure out.  They help take care of the little ones, Sweden, Jimmy, Erica, Heathcliff and again another one I never quite got the name of.  All of these children live in a house that has many improvements invented by their father before he went on a prospecting trip to Alaska.  Mrs. Purdy works at the local Sweete Shoppe to help provide some extra income and is much beloved by most of the townsfolk as well as her family.  Parental supervision is at a minimum, with Mr. Purdy being in Alaska for the last couple years and Mrs. Purdy working, it falls to the children to maintain their own order.  Surprisingly they have come up with a pretty good system using General Meetings and a rotational chore chart things get done in a pretty efficiently.  Oh yeah, they also get a lot of help from a
mysterious plant they call a roanoke, named after Roanoke VA where it originated from.   This plant, which has grown to epic proportions is the basis for all of the Purdy's food, they can make roasts from the roots, stews from the leaves and the most wonderful cakes, cookies and pies from the flowers.  Every once in a while the roanoke will pop out a special pod that blooms into an honest to goodness baby...yep kind of like Cabbage Patch Kids.  This is where the confusion of just how many Purdy kids there are comes in.  Mrs. Purdy is elected Mother of the Year by the local committee and the family receives all sorts of goodies. Mrs. Purdy takes it all in stride and continues with her life as normal, including welcoming another roanoke baby into the family.  The children all vote on a name for the baby (which ends up being Ceres) and try and explain her to the committee when they come to the house.  After a disastrous interview with the oblivious Mrs. Purdy, the committee decides not only to take away her title as Mother of the Year, but to investigate her as well.  This results in the children putting on a demonstration involving all of the towns children to reinstate their mother as Mother of the Year.  In the midst of this chaos Mr. Purdy comes home and helps calm the sea of disorder.  Eventually Mrs. Purdy is reinstated as Mother of the Year and all is well.  Mr. Purdy insists on destroying the roanoke, claiming he cannot even keep track of the 18 kids that he has.  The family agrees, but Sue and Willy find a cutting planted in a secret spot in the back of the garden and agree to keep it secret.  The children all live wildly and happily ever after.
I don't really have a whole lot to say about this book.  The biggest factor for me is its nostalgia value which is huge.  Growing up I loved stories about big chaotic families...'cause I lived in a big chaotic family. Also I may or may not have checked every seed pod I saw for babies :-)  I still love all of the little time saving devices that Mr. Purdy put in the house.  I love that he feels the need to get away from his giant family on occasion.  I love that Mrs. Purdy is willing to let her kids run the house and each other and I love that the kids have come up with a democratic,  surprisingly fair and effective way to keep the chaos under control.  I love that each of the kids has their own personality and I love how this book just lets the kids be kids.  It is an old book, it is a bit dated and a bit simplistic, but I still love it.  If you are looking for a quick, fun read this is a great pick...if you can find it.  I give it 8 out of 10 roanoke babies.
What book holds a huge nostalgia factor for you?  What would you name your 18 kids?  What would you do if you left with 12 kids and came home to 18?

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Random Super Bookworm Girl Book Facts

In case anybody had any doubt whatsoever I am a little tiny bit weird...ok I'm a lot tiny bit weird.  Some of my quirks come out in my reading habits/likes/dislikes so I thought I would share a few so you can get to know me a bit better :-)
My List of Book/Reading Facts
1. I am actually dyslexic and can't read single words very well so when I learned to read I learned to read whole paragraphs at a time.  Nobody ever believes me until a) they give me five seconds to see a paragraph and then quiz me on it or b) ask me to edit something word for word...not a good idea.
2. I like books in a series to all look the same.  I want them either all paperback or all hardback and with the same style of cover.  At the moment my Harry Potter series is a jumble of hardback, paperback and styles and it drives me crazy every time I look at it.
3. I really really really like books with yellow covers.  I have no idea why, yellow doesn't even make it into my top 5 favorite color list, but I love it on a book cover.
4.  I like shopping for books almost as much as I love reading them.
5.  As much as I love a brand new book, I adore getting books from library sales, especially ones from my youth, there is something about the smell of them that takes me straight back to happy times.
6. I firmly believe that books can be the decor.
7. I love my books and any time anybody asks me when I am going to clean them out and get rid of some I pretty much just look at them in horror.
8. I have reread almost every book that I own at least once, many of them several times.
9. I always have to have at least one book with me, always.
10. I used to pretend to be afraid of the dark so my parents would leave the hall light on and my door open, then I would creep to the end of my bed and read until the wee hours of the morning.
11. I crave various types of books like most people crave food, and I can't stop obsessing until I read what I am craving.
12.Sometimes when I reread a book I skip pages.
13. I will read a book I know I am gonna hate, just to say I have read it so I can snark about it in good conscious.
14.  I can read up to 600 words per minute with a really high comprehension level, but usually probably only read around 400 when I am reading for fun.
15.  I started first grade a year and a half early because I could read.
16. In grade school we all had to do these speed reading and comprehension tests and they thought I was cheating because I was consistently getting an 8th grade reading level result while I was in the second grade.
17. My Mamma and I used to have "competitions" to see who could read the same book the she just brings suitcases full for me when she comes to visit.
18. Every single person in my family is a book lover, even my lil bro who used to hate it with a passion until he discovered books on tape/ipod (his learning disabilities make it almost impossible to read for any length of time, so he discovered a work around).
19. I bribe myself to do things I don't want to with new books and reading time.
20. The world goes away when I read.
Hopefully this little exercise has given you some insight into my world of books and words.  I am lucky I grew up in a house that encouraged a love of reading, and I married a guy who indulges my every literary whim.  These quirks and habits are a bit odd, but they are how my reading life goes :-)
What reading quirks/habits do you have?  Are you surprised that I have issues reading...or did my spelling/grammar tip you off :-)? How would we survive without reading?

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

It's A Fine October Daye

One of my favorite joys in life is discovering a new author to love.  Recently (this past year) I have discovered Seanan McGuire (who also writes under the pen name Mira Grant).  Most of her work is in the urban fantasy round, straying into horror on occasion.  I like her work because she adds a plausibility element to all of this "make-believe" that a lot of fantasy and horror authors are missing.  For me this is a big deal because if I cannot at least try and believe the premise of the book, it takes me out of the world and makes for a much harder read (I'm looking at you Divergent).  I have read several of Ms. McGuire's books and decided to start on her October Daye series starting with the first one Rosemary and Rue.  As always SPOILERS AHEAD!
We start with a prologue in which we meet our heroine the changeling (half faerie, half human) private investigator October Daye.  We learn that October (or Toby as most people call her) has a fiance and young daughter at home. Toby is on a case to find the missing wife and daughter of her liege lord in the faerie realm the Duke Sylvester Torquill.  For her trouble Toby ends up being transformed into a koi by the bad guys and spends the next 14 years in a pond.  Flash forward 14 years and 6 months and Toby is trying to put her life back together.  She feels burned by her faerie side, doing her best to avoid all things fae and just focus on holding down a job long enough to pay rent.  Her fiance and daughter want nothing to do with her, having moved on in the 14 years of her absence.  This all changes when the Countess Evening Winterrose is murdered and lays a deadly curse on Toby, compelling her to find her killer or die trying. Toby starts her search by visiting the crime scene and "riding" the blood of Evening, a skill she inherited from her faerie mother.  By tasting the blood, Toby not only makes the binding of the curse stronger, but gets some clues on where to head next. She also finds out that Evening was killed by iron, a cruel and specific way to torture or kill someone with any faerie blood in them.  She starts by telling the Queen, who reacts in what can only be described as an insane way and is ordered to leave with no help.  Next Toby goes Home, a place run by a changeling named Devin who takes in wayward half-bloods and essentially owns them until they find a way to break free.  Toby spent some time there in her youth before being knighted by the Duke and has a
love/hate relationship with Devin. Devin agrees to help her for a future unnamed price and has two of his kids, the siblings Dare and Manuel act as body guards/escorts.  Toby follows the clues and finds a legendary hope chest hidden in Evenings things.  This hope chest supposedly holds wonders that are only spoke about in stories, one of them being the power to transform a changling into a full human or full faerie, just by holding the box, Toby can feel a strange power flowing through her.  Knowing how dangerous this box could be, she leaves it in the possession of Tybalt called King of Cats, the leader of the Cait Sidhe or cat faeries.  Toby knows it will be safe with him 'cause they really don't like each other and he will not want to be in her debt. Toby finally goes to see Sylvester and his court, finding a warm welcome by not only him, but his wife, who was returned to him along with their daughter 10 years after they vanished. Nobody knows what happened to them, Luna (the wife) won't say and Rayseline went a bit cuckoo and is now a bit of a sadistic freak.  More talking and blah blah blahing and we find out that Rayseline's Selkie husband Conner and Toby had a thing back in the day, making it a bit awkward.  Toby continues hunting around despite everybody telling her it is to dangerous, but the curse will kill her if she doesn't find the answer so off she goes.  She gets shot by iron multiple times, gets patched up by various people multiple times and finally figures out that the killer was Devin.  Devin killed Evening to try and procure the hope chest, made bitter by the fact that he feels he deserves the immortality of the fae and it wasn't given to him.  In the ensuing fight Dare is killed, as is the young lover of Julie another Cait Sidhe, causing all sorts of inter faerie court problems.  The curse is lifted and Toby is reinstated as a PI to continue her work as a faerie/human detective/knight.  Also she gets to keep this weird rose thorn cat goblin thingy.
A synopsis will never capture what I really love about this book and that is the complex, yet follow-able world building that is done, especially on the faerie side.  The author spends a lot of time making sure we know that faerie is not just a willowy little creature with wings and rose petal slippers, they come in all shapes and sizes and varieties and they are well represented here.  I love that not only are various types of faeries represented, but different cultures as well.  We have the Japanese Kitsune, the Undine which is a bit more of a Greek concept, Selkies from Irish/Scottish myth, the Persian Manticore, and of course all of your more typical Fair Folk type denizens.  All of this is further enhanced by the author clearly defining the various types of faeries and how the various mixes of blood produce different reactions and abilities.  For one example Toby's ability to "ride" blood comes from her Daoine Sidhe mother, while another character combines the sadisticness of the reclusive Peri (another Persian myth) and the socialness of  the Tuatha de Dannan (Gaelic myth) to make a being who not only enjoys people, but really enjoys inflicting pain on them.  The author has taken artistic liberties with the strictly old school myths, turning them into a world that is both completely new and familiar at the same time.  The hierarchy, politics, rules, traditions and class structure are fairly well explained and add a layer of authenticness and the feeling that these beings have been here for centuries.  The magic is well thought out and has rules and restrictions that feel authentic which again helps with the plausibility factor. I especially love that most magic users have a specific taste and smell that helps identify who the use is, for example Toby's magic manifests as copper and grass cuttings.  There were a couple things that did bug me.  I was not feeling the actual character of October Daye, especially compared to the main character Verity in her one of her other urban fantasy series (InCryptid).  Toby seems a lot more of a reactionary character, a bit of a blank slate for the other characters to act against.  She is a changeling who
has lots of friends (and enemies and frenemies) in convenient places. While I like the idea that she is not
super woman, that she can (and does) get truly injured in a very believable fashion (finally a recovery that takes more then 10 minutes, even with her super faerie healing powers) I feel she too often wanted to prove her self, got hurt, needed rescuing, then promptly went out and did the same thing with the same results several times over...for no real reason.  I understood the whole attraction/maybe love thing with Devin, but then the author tossed in some possible thing between Toby and Conner that felt...hmm...I'm not sure how to describe what bugged my about it.  I guess the fact that the vast majority of Toby's history is given to us in a few vague, moody, wisps, but we yet all of her motivations are based on her past.  I guess it is difficult to empathize or identify with Toby because we don't know why or how or what is really motivating her. So she tells us that her and Conner may at one time in the very distant past have possibly maybe been able to fall in love, but didn't and that is why she is now a zillion years later so attracted to him...even though...well we don't know because that is all we have to go on, some nebulous maybe feeling from her unknown past, we don't even get to know Conner enough to see his appeal.  In the end the world building trumps the story and most definitely outshines the main character.  Any time I want to read about one of the other characters instead of the main one, it throws up a bit of a red flag. Oh one other thing I liked was all of the subtle references to Shakespeare. Ophelia from Hamlet is mentioned in perfect context and Tybalt King of the Cats is such a wonderfully direct reference to my favorite character in Romeo and Juliet that I must admit I squealed out loud.  Overall I enjoyed the world Ms. McGuire has built and will probably be back to visit it again in her further books, but not until I have exhausted the InCryptid novels with my sassy spunky not so vague Verity.  I give this book 6 out of 10 rose goblins.
Do you like your cultural fairy tales all mixed up or do your prefer them separate and pure? Do you love it as much as I do when an author sneaks in some Shakespeare?  What does your magic smell like?  Do people give you funny looks when you squeal out loud when you read?

Monday, March 10, 2014

A Weekend Of Undersea Adventure

Hello all, how was your weekend?  Mine was AWESOME!  My sweet Hubbin noticed I was going a bit stir crazy and took me adventuring all weekend.  We went shopping for clothes and shoes and jewelry and food (a good adventurer needs to be well supplied). We watched Walking Dead (studying for the zombie apocalypse).  Read so much!!!!!! My favorite thing we did was to visit the National Aquarium in Baltimore. I love love love love love aquariums, don't know why, just do.   Growing up in Seattle I had the opportunity to be around several aquariums, tidal pools, and other places with sea life.  I used to look forward to going to these places with the same enthusiasm as most kids have for Chuck E. Cheese.  I still love going to aquariums to this day, something about them just takes me to another place, one of magic, mermaids, krakens, pirates, Atlantis.  Who knows what happens beneath the waves when no one is looking. When I can't actually be at the aquarium I also love watching shows and looking at books about under the sea.
Light in the Sea-photographed and written by David Doubilet is to this day my go to book to just leave everything else behind.  The book is a mix of the most amazing underwater photography and essays and insights by the photographer himself.  I've had this book since I was 8 years old (yep all the other kids wanted candy or toys, I wanted a big coffee table book full of pictures and essays) and I still find wonder and magic in every page.  Here are a couple shots from the book.

These are just a few of the stunning images that have led to my obsession with the sea.  Now I cant wait to go home and watch Blue Planet and get in some more under the sea goodness!  Happy Reading Everybody!

Friday, March 7, 2014

EMT Bookworm

No sleep, that about sums up my life lately, but that's ok, that is what I signed up for.
EMT By Day
Of course in my world it is more like EMT by nights and weekend, book lover all times in between, but you get the idea.  Time to finish up the day job, read a couple chapters and hit the sack.  Happy Reading Everybody!

Thursday, March 6, 2014

A Divergence Of Opinion

Word of warning, this is going to potentially be a really long, really meandering post, so be prepared.  I try very hard not to pre-judge a book, or let other reviews or opinions influence me to much before I read and ramble about a book.  It is impossible to be completely unbiased as one usually picks up a book for a reason, the cover, the blurb, the hype, authorship, genre all of these obviously lead to some sort of assumption about the book, but over all I try very hard to read each book with an open mind.  Divergent (book #1 in the Divergent Series) by Veronica Roth is one of those books I have had a hard time reading with an open mind.  On one hand many trusted sources loved this book and recommended it, and they are usually dead on, on the other hand the whole premise of the series just does not work for me on a gut level.  So I figured that if I was to follow my own rules, that if I was going to comment on it, I should probably actually read it first.  I went in hoping it would surprise me, that the premise would have a plausible explanation and that I would not want to toss the main character off a cliff.  I was both pleasantly surprised and understandably disappointed in this book. Why you ask, well lets start with a quick synopsis then you can all listen to me ramble for a couple of paragraphs :-) As always SPOILERS AHEAD!!!!
Sometime in the future the world, or at least the people of Chicago Illinois USA (Happy Birthday Chi-town) have survived some sort of something and have divided into five factions.  The factions are divided on how people think to best avoid another war.  The Amity faction uphold peace at any cost, they are the hippies of the world.  The Candor group believes that complete and utter truth will avoid war.  The Erudite's feel knowledge is the answer to the worlds problems.  The Abnegation Faction is sure that if everybody were selfless war would be extinct.  Finally the Dauntless believe that courage is key to keeping the people safe.  Children live and learn the precepts of their faction until they turn 16, they then undergo a test, kind of an aptitude test that shows what faction a person is most likely to end up in, though that does not mean the person has to choose that faction.  For the most part children tend to stick with the faction they were born into, but there are always exceptions.  Beatrice is one of those exceptions.  She was born into Abnegation a daughter of a ruling council member (in this world only people from Abnegation are allowed to rule as they are seen as being above corruption and always working for other people).  As much as she loves her family, she struggles with being eternally selfless.  She takes her test and is told in hushed tones that she is Divergent, as far as I can tell that means she fits into more then one faction profile, in her case Dauntless, Erudite and Abnegation.  This is potentially bad juju for our heroine and she is told to never tell anyone.  Beatrice
chooses Dauntless as her faction and her brother chooses Erudite, leaving their parents with no children remaining in Abnegation.  Beatrice, or Tris as she now calls herself is put with the other transfers and made to go through a series of bloody, violent, fear inducing tests.  The recruits are told that of the 20 recruits only 10 will be allowed to remain in Dauntless and the rest will have to live factionless. We also meet Four, one of the training instructors, and Eric a sadistic young man who is part of the leadership.  Tris initially does not do so well, but she quickly learns.  Meanwhile the Erudite's have been spreading lies and rumors about the Abnegation leadership, attempting to start a revolution to take power from them. Tris's mother comes to Visiting Day and reveals that she was originally from Dauntless before she chose Abnegation, which completely takes Tris by surprise (GO MAMMA).  Stuff happens, violence ensues and they move on to the second stage of training. This stage is where you start to face your fears and Tris quickly learns to manipulate the simulations, tipping Four off that she is Divergent.  Tris and Four strike up a relationship that is actually kind of sweet and does not involve Four manhandling Tris into compliance with his manly whims.  More stuff and things, more rumors and mayhem, more skulking and secrets and then the final test.  The final test is to go through your fear landscape and find a way to face your fears.  The average number of fears is between 10-15.  Tris finds out that the reason Four is called Four is that he only has Four fears, heights, confined spaces, killing his mom, and his abusive father...who just happens to be the leader of Abnegation.  Tris gets through her test with only 6 fears (she is so special) and is then injected by Eric with a tracker
serum that he says is being given to everybody.  Tris and Four come to an understanding about life and go to the celebration banquet where she finds out she is #1 on the rankings and all her friends made into Dauntless YAY!  She goes to bed and wakes up when her bunkmates all start sleepwalking for lack of a better term.  They all board the train to the Abnegation sector with Tris playing along at being controlled for the sake of trying to save her family.  Four also turns out to be a hidden Divergent and can also resist the commands of the serum.  He and Tris try and save people, but end up captured.  Turns out that the Erudite leader Jeanine and the Dauntless leadership have decided to team up and murder the Abnegation council to take over.  Knowing that most soldiers would never murder innocents in cold blood, the Erudite's created a serum to control them and anybody else they deemed to non docile.  Tris escapes with the help of her mother who also turns out to be Divergent and was sent to Abnegation for her own safety.  Her mother dies protecting her, fulfilling the ultimate selfless act.  Tris finds her father, brother and Marcus (Fours abusive father) and devises a plan to destroy the transmission that is controlling the soldiers.  Along the way her father is also killed protecting her, again displaying the selflessness of his faction.  Tris is able to break Fours conditioning and they stop the transmission.  All is chaos as they head toward the Amity sector for refuge and to decide what to do next.  The End.
As always there is more to the book then what I synopsed (is that a word?) but that is the gist of it.  Now on to my self important rambling about why this book drove me CRAZY!  It was actually a well written book, especially if you compare it to books like The Maze Runner series.  This book had good well fleshed out characters, believable conflict, even the requisite love story had a decent flavor.  My big problem with this book is the basic premise.  The idea that humanity can be divided into one of five emotional/mental states is very interesting, but completely unrealistic.  I can see them trying it as an experiment, but I would guess that it would not hold any sort of pure form for very long.  Humans are made to think in various ways, even the most sheep like of people when pressed will find that nothing is as simple as a single concept.  I have a whole entire list of notes I made while reading this book and they kept coming back to the fact that this society cannot exist, humans would never be able to maintain that kind of discipline, nor would they want to. So 'cause this is my blog I am going to discuss some of the things I think would make this society impossible.  First off if you are forced to choose a single precept to live your life by, I'm pretty sure 16 is the wrong age to do it.  I know as a 16 year old if I was given the choice I would be torn between Erudite and would the vast majority of the other 16 year olds I knew.  Who wouldn't want to be the bad ass group, or the group who got to do things.  I cannot think of very many 16 year olds who would purposely choose a life of self sacrifice, especially when you go to school with the other factions and see how much more fun they are.   And then what happens when you grow up, I can tell you right now what I thought was awesome and perfect and wonderful, is not how I think now x+ years later and I am pretty sure in another 15 years my views will have modified again.  So you make a choice based on your impulsive, hormonal, young 16 year old self and have no other options until you die...not gonna happen.  Ok so moving on.  Apparently the main indicator that you are the dreaded Divergent is that you score high in more then one faction during your aptitude test...which the test itself is kind of dumb.  Not only that, but it doesn't matter what the test says you can choose a different faction is anybody who chooses a different faction from their test results Divergent?  Also don't most of these factions actually have to spill over into each other, as one character says, it takes a lot of courage to be again...wouldn't most humans be Divergent.  This takes me to another issue, their seems to be contradicting information about the rules of factions and Divergent's.  Sometimes the initiates are encouraged to think like other factions, they are told to do some research and be prepared, or to be honest or whatever as a way to enhance and improve.  Other times when a recruit does any of those things they are derided for acting like another faction.  And what about the transfer initiates...are they not automatically Divergent as they spent the last 16 years being trained in another don't just lose that training.  Moving on to what the purpose of the factions is.  Apparently in this society if you are in a faction, there are a limited number of jobs you can do.  Abnegation is the ruling council and head of all the volunteer work to restore the city (from what I don't know) and make sure that the
factionless have jobs, food, clothes and shelter (more on the factionless in a minute).  Dauntless can pretty much only do security...and piercing and tattoos of other Dauntless.  Amity farms and gardens.  Erudite does pretty much everything else that is non menial. Candor...well...I'm not sure what Candor actually does other then annoy each other.  All the menial jobs like bus driving and janitorial jobs are forced upon the factionless who are treated like dirt. I hate that the only option to being in one of the five super specific factions is to live in abject poverty as a third class citizen, there is no recourse, no possibility of re factioning, and the worst part is that there are no rules on how or when a person can get kicked out.  Of the 20 initiates in Dauntless they are told at least 10 will be factionless by the end of the trials...16 year olds who had no idea how the trials work and they are screwed for the rest of their lives, not cool.  Again, I do not know of any group of humans who would allow this weirdly skewed society to exist (also if Abnegation were truly selfless, wouldn't the let all the factionless into their faction?).  The reasoning behind Divergent's being a threat finally comes out in the end...but this is a recent development and I am not sure if being Divergent was just recently recognized, or it did not matter before, or what, but again more convenient then sense making.  I could go on and on and on and on and on about how this type of society is impossible with out giving people drugs or shock therapy or a lobotomy, but I think you get my frustration.  It was hard because I would get into the story (and again it was fairly well written) and then they would dump the Divergent premise in their and all I could think about is NO THAT

WOULD NOT HAPPEN.  I am weird though and seem to be in the minority (shocking right ;-) ) Again, it sounds like I hate the book, but I did not, I really enjoyed the characters and their motivation, I loved loved loved the time they spent in the Dauntless challenges, and I even liked the relationship between Tris and Four (yay for no stupid love triangle). Also as a girl who did the Chicago scene for several years (and got myself the worlds best Hubbin while there) I loved how recognizable, yet destroyed the city was.  I will happily read the next two books (though I have been warned about book two) and hope that the author can find a way to convince me that put together the whole series makes sense.  I understood the comparison to the Hunger Games series and not just because it is a YA dystopian trilogy.  There are violent contests, friends, bucking the government and a girl lead who is finding her inner strength, but this is not by any means a copy cat of Hunger Games, it has its own story, its own setting, and its own premise.  I now cannot wait to see the movie and see how it stacks up to the books, and I will get to the next book in the series soon.  I would recommend this book to anybody who enjoyed the Hunger Games...just beware the premise.  I give this book 6 out of 10 lip piercings.
Do I let the premise of books take up to much importance?  What is the most important aspect of a book to you?  What faction would you choose?  What faction would you create? Why is every YA dystopia compared to the Hunger Games?