Wednesday, April 30, 2014

All Hail The God Of Absolutely Never Smiling No Not Ever

Hello to all my bookworm friends and welcome to another ramble for my messy little brain.  Today we shall explore all the things I loved (and a few things I didn't) about Midnight Blue-Light Special the second book in the InCryptid series by Seanan McGuire.  I grabbed this book last week (or was it the week before) because it was easy to carry and I spent the next four hours lying on the grass on the National Mall enjoying myself thoroughly.  First lets get through a quick synopsis as always SPOILERS AHEAD.
When we left Verity at the end of the last book she had just dismantled a snake cult and found what could be the last living male dragon, Hurrah!!!  She is now working at The Freakshow, a new nightclub owned by Kitty a bogeyman (bogeywoman?) and the niece of the former owner Dave of Fish and Strips.  Verity is the head choreographer and lead dancer for the burlesque type shows in this strange little club that mixes humans and cryptids.  What are cryptids? They are creatures of legend, think dragons, gorgons, bogeymen, bigfoot and so forth.  In between shifts at the Freakshow, Verity spends her time studying, protecting and on rare occasions slaying cryptids as part of her Price family work. This all gets complicated when her sometimes boyfriend Dominic DeLuca of the dreaded Covenant (a group working on exterminating all cryptids just
because) stops by to tell her that the Covenant is coming to New York City to do a purge of the cryptid population.  This of course gets Verity all hot and bothered and in need of reinforcements.  Her cuckoocousin Sarah (a human looking creature who naturally manipulates all living things in her environment), her adopted Uncle Mike, Ryan the super hot Tanuki, and his frills loving Waheela girlfriend Istas all move into an old warehouse in the meatpacking district to come up with a plan.  Dominic slips information to Verity so she can watch the arrival of the three Covenant agents who are coming to do the prep work for the purge.  Among the agents is one women named Margaret Healy, a cousin of Verity and hell bent on getting revenge on the Price/Healy family for leaving the Covenant and actually considering most cryptids to be non-evil.  Much jumping, running, fighting and Aeslin mice (you remember these religious fanatic rodents who provide some great comic relief from the last books right?) ceremonies, all leading up to Dominic finally deciding to leave the Covenant and join the Price family in their fight to protect the cryptids.  Unfortunately he decides this a tad to late as Verity has now been captured by the Covenant agents.  Sarah takes over the narrative for a while, which is really cool and gives us a new perspective on both events, and her own character.  She and the rest of the gang come up with a plan to try and save Verity and/or warn the rest of the cryptids who are hiding out at the Freakshow.  We switch back to Verity who is being tortured for information, but finally manages to attempt to escape.  The tension mounts and all the groups finally clash on the roof with Sarah using her mental powers to implant false memories in the Covenant agents saving everybody.  Verity wakes up in the hospital to learn that Dominic loves her and is staying on her side, the agents have been sent packing and the New York cryptids are as safe as ever.  Unfortunately the mind trick Sarah used on the agents also sent her into a telepathic coma...with the results yet to be seen.  The book ends with Verity and Dominic heading back to the Price family compound, Sarah going home with her mother and a promise of more to come.
Obviously there is a lot more to this book, but that is the bare bones of it (I say this in almost every rambling don't I?)  I loved the first book, and I love this book, it has all the fun stuff spunky, sassy heroines, kick-ass fighting, crazy cryptids, love, hate, family it is so so so much fun.  I still love Verity as a central character, she retained all the traits I loved about her the first time around so I won't rehash that bit, but I will say that her character showed some believable growth which I enjoyed.   One of my minor complaints in the last book is that we did not get to see a lot of Verity's dancing, which was supposed to be her passion, this was addressed beautifully in this book by Verity deciding that while dance was her heart, protecting the cryptids was her soul and she would focus on that.  The Dominic/Verity love story is awesome plain and simple.  Verity has no delusions that Dominic is wholly on one side or the other, she is fully aware that he can betray her at any moment (which I think is part of his appeal for her).  In the end Dominic has his own growth arc and comes to learn that he needs to pick a side.  I like that he chooses to leave the Covenant, not just because of Verity, but because he truly no longer believes that all cryptids are mindless evil creatures.  This time around we get to learn a lot about some of the other characters, especially Istas and Sarah.  Istas cracks me up and may be my favorite character in these books.  She is a solid, beautiful, violence loving cryptid who loves frills, lace, and carnage.  Her interactions with the other characters adds great dimension to this story.  Istas relationship to the Aeslin mice is my favorite as they are natural enemy as Istas eats
rodents.  They come to an understanding when they bond over a bbq of evil rat and all is good.  Sarah becomes a main character in this book and our understanding of this cuckoo creature becomes more complete.  Sarah is not a typical cuckoo and is constantly trying to balance her instinctive telepathic tenancies with her moral and ethic compass she was raised with.  There are a few minor things that drove me nuts.  Verity free-runs all over New York, which is great, but the author talks about it all the time, describes it, tells us Verity's feelings on it, like 57 times, I get it Verity likes to free-run, it makes her feel good, it makes me write run-on sentences, enough already!  I also wanted more cryptid information...but that is because I always want to know more.  There is a great little appendix in the back that gives some extra info, but if the author wanted to write a whole book version of it...I would totally buy it...wait, here, she has an online version  The author said that the next two books in the series are about Verity's older brother Alex, which is hopefully gonna be awesome as it feels like Verity's story is pretty complete.  Also if this is the trend I cannot wait to read about the youngest Price sister!  In case you didn't get it, I really enjoyed this book and already have the next one on my shelf.  I give it 8 out of 10 cryptid cabarets.
What kind of cryptid lives near you?  What kind of cryptid do you wish you could be?  How does one acquire a colony of Aeslin mice?

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

So Slow

I laugh every single time I see this
I may have already posted this...but even if i did it's still funny :-)  Happy Reading Everybody

Monday, April 28, 2014

Anne With An E

Hello all, I hope you are all getting ready to enjoy a wonderful weekend.  I know I am, I get to spend it in New York!!!!!!  The weather here is amazing and springlike and that of course means it is time to drag out my spring books (finally!)  This year my first spring book is an oldie but goodie, Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery.  This book has been a favorite of mine for years and may be the reason I have an undying love for red hair.  As always SPOILERS AHEAD!
We'll get through this synopsis pretty quick as the book is less of an overall story then it is a bunch of incidents tied together, but here we go.  Shy and quiet Matthew and his stern old maid of a sister Marilla Cuthbert have decided to adopt a little boy to help with all the work at Green Gables.  Now that both siblings are getting on in years they think it is the best possible solution.  They send word via a friend and off Matthew goes to pick up their new boy, but imagine his surprise when instead a bright, imaginative chatter box of a girl awaits him instead.  He brings her home and after a bit of thought he and Marilla decide to keep her.  Almost instantly this poor little orphan red-head who insists her name be spelled Anne with an E gets herself into trouble.  The first sign of her over the topness comes when Mrs. Rachel Lynde, a well meaning, sharp tongued gossip calls Anne, homely and ugly and Anne flies of the handle.  Her apology turns out to be the most elaborate and eloquent speech anybody in little Avonlea has probably ever heard.  She meets her
life long bosom friend Diana Barry and quickly engages this sturdy girl in her imaginary games...sometimes to the point of belief.  They start school together and Anne is humiliated by Gilbert Blythe, a boy in her class who calls her Carrots, because of her hair, causing the temperamental Anne to break a slate over his head.  This and a later completely unfair punishment by a crappy teacher cause Anne to study from home.  During this time Diana is invited over to tea, that Anne is allowed to supervise on her own.  This results in Diana getting drunk when she accidental drinks three glasses of current wine instead what she thought was raspberry cordial.   This latest incident causes the strict Mrs. Barry to ban Diana from being friends with Anne.  Anne goes back to school and soldiers on.  Winter comes and Diana's little sister comes down very sick while her parents are out of town and Anne's quick thinking saves her life and allows her friendship with Diana to be restored.  As Anne grows up, her scrapes become less childish and more of a personal nature.  There is the never ending feud with Gilbert Blythe for top marks in class, her dream of reciting on stage, and a new found ambition of getting through Queens, a school that certifies teachers.  Anne wins the coveted scholarship, but ends up delaying college when her dear Matthew dies, leaving Marilla alone to run the farm.  Gilbert gives up the Avonlea school so Anne can stay at Green Gables, this has the pleasant side effect of finally becoming friends with Anne. Thus ends the first book of our little red headed dreamer.
Of course there is much more to this book, but with the way it is written it is just one incident after another that flows right into the next.  I love the Anne books, especially this first one. I identify with Anne so much, the day dreaming, the love of pretty things, the reading, the horror of the plain and ordinary, the imagining.  Everything about this little girl speaks to me.  I remember first reading these books when I was about 8 years old and thinking "this girl is me....I wish I had red hair".  Now I wasn't a poor orphan, I had two
wonderful parents and a whole ton of siblings, but sometimes when I had to do chores I would pull an Anne and pretend I was :-)  This book is simple,sweet and beautiful and I love reading it any time I am down in the dumps.  Even the sad parts (which are very few and very far between) have a bittersweet wistfulness to them that cannot destroy the positive affect these books have on me.  My only teeny tiny complaint is that it can be a bit repetitive, going back over what was just written and reminding the reader, but it is something I can live with.  I love that Anne is adventurous and smart and at the same time just wants to be pretty and have pretty things.  She is sweet and kind and a chatterbox (my nickname growing up) and impulsive and I love her like she was my bosom friend.  I recommend this to any body down in dumps, or just wants a sweet simple book.  I give it 8 out of 10 carrots
What was one of the first book characters you identified with?  Have you ever changed your appearance to mimic a beloved character?  Does it surprise you at all that I am an incessant chatterbox?

Friday, April 25, 2014

Barnsie Treat

One of the best things about my Mamma coming to visit is the amount of time we get to spend in Barnes and Nobles.  She lives in a teeny tiny town of 1000 in White Sulfur Springs MT and does not get to see the inside of a book store very often (thank God for the internet!).  So when she comes to visit I like to try and block off at least a couple of hours for her to spend there.  Of course being the wonderful daughter that I am I couldn't possibly let her sit there alone, nope I am a good daughter and sat with her the whole three hours :-).
 We love to show each other books, talk about books, argue about books, laugh about books, reminisce about books and then realize we have been doing this for three hours, panic because we are supposed to be somewhere and then continue to pile up our to buy stack on the way to the register.  Ah memories being made.  Needless to say I had a great time with my coffee, my books and my Mamma yesterday :-)
Where does your poor rural relative like to go when they come visit?  If you are the poor rural relative, where do you like to go visit?  Why would anybody ever live somewhere that far from a bookstore?!?

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Reading...It All Started With My Mamma

Hello all,  we have a special guest today in the form the amazing, one of a kind, weird and wonderful Mamma!  Today I you get to read an exclusive interview about how my Mamma became a book lover and passed that love on to me and the rest of her children.  So here we go.
Q: What time did you get up this morning?
A: 4:03 am
Q: And what were you doing up at 4:03 am?
A. I just needed a Coke really bad so I could finish my book
(side note:  See I'm not the only crazy person in this family!!)
Q: What are you reading right now?
A:  The Girl Who Came Home, by Hazel Gaynor
Q:Do you like it?
A:Yes, it's a novel about love stories on the Titanic
(side note:  She is a hopeless romantic
Q. When did you first learn to read
A:  I remember Dick and Jane in first grade with Ms. Lewis, think of the word pinched and that is Ms. Lewis.
Q:  Did you love at first page?  Or did it grow on you?
A.  I just remember my favorite day was library day, but I do remember let's get past this simple Dick and Jane stuff, lets go!
Q.  Why did love reading so much
A. I lived in a rural area where my basic escape from chores, siblings (she had 7) and loneliness was mind you we didn't have money for books so during the school time no problem, but the summer time was like the Dust Bowl Drought of '32!  Until this lovely librarian invited me to come every Wednesday and she met me in the dark empty school library and let me check out a weeks worth of books.
Q. Aw that is awesome!  What was your favorite kind of book growing up.
A. Travel books, stories of people of foreign countries.  In fact I would get so into them that I would get in trouble in school because I would tell them that is where I went on summer vacation.
Q. What do you like to read now?
A.  I try to mix it between biographies and junk fantasy.  I also have a terrible habit of reading a book right before the movie comes out and then hating the movie
(side note. Glad I come by that honestly)
Q.  Do you remember teaching me how to read?
A.  Teaching or allowing you how to do what you knew already?  I knew you were ready to read when you would read me words from the were four.  So we made flashcards...and by the next day the flashcards were useless because you were on to books.\
Q. Do you remember how you punished me after I learned to read?
A.  I would send you to your room to sit on my bed...which you would have gleefully done except I removed every single book from your room
(side note.  This was a fate worse then death before I learned to hide books...)
Q. Now that you have grandkids...who you like more then your own children, how important is it to teach this next techno driven generation how to read and more importantly how to love reading?
A.  Yes I did by my grandchild an ipad...but I have bought him tons of books and we lay in bed at night and read them over and over until he starts telling me the stories back, and that is how I know he is going to be a book lover...just one more Nana he says, just one more.
Q. How do you feel about this blog?  Do you actually read it?
A.  I read it all the time, but I don't comment all the time because I don't want people to think I'm THAT mother :-)  I have actually read books you have recommended from this site.
And that my friends is a little glimpse into how Super Bookworm Girl came to be.  I am so glad that she is here and that she imparted her love of books to me.  I am glad that we can discuss books and squeal like little girls over our shared love.  Now we are off to get some coffee and an adventure of our own...who knows maybe we will write a book about it some day.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Flight Of Sorrow

Hello all, are we ready to continue on our saga of the dragonriders?  I am...sort of.  See this book is one of those books I tend to skip in this series because it is just so darn sad, good, but sad.  What book am I rambling about?  Dragonquest by Anne McCaffrey, the second book in the Dragonriders of Pern series.  I remember first reading it a couple months after finishing the Harper Hall trilogy and being both "aha that's what they are talking about" and completely bummed out at the same time, but I'm getting ahead of always SPOILERS AHEAD!
We start this book about 7 months after we left off on the last one.  We learn very quickly that the Weyrs that were brought forward in time are not fitting in so well 400 turns (years) in the future.  F'lar and Lessa had given up much of their leadership role to the older Weyrs, believing that their vast knowledge and experience in fighting the deadly Thread would make them the natural leaders of the dragonriders.  Alas this is not so, apparently 400 turns changes a lot of things and the Oldtimers (as they have taken to calling the dragonriders from the past) cannot deal with the more independent Holds and Crafthalls.  This all comes to a head when a couple of the dragonriders from an Oldtimer Weyr try and take an expensive knife by force from one of the Crafters.  F'nor, a brown rider from Benden (not an Oldtimer) intervenes and gets an injured shoulder for his trouble.  After it become's clear that the Oldtimer Weyrleaders have not only no intention of not doing anything about this problem, but blame the Crafter for not handing over this valuable knife, F'lar decides to take charge.  Meanwhile down in the newest Weyr, on the Southern Continent the elusive fire lizards are discovered to be Impressionable by just about anybody who is willing to feed them.  Most of the Southern Weyr ends up with at least one of these miniature dragon type creatures (in fact it is from these
creatures that the Pernese ancestors bred the great dragons of Pern) and they are then distributed among the Holds and Crafthalls to ease some of the jealousy of  those who have not, or cannot Impress a dragon.  Also at Southern Weyr, the Queen rider and Weyrwoman Kylara is causing no end of trouble, doing as she pleases and foisting off all her duties onto Brekke, a junior queen rider who is all responsibility.  F'nor and Brekke fall in love while he is convalescing at Southern Weyr and helps her with her various troubles.  Eventually the conflict with the Oldtimers comes to a head, resulting in a duel between F'lar and T'ron, the Oldtimer leader, which results in most of the Oldtimers being banned to the Southern Weyr and the rest of the Weyrs being populated by the current generation.  This leads to F'lar and Lessa being essentially named the leaders of the dragonriders, much to the relief of the Holders and Crafters.  To add to the problems of our poor Weyrleaders, Jaxxom, the boy who took Lessa's spot as Lord Holder of Ruatha has Impressed a runty white dragon...something that may put his Lordship in jeopardy, but that is for the next book.  Also causing...if not trouble, then at least speculation is the discovery of a series of lab like rooms in the older Weyrs, containing mysterious devices and indecipherable records.  From what they can puzzle out they discover that certain grubs can consume Thread, keeping them from burrowing into the ground and destroying the plants.  They also discover a telescope, causing the Lord Holders to try and pressure the dragonriders into getting rid of Thread at it's source, the Red Planet.  Kylara and her people move from the Southern Weyr to High Reaches Weyr to make room for the Oldtimers.  This ends in tragedy when Brekke's dragon rises to mate and Kylara is not there to take her dragon away in time.  This results in a brutal battle between the two queens, ending in both of their deaths.  This is beyond devastating for Brekke and reduces Kylara to a babbling child.  Brekke becomes catatonic with F'nor trying to make her live.  He also decides to quiet the Lord Holders demands by attempting to go to the Red Star with his dragon with near fatal results...turns out there was reason it wasn't done before.  This and the protection of her fire lizard bring Brekke back, sad but back to help nurse F'nor back to health.  The book ends on a slightly hopeful note for a better, more modern future.
Obviously lots of stuff happens in this book, and the information helps the rest of the series make sense, but dang if I don't hate how sad it is.  It is as all Ms. McCaffrey's books, extremely well written and continues on the world she started in the last book.  In fact that is one of the reasons it is so sad.  You come to understand the bond between the dragon and their rider so well, that when Brekke loses hers you feel the pain and agony right along with her.  You leave the last book so hopeful that the Oldtimers will be the answer to saving Pern, and then come to find out that they are in no way adaptable and are in fact way more trouble then they are worth is kind of very upsetting.  When F'nor goes to the Red Star you can feel the heat, the airlessness, the scoring, the heaving mass of Thread...Ugh, no wonder he barely survived!  It's the excellent writing that makes you care about this world that makes this book so hard for me to read.  I am not trying to
dissuade anybody from reading this, I promise.  I think everybody should read it as part of the series.  It is an excellent book that just furthers the amazing story the author started and sets up numerous future stories.  The characters are well written, the world building is as perfect as it gets and the storylines are not only plausible, but compelling.  I do have to admit that this whole series gets to me on a gut level, every time I read any of the Dragonrider of Pern books, I get stuck in that world in my head weeks, I hate being torn out of it and I hate anytime anything bad happens in it...though that is part of what makes it real.   As I'm sure you are sick of hearing words cannot describe the love I have for this series, it is one of the reasons I fell in love with reading as an escape and am so glad I can go back to it anytime I want.  Even this book, a book that if I'm not careful, will actually leave me as sad as if it happened to somebody I know is a treasure to me.  So now that all that babbling is over with, I give it 8 out of 10 cups of klah and recommend it to anybody who is reading this series.
On a side note, my lovely Mamma will be here this week, running me ragged so posting may be a bit spotty, my apologies in advanced.
What book(s) do you both love and hate at the same time?  What book makes you sad on a gut level?  How badly do I need some therapy to remind me that a book is not real?

Monday, April 21, 2014

Everything Is Awesome!!!!

Had the bestest weekend ever.  Started off with some coffee with my sweet Hubbin, the while he was working I spent 3 glorious hours on the National Mall, people watching, smelling the blooming flowers, looking at the spring green trees and READING, so much reading, so so so so so so so happy.  It was like the most perfect reading day I could imagine.  The weather was warm and breezy, the grass was dry and soft, the sun was out, but not glaring, people were laughing, flowers were blooming, book was awesome, just perfect.  Now this itself would have made for a wonderful day, but there was more in store.  I met my Hubbin for lunch (yay garlic fries) and then we hopped over to Awesome Con.  It was crowded with people dressed up as everything under the sun, it was like geeky Halloween and I was in Heaven.  I got to see a life size R2-D2 from Star Wars
Then we perused the artists aisles where we found this awesome artist who is redesigning book covers
the company is Rock Paper Books and I want to get ALL of his books check it out totally worth it!
Of course we couldn't leave without some sort of souvenir and my amazing Hubbin found me the perfect one!
Yep that is my very own Dragon Egg from the Song of Ice and Fire series, yep he's a keeper.
Now I am home, sipping homemade Sangria made by who else but the Hubbin (maybe I should have titled this post My Hubbin is Awesome) writing this post and trying to decide which book to read next, Ah life is good.  Hope everybody had a great weekend and Happy Reading Everybody!

Friday, April 18, 2014

I'm Supposed To Be Sleepeing

Was at the station all night last night and got a rare night with no late calls.  So do I get a couple hours of extra sleep like a good girl?
Nope I read.  So now I have no excuse to be tired today except that I couldn't put the book down...I swear it's like my own personal crack pipe sometimes.  Oh well, better to be reading then pulling people out of burning cars...yeah.  Have a great weekend and happy reading everybody, I'm off to bed to catch up on my sleep.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Don't Let The Stars Define You

Fate vs. Free Will, Destiny vs Decisions, Luck vs. Hard Work.  These are all themes that are very prevalent in literature across the ages.  It has been the big question through out time, and discussed thoroughly in many a book both fiction and nonfiction.  Did a person get where they were because the stars fated it so, or because he made a certain decision...or did he make that certain decision because he was destined too...or was it all luck?  The book Jepp Who Defied the Stars by Katherine Marsh, is a book that explores these questions in great detail. As always SPOILERS AHEAD!
Jepp is a dwarf who was born and lived in the late 16th early 17th century Spanish Netherlands.  He had the good fortune to grow up in the inn of his mother, protected by the villagers from the harshness that he would have experienced almost anywhere else.  He is sheltered, loved, and even taught to read in this little bubble of the village and the inn.  Jepp's only real sorrow is he does not know who his father is and no matter how much he begs nobody will tell him a thing.  One day a noble stranger appears and offers to take Jepp to the court of the Infanta Isabella Clara Eugenia of Spain to be a court dwarf.  He promises Jepp all kinds of comforts and books and a new life.  Jepp and his mother both see this as an opportunity and off Jepp goes with the man he calls the Don.  They arrive at the palace and Jepp is placed with the other three court dwarf's, Lia the young, sweet and beautiful dwarf, Maria the older, regal, often drunk dwarf, and Sebastian, the comically important dwarf.  Jepp also meets the giant Robert, and Pim the jester/master of ceremonies and the Infanta's favorite.  Hendrika is introduced as the dwarf's keeper, making sure they are taken care of and on occasion disciplined.  She seems to have a weird reaction to meeting Jepp, but he finds so many things odd that he takes little note of it.  At some point all of the dwarf's get their horoscope drawn for them based on their dates of birth and Jepp is encouraged as his is very well favored.  As Jepp gets used to court life he realizes that he is just there for the amusement of the court, he is well taken care of, but humiliated on a regular basis.  During this time he falls in love with the sweet Lia and does everything he can to be around her.  Pim also takes a not so innocent interest in Lia which results in Lia falling pregnant.  This of course
causes a great stir, especially when Lia refuses to reveal the father to anybody but Jepp who has already figured out that Pim attacked Lia.  Jepp tries to help Lia run away but is taken back to the castle when Lia goes into labor before they can escape the city.  Lia and the baby die and Jepp is packed into a cage and sent away.  Jepp arrives at the island fortress of Tycho Brahe, an eccentric noble who has a thing for the sciences, especially astronomy and astrology.  Jepp is again looked down on as a stupid bit of entertainment, but this soon changes when Tycho's daughter Magdalene catches him in the library after hours and discovers how smart he is.  He is eventually given a position in Tycho's library as a scholar and is finally starting to be happy.  Magdalene is the one who drew up Jepp's horoscope and they have many spirited debates over fate vs free will.  Eventually the two fall in love and wish to be married, but Jepp still has the ghost of his father hanging over his head.  Tycho releases him, telling him to only come back for his daughter if he can find his fortune. Jepp returns to his mothers inn only to learn that she had died a year ago from a fever.  Jepp also learns that the woman who raised him was not his real mother, that the man Jepp calls Don brought him to her to raise.  Jepp goes back to Infanta's castle, determined to find his real parents.  Turns out that Hendrika, the dwarf's keeper, and Don's older brother were Jepp's real parents and that he was sent away as his father was already married to another woman at the time.  Hendrika and Jepp reunite and Jepp heads to visit the Don to see if his father ever acknowledged him.  Jepp's father had left him 3000 gold pieces but Don, who was the executor of the will spent it all, leaving nothing for Jepp.  Jepp heads out to find work, determined to make his own fortune, even if it takes forever.  Luck is with Jepp however in the form of the man who took Jepp to Tycho in the first place, he found a stash of gold in Don's apartments and tracked down Jepp to give it to him.  Magdalene shows up to marry Jepp regardless and they head out to start their life together.
 This was an interesting book on many levels and there was a lot I enjoyed about it.  I think the part I liked the best was the historical context.  The author wrote this piece of fiction around little tidbits of true history.
Tycho Brahe was a real eccentric noble who made minor contributions to science.  Infanta Isabella was a real royal who regularly kept dwarf's for her own entertainment.  All these little tidbits were strung together and filled out by the author to create a compelling story.  This is a YA book...and sometimes it read exactly like a YA book, complete with teenage angst, identity issues and miscommunications, other times it read a little older, with some of the situations being a bit older, such as rape, pregnancy and marriage.  This is not to say it is not appropriate for the teenage crowd and in fact I am encouraged to see books like this featured in the YA section.  It has a bit more heft and substance then a lot of the YA books I have read, it is just
something that for the younger half of the YA crowd, some explanation or guidance might be needed.  I liked the format of the book, the story being told to us by Jepp, who for the first and second parts of the book told us his story as he traveled to then an unknown place, the only problem was sometimes big events where telegraphed which made me by turns anxious and a bit disappointed when the events finally happened.  I really loved visiting Tycho's fortress, the descriptions of the various oddities and little touches of eccentrics were a lot of fun and now I want to go visit. I like the various relationships in this book, and how Jepp fell in love with two completely different type of women.  First the sweet, mysterious,haunted dwarf Lia and then later the bold, smart, forward, "normal" sizeed Magdalene.  The only real complaints I had was sometimes Jepp seemed to be written as a 13 year old girl.  A lot of his moonings and angstyness had a girlish flavor to them that I have never witnessed in a teenage boy, this kind of took me out of the story a bit on occasion.  The other complaint is that on occasion events took on a very convenient turn, especially at the end, like the author just wanted to move on with the story.  Over all though I enjoyed this book and read it pretty quickly.  It was nice to have a story about a different kind of person without adding all the magic and vampires and stuff that usually accompanies it.  I would recommend this for anybody who likes a good story, who remembers what it was like being different as a teenager, has a interest in 17th century Spanish Netherlands, or wants something to read with their teens. I give it 7 out of 10 horoscopes.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Breaking News

Who has the best Hubbin ever?  ME!!!!!!!!!  My sweet, wonderful and amazing Hubbin surprised me with tickets to Awesome Con!  Along with being a bookworm, I am also a loud and proud super geek and am so so so so so excited.  I get to see Sean Astin who played Sam in the Lord of the Rings movies, Danai Gurira and Melissa McBride who play Michone and Carol respectively in the Walking Dead tv series, and the person I may be most excited about is Cary Elwes who will forever be the farm boy Wesley from The Princess Bride movie.  Hey do you know what all of these characters have in common?  That's right they all started out in books, yep the bestest most geektastic things in the universe often have literary origins. Here they are in book form.  The Lord of the Rings, The Walking Dead, and The Princess Bride.  I love going to these Con's just to see the sheer creativity that humans come up with.  Everything from costumes, to artwork, to original literary works, I could just sit in a corner and watch all day long.  I love how every part of the art world comes together, story tellers, musicians, illustrators, artists, actors, everything just combines into one loud and bright bit of awesome.   I will try and have some pics and some adventure stories for you on Monday and/or Tuesday, until then I will have to try and stay productive until this weekend, 'cause I feel like a kid at Christmas!  YAYYAYYAY!

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

BFF's Forever

A hallmark of a good book is good characters, characters you love, characters you hate, and characters you might want to hang out with.  There are certain books that I look forward to the arrival of certain characters just like you would a good friend.  Here are a few people I think I would love to hang out with...if they were real...which there not...or so my shrink keeps telling me :-)
Elizabeth Bennett-This plucky gal from Pride and Prejudice seems like my kind of girl.  I would love to go visit her at Pemberly, do some hiking and poke fun at Darcy.  If Caroline Bingley happened to be around I would totally tag team with Lizzy to get under her skin :-)

Piemure-Our funny little friend can be found hanging around Harper Hall  .  Snarky, caring and a good ear for music make this guy our go to when you are in need of a good friend.  He is the one I would sit next to in class making comments under our breath and trying hard not to laugh out loud.

Ophelia-This Liveship from the Liveship Traders Trilogy is a dame and a half...and a ship.  Yep this friendship has multiple benefits from transportation on the high seas, to all of the latest gossip.  This woman/ship knows how to have a good time.

Heather and Morag - These Good Fairies of New York crack me up.  Their spirit, love of music, mischievousness, and sheer vibrancy make me smile.  I would love to run around New York with these two, causing trouble and making music.

Reepicheep-Our little Narnian friend is a whole lot of awesome in a little package.  He is brave, gallant, fierce and loyal.  He is also great for a good laugh. This man in the body of a mouse would be my first pick when it came to a companion for adventuring, battling and/or drinking.

Anne-Anne of Green Gables (spelled with an e) is pretty much how I was as a child.  The dreamy, imaginative, trouble finding red head sounds like so much fun to play with.  I think hanging out with her would enhance any situation.

Jo-Our bookish sister in Little Women could count on me to read her books and articles with a non-biased eye before they were sent in for publication.  I would also be a great go to person for any play or performance she felt like putting on.  I am well versed in sisters, so I could give her advice on that score as well.

Fred and George-These twins liven up the Harry Potter series.  There love of live, brilliant yet mostly harmless pranks and genuine love for their family make these two an essential part of my friends circle.  Think they would give me a discount at their joke shop?

Nellie Olsen-The girl everybody loves to hate.  This girl was the villain in most of the Little House on the Prairie books, being the scapegoat for every mean little girl ever encountered.  I like that the character seems to own her badness, I could learn a lesson or two about being yourself from this girl.

Puck-This trickster from A Midsummer Night's Dream just makes me happy.  His skipping around causing havoc all in the name of love is awesome.  I would love to flit from place to place with him, meddling in affairs both mortal and fae.
Ok so their are many more besties out there, but this post is already getting long and I am now in the mood to go hang out with all my book peeps.  With that I will leave you to contemplate wither I am as crazy as I sound or just really enjoy good characters.  Never fear I will do a follow up post with all of my friends from books that did not make this list...there are just so many, makes a girl feel popular.

Who are your best book friends?  Do you feel the need to limit your book friends, or do you not bother with limits? Do you think I'm crazy for considering fictional characters as friends?

Monday, April 14, 2014

Serum City

Well the curse of the second book strikes again.  Just finished reading Insurgent the second book in the Divergent trilogy and I have to say right up front, it was mostly pointless.  So many of the issues I had with the first book were just made worse by this second one and a lot of what I enjoyed in the first one was completely missing in this book.  Oh well let's get on with this shall we?  As always so many SPOILERS AHEAD!
When we last left our main girl, the Divergent Tris, she was escaping a mind controlled Dauntless slaughter.  Tris along with fellow Divergent, and current eternal love Tobias (also known as Four), his abusive and squirlley father Marcus, her Abnegation turned Erudite turned whatever brother Caleb and a couple of others make it to the Amity compound.  There they are welcome with if not exactly open arms, they are at least fed and clothed and given a bed.  Turns out that Tris is suffering from a bit of post traumatic stress syndrome from killing her friend and watching her parents die, this manifests itself in an inability to use a gun and a bit of a suicidal bent. This of course sets Tobias off in some sort of anger pattern, instead of trying to understand and help his girlfriend, he spends most of his time giving her non-helpful ultimatums about bucking up and getting over it.  Stuff happens and Tris overhears a conversation about some sort of mysterious information that Abnegation was trying to get out to the general public, but along came Janine (the Erudite leader who orchestrated the whole violent overthrow) who decided that the information should not be given out.  After a bit of an altercation, Tris is "punished" by being given a serum that makes her super peaceful and it is
revealed that everybody in Amity (probably unkowingly) eats a bread that is infused with this peaceful serum.  Amity holds a meeting and decides that they depend to much on Erudite to piss them off so they refuse to take sides.  Dauntless/Erudite storm the Amity compound and the group makes a run for it. The group makes it back to the city and find themselves with a group of factionless led by non other then Tobias's mother...yep not dead...though her story is a little sketchy.  She either ran away and abandoned Tobias, or was exiled by Abnegation, or something.  They find out that there is a high percentage of Divergents within the factionless and that they are understandably unhappy with the way things are run.  They leave the factionless and end up with Candor where more serum is given, in the form of a truth serum where everybody has to spill their guts about stuff that has nothing to do with anything in order to partake of the safe haven within Candor.  Tris admits she killed Will (even though she had no choice) and Tobias admits his dad beat him on a regular basis. Tobias is pissed that Tris kept a secret from him, but refuses to own up when Tris calls him out on his own secret keeping.  Tris and Tobias hook up with some of their Dauntless buddies before once again the traitor Dauntless/Erudite once again storm a compound.  This time they only kill random Divergent, everybody else gets a dart that injects a transmitter into their system, once again turning the non-Divergent into potential mindless soldiers.  Somewhere in here Tris decides to turn herself in to Janine for further testing so that Janine will quit killing people.  During her captivity Tris discovers that her brother is a traitor and has always been on Janine's side.  Tobias tries to come to her rescue but it takes an old enemy Peter to actually get them to escape.  Tobias, Tori and some other guy are elected Dauntless leaders after all the other leaders are either killed, captured or turned traitor and decide to ally themselves with the factionless to storm the 
Erudite compound and destroy all of their computers and gathered knowledge in an attempt to stop what ever it is they are trying to do.  Tris agrees to go with Tobias, but secretly makes plans with Marcus and a few others to try and retrieve whatever information it is her parents died for.  More chaos, more angst, more shooting.  Tris ends up in the security portion of Janine's secret lab and runs into another simulation...kind of.  She makes it to the inner sanctum only to find Tori holding Janine at gunpoint.  Tris tries to make Tori understand that they can't kill Janine until they get the info from her computer, but Tori doesn't listen and kills Janine.  Tobias comes in and agrees with Tori that Tris is a traitor (that was a lot of T's in that sentence), but Tris again calls him out on his bull headedness, reminding him that he is the one who said he loved her for her, and that the first time it was tested he bailed.  Tris is taken captaive, but Tobias actually listened and got Caleb to help him get the info they were looking for.  Meanwhile the factionless showed just how dumb everybody else is by getting all of their weapons, meaning to take over.  Before...or during...or after this happens the screens flick on and a video plays, showing images of violence and death and then a women saying something about locking everybody in the city to refind their humanity...but the problem was human nature...but the solution was the Divergents who were the epitome of human nature...and the Divergents should be set loose on the rest of the world to help them.  And that my friends was the end of book two.
As you have probably guessed this was not my favorite book.  So very many issues, so very few answers, but lets start with the good stuff so you know I actually read it with an open mind :-)  I think my favorite parts were any time Christina was on the page, she is by far my favorite character and seems to be the one who has the most realistic head on her shoulders.  She was pissed at Tris when she found out about Will, she eventually forgave Tris, but it took some time and not all at once, when faced with facts she thinks about them and makes her own decisions about things, and she is pretty funny. I loved it when Tris called out Tobias on all his double standard stupidness, especially at the end, I wanted to jump up and cheer.  I also appreciated how Tris was affected by all the death, not only of her loved ones, but the ones that she killed.  It goes so against her upbringing and she has had so little time to adapt to the Dauntless way of life that this seemed an appropriate reaction. Also I love the tree on the cover of this book. See there was a little bit of good stuff.  Now on to my issues.  My biggest issue is the same one I had in the first book, how the heck am I supposed to believe that humans only display one trait.  How am I supposed to believe anything the author says when she contradicts herself on the basic premise of the books.  We are told that Divergent's are
Divergent because they display more then one trait...but we are shown over and over and over confirmed non-Divergent's who regularly display more then one trait.  On that same line of thinking, any transfer would have to be Divergent by definition because they were raised in a different trait, but nobody suspects truth telling Christina of being Divergent...but Tris is because she knows how to be selfless?!  Makes no sense.  Does this mean any time anybody tells the truth that isn't in Candor they are automatically Divergent?   How many times does one have to hold open the door for another person in a faction not belonging to Abnegation before they are hunted down?  How does one distinguish between peace loving Amity and selfless Abnegation as many of the defining features are similar?  The factionless pose another interesting angle to this whole Divergent business as it appears that most of them could be considered Divergent, now I will give the author some credit for saying that there is a high percentage of Dauntless in the factionless.  That leads me to the ending of this book, I was warned that this is not most peoples favorite book, but the bombshell at the end is worth it. I did not think the ending was all that spectacular, I had suspected from the beginning that their was a reason behind the locked fence with nobody knowing what was outside it, so not really a bombshell.  The idea that this little experiment was because humans were too violent...well...we already are.  I thought it was funny that as the images of violence were flashing on the screen all I could think about was that is exactly what was happening inside the city, so no progress there.  I did not get what the experiment was, or what it was supposed to do, I was 
feeling of the nonsensical frustration I got when I was reading The Maze Runner series where the premise was just because and did not serve any real purpose.  The video stated that the Divergent's were supposed to have flexible minds, which to me means the people who were part of the experiment were drugged or something into strict factions (which may be backed up by all the serums that were used in this book) and that when people developed a resistance and became normal then they were ready what I don't know. If the whole reason that the world got uncontrollably violent was human nature...then why do they want people who have proven to be the definition of human nature to be their saviors?  I don't get it.  Ok enough kvetching, I obviously have problems with the premise and a lot of the cool world building and Tris's development that I made the first book readable and almost enjoyable were very much missing in this book. I have heard rumor that the next book is much better...I sure hope so. Please let me know your thoughts in the comments.  I give this book 5 out of 10 serums.
What did you think of this book?  What type of serum do you think we need to use on a regular basis?  What is the deal with second books?  Does anybody know Candor's function in this society?

Friday, April 11, 2014

Bookworm To Butterfly

I'm tired, but the weather is gorgeous so here is a quick bit of spring time book art to inspire your weekend reading.
Clara Barer
It's like a beautiful book butterfly...I wonder if this is what a bookworm turns into?  Have a great weekend everybody!

Thursday, April 10, 2014

The Hazards Of A ReRead

Hello All.  So we all know that I reread pretty much all of my books on a regular basis.  I have gone on and on about the various benefits to rereading a book, everything from picking up stuff I didn't before to having the comfort of knowing ahead of time that a book is really really good.  What I haven't talked about is some of the hazards of rereading a beloved book. So here they are.
1. Lack of tension-Books that have a twist ending, or have a lot of tensions do tend to lose something in a reread. I can still get a lot out rereading books like this, nuances and hints that I did not pick up before, but it does lose that page turning, sleepless feel.  Books that fall into this category are The Hunger Games, The Candymakers and most Sherlock Holmes stories
2. Uneven series-This is one of the biggest things when I reread my series, I usually have definite favorites in most series that I read and tend to neglect the books that I don't like as much.  Of course then I have the weird ability to quote books 1, 2 and 5 of a series and then have to rack my brain to even remember the plots of the other books.  Some examples of this are Harry Potter, The Immortals series, Tower and Hive series.
3. Favorite parts-Certain books I just reread certain parts, there are books I just like the beginning or the end or a certain chapter.  Seriously there are several books I own that fall open right to my favorite parts, while the rest of the pages are in pristine condition for lack of reading.  Books with dogeared pages Little Women, Crown Duel , The Mysterious Benedict Society
4. The inability to read a new book in a series without rereading the preceding books- This one pretty much speaks for itself.  I prefer to wait until at least a couple books in a series are out because then I can know them out in a row, but if it takes a while for the next book to come out...I have a tendency to reread the entire series so I remember what the heck is going on.  Series that don't come out fast enough, Septimus Heap , Inheritance Cycle, A Song of Ice and Fire.
5. The sad parts-This is probably the biggest hazard in rereading a book, especially one with beloved characters.  I have avoided whole books because I know whats coming and I just can't handle it.  I get way to attached to these fictional characters and when bad things happen to them it just tears me to pieces...I admit I sometimes cry :-(  Stupid books that may make me cry, Dragonquest, The Last Battle, The Snow Queens Shadow.
Obviously these hazards will never keep me from rereading my precious books, and the pro's far outweigh the cons.  These are just some examples of why reading is such a personal and potentially emotional experience.  It is always interesting to me to see what people choose to reread and why, and the reasons they avoid certain books for a second go around.  I know that once I have read a book, I usually give myself permission to reread it in any way I want, which is why I have books that are thumbed through a thousand times, books that are a mix of pristine and grubby, books that I have had to replace because of too much use.  Despite the hazards I love all my books and cannot wait to reread the next one.
What are some of your rereading hazards?  What books do you avoid rereading?  Am I the only one who puts this much thoughts into his/her rereads?

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Tweet Tweet

Good Morning...well actually mornings are never good...I'm really more of a night person and without massive amounts of coffee may commit random acts of violence before 10 am...what was I saying.  Oh yeah, at my house you always know it is morning because those adorable little tweeters that won't shut up! Seriously I know the sound of birdsong is a herald of a much anticipated spring but,  I much prefer these book versions to brighten my house for spring.
Bird ornament 
This little DIY bird is easy to put together and would look great on a Christmas tree or in a garland around your bookshelf for spring.
Bird Pictures
How cute are these?  I can see these in a Victorian living room.
Bird Pop-Up
How cool is this?  I would totally put this on my table as a centerpiece.
Bird Bookmark
Jazz up your books with this awesome bird bookmark
Glass bird bookends
Ah how cute are these little glass birds, the perfect thing to spring up your bookshelves

What kind of birdsong wakes you up in the morning?  Do you prefer real birds, or their quieter decorative counterparts?  Did I ever tell you I had a bird that could mimic the old school AOL dial up perfectly?

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

First Flight

Hello All, how is everybody?  Did you all have a good weekend?  I was at the station for 60 hours hence the lack of post yesterday, I will try and do better having them ready to go in the future.  Today though lets talk about one of my favorite books that starts off one of my favorite series.  Dragonflight is the first book in the amazing Anne McCafferey's Dragon Riders of Pern series and is just awesome.  Considering it was written in 1968 you would think it would be old fashioned, but it is so perfect for any time period.  But enough gushing (for now) as always SPOILERS AHEAD!
Pern is a planet that has reverted back to a feudal type system of government consisting of the Lord Holders and their underlings, these are the people who live, farm, work, and do the things you would consider most feudal system people would do.  There are the Crafters who are responsible for the fine work, weaving, beastery, music, healing and so forth.  Then there are the Weyr folk.  These folk are either Dragonriders or people who help take care of the dragons and their riders.  These dragonriders are needed to help protect the planet of Pern from a menace called Thread.  Thread is essentially a crazy hungry spore that devours ANY organic matter at an extreme rate.  The only things that stop thread are metal and stone, and can only be killed by fire or by drowning in water. Thread falls on the planet for 50 years at a time and then stops for 200 giving everybody a break until the next pass of the Red Star (the rouge planet from which the Thread falls).  For more detailed info check here.  At the time the story is set, Thread has not fallen for close to 400 years (or Turns as they call them on Pern) and the Lord Holders are starting to resent the tithe they have to give the Weyr folk.  At this time the normal 6 Weyrs have been reduced to the one Benden Weyr with
nobody knowing where the other five went, the people, the dragons just dissappered, leaving the Weyr's empty. Also at this time Lord Fax has conquered several of his neighbors Holds going against the strict tradition of one Lord one Hold.  One of the holds Fax has captured is Ruatha, a hold famous for producing dragonriders of great renown, especially Queen riders.  Fax has done his best to wipe out all of the Ruathan blood line, but has missed one girl, Lessa who had the good sense to hide.  Lessa has now been living as a drudge, waiting for the day she can overthrow Fax and reclaim her home.  Meanwhile F'lar a bronze dragon rider is going on search to find suitable candidates for the Queen dragon egg, hoping to find somebody strong and able to lead the dragon riders back to their former glory.  See F'lar is one of the few people who not only believe that Thread is real and is returning, but is imminent.  F'lar draws out Lessa by challenging and killing Fax after he attacks the dragonman.  F'lar makes a deal with Lessa to let a newborn boy take over Ruatha, and Lessa can come to the Weyr to hopefully impress the soon to be hatched Queen Dragon and become the Weyrwoman (the leader of the Weyr).  Lessa agrees and all seems to go as planned.  After impressing Ramoth (the queen dragon) Lessa has a crash course in the ways of the Weyr, adding her own brand of fire and chaos to the mix.  F'lar's bronze fly's Ramoth, making him Lessa's Weyrmate and the Weyr leader of the entire Weyr.  After some much needed reminding, the Holds and Crafthalls start preparing for the arrival of Thread, even though most people still don't believe.  This denial is swiftly put to an end as the Thread comes pouring down and the people are saved only by the valiant efforts and sacrifice of the dragons and their riders.  The effort is aided by Lessa and her rare ability to hear and talk to all the dragons, not just her own.  It is painfully apparent that the one understaffed Weyr will not be able to protect the whole of Pern and solutions are sought.  Lessa finds the answer in an unlikely source a teaching ballad called The Question Song.  She discovers the dragons can go between times as well as space and goes back to the end of the last Pass to convince the dragon riders to come to her time to fight Thread.  The Oldtimers as they are called are amiable as the idea of sitting idle does now work for them.  They come forward in time, solving the mystery of the missing Weyr's and saving Pern.  This is the state we leave our beloved planet of Pern, safe for the moment, but ripe for change...which will come in the next book.
I love this book, I love this series, I love this author, I love this mix of fantasy and scifi, I love it all.  So many things work for me.  I love that even though this was written in 1968 (as I mentioned before) that you would not know it from reading it.  It will work for any time period it is read in, which is very hard to do.  I also love that Ms. Mcaffrey seems to have worked out the whole story and timeline out before she ever wrote this first book.  There are things and hints that tie in to later books so well, like the ballad of Moreta's ride or the fertilizer called angenothree, which turns out to be a chemical formula originally called by it's chemical
name HNO3 which the scientific part has been lost.  Eh it's hard to explain how well it is set up without going into later books.  I love the strong, sassy, cranky, touchy Lessa, I love her so much.  I love that she is a spitfire, but she is also kind of extremely touchy, a flaw to be sure, but one that makes her human.  One of my pet peeves is addressed beautifully in this book, I hate when miscommunication is used as a means to further the tension, or create discord if their is no real reason for it, and Lessa calls out the leaders on this type of stupid secrecy in a spectacular fashion.  I still think that the world building in this series is one of the most complete and incredible example I have ever read, this is a place I can fully inhabit long after I put the book down. On a rare downside, their is a bit of proprietary shaking of Lessa by F'lar that irritates me.  I am never ok with any sort of violence against another person, and when it is a big, strong man against a tiny scared woman...well it really makes me mad.  I can never be ok with even minimal violence toward another person, especially when it is done in anger.  Other then that their is not a whole lot for me to complain about.  I don't even mind the ending for once...because it is not a real ending because the story keeps going YAY! My Hubbin is always trying to get me to define why I love this book so much and I have a hard time pinpointing any one thing.  I think over all the feeling of freedom and triumph and working together to achieve a goal while maintaining your own person is just awesome!  I give this book 9 out of 10 Queen Dragon Eggs and recommend it to EVERYBODY!
What color dragon would you ride?  How do you feel about this odd mix of fantasy and scifi?  How obsessed with dragons am I?

Friday, April 4, 2014

Riding The Rails

Spent the day with the Hubbin riding the rails around the Virginia area.  There is something a bit old school romantic about a train, something old fashioned and adventurous that I love.  I very much associate trains and reading.  There is nothing better then clickity clacking down the tracks with the scenery flying by and a good book in your hands.  I don't know why reading on a train is better then reading on any other mode of transportation, but it is.  I think I associate trains and books together so strongly because so many of my favorite books begin (or sometimes end) with a train ride.
The Chronicles of Narnia- Most of the books in this series have a train ride somewhere in them.  The four children go to the country side in the first book on a train.  In the second and third book a train station is a starting and ending point and of course in the last book a train is the ultimate end.  So many trains!

Anne of Green Gables- Anne (with an E) describes her train rides in such an imaginative, romantic, whimsical way that one cannot help but associate a spring time ride on the train with our favorite carrot top.  Today's train ride through the blossoming tree's brought her to mind.

The Boxcar Children-One of my childhood favorites a group of  four children (the magic number) live without adult supervision in a box car.  This of course inspired me to drag my three younger siblings around looking for our own train living situation...until Mamma called us home that is.

Pollyanna-Our little ray of sunshine both arrives and leave her book on a train, marking the start of a new adventure each time.  I must admit I had many visions of being carried to and from a train through a crowd of admirers after a horrific, yet heroic accident...what can I say, I have always been a drama queen.

Harry Potter-Of course we can't forget the Hogwarts Express, perhaps one of the most wonderful and magical modes of transportation.  The only problem with reading about the Hogwarts train is that I am very disappointed when my train does not have a trolley full of cauldron cakes, pumpkin juice or Droobles best blowing gum.
I am very happy that I got to have my little reading adventure today.  The weather was perfect, the seats were perfect, the book was perfect, the company was perfect.  All in all a very refreshing, nostalgic, reading type of day.
A word of caution, I am starting a 60 hour shift at the station so Monday's post may be late, incoherent or non exsistant, but I shall do my best.

What is your favorite mode of transportation to read on?  Do you think trains are nostalgic or out dated?  Does the very idea of reading while moving make you sick?

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

I Have Purple Hair

So the title of this post actually has absolutist nothing to do with the post, but I couldn't think of a good title, so there you go (Oh but I actually do now have purple hair and it is AWESOME!).   I have FINALLY finished reading Jack Glass by Adam Roberts.  It took me a while to get through it, not because it was bad (it was excellent), but because it has to be one of the densest (in a good way) books I have read in a long time.  What the heck do I mean? you may ask...well read on and I will tell you.  As always SPOILERS AHEAD!
This will not be a detailed synopsis as all of the myriad details are too hard to keep straight in just a couple of paragraphs, but I will try and give you enough to get the gist of the book.  This is a hard core Science Fiction book broken up into three parts, which I shall go through one by one. We learn right off the bat that the main character in this book, Jack Glass is responsible for all the murders that we will read about...we just don't know how or why.  Our job is to read and try and figure these two questions out.
Part I-In the Box

This is the weirdest of all three parts, it has a much different feel then the rest of the book, but I will get to that in a moment.  In the future, certain prisoners receive an 11 year prison term in which a group called the Gongsi use the prisoners to hollow out and make habitable various asteroids.  A team of seven prisoners and a minimum of survival gear are placed in a small hollow and sealed in.  They then have 11 years to try and survive while making the place habitable and salable.  At the end of 11 years the Gongsi will come and pick up any survivors and they will be free to go.  The seven that are placed in this particular asteroid include the notorious Jack Glass who has been accidentally misidentified as a lesser criminal.  Much scientific theory, economic perusal and of course prison stuff occur through out this story.  The seven men carve out a menial living before starting to turn on each other.  In the end Jack kills the remaining prisoners with a glass knife (hence the name Jack Glass) and ingeniously uses the bodies to make himself a sort of morbid space suit to escape in.  I know this sounds sick and twisted (and in some ways it is) but it is mostly fascinating.
Part II-The FTL Murders
This is a whoddunit type of story in which we are introduced to the future of the Argent clan, the teenage sisters Diana and Eve.  The girls, along with their bodyguards, servants, and tutor Iago have all come to Earth to get used to gravity before Diana's big 16th birthday party.  The girls and their crew live in what they call upland in zero-g so Earths gravity is very very oppressive and debilitating.  Right off the bat a servant is murdered and Diana (who loves to solve mystery's) is put in charge of solving the case (with the sanctioned help of the local police)  We go through several clues and Diana deduces who the killer is in a fairly straight forward manner.  This however is just a small piece of a larger mystery as she soon discovers.  Her and her sister are attacked by the Ulanovs (who are the ruling family) in a bid to take them down before they can start a revolution...I know a bit confusing.  Diana discovers that the murder of the servant and the subsequent solving of the case was actually a set up by her tutor Iago (who is of course Jack Glass in disguise) as a birthday present/test to see if she was ready to lead her family.  Diana decides to trust Iago and runs away with him and the servant Sapho (who was the murderer, but had good cause because the murder victim was trying to rape her).  They head out to the bubble towns of space to hide with the trillions of people who inhabit them.
Part III-The Impossible Gun
This is a more direct continuation of the second story in which Diana, Iago (Jack Glass) and Sapho tell a story backwards.  We start by Jack and Diana bringing a robot to a friend to ensure that the data on it is not corrupted.  After they verify it's completeness they take us back to why the information is so important.  Jack takes the two girls to his own bubble home for safe keeping.  On the way he tells Diana that they have located her sister Eve and that she is safe, Diana is even able to talk with via encrypted channels.  They
arrive at Jacks supposedly unfindable home bubble and proceed to try and formulate a plan.  Alas they are found by a police cruiser carrying the famous police man Bar-le-duc who wants to bring in Jack Glass and gain the reward.  Jack makes a deal witnessed by the above mentioned robot to come peacefully if he lets Diana and Sapho go.  Bar-le-duc agrees and comes down to the bubble to get Jack.  While this exchange happens Bar-le-duc gets himself vaporized by some unknown super weapon.  This sets off a closed room mystery...which the solution to is kind of cheating, but still ends up ok.   We find out that Eva (Diana's sister)is the one who orchestrated the whole downfall of the clan in return for being named head of the Argent clan.  The story ends with Jack declaring his love for Diana as his reason for being willing to trade himself for her freedom.  Diana gently reply's that she does not return his love, and goes on her way.  The servant Sapho stays with Jack and is the one who writes his story.  The End.
I realize that this bare bones synopsis seems a little chintzy, but it is really the best I can do.  I have read other reviews of this book and I am not the only one who is having trouble putting into words my feelings on it.  I loved it, it was rich and dense and at time humorous,  and at times gory and at times horrifying and at times well almost everything.  The author amazingly puts together an old time whodunit type story with a truly hard core Science Fiction story with a bit of a love story a political story and an incredible ability to build this future world.  I kept thinking I was going to get bored with it because it is a heavy read, which is to say there are some very advanced scientific, economic and political concepts liberally sprinkled through out the book, but the author always manages to mix it in with a very readable story.  There were several times where I had to stop and put the book down to digest and think through some concepts introduced because the more I
thought about them the better sense they made and would make my poor little brain go down so many cool rabbit trails.  The author also makes several nods to a ton of different books and authors that add even more flavor to this already full book. I am so used to zipping through books in a couple days it was really nice to read a book that took some effort (in a good way), that I actually had to do some thinking and take my time.  I was initially worried that this "critically acclaimed" book would turn out to be a pretentious slog, but I was so wonderfully surprised.  In my little opinion, this is how your write a smart book, this book does not talk down to the reader, does not expect the reader to have a Phd in astrophysics, nor does it over simplify or ignore laws of physics.  I know this is a super all over the place ramble, but this book was just really awesome in a completely indescribable way.  This book is not for everybody, if you are looking for a light beach read, or a quick space opera this is not the book you are looking for.  This is a book if you are looking to be a wee bit challenged, or want to feel smart, or are just looking for a great SciFi book, then go pick this one up.  I give it 8 out of 10 FTL drives.
What was the last book you were surprised by?  How do you describe a book that seems one thing but once you ready is something completely different? How much do you wish I could write a coherent post?