Monday, June 30, 2014

Cover Under The Sea

I love love love love love the idea of 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne.  I mean I really like the book itself, but the idea and feel of it is what really hits home for me.  It is steampunky, underwatery, angsty, tensionfilledy, creativy, (all real words, I swear) and all of this tends to come out in some of these really cool covers.  Here are a few of my favorites.
I love this old school cover and how it makes it feel like the bottom of the sea is similar to space
The Nautilus looks like a steampunk metal deep sea fish here and I love it!
Here is cover that gives us the ultimate giant squid that wreaked so much havoc!
This black, white and red version is one of my favorites
This cover conveys a bit of an ominous tone
I see the giant squid!
This stylized version is one of my favorites.
These are just a few of the many amazing cover versions of this awesome book, send me any you think are cool and I will add them to my collection :-)

Friday, June 27, 2014

Tied In Knots

June is the month known for weddings and to celebrate that fact I thought I would introduce you to a nifty little collection called Tied In Knots edited by Lisa Taggart and Samantha Schoech.  I originally got this book back when I was getting married to remind me not to go all bridezilla :-)  This is a collection of true stories written by various people and I have to admit it is pretty funny.  Here are some of my favorites.
Alive and Well in Texas by Jennifer Carsen - This first story hits the ground running with a hilarious story about the ultimate bridezilla and her need to control every single aspect of her wedding.  This includes throwing her own lingerie party, bridal party, stock the brides kitchen party, and a zillion other materialistic shindigs.  This is the ultimate story of how not to be a bride.

The Do-It-Yourself Wedding in 314 Easy Steps by Sara Berkeley - I loved this one about how supposedly easy and simple a DIY wedding is supposed to be.  As a girl who did 99% of her wedding herself/with her mothers help and held it at her in-laws farm this really spoke to me.  I loved some of the mishaps, but the overall feeling of pride and ownership in her wedding.

The Sea Witch by Anne Johnson - Ha, this story made me laugh out loud more then any other story in this book.  The description of Mrs. D.  the polyester covered proprietor of a beach side resort and her insane antics were priceless.  I am kind of sad that the resort was sold and rebuilt because the story made me want to visit, just to see the rusted Lincoln Continentals if nothing else.

My Man in Black by Marisa Solis - Two young in love kids elope to Hawaii to escape the pressure of a big white wedding.  The bride however cannot quite shake the image of her man in a tux on their wedding day...even if nobody else will see it.  The ensuing search for a tux that actually fits and looks good on the little island is absolutely hilarious.

A First-Class Affair by Jennifer Li Shotz - If you've ever been to a wedding you know that good music is essential.  The decision between DJ or live band, classical or modern, just how evil is the chicken dance.  The couple in this story tell us of Barbra the woman who spent thousands of phone calls trying to convince them that a synthesizer was just as good as live brass.  In the end the couple gets what they want and the wedding is a success.
Most of the stories in here are pretty good, I have read through them a couple times and definitely recommend them to any bride who is feeling a bit frazzled.  Be warned that this book does contain a few adult scenes and a bit of adult language so maybe not give it to your 12 year old jr bridesmaid.  I give this collection 8 out of 10 beaded bridal veils.

How do you feel about personal stories?  Do you feel weddings are something to laugh at or a solemn affair?  What is your best wedding related story?

Thursday, June 26, 2014

World Story Character

I'm sure I've done a similar post before, but bear with me.  In my eternal quest to try and describe to other people what I like in a book, I think I have narrowed it down to three essential things; World building, story and character.
World Building - For me this is huge, a book that makes me believe in the world I am reading is 50% there in getting me to love the book/series.  This tends to be more essential in books set in fictional worlds, or alternate worlds, but to some degree it is important regardless of the book.  The only time I will give world building a pass is in short stories 'cause they tend to be more about the story and/or character.  A world with parameter's, rules, space, traditions, history, and structure make a place in my head I can go to, even when I am not reading the book.  I find a lot of the books I have the most issues are the ones that skip over plausible world building for the sake of a concept.

Story - A good story is essential to a good book.  I love original stories, twists on old stories and to be honest I even love an old tried and true story as long as it is written well.  With story my only request is that it be well written, to me this means a clear story that goes somewhere, one that does not rely on completely unrealistic happenstances to resolve a sticky issue, and one that does not abruptly end in a haze of sudden departure from the rest of the book.  The stories I have the most trouble with are the ones that over describe everything, ones that meander to the point your not sure what is going on, and ones that rely on a randomly introduced element to wrap things up.  I love surprises, twist endings, and a really solid story.

Character - I love a good character.  I have finished many a book that is not the best based solely on the strength of at least one of it's characters.  In a lot of my older books, my favorite characters tend to be side characters or the villains.  The main characters in these books tend to be fairly straight forward good guys without to many interesting tidbits, but the side character are pretty cool.  Modern books (or at least the ones I like to read) tend to have a wider variety of characters, making the leads more flawed and diverse and utilizing various types of relationships to further define their characters.  I don't mind stereotypical characters as much as some people do, as long as the characters act according to who they are (does that make sense?).  My biggest character pet peeve is when the character acts one way through out the whole book, and then makes some weirdly random decision for no other reason then to further the story.
All three of these things are not needed to make a readable book. Most books can usually hit at least one of these criteria to an acceptable degree.  Good books get two of these and on the rare occasion the best books manage to incorporate all three.   In fact several of my favorite books usually get only two of these taken care of really well.  Oddly enough concept is one of the things I find non-essential in books, I will take a well written, tried and true, solid story over a wildly original, yet poorly executed concept.  Too many times I find world building, story and character development is sacrificed to try and get a concept across.  So there you have it, when I am trying to describe what I love in a book, it is gonna be one or more of these three things.
What is the most important component of a book for you?  Are their important components that I missed?  Are you sick of me trying to continually find the words to describe my feelings on books?

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Book Vending Machine

Just read an interesting article here about book vending machines.
What a great idea!
These have had limited success in some other countries, but sadly none here in my home country :-(  However the newest item on my literary bucket list is to find one and buy a book!  If anybody knows where you can find one let me know.  Happy Reading Everybody!

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Healing Magic

I have been looking for some new series to get into as I have thoroughly exhausted my regulars, so I have been scouring the bookshelves for something new to try.  Mercedes Lackey is an author I enjoy, and she has about 1000 different series for me to choose from, so I picked up The Serpent's Shadow, the first in the Elemental Masters series.  I LOVED IT!  As always SPOILERS AHEAD!
Maya Witherspoon is the daughter of an English military doctor and a high caste Brahmin.  Maya grew up in India, learning the art of healing from her father, finishing school and becoming a doctor in her own right.  From her mother, Maya learned to believe in magic, watching her mother who was a powerful magic user.  Maya herself has magic, but according to her mother it is not the magic of her people, but rather her fathers and to learn it she must go seek out others who use her kind of magic.  After the untimely death of her parents Maya and her household flee to London to avoid the same fate.  Maya gets sets up a practice in her own house, catering mostly to the poor, the theatre workers, the "kept"women, and anybody else in need of a discreet physician who does not mind if she is female.  Maya also works in the charity hospital a few times a week for free.  Maya is lucky enough to have received a substantial inheritance from her parents, allowing her to own a house modified to her own purposes, including a conservatory filled with tropical flowers and the home to several exotic animals.   The animals were another gift from her mother and consist of two
mongooses, a small monkey, a parrot, a peacock, a hawk, and an owl, all who are much more then they seem. Maya along with her friend Ameilia (who is training to be a physician) work against the ingrained sexism to help as many as they can.  Maya has an extra weapon to help her with her healing, she is able to access the magic of the earth to assist her in her physiking.  Maya's use of magic triggers the interest of the White Lodge, a group of men who are considered Elemental Masters, essentially people who have a magical affinity for one of the four elements, Water, Air, Fire or Earth and have mastered the use of it.  There is some controversy as the Lodge has no Earth masters, as almost all the Earth masters are female or lower class and God forbid they allow either of those into their vaunted club.  Peter Scott, a Water Master is one of the rare non upper class magic users allowed in the Lodge and he is tasked with finding out about Maya.  He meets Maya and the two get along well, with Peter offering to teach Maya as much as he can and then finding her an Earth Master to finishing her tutelage.  Meanwhile, Maya discovers her mothers sister Shivani is the one who is intent on killing Maya.  She is intent on this because of the fact that Maya's mother married an English man and gave birth to a "half-breed" daughter.  Maya, Peter, the pets, and a few others band together to defeat the evil through the combination of their various magics and the help of some of the Indian gods and goddesses.  Peter and Maya marry, convince the Lodge to open up and they all live happily ever after until the next book.
I have to admit that I picked this series to start because the book was all yellow and teal and awesome.  I am glad I did 'cause I loved this book, and hopefully will love the rest of the series as well. What I loved the most about this book is that it centered on medicine, one of my passions is medicine (which is also what pays the bills, so that works out well for me) so any story that uses the medical profession in a fairly accurate manner makes me very happy.  I appreciated how the author combined the medicine and the magic together, not using magic as a way to totally skip over conventional medicine, but more of a way to augment what they were doing, getting bones to mend faster after they had been set, encouraging skin to heal after surgery, things like that.  I also really liked how Maya practiced medicine through out the whole book, not just until
Peter found her.  Too many books will really do a great job with whatever convention they are using to launch the story, but then it peters out as the "action" takes over.  This book had Maya working on patients until the very last page, in very interesting and fairly accurate ways.   I loved learning about India (which is one of my favorite countries, just for the sheer diversity of it) and of course now must research all of the various gods, goddesses and other various goodies I read about. I also liked that we got to see things from the "bad guys" perspective, we got to see the motivation of Shivani and why she was so intent on violence and murder.  I love it when this happens because for me it gives a much more plausible feel to the whole thing. One thing that was kind of cool, especially near the end is that you could see where the author payed homage to a few fairy tales, and Snow White in particular with the whole old woman with the poisoned apple bit, the seven small animals/companions, and even the kissing the dusky maiden awake thing (though that was for a reason, not just true love).  The few things I did not enjoy so much were pretty minor, I felt like the author was shoving the women's lib and racism down our throats, it got a bit heavy handed at times, but did not detract from the over all story so it was bearable. A few times I felt that the solution to some of the characters problems were a bit pat, or a bit over the top, but it was still fun.  The other thing that was a bit more of an issue was that the reader does not get a whole lot of info on how the Elemental Masters thing worked.  The focus was more on Maya and her unconventional combining of magics and techniques and her training was glossed over pretty quickly.  We see Peter use his Water Mastery a bit, but again no real insight into how it works.  I am hopeful later books will remedy this.  Overall the story flowed beautifully, the characters where fairly well fleshed out, the little extras that make a book special were all in there, and the cover was just awesome.  I give this book an 8 out of 10 shadow snakes.
How do you choose a new series? Do you love it as much as I do when a book accurately portrays your profession?  What is my deal with yellow covers?

Monday, June 23, 2014

Gifts For Book Lovers

This month is the month of gifts, between graduations, weddings, anniversaries, birthdays, and Iamsosorryisaidthatstupidthingforthefiftithtime apology gifts there is a good chance you will be searching for the perfect gift for somebody this month.  If the person you are buying for is a book lover...or me :-)  maybe consider one of the following.
Reading Journal
This is a journal for a reader, it has space for everything, title, date, author, genre, and a zillion other fact it is so perfect that I just got myself one!
Book Lamp
This would look great on a desk, or on a table in a library...'cause we all have libraries :-)
Clock Pendant
I love this pendant because you could give to almost any sort of book lover, plus it just looks really really cool.
Book Coasters
These would look great in any book lovers home, and may prevent some rings on books!
Novel Teas
Tea and Books, two great gifts to give to anybody on any occasion.
Hopefully this little cheat sheet will make the gift giving rush a bit easier to handle...or like it did for me, inspire me to buy two of everything so I can have one two :-)  Happy Reading Everybody!

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Mental Quest

By the end of today I will have driven over 18 hours in four days, I have also finished some more books, so that kind of makes up for it.  One of the books is Yurth Burden by Andre Norton and is the second book in the duo book Children of the Gates.  I liked this one better then the first one in this duo, which is surprising 'cause when reading the descriptions the first one sounded much more appealing, but that just goes to show you why you should read all kinds of books.  as always SPOILERS AHEAD LOTS OF SPOILERS!
The Yurth are beings with significant mental powers that live an ascetic life in the unforgiving mountains.  The Raski lack the mental powers of their planet mates, but many live a much richer life then the Yurth.  The Raski hate the Yurth, most believe it is because the Raski fear and covet the Yurth's mental abilities, but it is not known when, or why this hatred was born.  We meet Elossa, a young Yurth who is on a pilgrimage that all Yurth make when they enter adulthood. This quest is one that changes the Yurth who have gone on it in some way, laying upon them a burden of knowledge that is not shared or talked about.  She follows an inner sense far past any where she has been before.  As she is traveling she finds that she is being followed by a Raski and at one point saves his life.  Eventually the two end up in a ruined city with one end dominated by a partially buried giant sphere.  When Elossa approaches it, it opens. Stans, the Raski informed her that he was the last descendant of the king who had ruled in the ruined city and that he was bound to find out what happened and take revenge. Unable to stop him, Elossa allows him into the sphere.  When she enters a voice tells her the story of her people.  Apparently the Yurth are a star faring race that roamed the universe in their giant sphere ships.  At some point the ship is damaged and through user error the ship crash lands on the city of the Raski, destroying it and spreading some sort of madness which results in the Raski reverting back to a medieval style of living.  The Yurth in penance for the unforeseen destruction take an oath to never again rise to the stars and to live an asture life.  They are scanned with a beam that somehow makes all this possible, while imbuing with the mental powers they currently have.  The Raski in their madness blame the Yurth for their reduced way of life and have hated them ever since.  Stans and Elossa decide that since this happened centuries ago that both sides are to blame, and both sides need to move on.  They decide to team up to try and convince both sides to let the past go and move on.  On their journey back, they encounter a cave of what I can only describe as evilness.  They find the old king, who had survived the destruction of the city by foul means and destroy him.  The story ends with the two of them deciding to continue their quest to get their respective races to move forward.
 I think I liked this book better because it made a lot more sense then the other book in this duo.  I really really liked the idea of exploring the various feelings and result that the unintentional destruction set off.  It was nice to have the "aliens" be a race of conscientious beings who felt so bad about their mistake that they doomed not only themselves but all of their decedents to try and make up for it, instead of the normal nefarious destructive aliens.  I loved how Elossa and Stans came to the conclusion that no matter what happened in the past, it was the responsibility of both races to move on and live their lives.  The pacing was interesting because their was a lot of introspection mixed with KAPOW pieces of action.  It may not be everybody's cup of tea, but I liked the mix.  The only real issue I had with it, is that we get the big reveal about half way through the book and then the rest of the book is the whole evil king thing...which I thought was not really nessecary.  I would have much preferred to see Elossa and Stans go to their people and start to try and heal all the wounds from the past.  This is defiantly a science fiction book written in the good style of the 70's which I love.  It is a bit trippy, a bit thinky, a bit spacey, a bit of everything I love about the old school science fiction.  I would give this book 7 out of 10 sargons!
What is your favorite style of science fiction?  Does science fiction always have to take place in the future?  Why did I wait so long to read Andre Norton?

Working Girl

Hello all, how are you?  Been getting some good reading in?  Good.  I have recently acquired yet another job (cause I like my bills to be paid) and that means my schedule has once again changed.  This of course means another apologetic post to you all on the lack of consistency on the blog.  The posting itself should be fairly regular so you won't see much change here, but the updating of the other social media sites will be a bit laggy.
 Hopefully this newest job will not take away any reading time 'cause that would make me sad, but I bet I can figure out a way to keep up.  On the plus side the station I will be running from for the most part is literally right down the hill from where I live, so that will cut down on commute time, which means MORE READING TIME!  Ok so that is what is up with me and the blog, whats up with you?  Happy Reading Everybody!

Wednesday, June 18, 2014


Blech, had to drive 3 hours both ways in 102 degree heat, just to spend a measly 15 minutes getting blood drawn (for work, I'm not sick or anything).
No idea what this book is about, but it seemed appropriate for this post :-)
To make it up to myself I stopped at the bookstore, the chocolate store and the liquor store.  If anybody needs my I will be curled up in my reading chair under the AC enjoying my new purchases.
Happy Reading Everybody!

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Elves, UFO's And Dimensional Travelers

I have read several short stories by Andre Norton, one of the first female Science Fiction writers, but for some reason have never actually picked up one of her full novels.  This has been remedied by reading Children of the Gates, which contains two of her novels.  The one I will ramble about today is the first one in the collection, Here Abide Monsters.  As always SPOILERS AHEAD!
Nick Shaw is headed to his lake house for the weekend to escape a bit of a difficult situation at home.  He meets up with a young woman named Linda and her Peke dog Lung.  She is headed to a friends house and has to drive a road known as the Cut-Off which seems to be responsible for various peoples dissaperances over the years including Nicks own cousin a few years ago.  Nick has a bad feeling and offers to escort Linda to her friends house.  The two encounter a wall of fog and end up in another world.  They meet up with a band of people from 1940's Britain and learn that they have ended up in a very strange world indeed.  The natives of the world seem to be creatures that come from Earth myth, the theory being that they may have slipped through the same portals that brought the humans to this world, thus creating the myths.  There also appears to be humans from every era and place on Earth roaming around, some more violent then
others.  To top it all off, an unknown alien race is running around in their spaceships beaming people up and capturing them in their ships.  As the group hides and runs and hides and runs they tell the new comers that at some point a man called the Herald will come from one of the big shining protected cities and offer them a choice.  If they accept his offer, they will be protected from the violent factions and the aliens, but they will become changed, something not quite human.  Nick gets captured by a medieval group, intent on violence and some arcane sorcery.  Eventually they leave Nick tied to a tree in the hands of some very vicious monsters.  The Herald appears and tells Nick that if he accepts his offer he will be forever protected and part of this fantastic world.  Nick asks for more time to decide and the Herald tells him he has his own power.  Nick discovers with great concentration he can create illusion and manipulate objects.  He is reunited with his group, who learn that they too can use this new found power to varying degrees of success.  Nick has another conversation with the Herald and also one of the group who had accepted the Heralds offer.  The two tell Nick that a great evil is coming and unless the humans accept the offer, they will probably not survive.  This is where it gets a little mushy and I'm not quit sure what happens, but in the end a lot of the group dies and the rest decide to accept the Heralds offer and the change that comes with it.
I have mixed feelings about this story.  It starts off really awesome, written in the style of the old school SciFi that I LOVE!  There was tension, excitement, monsters, UFO's, choices, action, everything that should make a great story...but it never really came together for me.  The characters seemed half formed, like they had a story to tell, but couldn't quit get it out.  The story also suffered from a lack of clarity.  The best I could figure is that this world has something bad in it and the bad is just compounded by aliens and roving bands of lost Earthlings and the only way to be able to survive is to choose to change into one of the native Elf type people.  That was it, except it wasn't told that simply, there were innuendos, hints, there was the tease of a greater story, of a bigger picture, of a vast universe, but the story never really delivered.  The imagery was beautiful, there were certain scenes and passages that really stuck in my head as truly stunning.  The beginning was especially good.  I like how she wrote the knowing dread of Nick as the wall of fog rolled towards him, I loved the descriptions of some of the native inhabitants of this alternate world, I have decided I really need to go find some of the fantastic creatures from this world and make them my pets. Also the cover was awesome!  Overall I appreciated the imagery, but wanted a story that I could follow.  I give this book 6 out of 10 portals to another universe.

Monday, June 16, 2014


Super busy long weekend (as the lack of post on Friday shows).  Now I need to catch up on my reading
This should help :-)

Happy Reading Everybody!

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Lots Of Lists

I always find top 100 lists interesting, especially when it comes to books.  I am always interested to see how many I have read, how many I actually liked and so on so forth.  Just for fun, I looked up a bunch of top 100 lists and put each book in one of five categories:  Read it and liked it, read it and didn't like it, want to read it, don't want to read it, never heard of it.  Here is the break down.
Amazon 100 Books to Read in a Lifetime 
Read and Liked - 27
Read and Not Liked - 4
Want to Read - 15
Do Not Want to Read - 19
Never Heard Of - 35

Goodreads 100 Books to Read in a Lifetime: Readers Picks
Read and Liked - 52
Read and Not Liked - 9
Want to Read - 15
Do Not Want to Read - 14
Never Heard Of - 10

Wikipedia: The 100 Best Books of All Time
Read and Liked - 19
Read and Not Liked - 6
Want to Read - 15
Do Not Want to Read - 20
Never Heard Of - 40

New York Times 100 Novels
Read and Liked - 3
Read and Not Liked - 7
Want to Read - 13
Do Not Want to Read - 13
Never Heard Of  - 64

Modern Library Readers Top 100
Read and Liked - 7
Read and Not Liked - 10
Want to Read - 24
Do Not Want to Read - 20
Never Heard Of - 39
So looking over my results, it seems I would be better served sticking to actual readers choices rather then the old institutional lists.  This makes sense for several reasons, the first being that reading is so personal that every reader is going to have a very individual top 100 list (I will post mine soon) and second, readers lists tend to include books a lot of people actually read as opposed to what may be a really good book to the super smarty pants, but may not appeal to us masses.  All this being said, my favorite way to find a new book is still by a personal recommend away :-)

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Cancer And Champagne

I have to be totally honest, I really had no intention of reading The Fault In Our Stars by John Green.  I am usually not a huge fan of the tug on the heart strings, tragic teenage stories and this was the pinnacle of that type of book.  However a trusted friend handed it to me and told me to read it and so I did.  In the end I was 100% right about the kind of book it is, but I am very glad I read it anyways.  As always SPOILERS AHEAD!!!!!!
Hazel Grace Lancaster has cancer.  She is 17 and will probably die from it.  That my friends is a story, but not the story this book tells.  This book tells us to the story of Hazel and Augustus "Gus" Waters, who becomes the love of her life.  The story if fairly simple.  Teenage cancer girl with lungs that force her to carry around and oxygen cart and is living on borrowed time meets loud, boisterous, confident, one legged cancer boy.  They hit it off and bond over books, especially the favorite book of Hazel called An Imperial Affliction.  Hazel struggles with her health, and her place in the world of her loved ones, calling herself a grenade that will explode when she dies, hurting the people she loves.  Gus decides to use his "cancer kid wish" to take Hazel to Amsterdam to meet the author of An Imperial Affliction to try and get some of their questions about the ambiguous ending of the book answered.  They correspond with the author and his
assistant and get the trip all planned out.  Meanwhile another one of their cancer friends ends up losing a second eye to cancer, blinding him completely, leaving Hazel and Gus to help him survive this new state of being.  Hazel, Gus and Hazel's mom all head to Amsterdam, regardless of some of Hazels health issues, determined to have a good time.  Gus and Hazel share a wonderfully romantic meal on the canal's, which includes the most wonderful champagne, which is described as a glass full of stars.  The two go to meet with Peter  Van Houten, who turns out to be as my Mamma would put it, a total turd.  He is mean, pretentious, drunk and pathetic.  The two don't let the experience ruin their trip...but the revelation that Gus's cancer has come back and spread to his entire body does put a bit of a damper on things.  When they return, Gus enters palliative care, which is essentially a way to make him as comfortable as they can while he dies.  Hazel stays with him as the vibrant boy she fell in love with turns into a hollow, pain filled shell.  He dies and Hazel has to learn to live without him.  As a final gesture before he died, Hazel discovered that he had written her the most beautiful eulogy and sent it to Peter Van Houten to look it over.  It is sent back to Hazel and the book ends with Gus's final words to her.
So after reading this book, what do I think...hmmmm...I'm trying to figure out how to put into words how I feel about the book, without sounding as pretentious or nit-picky, or petty, or gushy. What cannot be put in the synopsis is the personality that the author put into this book.  Their is a great sense of what us EMT's call gallows humor, which is when you are surrounded by death on such a regular basis that you have to make jokes about it.  This sometimes seriously disturbs other people, but sometimes it is the only way to get through the day.  The reactions that the kids have to having this horrible disease of varying degrees of severity, the reactions of their friends and family were all fairly realistic and appropriate.  I think the biggest pro and con of this book for me personally, is that it was perfectly written for the YA age group, which is
awesome.  I find a lot of YA book either talk down to teenagers, assuming they are not as smart as adults, or they actually write to adults, but the content is considered YA so it is marketed as such.  This book however was written for the 13-17 age group, it speaks with the voice of a teenager, it is written with the immediacy of moment a teenager feels, it is written with the frustration of a person who is stuck between childhood and adulthood and then mixed in to all this is the constantness of cancer, which invades every "normal" teenage experience.  The down side to all of this however is that I am no longer a teenager (thank goodness) and so some of what makes this book perfect for the YA crowd came across as heavy handed and pretentious to me.  There was a fair amount of eye-rolling on my part, but then a weird nostalgia would come over me and I could totally remember feeling the intense emotion, and loving sounding like I was super smart by quoting random books of smartness.  Me and my crowd loved being "different" (are you liking all the quotes today?) and "esoteric" and all of that great stuff that made us feel "adult".  Overall it was a well written book, perfect for its target audience without talking down to them, or trying to also appease the adults. In fact I would be tempted to add this to my "if I was an English teacher required reading list.  It is a true YA book, which is perfect, I just it was around so I could have read it when I was 15 and gotten the full impact of it.  I give it 8 out of 10 nasal cannula's and recommend it anybody between the ages of 13-17, or anybody who needs reminded how tough, and yet wonderfully freeing it was to be a teenager.
What books do you wish you could have read as a child/teenager?  What do you think of books that intentionally tug at your heart strings?  Is gallows humor something you employ, or find distasteful?

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Mermaid Markers

Woohoo, pool time is here!!!!  I am not a huge fan of hot weather, anything above 73 degrees makes me overheat and turn into sweaty crabby girl, but at least the pool is open.  I love going to the pool 'cause 1) I love love love water, I love being in water, around water, watching water, I love water and 2) I get an excuse to read outside for hours at a time 'cause that's what adults are supposed to do at the pool.  Of course I am only a little bit grown up and sometimes I need to put down the book and go swimming.  Here are some swimming mermaid inspired book markers for when you need a cool down.
Diving Mermaid
Would you consider this diving into your book?  Eh...hee hee hee
Crochet Mermaid
Aw she's so cute!
Vintage Mermaid
I love this vintage mermaid, colors, shape, split tail, all very cool
Colorful Mermaids
The variety in these are stunning and awesome
Art Mermaid 
There is something about this eclectic piece that I love
Ok so I am off to get a couple of these to accompany me on pool/beach days so I can have my water and swim in it too.  I am also off to by several books with mermaids in them 'cause that sounds like perfect beach reading.  Happy Reading Everybody

Monday, June 9, 2014


Hello all, how was your weekend?  I got a ton of reading done YIPEE, so be ready for a deluge of convoluted ramblings in the near future.  As much as I love reading, my sweet Hubbin was in need of a hot dog so of to the movies we went (the movies is the only place he eats hot dogs...).  Since I am spoiled my wonderful and amazing Hubbin took me to see Maleficent, which is supposed to be the back story to the evil faery in Disney's version of Sleeping Beauty.  I was both excited and dreading seeing this movie.  I was excited because Maleficent is by far my favorite Disney villain, followed by Ursula the Sea Witch, and Captain Hook (I am a fan of Disney films and I am not afraid to show it).  I have always loved the story of Sleeping Beauty, more for it's brutal villain's then for its passive princess and the Disney version of Maleficent was everything I wanted, she was strong, beautiful, powerful, even a bit sexy, and completely unapologetic for being as she puts it "the Mistress of Evil".  I was dreading this movie because in the new tradition of humanizing our villains I was afraid they would lose everything I loved about my Maleficent.
Unfortunately I was right for the most part.  They took a powerful and strong female bad ass villain and made her a good guy who just had a bad moment or two.  Seriously I would say that you only get the feeling that Maleficent is any sort of villain for about five minutes of the entire movie.  Her history is not near as extensive as I would like to see, both beginning and ending with the would be King Stefan (Aurora/Sleeping Beauty's dad) and the reasoning behind a lot of what is done is flimsy at best.  She spends the first third of the movie as a good faery, the protector of her realm, which is actually pretty awesome visually.  She meets Stefan, a human whom with she falls in love with, but is heartbroken when he, you know does the whole human greed/ambition thing.  It is very obvious in this movie that humans are bad, destructive and greedy, while every thing else is magic and awesome and the petty humans must destroy it 'cause you know that's what humans do.  Stefan comes back to lull his old friend Maleficent to sleep to kill her so he can be king.
Of course his childhood feelings prevent murder so he just cuts off her wings instead.  He becomes king and she becomes pissed, with a penchant for black pleather.  One of the few cool things she does is create a servant out of a crow that is pretty awesome (I want a crow dude).  Using this crow dude she spies on the king until she learns he has a daughter.  Maleficent in a fit of revenge and pissed offness go swooping into the castle casting a completely watered down curse about sleeping until true loves kiss.  Yep she didn't even give the bumbling "good" faeries a chance to lessen the curse from death to sleep, she just did it herself.  The three colorful faeries take the kid into the woods (which I never understood...why not just take her away for the year between 15&16, how does raising her away from the castle protect her at all?!? Also that never actually happens in the original tales...but then those are not fit for children are they?) and make the most hilarious attempt to raise this squalling infant.  Seriously the best part of the movie is the three "good" faeries, their bumbling attempts to raise a human, and the funny, yet oddly harmless for the Mistress of Evil" tricks Maleficent plays on them.  Maleficent ends up completely enchanted by Aurora, and tries to remove the curse to no avail (note to self, don't cast unbreakable curses unless you really mean them) but offers to let Aurora live with her in the faery side of the giant thorn bush.  Aurora meets a boy, but there is no singing so I'm not sure if it was true love.  Aurora rides to the castle where she finally meets her father, only to find him a bitter, obsessive freak, bent on the destruction of Maleficent.  Aurora pricks her finger, Maleficent brings her the prince she met, but alas no true love there.  Maleficent is sad and kisses Aurora goodbye...which is of course true love and the princess awakens.  King Stefan is still hell bent on killing Maleficent, even after he see's his daughter alive and well, and of course conveniently forgetting the whole reason they are in this mess is 'cause he cut her wings off!!!!!!  Aurora finds the wings, Maleficent is healed, the crow turns into a really cool giant crow/dragon thing (I WANT ONE SO BAD), and the bad evil king is defeated and killed.  Aurora moves in with Maleficent and they all live happily ever after?!?
Yeah, so in case you didn't pick up on it, not my kind of movie.  It was visually stunning, but the gentling of one of the best villains out there just made me sad.  I like my villains to have a back story, very few beings (even fictional ones) are born evil, and knowing their journey usually adds a great dimension.  This however...I don't seemed like they were trying to change history a bit, like in Star Wars when they change it so Greedo shoots first, Maleficent is supposed to be a glorious, bad ass villain, not a sweet earth mother with horns and a bad taste in pleather (though I totally want a giant pair of horns to go with my wings
 now).  The lack of any true badness in Maleficent made it very hard to associate her with the Mistress of Evil in the original movie...she didn't ever really take it out on her subjects.  In fact the only really bad thing she did was the watered down curse...which she tried to lift.  King Stefan on the other hand got a really bad take, in almost every story he at worst harmless and at best a loving and doting father.  I understand that it is popular to villainize the privileged white male, but this was just not the way to do it.  The reasons for his actions were again flimsy at best, and unexplained most of the time and made any reason for his hatred moot.  Over all I loved some of the visuals, want to watch a spin off with the three faeries, need a crow dude of my own,still love dragons, and want to completely rewrite this movie to give it its teeth back.  Instead I will go pick up one of my numerous, fantastic adaptions of the story and remember why I love the story in the first place.  Enchntment, Princess Sonora and the Long Sleep and Spindles End along with rewatching the original movie with all of the Mistress of Evil awesomeness (and maybe a quick rewatch of Enchanted with the fabulous Susan Sarandon showing the world how a villain should be done) will restore my faith in this twisted fairy tale.
What did you think of the movie?  Is it alright for villains to be bad, or are they better with a redeeming factor? What is your favorite villain?  Is it bad that at age 8 I was already preferring the Mistress of Evil to the princess?

Friday, June 6, 2014

Faery Reel

Sometimes I find a book that redefines how I may look at reading, or a genre, or life in general. The book The Faery Reel: Tales from the Twilight Realm edited by Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling was one of those books.  I picked it up 'cause it looked pretty and was hooked.  I had never been into short stories before this collection, but the sheer magic of a lot of these stories is why I started reading in the first place and it has become a go to book for when I need a dose of magic in my life.  Here are a few of my favorites.
CATNYP by Delia Sherman - This story may have had a lot to do with why I kept reading the collection. Libraries, books, New York and faeries, I'm not sure a story can get a whole lot better.  Add in my favorite library lions and you have the recipe for a perfect story for me.

Tengu Mountain by Gregory Frost - This take on traditional Japanese demons is both cheeky and a wee bit scary in turns.  This is also one of the first stories to make me want to go research beyond the English/Celtic faeries.  I love to read this out loud to my Hubbin.

Never Never by Bruce Glassco - I love this take on the Peter Pan story.  This one focuses on Captain Hook and Tinker Bell (my two favorite characters) and shows us the importance of villains, finding your place and the eternal need to find lost things.  Also makes me want to go chill on the moon.

Screaming for Faeries by Ellen Steiber - Another story that blends humor and something much deeper.  This story is one I automatically flip too every time I open this book.  The idea of screaming for faeries appeals to me and seems like a good way to attract the little buggers, and I have to admit that the more traditional faery in this nontraditional tale makes me smile big smiles.

The Dream Eaters by A. M. Dellamonica - This quirky tale involves an eccentric clothing designer, a street kid turned cop, and a world that faeries decorate using the dreams of humans.  I love the look and feel of the faery cities within our own cities and the rules and bargains one must make to visit there.
To be honest only picking a couple stories to share with you is hard as I love pretty much every story in this book.  I love that there is a combination of old school faeries, Japanese demons, elves from the Philippines, kitsunes, undines, oak things, and every type of fae from every country you can think of.  This book has at least one story for everybody and is my happy place faery book.  It is also chock full of authors who's other books I am now eager to read which makes it a win for every body.

What is your go to faery book?  What book got you into a new genre?  Do you believe in faeries?

Thursday, June 5, 2014


It's been a long week and to be quit honest all  I want to do is sleep for a week (yes I know it's only Wednesday )
Sleep Book
I'm off to bed and maybe I'll just stay there for the rest of the day... Happy Reading Evereybody