Wednesday, July 30, 2014


I recently have reread a collection of short stories called I got a while ago, I was looking for a particular story to show somebody and then remembered that I love most of the stories in this collection.  Firebirds: An Anthology of Original Fantasy and Science Fiction edited by Sharyn November is full of stories that are unique, varied and perfect for reading just about anytime. It is geared towards the young adult crowd, but that does not take anything away from this collection.  Here are some of my favorites.
Cotillion by Delia Sherman - This modern day retelling of the Tam Lin story set in the Vietnam Era New York City is a perfect opener to this book.  It is both classic and new all at the same time. The story is the perfect length and the ending is what every love at first sight story should be.

The Baby in the Night Deposit Box by Megan Whalen Turner - This is one of my top ten short stories of all time.  It is original and funny and sweet and has terriffying shadow bunnies of evil.  It also features a little girl (who is not blond haired, fair skinned or rose lipped thank you very much) who in a very short story grows up to be even awesomer.  Just go read it.

Mariposa by Nancy Springer - This is the perfect story of what happens to us when we grow up...we lose our soul.  The souls in this story are represented by various objects, butterflies, birds, or in the case of our main character a sunfish.  This sweet story reminds us to go back to that time in life when you could still see the magic in everything, and how that made the world a better place.
Max Mondrosch by Lloyd Alexander - I have to put this story in here for sheer writing skill, and the fact that I hate it so much I refuse to ever reread it.  This is a fantastically written short story, but it is heart wrenching and sad.  It makes me feel super depressed when I read it...again, not a bad thing, just a writer who knows how to get to his readers.  I will say you should read it and get back to me on what effect it may or may not have had on you.

The Fall of Ys by Meredith Ann Pierce - This is a retelling of the fabled city of Ys.  In this story the author has changed the perspective to a selfish man who wants to have absolute rule.  Instead of his daughter being a monster, she is actually the good guy.  I like this story because it always sticks in my head after I have read it.  Actually this is the story that made me hunt down this book again.

Byndley by Patricia A. McKillip - This is one of my absolute favorites in this book.  It is a truly magical fairy story.  It has everything one wants from a high fantasy tale, it has the Fair Folk, a mysterious village in the enchanted woods, a tortured soul looking for a way back, and an epic tale of love and betrayal, all told over a mug of ale...ahhh perfect.

Little Dot by Diana Wynne Jones - This story is told from the perspective of a cat and is hilarious.  A wizard becomes the unintentional owner of several cats who help him defeat a monster who is intent on eating the villagers livestock.  It is witty and sweet and one I am going to read to my nephews in the very near future.

As I look at my favorite stories I am not surprised to see that this book inspired me to pick up several of these authors books.  Patricia A. McKillip and Diana Wynne Jones are two of several authors I now read extensively thanks to this collection.  This is just one of the things I love about these kind of collections, how it introduces writing styles and authors you have never tried before, YAY ME!  Anyways everybody go pick it up (and the companion book which I will get to later) and tell me what you think.  I give this collection an 8 out of 10 firebirds.

What author(s) have you been introduced to through a short story collection?  Do you ever have to go through your short story collections to find a story you were looking for/thinking about?  Do you find it amusing when my favorite list in these collection includes almost all of the stories?

Reading The King

After all of our talk of mythical and legendary figures I now want to go read all of my books that pertain to King Arthur, here are a few of my favorites.
Le Morte D'Arthur
This book is the most "historical" of all the books, it try's to put together all of the disparate historical literature and stories into a cohesive time line.  
The Pendragon Cycle
I love love love this series.  This five book series completely encompasses the entirety of the Arthur story, while lending a bit of history and awesomness.
The Avalon Series
This lush version of the Arthur story is told through the voice of the various women who played a crucial role in this epic tale.  This new perspective is interesting and a wonderful read.
Chronicles of the Imaginarium Geographica 
This is not a strictly Arthur book, but based in a world that is a conglameration of all the big myths and stories and the Arthur story plays a huge role in the series.  Also it is just an awesome series.

Ok ok so this is not a book, but I love this semi cheesy, totally awesome show about a young Merlin and Arthur :-)
What is your favorite Arthurian tale?  Do you ever get stuck in a reading theme?  Should really great TV and Movies be included in book posts?

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Reading Into Tommorow

And it's 1am and I am not sleeping...nope, once again I am reading my myriads of books instead letting my body get the sleep it so desperately craves.
I complain about not being able to sleep all the time but...I'm pretty sure it is my own fault at this point.  Oh well, I guess I can always catch up on sleep later right?

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Introspective AI

I like to read Science Fiction in the summer, I actually like it any time, but for some reason I always classify SciFi as a summer genre.  In that vein I had saved Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie to read by the pool.  I picked it up because a whole ton of people who have similar taste in books as me gave it rave reviews.  I found it to be...very thought provoking and introspective, but first as always SPOILERS AHEAD!
I will do my best to give you the gist of the story, as it is laid out in a two separate story format.  In essence the story focus's around a piece of AI named Breq, except that it isn't about Breq per se.  It is about a being called The Justice of Toren which is a giant ship that is controlled completely by an AI who is able to...I don't know how to explain it...maybe fragment is the word, yeah I'll use that, who is able to fragment it's consciousness and use human bodies as ancillaries.  This means it take a human and submerge it's being into itself and essentially control, get input and be in many different physical places at once.  The AI organizes itself in a complex system that I am not going to go into, but it gets the point across.  In the flashback story The Justice of Toren and more specifically an ancillary designated as One Esk get caught up in a galaxy wide conflict with the head of the Radch, which is the giant empire that pretty much has taken over everything.  The head of the Radch is a being known as Anaander Mianaai, who has also fragmented itself and is now having some sort of internal conflict with itself, resulting in the destruction of The Justice of Toren all except a single ancillary which escaped.  This ancillary, that used to be designated as Esk One, now calls itself Breq and is looking for revenge for the death of her ship, and more importantly one Lt. Awen, with whom Breq as One Esk had bonded (are you completly confused yet?).  Along the way Breq meets up with a former officer, that it did not particularly like, but for some reason saves and brings along the adventure.  The whole story culminates in Breq hooking up with one aspect of Anaander Mianaai, who tells us that the entity it is part of is conflicted and one part is trying to bring about change, and another part is trying to preserve the status quo.  Breq picks a side (kind of) an chaos ensues and things happen and thoughts are thunk and Breq obtains a ship to sail off into the next story.
If the that did not make any sense I don't blame you, this book is full of intricacies and logic leaps that have to be read and thought over to be of any value, and a summation is not the place to do it.  There are several things that caught my attention in this book and I will go through them one by one and maybe my feelings, or the gist of the book, or whatever will become clear...or maybe not.  One of the first things that jumps out is the language choice the author made.  In her world the Radch do not use gender identification, so the only pronoun that is used is she.  While this is a very interesting choice, it gets a bit confusing, especially when it is still used even after a character is identified as male.  The other language choice the author made was to make it clear there were other languages that are used extensively, but they are never differentiated int the book, so it got really confusing sometimes.  The combination of these two choices made the conversations a bit hard to follow some times.  The biggest concept in this book was the AI and it's vastness.  The idea of this huge AI that could and did control everything in it's domain, and it's casual acceptance by the masses
was very well done.  The use of the human ancillaries was very very thought provoking, making me think of the various aspects of personality over and over.  I had a hard time wrapping my head around the idea that a being could essentially fragment itself and control the various aspects of itself completely independently, yet still always part of the whole, but that is not the authors fault, it is just a really complex and huge concept that I think is meant to be mulled over.  The other piece of the AI concept was the idea that it might be possible for a schism to happen within the myriads of facets of such a huge AI's consciousnesses, effectively putting it at odds with itself.  This is shown mostly in the facets of Anaander Mianaai and it's ability to hide what it was doing from itself.  Moving on, the Radch have a very inclusive religion that allows for conquered worlds to add their own deities to the pantheon of an almost Buddhist like structure, the concept of balance being the biggest tenet.  The religion is very intertwined in the day to day activities, customs, and even running of the government.  It is mentioned many times, and the local temples tend to be used as settings on many worlds that are visited during the course of this book.  There is also some sort of super strong alien presence that accounts for a treaty that is part of the schism in the governmental entity, but unfortunately this is not very well explained and for me adds to some of the confusion I had reading this book.  The flashback stories, the bits of history, and the current story are all well told, though I liked the flashback and history part the best.  As you can probably tell from the stunted, stuttering, stilted (yes I am in an alliteration mood today) review that this is not the most reviewable of books.  Overall I felt it was a book of idea's and concepts.  The characters were fairly interchangeable and the stories while good, seemed to be more of a backdrop or context of an idea the author was trying to get across.  I had a hard time following the nuances of the plot and conversations, and to be quit honest I'm still not sure if I actually understand the plot, but I loved the ideas this book posed.  I liked that it was fodder for many hours of thinking, of pondering, of hypothesizing, sometimes I really enjoy that kind of thing.  Overall I found it to be more of a philosophical idea novel then I did a scifi space tale.  I found it a bit confusing and wanted more information on certain things, but enjoyed being able to mull it over when I put it down.  I will give it 7 out of 10 ancillaries and will probably pick up the sequel when it comes out.
What did you think of this book?  Do you like more abstract concepts, or do prefer a more solid story?  How rambly and incoherent is this rambling?

Friday, July 25, 2014

Friends And Family And Books

Had the best month ever when it comes to books.  Not only did I finish up a couple of absolutely amazingly magical books (get ready for some super rambly rambles) but I got to talk about them with some of my favorite peoples.  Of course you all got stuck reading my excited post on how much fun I had talking books with baby sis, so there was that.  Last week one of my fellow EMT's from the firehouse stopped by and we went through my book shelves book by book and discussed them all...even the Hubbin's books.  She ended up going home with a bunch of my books which makes me excited to discuss them when she is finished (hurry up, I know you have nothing better to do then read non school books :-) )  Hubbin of course is always up for a book discussion and this week we talked about them in relation to the more logical sciences and progress (Think H.G. Wells and Jules Verne).  To top of this month of literary awesomeness I just spent three hours Skyping my Mamma, comparing books, suggesting books, and getting book recommendations.  I love how blessed I am when it comes to people to talk, discuss, suggest, get idea's and so many other things related to my book loves.  Thanks to everybody and my readers (some of which are the same people :-) )  who let me go on and on about my literary love.  Happy Reading Everybody

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Epic Road Trip Of Awesomeness!

Hello Everybody!  Is everybody enjoying their summer vacation?  Have you gone anywhere cool?  Finished your summer reading list yet?  I myself have been road tripping it all over the place and have discovered the perfect book to bring on these jaunts.  I talked about it earlier, but am now ready to ramble my little brains out.  The book is Helen and Troy's Epic Road Quest by A. Lee Martinez and IT IS AWESOME!  It was a book I picked randomly from the bookstore stack 'cause it was too perfect not to, and ended up on my favorite book list.  As always SPOILERS AHEAD!
Helen is a minotaur, yep a seven foot tall girl with a cows head, complete with horns, hooves for feet and a body full of fur.  She spends her summer flipping burgers and making friends with Troy, the insanely good looking, yet oddly fully self aware and good natured co-worker.  Things get exciting when Mr. Whiteleaf, the aging elf, tries to summon the Lost God by sacrificing Helen to it.  Things take a wrong turn and the Lost God (who manifests as a huge pile of ground beef) lays a quest on Helen and Troy.   They are approached by the National Questing Bureau and given some tools to help them on their quest.  Off they go to have some absolutley insane adventures.  Meanwhile, Nigel Skullgnasher, an Orcish accountant is summoned by his god to assemble his motorcycle club (which includes a human who wants to be an orc) to assassinate the heroic duo to keep the Lost God (who was banished by the other gods for being a tad to destructive) from obtaining the items he needs to re manifest on Earth.  As Helen and Troy go on their quest, they acquire a three legged dog, various enchanted items and a budding romance.  Some of the tasks they are set to overcome include defeating a professional cyclops, attempting to decipher the fates (lowercase f) cryptic words, survive a dragon preserve, battle a witch with a penchant for gingerbread, and try and figure out where they both fit in the bigger picture of life.   Along the way Helen and Troy are both faced with more esoteric questions, such as which of them is the hero, and which of them is the sidekick, should they finish the quest even though it puts the world at risk or give it up and be killed, and would they ever work as more then friends.  Eventually Helen and Troy finish the quest, the orcs catch up and a big bloody battle ensues.  The Lost God manifests, but is defeated and everybody goes back to attempt to live happily ever after.
Sorry for the chintzy summation, but if I start going into detail I will retype the whole book.  It is impossible to pick a favorite part, so just go read it yourself.  So so so so so many things to love about this book, I am just going to dive in and start gushing in no particular order.  Let's start with the world our story is set in shall we?  This is an alternative Earth, where the legends live on through genetic throw backs, where minotaur's while rare do exist and running into an elf fast food manager is not uncommon.  These folks are called Enchanted Americans and for the most part are treated like any other visible minority.  Magic is a part of this world, yet kept seperated enough that most humans (who are still the majority) and even Enchanted Americans live their lives as modern Americans do.  I find this mix of reality and magic to be blended perfectly and love it, this is one of this authors strengths as his other books also display this urban fantasy style blend. Moving on to the hero's.  Helen is not your typical heroine, she is seven feet tall, covered in fur...and oh yeah has a cows head.  She has come to accept who she is for the most part, but has done this by thinking of herself as somebody who can only go so far, who may never be able to be the leading lady, or the center of attention in any way but as a monster. On the other side of the coin you have the perfect Troy, he is good looking, smart, athletic, funny, and not really stuck up at all.  This pairing gives us the perfect
opportunity to see a myriad of reactions and examine how people look at each other.  I could seriously go on and on and on about all the zillions of ways the author uses these two to make a point, usually in a subtle yet funny way, but a true point all the same.  For instance at one point Troy is trying to describe Helen to his sister, being Asian he is aware that, that is usually the first way he is described and is trying to avoid labeling Helen a nothing more then a minotaur, so he describes her as a tall brunette with really pretty big brown eyes.  This of course brings home the point that most people will use what is different, or distinct about a person to describe them e.g. Black, Gay, The one with the fake leg, etc.  Good, bad or otherwise, this is usually how it works. I love in general how neither of the main characters are typical at all.  The female lead is not conventionally pretty, she is not super anything (other then physically strong...which is because of what she is, not anything special), she is a typical teenage girl, trying to figure life out, and by typical I mean real life typical, not book and movie typical.  The male lead is described as so close to perfect as to make no real difference, and yet he has to deal with that aspect of his himself.  He knows he is good looking, athletic, smart etc, but he also feels that people expect way more out of him because of it, and then he feels bad because he is complaining about his perfection.  The interactions between the two are wonderful and believable and wonderful and awesome and wonderful, I would go on,
but I think I've made my point.  Oh wait one more thing, the fact that the female heroine was the physically dominating/protective one and that the male hero was totally fine with it was really refreshing.  The road quest itself is entertaining and humorous.  I love a well done parody, but find most people either go overboard, or don't go far enough, or just don't understand what is funny.  Mr. Martinez does this tongue in cheek take on a classic epic quest in the vein of the Odyssey and other hero quests to perfection.  He retains all the essentials while at least giving a head nod to some of the more absurd aspects of it.  Ok so I'm gonna quit writing now 'cause a) I want you to all go get this, read it, and come back and discuss it b) I bet if you have made it this far your head hurts and you just want this post to end :-)   I give this amazing book 9 out of 10 possibly enchanted teapots and recommend it to anybody who is looking for a fun read, a book to get you in the road trip mood, or an alternative hero's quest.
What do you think of books that parody a trope?  Do you think we are getting a better variety of hero/heroines in our books?  Am I abnormally excited about this book?

History And Myth

One of my many favorite aspects of reading is the ideas and topics that get me thinking beyond the book.  One of the books I am reading now reminded me that books and stories are more then entertainment, they are teaching tools, history keepers, and legend builders.  One thing that strikes me about the old stories in particular is their ability to create a blur between reality and myth, to the point that sometimes you are not 100% sure if a person existed for real or a certain event actually happened.  Take for example the legend of King Arthur.  Most people in Western Culture have at least heard of of King Arthur, many books, songs, stories, plays, movies, tv shows and even comics have been made to feature him...but was he even a real
person?  To be honest, nobody knows for sure.  He could have been a king in the 5th century that had his exploits written down by somebody, he could be a conglomeration of several kings and rulers, he could be a name that people of the time period used to sum up all the glory's and failures and morals and lessons they wanted to impart.  We will probably never know for sure.  Others have also achieved that blurred mythical status.  Robin Hood, Paul Bunyan, Johnny Appleseed, Beowulf, and many many others that are all as interesting and all as nebulously real as the last.  These legends have a very important purpose around the world.  They are there to preserve history, events may not be exactly what happened in the song, or poem, but we can get an idea of what was going on during that time period.  They are used as lessons, to teach morals and consequences.  These stories are used as entertainment and to evoke emotion, to bond people together over a shared experience.  When I first started thinking about this the other day, I felt like we don't do this anymore.  We don't memorialize our hero's in song, epic poems are no longer written about epic battles.  Then I watched Band of Brothers, and read Jepp Who Defied the Stars and realized that most historical fiction, heck most fiction in general is a way to record on film, or put down on paper, or digitize in binary numbers our current history and turn it into legends in their own forms.  The biggest difference is that it is so much easier to produce these works then it was before.  More people have access to, and the ability to read and write on their own.  Before a select few people could read or right, multi media consisted of writing on paper that took weeks to make, painting, weaving, and song.  All communication was done in person, on foot or horse back or by ship, things were slow and new entertainment few and far between, so any new song or story or piece of art was rare, valued and known by most people in the region.  Today I can access thousands of stories, books, songs, pieces of art,
cultural rites...or add to it myself.  Before stories were passed from on person to another, allowing for errors, embellishments and miss attributions until the original person or event became morphed into an epic tale, only vaguely resembling the original.  Today we can record most history in a fairly accurate way, we can usually find the source story, so the mysterious hero's are no longer so mysterious.  In the end, I still kind of wish we would all gather around the fire to hear tales of heroism, or hear a ballad of an epic event, or decorate our halls with weaving's depicting the building of great monuments...but I am also glad I can download every Harry Potter book in 20 seconds anytime I want :-)  Happy Reading Everybody!
Do you think we have any mythical legends now days?  What is your favorite legendary figure?  Do you think bard is still a legitimate proffesion?

Monday, July 21, 2014

18 In 30

Soooooooooo...I'm tired...are you all shocked?  Had weekend duty and ran 18 calls in 30 hours.
Book Junkie Pillow
I think I may need to make use of this today. Off to try and read a couple of chapters before I pass out.  Hope everybody had a great weekend.  Happy Reading Everybody!

Friday, July 18, 2014

Mischief Managed

Who is ready for some more Harry Potter?  I AM!  Today we shall explore the third book in the series, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.  If you are one of the few people who have not actually read/watched the series then you can get a great summation here, along with some other really cool stuff. I will now jump right to the good stuff, as always SPOILERS AHEAD!!!!!
This is a lot of peoples favorite book in the series, and while it is not my very favoritist, I can totally understand why so many people rate it as number one.  Let us list why this book is awesome.
Series Story - For me this is the book that really let me know that the author had a long term story in mind, the first two books definitely had  bits and pieces of a larger story, but I felt that they were more focused on creating the world of Hogwarts and cementing the friendship of Harry, Ron and Hermione.  This book really started expanding the story, showing us a history that went beyond Harry and beyond Hogwarts and affected the whole wizarding world.  This was also the book that really showed how much attention one had to pay while reading, that even the most insignificant happening could come back and be super important.  This story is also where we see all three of the "kids" start to grow up and accept some responsibility outside of themselves and start showing the eventual legends they will become.
New Places - Along with expanding the story, this book also expands our places in the wizarding world beyond Hogwarts.  We get to see Hogsmede, an all wizarding villiage.  We visit the Shrieking Shack and learn it's importance in Harry's personal history.  We learn about more Azkaban, which is a wizarding prison that plays a huge role in the rest of the series and is the home to the super creepy dementors, who may be one of the most terrifying creatures ever.  It is cool to watch our world expand beyond the sheltered and enchanted castle of Hogwarts.
The Maurders Map - Along with learning the history of Padfoot, Prongs, Mooney and Wormtail, we are introduced to one of the most recognized "props" in recent book history, the Maurders Map.  It is nice to see that Harry's up to now "perfect" father had a mischievous streak to him as well.  I love that this map is passed from these four to Fred and George, and then to Harry who uses it to great advantage when combined with his invisibility cloak.
Politics - The politics in the wizarding world are very well thought out and come in to play several times in this book.  We have the underlying prejudice in certain families toward "Muggle-borns" or "Mudbloods" that still prevails.  We have Malfoy employing his wealth and influence to get the poor hippogriff Buckbeak executed, just to spite Hagrid, whom he considers beneath him.  We see Lupin get discriminated against for being a werewolf and Sirrus can never be cleared of the murder of his best friend because of the overriding prejudice.  We start to see the ugly side of this enchanted world and it adds a layer of depth and awesome.
The Movie - I really really liked the movie version of the book.  We got to see more of Hogwarts, I especially loved when Lupin and Harry were talking behind the clock face, just stunning.  I am ambivalent on the casting of Lupin and Sirrius, sometimes I think the casting is perfect, other times I want...I don't
know...more rougeish maybe?  The casting of Wormtail however I felt was dead on and perfect in every way!  There was a lot of the story that was cut out for the movie, which is understandable for time concerns, but it does lose a bit of the richness that I love in the HP books.  The movie however has its share of great moments like when the dementors first appear and everything goes dark and cold.  When the class works on banishing the boggarts and Snape appears dressed in Nevilles grandmothers clothes is priceless!  My favorite moment however is when Hermione slugs Malfoy after one too many insults, GO HERMIONE!
So ends another HP ramble and another happy day remembering an awesome book, I will now go read the next one so I can gush some more!
What do you like about this book?  Do you understand why it is so many peoples favorite?  How badly do you want a Maurders Map?  Is I Solemnly Swear I Am Up To No Good your new phrase? What is your Patronus?

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Paperback To Awesomeback!

I know I know I owe you all some nice long ramblings...but I have not seen my bed in a really long time.  Instead I will apologize for the lack of post yesterday and show you how to turn a plain old paperback into a leatherbound work of awesomeness!
Leather binding tutorial 
This could be a really cool way to "upgrade" your existing paperbacks, or if your like me and like your books to match, this is a way to do it.  Now who wants to come to my house and make some of these for me?  Happy Reading Everybody!

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

A Character I Used To Know

I love books, I love music, I love laughing.  This video gives me all three in one.  Enjoy!
Happy Reading Everybody!

Monday, July 14, 2014

On My Skin

Been looking at getting another tattoo and have my super talented Mamma working on a great book piece for me.  In the mean time let us admire some of the amazing tattoo's that ensure these people always have a book with them :-)
Butterfly Reading
This is sweet, whimsical and perfect placement.
More To Life Then Books...
The colors and of course the truism are both great on this piece
Flying Books
I love the sheer fun of this tattoo
Reading on a Branch
I think this piece is just beautiful
Perfection in placement and subject
Book Stack
This is how you show your love of books
Book and Cup
A perfect day of style
These are just a few of a whole bunch of really amazing book inspired tattoo's.  As I continue to perfect mine be ready for more posts like these :-)  Happy Reading Everybody!
How do you choose just one book tattoo?   What book related tattoo do you have?  How many tattoo's do you think I can fit on my body?

Friday, July 11, 2014

I See Dead People is one of those days that I realize the hazard of reading books loved by other people.  I have just finished Odd Thomas by Dean Koontz, the first in his Odd Thomas series.  I have had it on my list for a while and several people who know what I like to read have recommended it to me with glowing reviews.  I was eager to start it...but to be honest I had a bit of a hard time finishing it...please don't hate me!  First a quick synopsis, as always SPOILERS AHEAD!
Odd Thomas is...well...odd :-)  He has a gift/curse of being able to see dead people who have unfinished business in this world, and on occasion helps them out. While he can see the dead, he cannot hear them. He lives in the little desert town of Pico Mundo where he is a short order cook.  His little town is populated by an array of characters including his love Stormy, his landlord who is terrified of turning invisible, his widowed boss, an obese author, a strangely understanding Chief of police and other various inhabitants.  We see Odd help the ghost of a murdered girl track down and capture her killer and then Odd is off to work.  His life if focused on his town and the people who live in it, especially Stormy who is destined to be with him forever according to a gypsy fortune telling machine.  Odd has been seeing beings he refers to as bodachs, which are fluid, invisible creatures who come around when there is a tragedy about to occur.  He notices that there is more then he has ever seen before and that they are centering around a stranger that he refers to as Fungus Man.  Odd follows him and does some investigating, finally figuring out that there is a conspiracy including several new hires on the local police force to instigate a mass murder event at the local mall.  The perpetrators are all Satan worshipers, considering the killings to be a form of worship.  Odd does what he can to stop the crime from happening, but only succeeds in lessening the killings.  In the end, instead of hundreds of people dying, only 19 died, including Stormy. Odd is himself injured and lives in a bit of a dream world while he recovers, only finally admitting that the Stormy he has been conversing with is just her ghost and he has been filling her side of the conversation in.  He finally lets her go and continues his adventures with the dead in the next book.
So there we have it.  The premise and the story were both good, what I had the most issues with was the writing.  This may be a personal thing, so if you disagree with any of this, that is understandable.  I feel like the book was WAY to long for the story.  Ever single sentence was dripping with over description, metaphor, and comparisons.  These are nice on occasion to add atmosphere, or let you know about a new area, but when it is every single sentence it just gets tedious.  Ok I'm exaggerating, it's not every single sentence, but there is a lot of it.  The writing also felt a bit repetitive, instead of moving on, we kept going back to the same people and the same places rehashing the same thing.  For me this took a lot of the tension out of the story.  The other thing I had an issue with was the sheer over the top personalities EVERY SINGLE PERSON had.  Everybody had a screwed up tragic history, every person had some sort of spiritual mumbo jumbo connection to something, everybody was crazy, or weird, or odd, or quirky, there was no normalcy to contrast these characters against so it felt really angsty to me.  It was also written in the dreaded first person narrative, and had a ton of the "if I only knew then" foreshadowing that gets really old, really quickly for me.  Like I said earlier, the story itself was pretty good, but I wanted more story and less abstract introspection, more moving forward, less dwelling on tragic pasts.  I did enjoy the structure the author put around Odd's gift, the "rules" of it made sense and added a realism to it that I enjoyed.  I can see why other people really enjoy these books, it is just that this kind of writing style is not my particular cup of tea.  I will probably pick up the next book at some point, just to see if the writing style continues to be so angsty, or if it picks up a bit.  I give this book 5 out of 10 local Elvis ghosts. 
What do you do when you don't enjoy a book as much as people want you too?  What would you do if you could see dead people?  What library should I haunt after I pass on?

Thursday, July 10, 2014


Hello All, how is your week going?  I've finally had time to update the Ramblings page on the blog.  Hopefully it will be easier to read and find stuff that you are looking for.  I have changed it to alphabetic by title and grouped the series together. I have also added the authors for more findability.  Putting the list
together like I did makes me realize that I have not done a rambling on several of my favorite books, so hopefully I will be able to remedy that soon.  It was kind of cool going back and rereading some of my older ramblings...and a bit cringe inducing too, I think my style has developed a bit since I've started writing on a regular basis and may go back and update and repost a couple of the ramblings.  I will now try and find time to do the same thing to my Future Reading List, not to mention add some more books to it :-) Let me know what you think of the new format and if there is a way you think would make it easier to navigate. Happy Reading Everybody!

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Coffee Is What I Need

Good morning...I think.  I have just come off an epic combo shift so I am super tired, but some coffee and a good book should fix that.

That should just about do it :-)  Happy Reading Everybody!

Monday, July 7, 2014

Drums And Dragons

Hello all, how are you?  I'm a wee bit tired from various shifts at various stations, so please forgive any non-normal incoherancies.  I realized as I was rereading my beloved Haper Hall Trilogy by Anne McCaffery, that I had neglected to ramble about the final book in the series, Dragondrums.  I am here to remedy that egregious oversite (I'm in a big word mood today).  As always SPOILERS AHEAD!
If you can remember back to the second book in the series, our heroine Menolly makes friends with the precocious Piemure, who not only befriends her, but assists in the feeding of her nine fire lizards.  Piemure is gifted with a beautiful soprano voice and the is currently rehearsing his role as the Dragonwoman Lessa in a new performance.  Unfortunately our little scamps voice breaks and he is sent to the drum towers until his voice settles.  Piemure's mischievousness proceeds him, and the older apprentices haze him to an unfair degree.  To compound this problem, Menolly, Sebell and Masterharper Robinton decide to use him as their special apprentice.  Piemure travels with the two journeymen to various holds and sees first hand the havoc the Oldtimers, and the not so wonderful Lord Holder Meron can cause.  Eventually Piemure's fellow apprentices play a trick that goes to far and results in Piemure in the infirmary with a head injury.  This convinces Masterharper Robinton to pull him from the drum heights and make him exclusively his apprentice until his voice settles.    Piemure is sent with Sebell to a gather (which is like a festival or fair) at the hold of Lord Meron, who is deathly ill, yet refuses to name a successor.  They also learn that the hold has an unusual number of fire lizards given out to pretty much everybody.  After discovering that most of the dragon lizards are the lesser greens, and the Lord Meron is secretly trading with the contentious Oldtimers, Piemure steals a queen fire lizard egg and hides in a shipment going to the Southern Continent.  Piemure ends up on the Southern Continent and hides until his egg hatches and he impresses the little queen Farli.  He also "adopts" an orphaned runner beast that he names Stupid.  Menolly and Sebell meanwhile have had a quiet and subdue almost romance through out the book, which culminates in one of the bestest, most simplest, most tender, most perfect declerations of love ever!  This all happens while they search for Piemure.  Eventually everybody finds each other and Piemure is made a drum journeyman of the Southern Continent.
Like the other two books, this one is a simple story compared to the more complex world of the main series.  This book however is easier to read if you have at least read the first two books in the original Dragonrider series.  This book also puts Menolly, who was the main character in the first two books into a secondary role.  As for my personal feelings on this book, they are mixed.  On one hand I miss having Menolly be the main character and I miss the more micro story telling of the first two books.  I do however like seeing some of the other holds and halls, and having Piemure travel around lets us see a lot more then we have in previous books.  I LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE the romance between Menolly and Sebell.  It is so natural and understated.  None of this giant declarations, or misunderstandings, or love triangles.  It is just basic love between two quiet, yet passionate people.  I really can't give you specifics on what get's to me so much about these two, but they are in my top 10 of literary couples.  I think it may be because it seems so real and not EPIC and STAR FATED, it just is.  I also like that the love story is just a subtle simple fraction of the whole story.  I was sad to see this trilogy end and always am a bit biased against this book for being the last one, but in the end it is just as good as the first two and the trilogy as a whole will forever be a favorite of mine.  I give this book 8 out of 10 bubbly pies.
What love story do you love the best?  Should a trilogy/series stick with the same main characters or branch out?  Will I ever find a new love like this trilogy?

Books And Donuts And Fireworks And Books!

Hello all, I hope you had a wonderful weekend like I did, it was so good in fact that it started and ended at the bookstore!  We packed up to visit baby sis up in PA, but my Hubbin insisted that we stop at the book store on our way out of town, and who am I to argue.  I picked up a book I had been looking at for a while and then wandered the stacks while Hubbin finished his shopping.  Lo and behold, just like some mysterious force guided me to the spot, a perfect road trip book appeared.  I know, I know I have a whole list of books I'm supposed to be reading, but this one was PERFECT, it's called Helen and Troy's Epic Road Trip by A. Lee Martinez,  but more on that later when I ramble about it.  After the epic book buying trip of
awesomeness we proceeded to the eerily traffic free road and made to my sisters in record time which was both good and bad as I couldn't wait to see her, but wanted more time to read my new awesome book.  The weather was amazing, warm, breezy, sunny, low humidity, everything you want a summer day to be. Greeting my baby sis's psycho dogs and amazing Hubby we unpacked and watched my baby sis freak out over my new book.  Apparently she had just put the book on the list and was dying to read it, it's 'cause we're book twins.  We let the boys sit up front while baby sis and I sat in the back and discussed all the books we had read recently, we had a rousing discussion about the Divergent series which ended with the boys shaking their heads and laughing over our semi-coherent sentences that only we could understand.  Taking a break from books for a wonderful outdoor dinner, only to discover that the firework show had been moved to the next day due to the epic storms we had just had.  Somehow we convinced the boys to buy us our own fireworks and proceeded to scare all the cows in Amish country by setting them off in between bouts of tear inducing laughter.  Next day dawned to two dogs sitting on my chest and a quest for donuts.  My baby sis took us to the oldest running market in the US where they not only served the bestest coffee, but the most amazingly creative and tasty donuts.  Seriously we shared a S'mores donut, a bacon maple donut, a caramel pretzel donut, a cookies and cream donut, a fresh coconut cream donut and a creamsicle donut, all of which were
stupendous and had the added bonus of making my Hubbin a very happy boy.  Took the puppies on a walk, grilled out and watched the World Cup and then went back to try the fireworks show again.  Can I just say it was so worth it.  The theme was Wizard of Oz...which is perfect since I just finished reading it, and Pink Floyd the show was...words cannot describe the sheer perfection of it.  Needless to say we were all very happy campers.  Got home, caught some sleep, had some coffee, exchanged books and said our goodbyes :-( and back on the road we went.  Of course we can't just go straight home like normal people, so Hubbin took us to one of our favorite spots for lunch (garlic fries for the win) and it just happened to be next to a book store sooooo...yeah.  That brings us here and me writing this as quickly as I can so I can finish my awesome book of road trip awesomeness so I can ramble about it in the next couple of days!  Hope everybody else had a great weekend. Happy Reading Everybody!

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Follow The Yellow Brick Road

Hello all, sorry for the screwy posting schedule this week, but I have been having issues scheduling stuff...but I think I have it under control.  Some times I wish I could just click me heels together and say "the blog post is done, the blog post is done", which brings me to today's rambling (did you like what I did there?).  I was feeling nostalgic and wanted to read something that did not require a lot of effort and The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank. Baum fit the bill perfectly. As always SPOILERS AHEAD!
Dorthy is transported from her home in gray Kansas to the wildly colored land of Oz.  Dorthy, her little dog Toto, and her house all land on the Wicked Witch of the East who had been enslaving the blue loving Munchkins and in the process obtaining her magic silver shoes.  They are all happy, but Dorthy just wants to return home, a kindly old woman who turns out to be the Good Witch of the North tells her that the only person powerful enough to do that is the Wizard of Oz who lives in the Emerald City.  Off Dorthy and Toto go, following that famous yellow brick road.  They meet up with the Scarecrow who wants brains, a tragic Tin Man who wants a heart, and a Cowardly Lion who wants Courage.  The three stumble upon many adventures, and through their natural kindness make several friends who help them along their way.  They finally arrive in Oz which is all green, so very green, thanks to the green spectacles that are locked on to every person who enters the gates.  One by one the group finally meets the great wizard, each seeing
someone or something different, and each being tasked with killing the Wicked Witch of the West. Though none of the group want to actually kill anybody they go off to see what they can do about this pesky witch.  The witch seeing them coming uses her magic to conjure up numerous things to try and stop the group to no avail.  She finally uses her golden cap to summon the flying monkeys one last time (as you only can use it three times) to scatter the Scarecrow, lose the Tin Man and bring the Lion and Dorthy to her.  The witch keeps the Lion in a cage and Dorthy as a servant, but is secretly afraid of her as she has the silver shoes.  She tries to trick Dorthy into giving them to her, but Dorthy douses her in water, inadvertently melting her. Dorthy frees the Lion, and uses the golden cap to get the flying monkeys to help her find and reassemble her friends.  They head back to Oz, whom they discover is a fraud.  He finds a way to help them anyways and builds a balloon to take him and Dorthy back to Kansas.  Unfortunately the balloon flies away before Dorthy an get on board, leaving her trapped.  It is suggested that she go and visit the Good Witch of the South, Glinda, who can help her.  Off the four friends go and after a few more adventures the arrive at the Good Witches castle.  Glinda tells her that she had the power to send herself home all along, just by clicking her heels together and wanting to go home, she does this promptly, getting home, but losing the shoes in the process.  The Scarecrow becomes the king of the Emerald City, the Tin Man goes to rule the Winkies liked they asked him to, and the now courageous Lion becomes the King of the Beasts.  They all get what they wanted and live happily ever until the next book.
I have always loved this book for it's perfect simplicity and child like imagery.  This is not to say this is a simple book in a bad way, it is just nice to read a book that is fairly straight forward.  What strikes me the most about this book is how it feels like a story a little kid would make a good way.  Hmmm I'm trying to think how to best explain what I love about this book.  Think of when you were little and you were making up games and the weirdly logical creatures and countries you would come up with and to me that is what reading this book feels like, playing a great game like I used to when I was little.  I know most people associate the story of Dorthy with the famous and wonderful movie, which I also love, but it loses so much of the little stories of all the side characters.  This is the other thing I love about this book, every single character mentioned in the book has a story and that gives an unexpected depth to the whole thing.  I like how the
different countries are all represented by a different color.  The Munchkins by blue, the Winkies by yellow, the Gillikans by purple, Quadling country by red and of course the Emerald city by Green.  There are also interesting little places like China Country and the field of deadly sleepy poppies.  Most of the places and people mentioned are used in the later books, eventually making a whole history and geography of this amazing and mythical land. This book has been reffered to as an American Fairytale, which is pretty cool, considering most of the older classic fairytales are European based.  If there are any downsides to this book it would be that the good guys are good, and the bad guys are bad.  It was first published in 1900 and is a bit of a morality tale for children, with the good and virtuous always winning over the bad and corrupt, not entirely surprising in a book written in this era, but still pretty black and white.  I love reading this book and the others (though I have yet to finish the whole series, but that will soon be remedied) because it reminds me of the pure imagination one can have. Also the wonderful illustrations by William Wallace Denslow add the perfect touch.  I give this book an 8 out of 10 silver slippers and recommend it to anybody who is need of a good imagination boost.
What book sums up childhood for you?  What is your favorite Oz character/race?  Where your childhood games as full of mixed up wonderful weirdness as mine were?

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Hug A Book Tree

Spent the most amazing long weekend reading out side, kinda felt like this...
Book Tree Hug
I am now ready for the super busy week ahead.  Happy Reading Everybody!