Friday, August 29, 2014

The Back End Of Erehwon

I have stacks and stacks of books I have never read before.  I have a massive lists of books I have never read that I want to read.  There are thousands of unread books out there for me to discover...but sometimes a girl just has to go back and reread a book.  To this end I just finished rereading Nimisha's Ship by my beloved Anne McCaffery. With this authors death, no new books from her are forth coming so I have to get my fix by rereads and this one fit the bill this time around.  Let's get to it shall we?  As always SPOILERS AHEAD!
This story is set in the world we were introduced to in the novelette The Coelura, though one does not have to read it to understand what is going on as the stories are completley seperate.  The world is set in the future after Earthlings have colonized a good chunk of their quadrent of space.  This future world is a highly stratified world in which the First Families are at the top of the totem pole and secure their place with what are called body-heir's, a child born by contract to inherit the name, line, and most of the assests of the great families.  Lady Nimisha Boynton-Rondymense is one of these body-heir's, scion of one of the top families in the known galaxy.  She also shows a disturbing, non-aristocratic pentient for designing space ships.  Her biological father, who is not only First Family, but owns a most succesful shipyard leaves it to her upon his death.  This inheratance allows Nimisha to design the ultimate ship.  Unfortunalty while testing the ship on her own she is caught by a wormhole and flung across the universe, away from here mother, daughter, friends and civiliazation in general.  She lands on a liviable, if inhospitable planet she names Erehwon, because a) it is in the back of nowhere and b) after a book by the same name by Samuel Butler (the bookworm in me loves this!).  She meets up with survivors from a previous wreck and with the significant resources her ship brings, makes the planet habitable.  The survivors also find a group of aliens called the S'him whom have also survived the wormwhole and work with the humans to found a new society.  Meanwhile back on the other side of the wormhole, Nimisha's daughter, mother, and her former co-workers have built another advanced ship and take it to find Nimisha.  Eventually the survivors are found, but decide to stay, along with some new recruits to colonize the new world.
This book, as with all Anne McCaffery books, has so many layers it is hard to put into words.  It is a science fiction book set in the future with space travel and advanced technology.  It is a social commentary on class, government, military, and survival systems.  It is a romance, a survival tale, an inventors story.  It is all of these and more.  I am always amazed at the coherancy in which the author writes.  What do I mean by this?  I mean she writes her worlds to make sense, she studies and puts in enough scientific detail to make the story seem plausible, all the while making us fall in love or hate or exasperation with the various characters.  This book hits all the sweet spots, world building, character and story. The contrast between the civilized galaxy and the wild primative Erehwon shows both sides in their best and worst lights, highlighting why we need some structure and resources, while at the same time showing the pointlessness of certain types of formality.  I will say, this is one of the few romances in the Anne McCaffery books I am not totaly into, it seemed rushed and progressed from perfect strangers to total love without a whole lot of in between, which is not how she usually writes them, but to be honest it felt a bit shoehorned into the overall story.  I loved seeing the various ways the survivors and the S'him learned to communicate and work together.  I loved the contrast of the two worlds, I loved the various characters, who all had their own personalities, talants and specialties.  I even liked how the overall book was set over about 40+ years, the author making the time skip foward to the important parts.  Ms. McCaffery even put in a plausible longevity treatment to make the extended time line plausible.  Ok this rambling is pretty rambly and incoherant so I'm gonna give it a rest and hope that you all read the book and understand what all this gibberish means.  I recommend this book to anybody who likes a good story, a lighter scifi book, or Anne McCaffery in general.  I give it 7 out of 10 AI Helms.
How technical do you like your scifi?  Do you get sick of me saying the same happy things about Anne McCaffery?  Should I get more then 2 hours of sleep before I start ramblings?

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Road Trip Book List

Hola Readers, it's that time of year again.  Time for me to hit the road with a change of clothes and about three suitcases full of books.  Here is the line up for the current road trip (in addition to my current reading now list).

Code Name Verity - The been on my list forever, feel mentally ready to take on a heavy book with potential for much mental angst book.

One For The Money - The need an antidote for the aforementioned heavy book and this one seems nice and light and highly recommended book.

Federations - The short story/sci fi combo that seems to work so well for me in the summer time in case it stays hot.

Death Watch - The random book of cool cover that also sounded potentially interesting and fall like in case it gets cold.

Elemental Magic: All New Tales of the Elemental Masters - The I am excited to see the take of other authors on the Elemental Magic series book.

Here There Be Dragons - The I've been dying to reread this book of literary awesomeness so I can do an epic ramble on it book.

The Fairy Godmother - The need to always have a fantasy book handy book.

To Ride Pegasus - My required Anne McCaffery book.

Storm Front - The Oh yeah I forgot I had this book and have been wanting to start this series forever book.

Half-Off Ragnarok - The so far this series kicks butt and I can't wait to read the next one book.

The Mysterious Benedict Society and the Perilous Journey - The middle grade book that usually calms me down when the adult and YA books piss me off.

The Hitchhicker's Guide to the Galaxy - The be all end all of road trip books.

I of course reserve the right to switch these ups, change books mid drive and add too my book bags as necessary.  Now lets see how many of these I actually get through shall I?   Happy Reading Everybody!

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Crazy Crazy Crazy Book Lady

Ahhhhhhhh!  This week (which still isn't over) has already been so crazy I don't even remember how to spell my own name.  This is why there was no post yesterday and why for the next couple of weeks coherency is going to be totally optional.
Crazy Book Lady Mug
Work has been insane (you would think I work on an ambulance or something) and I am headed out on a trip so I will try and get some posts lined up, but if there is a gap, please don't be too mad.  I am working on a system that will minimize these gaps so there is more consistency, but until then HAPPY READING EVERYBODY!!!!!!!

Monday, August 25, 2014

A Place For My Head

Crazy week of no sleep coming up, better rest up while I can.  I think I would sleep better on some of these pillows.
Library Card Pillow
Needlpoint Book Pillow
Floral Book Pillows
Pride and Prejudice Pillows
Once Upon A Time Pillow
I'm gonna go make use of these pillows now.  If my posts this week are a little scattered and/or incoherant it's all lack of sleep I promise.  Happy Reading Everybody!

Friday, August 22, 2014

The Nameless Ones

A hazard of starting a new series that you love is the nervous, excited, slightly apprehensive feeling you get about the next book.  Will it be as good?  Will the characters you love be there?  Will the world that was so beautifully written maintain it's cohesion?  Can the amazing writing stay up to par without becoming repetitive and trite?  Lucky for me in regards to the second book in the Earthsea series the answer is a resounding YES!!!!!!   The Tombs of Atuan by Ursula K. LeGuin is a fantastic follow up to the first book in the series.  Before I start gushing, let me give you a quick run down of the book.  As always SPOILERS AHEAD.
When we left Earthsea the wizard Ged Sparrowhawk had finally come into his power and we had started to explore the amazing world this story was set in.  The Tombs of Atuan is a completely different story in which Ged is actually a side character, but happily this just makes it a better book.  For this story we head to the Kargad Lands, a group of four islands in which the "barbarian" and fair Kargads live, ruled by their godking.  In this land is an island called Atuan on which a mystic area is filled with temples to the various gods that are worshipped in these islands.  One of these groups of gods are called the Nameless Ones, a force that lives in dark places and demands bloody sacrifices to appease it.  These Nameless Ones also happen to be the top gods in the pantheon of the Kargads.  To this purpose a single priestess attends to the rituals, this priestess is supposed to be endless and when the old priestess dies it is assumed she is reborn into the body of a girl born on the day she dies.  To this end we meet our heroine Tenar, a girl who is ripped from her family at a young age and given the identity of Ahra which means The Eaten One.  The girl who 
becomes the priestess is trained by older women who impart to her the ancient knowledge passed down by countless generations of Eaten Ones.  As Tenar explores her dark domain, she feels a proud and protective power.  She knows she is the top priestess and technically whatever she says is law.  She at one point orders the murder of prisoners sent to her by the godking to appease her dark gods, an act which haunts her.  The domain of the Nameless ones is largely in the unlit underground of an ancient and crumbling temple.  There is also a labyrinth which has is treasure room in the middle guarding perhaps the most valuable treasure of all, half of the ring of Erreth-Akbe, a powerful ring, with runes that could help heal the fragmented world of Earthsea.  Eventually Ged Sparrowhawk finds his way into the tombs and is trapped by Tenar.  Through many conversations, and an already shaky resolve, the pair decide to make a run for it.  Ged informs Tenar that her gods are actually malevolent beings who have been pushed back into tiny pockets such as the temple she is attached too.  The beings while powerful, are not omnipotent and need the dark to survive.  Tenar defies them and rescues Ged, culminating in the total destruction of the temple and it's underground labyrinths. Ged takes Tenar with him, promising her she did the right thing and vowing to help her find a home that suites her unique temperament.  
As with all my attempts at summing up a book, I am woefully lacking in what makes this story great, so go read it for yourself.  As for why I liked this book...well...'cause I did.  Also because it was just as beautifully written as the first book.  The author knows how to create a world, even better she knows how to create individual places within a world.  The island of Atuan was rendered in such a way that I felt like I was there among the cold dessert dunes, and I also felt I knew its place in the overall world.  I enjoyed the fact that we got to see a completely different culture then the one we saw in the first book, the lands of Kargard, along with several other things were mentioned in the first book and the fact that they got fully fleshed out in this second book, just made the world seem even more real and more complete (she even told us how the brother and sister got stuck on the island from the last book).  This was definitely a book with some dark pieces in it, but I thought it was wonderfully balanced by hope and personality.  I liked Tenar and her various transformations in view point.  She started as a scared child, grew to a petulant girl, became a power-loving priestess and then ultimately (in this book at least) saw where her beliefs could be harmful.  All of the
transformations came about in a realistic, believable fashion, no instant revelation of goodness, or morality, just a girl who is trying to figure out life.  I also liked how even after she helped Ged escape, she continued to have doubts and fear about leaving the only life she had ever known.   Ged was once again a fantastic character.  He is never portrayed as all powerful or all knowing, just a guy with a talent and some very hard earned wisdom.  One of the many things I feel this author does well is portray cultures in a familiar yet not stereotypical way.  Many times authors will ascribe most of a certain culture to a certain race in their worlds, a way to make it  more relatable to the readers, or because that is just how we think, I'm not really sure, but Ms. LeGuin takes a bit of a different route.  While reading about the Kargards I got hints of Viking, Indian, Native American, and several African cultures, all while putting an original twist to the Kargard people.  I know that several people find this to be the best book in the series, and I totally understand why.  It is a fantastic addition to this amazing world, wrought by a fantastic author.  I however cannot make a fair comparison to the first book as they are different in many wonderful ways.  I am super excited to get and read the next book and hope that the journey to Earthsea continues to be as rewarding as the first two books.  I give this book an 8 out of 10 Runes of Power. Also the cover rocks...also the font used for the Earthsea title is AWESOME...also...nope, out of also's :-)
Which is your favorite book in this series?  Do you ever get nervous reading a second book in a series?  Does this post make any sense 'cause if not I blame the tequila :-) ? 

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Licence Plate Game

Summer is coming to a close and everybody is cramming in one last road trip.  Even though reading is my time passer of choice, on occasion we like to play the licence plate game...with a literary twist.

We like to find any book related licence plates...or if we can't find any try and make regualr plates into book related ones.  Happy Reading Everybody!

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

That's One Possible Solution

Crazy busy week, sleep completely optional.
Of course If I put the book down I might get a tad more shut eye :-)

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

A Twist Of Grimm

Picked up a book on impulse the other day (shocking I know).  It was just to pretty not to and I figured even if the book sucked, it would at least look super cool on my shelf.  Lucky for me the book did not suck.  The book is called Grim, a collection of short stories edited by Christine Johnson. According to the blurb on the back they are supposed to be a dark twist on some of the classic fairy tales, which it accomplishes with varying degrees of success.  Here are the stories that really stood out in this collection.
Figment by Jeri Smith-Ready - This was one of my favorites, a fabulous modern twist on The Puss In Boots that keeps all the feel of the original and adds the perfect bit more.  I like the characters in this story, especially the main guy who is a fun mix of angsty musician and weird kid.  This kind of story is the type of retold fairy tale I particularly enjoy because it retains the essence of the original, but feels like a new story all at the same time.

The Brothers Piggett by Julie Kagawa - Three Little Pigs with a truly dark twist!  The story starts out fun and a bit humorous and it took me a few minutes to figure out what story it was.  Then as your reading, smiling BAM!  The wolf comes in a most unexpected form.  I would have never guessed in a million years that reading The Three Little Pigs would ever be more then a funny simple story...I was wrong.

Untethered by Sonia Gensler - If we are going off of the idea that most of these stories are rewrites of Grimm Fairytales then the closet story I could find was The Shroud to base this one off of.  I don't want to say to much about this story as it will ruin it for you, but I loved it.  The twist was actually surprising, but that was only one small part of its appeal.

Better by Shaun David Hutchison - I am still trying to decide if this story was based on Pinocchio or Frankenstein.  This story about a man trying to save his son and all the other children by experimenting on a bio cyborg goes horribly wrong when the boy and girl fall in love and use some pretty controversial techniques to keep him alive.  All of this and a scene with proverbial pitchforks makes me think the author had more then the classic fairytale in mind when he wrote this.

Light It Up by Kimberly - AWESOME twist on the Hansel and Gretel story.  It is the perfect reminder that while it may have been a children's story, it is still about a homicidal guardian and a cannabalistic baddie.  Seriously even the original story was dark and scary, and this one has even more of the elements that make this such a dark story.
I found this collection to be hit or miss in a lot of the stories.  The ones I like, I loved, the ones that didn't do for me were not worth reading again.  There were a couple instances where the story was kept almost exactly the same, which seems to negate the idea that they were supposed to have been rewritten.  The book itself is beautiful with a gorgeous cover, old school font, creepy trees, and even a bookmark!  I recommend it for anybody who likes a re-written fairy tale and does not mind some darkness, violence, or cannibalism (seriously so much cannibalism).  Definitely one you do no read to your kid before they go to bed at night :-)  I give it 7 out of 10 Brothers Grimm
How hard do you think it is to make some of these tales darker then they already are?  Do you like your tales to have a happy ending?  Do I need to quit buying books based solely on their looks?

Monday, August 18, 2014

Baby's First Book Room

I am of the firm opinion that the earlier you expose a child to books, the better that kid will turn out :-)  What better place to start then in the nursery!  There are several options out there to create this little literary haven, here are just a few.

Book Nursery
This is a perfect introduction to books.  By using the books as part of the decor, you not only get an awesome visual appeal, but it is easily updateable as baby grows up and likes different books.
Peter Rabbit Room
I love love love this vintage style Beatrix Potter themed room.  Besides being awesome it is a bit of nostalgia for me as I LOVED these books when I was growing up.
Dr. Seuss Room
If you prefer something a little brighter, this Dr. Seuss room is just one of many fantastic rooms that any kid (and their parents) will enjoy.
Charlotte's Web Room
I would have never thought about using Charlotte's Web for a nursery theme, but I have to say I love it.  The book has a great message and the room has an awesome spider lamp, what else could a baby possibly want?
Harry Potter Room
How cute are these jr versions of the four house banners from Harry Potter?  I love that this room combines a definite "baby" feel, while still adding some of the darker color palate you usually don't see in a baby's room.
I hope you have all enjoyed my little foray into the world of babies.  I am not a mamma, but I know a lot of them and am hoping they will let me help choose the decor for their precious bundles of joy.  In the meantime I'm gonna go make my own nursery for my "babies" and by babies I mean books :-)  Happy Reading Everybody!

Friday, August 15, 2014

What Is Wrong With These People

Hola, how are all of you?  Sorry about the lack of post yesterday, but Hubbin (awesome and amazing person that he is) surprised me with awesome concert tickets and needless to say waking up was not priority after a wild night like that :-)  To make it up to you I will now present you with a rambling so chock full of rants that you will forget all about yesterday...I'm not sure how the two are correlated, but hey whatever :-)  The book is Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn and it hit all my angry buttons.  This is supposed to be a thriller/mystery so if you have not read it yet and plan to please keep in mind as always SPOILERS AHEAD!
The book is written in three parts and alternates between the two main characters (Amy and Nick) perspectives.
Part 1 - Amy and Nick are a New York couple, living in a New York brownstone, with New York jobs, living the New York life.  Amy is vibrant, detailed oriented and sharp.  Nick is laid back, charming, and good looking...or so they try and convince you. Amy and Nick move to Missouri to take care of Nick's ailing mother after they both lose their New York jobs, much to the distress of Amy, who never the less try's to put a happy face on it.  Nick goes to work at the bar he and his sister bought with the rest of Amy's trust fund, coming home to find his wife missing on the day of their fifth anniversary.  This first part of the book show us how Nick and Amy met and got married.  It then progresses from Nick perspective to the investigation into his wife's disappearance and we here from Amy in a series of diary entry's dated from before her disappearance.  Several things do not add up and Amy's diary seems to contradict some of the things Nick claims or even seems to know.  We also find out that Nick is a bit of a dick and has been having an affair with a student from the local college.  Nothing feels quite right and as Nick follows the clues Amy left for their traditional scavenger hunt more and more weirdness happens.  As the investigation progresses it seems that Nick becomes the prime suspect as many of the clues start pointing to him, even though he denies several of them (it makes sense in the book I promise) it all comes down to him.  Eventually Nick realizes that all of the places in the hunt are places that him and his mistress got it on.  This realization makes him realize that Amy is trying to frame him for her murder...
Part 2 - This is the part of the book that reveals the twist...Amy is alive!  Amy, sick of living in Missouri and heart broken over the discovery of Nicks mistress decides to fake her death and frame him as punishment.  She had planned this for over a year and has a stash of cash and a plan.  She takes off to the mountains and rents a cash only cabin and watches the case against Nick unfold.  When things don't happen fast enough, she call annonymous tip lines to make sure her fake diary, full of incriminating information, and tidbits that make look like a monster instead of just the self absorbed douchebag he actually is, is discovered.  She gets her money stolen and is forced to call an old friend, Desi,  who is fairly obsessed with her to help her out.  He ends up keeping her a virtual prisoner under the pretense of helping her, which makes her angry.  Meanwhile Nick has become the only suspect in the investigation thanks to Amy's mechanations and is now desperate to clear his name.  As he digs into her past, he discovers that Amy has a truly vindictive streak and will do anything to exact revenge on people she feels slighted her.  This includes lying, plotting, and even hurting herself to get other people's lives ruined.  It does not even have to be anything big, even a tiny perceived slight is enough to set her off.  Nick realizes that Amy is probably still alive and goes on TV to plead forgiveness in a bid to get her to come home and clear his name.
Part 3 - Amy, who has been following the case closely is moved my the idea she can still be the center of Nick's universe and drugs and kills Desi and mutilates herself to make it look like he kidnapped and abused her.  She arrives home, trying to make everything OK with Nick (who is still a doucebag) and spins an epic story to the police to keep herself out of trouble.  Nick is understandably disgusted by Amy, but when he tries to get the truth out of her, or in desperation to leave her, she announces her pregnancy (accomplished using frozen sperm from an earlier fertilization treatment earlier in their marriage) and tells him she has been setting it up that if he leaves, or tells anybody what really happened she will never let him near his child.  The book ends with everybody miserable, trapped and unhappy.
Whew that was a long one, and does not even begin to describe the sheer unlikability of almost every character in the book.  I have read a lot of reviews on this book (after I had read it for myself) and I keep hearing conflicting opinions, so please keep in mind as I vent my own personal fury over this book, that it is just that, personal.  There are several issues I had with this book, but oddly enough the writing was not one of them.  For the most part it was written fairly well, the plot was laid out in a well thought out manner, and for the most part it even retained a fair bit of plausibility.  Several reviews have also stated that they felt that the point of this book was to show our tendency to try people by the media and how a person can be found guilty on no other strength then a few over zealous reporters who think they know exactly what happened.  I agree with this interpretation up to a point, but feel there is a lot of other crap in it too.  My first complaint is the lack of sympathetic characters.  I get the anti-hero, flawed character concept, but this book seems to have taken it to an unenjoyable extreme.  By the end of the book the only person you can even remotely root for is the horrible, selfish, cheating, self pitying, unable to take any personal responsibility, conflict averse, needy, smarmy Nick who if their was a moral and ethics jail would be it's primary inmate.  He is married to what turns out to be the manipulative, self-absorbed, vindictive, psychopathic lying, murderous, soulless, vapid, vain Amy.  These are just the two main characters in this sordid tale.  All of the supporting characters are also shown to be some combination of inappropriate, crazy, attention hungry, obsessive, slutty, stupid and a plethora of other undesirable behaviors.  This makes for a very uncomfortable, unenjoyable read.  There are a few minor characters that the writer attempts to inject some sort of redeemable value into, like one of the two main detectives Ms. Boney who actually believes Nick about crazy Amy, but overall their was a void of characters to give a damn about.  One of the other things that really bugged my in this book was the horrid portrayal of various women.  Again Ms. Boney may have been a single exception in this, but for the most part all of the women were displayed as the sterotype of all the "bad" things about women.  Amy was obviously the worst, woman who cried rape and violence with a disturbing regularity, undermining the millions of women who are subjected to this horror everyday, but are brushed off as hysterical lying
females because of women like Amy.  Nicks young mistress was portrayed as a slutty whore who did not care that she was potentially ruining a marriage, she was also shown as overly clingy and more concerned about herself then a potential murder victim.  Other women were shown as attention hungry, liars, weak,
incapable and shallow.  The men did not fair much better, being shown as misogynistic, violent, sex addicts who while justified in their woman hate, were completely useless creatures in their own right.  This may have been the point of the book, to show people at their absolute worst and what the results of this can be, and that is valid.  I however do not need to read books about the everyday depravity of people...I can turn on the news for that.  I don't minds bad things happening, especially in a thriller.  I don't mind unlikable people, especially if they turn out to not be the bad guy (yay Snape!), but there needs to be some light somewhere in the story, some hope, some goodness, if for no other reason to contrast the bad.  I have read some dark and heavy books and really enjoyed them.  I have read some fantastic thrillers and mysteries that highlight the darkness of humans in a really great way, but they always had some factor that I cannot put into words, but that this book was missing.  Obviously I did not like this book, which frustrated me 'cause the author seems to have some real talent, I just really did not like the content. There is a movie based on this book coming out and I want to see it because I cannot imagine they left everything as is 'cause it would make for a very tough movie to get people to buy and watch for a second time.  I cannot in good conscious recommend this book to anybody, but you all decide for yourself.  I give this book 5 out of 10 faked deaths and that is only because the writing was to good to not give it some credit.
Do you notice ramblings on books I don't like tend to be really long? How did you feel about this book?  Does a book need to have hope, or is it ok to sometimes make a point using hopelessness?  How much do I love my wonderful Hubbin right now?

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Good Writer Bad Books

I have been noticing something in a couple of the books I have read recently.  The writing has been pretty good...the books have been pretty bad.  What do I mean by this?  Hmmm, how to explain.  Well lets take for instance the Divergent Trilogy, I loved the character of Tris, in fact I liked how pretty much all of the female characters were written.  I thought the how the Dauntless faction was written was wonderful and interesting.  But, the books overall were not good, poorly thought out premises, trite and convenient plot twists,and lead males written like 14 year old girls.  To me there were flashes of brilliance, of a competent
writer and it frustrated me that I did not like the book more.  A book I just finished called Gone Girl (rambling coming very soon) which had a similar problem.  The book was page turningly well written, but the book itself was pretty awful.  I get this some times where I am trying to explain why I don't like a book to somebody.  A lot of the times it has nothing to do with the author and everything to do with it is just a bad book, or story, or premise, or characters or something.  I think these books annoy me so much because I want to read something good by these writers.  I see the potential, enjoy the way they write or their style but just cannot stomach a lot of the actual book.  I doubt I am explaining myself very coherently (what else is new : -) ), but hopefully I am getting some of my frustration across.  I just want these authors who are really good writers to write good books!  
Did this post make any sense?  What book have you read that has a good writer, but you still don't like the book?  What about a good book by a bad writer?  How insanely picky am I?

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Quirky Or Weird...Two Sides Of The Same Coin

Finished a book recommended to me by a friend the other day.  The book means a lot to her and so I read it with her in mind, I have to say she has wonderful taste in books :-) (love you little redhat).  The book is called The Perks of Being A Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky, who later wrote it into a movie by the same name.  It was a lot different then what I was expecting (in a good way) and I am glad I read it.  As always SPOILERS AHEAD!
The book is written as letter by the main character Charlie to an unknown correspondent.  It covers his life from the end of middle school into his second year or so of high school (apx ages 12-15ish).  He tells his unknown correspondent that he is using an alias and that he has changed the names of people because he wants to protect his anonymity and just needs somebody to listen to him.  He never gives geographical locations or addresses so the unknown correspondent can never respond back. Charlie tells us of two instances in his past that have very much affected his present, the suicide of his friend Michael, who was one of Charlies only friends.  The other is the death of his beloved aunt Helen when he was younger.  These two occurrences figure heavily into Charlies thought pattern through out the book.   As the book progresses we learn about Charlie and how he see's the world.  He is a bit odd and quirky if you understand that stuff, but comes across as weird to outsiders.  He is pretty much friendless as he starts high school, but is taken under his English teachers wing when his love of books comes to light.  His teacher gives him many books to read and encourages him to participate in life instead of just observe it.  Charlie becomes friends with Sam and Patrick, step-siblings who are seniors in high school.  Charlie is instantly smitten with Sam, but she gently sets him down.  Patrick is gay and is secretly dating the star football quarter back.  We watch as Charlie finds his place among the special group, all the while trying to figure himself out.  Several incidents happen both good and bad and Charlie learns more about himself, his friends, his family and society in general.  Through out the book Charlie battles what I can only call depressive episodes, he has a history of needing help from mental professionals and knows when he is slipping.  Near the end of the book, after most of his friends graduate, leaving him feeling alone, he has a pretty sever episode that lands him in the hospital.  Here we learn that his beloved aunt Helen had actually sexually abused him as a young boy and he has been repressing the memory ever since.  It is not clear if this is what caused the depression, or if he already had some issues and this just made it worse.  In the end his family and friends are all there for him, making him believe he can continue on.
This book is set in 1991, which gives it a bit of a nostalgic feel for me, and must seem odd to some of the younger people reading it today.  I think this works because it adds to the main characters feelings of isolation, when the only way to reach somebody is on a land line phone, a letter, or in person, you tend to feel much more of an absence when people you love are gone.  In this world of 24/7 connected communication I think we forget that it wasn't always like this.  Not that a person cannot feel alone today, it is just a different type of alone.  I enjoyed this book for the most part.  It had a cast of characters that I would have probably hung out with if I went to that school, which makes it very easy for me to identify with...even if I haven't been a teenager in a really long time :-)  I like that the book was about a bunch of non-conformist kids, not bad kids, not popular kids, not delinquent kids, just different kids who thought in a different way.  This book resonates with me because I was one of those different kids in school.  I am lucky and usually had a group of friends who if not as different as I was, were more then willing to go along with my weirdness, or quirkiness, or psychosis, or whatever it is you want to call it.  In this book The Rocky Horror Picture Show  (which I love, but my Hubbin hates) becomes the place/show that this group of kids can form around, which again I identify with completely, instead of The Rocky Horror Picture Show, my
friends and I all had a thing for various plays and musicals to center ourselves around.  I know that several times this book has been under fire for its portrayal of sex, alcohol and drugs, but I thought they were fairly accurately portrayed, in there use and in the consequences of doing/using all three.  I know sometimes as adults we want to pretend that only the really bad kids do any of that stuff, but the reality of it good, bad or otherwise is that way more kids use all three to varying degrees then we might think, and in some ways a book like this needs to have them in it to come across as genuine and honest.  In regards to Charlie, I sometimes felt he came across a lot younger then he his actual age.  Acting more like a 9-10 year old then a 14-15 year old boy.  Again, not sure if this was some sort of mental thing, or just his personality.  I liked that while he had issues, and he was a "wall-flower" that he did find his own brand of happiness, that he found other people who understood that listening to a certain song at a certain time can make one feel infinite.  I liked that through all of the weirdness and issues of being a teenager that he always had hope, always found a way to find like minded people.  This book could have gotten very dark, and in parts it does take a somber turn, but for the most part I felt like it was a book telling all of us weird kids that it was ok, that there are other weird people out there, and there are good times to be had.  In regards to my friend who loaned it to me, I think I was reading this through her eyes a bit as well, which in this case added in even cooler dimension as I felt like I was reading it as two people and was able to get even more out of the book then if I was just reading it through my own perspective.  I am now excited to see the movie, even though I'm not 100% sure how they are going to portray it on film, but I have heard good things about it.  I recommend this book for anybody who was the weird kid in school, who knows that being different can be hard, but not necessarily bad, or is nostalgic for walking down the school halls without a cell phone in your back pocket.  I give this book 8 out of 10 Transexuals from Transexualvania.
What book reminds you most of high school/middle school?  What kind of kid were/are you?  Am I using a lot of / today?

Monday, August 11, 2014

Shark Week Is Awesome!

It's Shark Week, which means my reading tends to drop off a bit while I watch SHARKS!  Not sure what my fascination with Shark Week is, but I'm not the only one as it is one of the top rated weeks in TV.
Well, I'm off to go watch sharks eat things and scare the bejeebus out of people :-)  Stay tuned for some epic ramblings and some more site updates in the very near future.  Happy Reading Everybody!

Friday, August 8, 2014

My Magic Coffee Press

I love my coffee press.  It is the perfect size to take with me anywhere and keep in coffee no matter where I want to read and drink coffee.

No matter where I am, I can have a couple cups of fresh hot coffee while I read my wonderful books, YAY ME!!!!!  Happy Reading Everybody!

Thursday, August 7, 2014

All I Want In Life

Substitute coffee for tea in number 14 an this about sums up my life wants :-) 

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Music, Magic and Riddles

I am doing my happy dance right now, picture a beautiful graceful type of movement...not the herky jerky spazziness that I am sure I really look like :-)  Why am I happy dancing?  I just finished an awesome book of happy magic.  Well not so much happy magic as music magic, and riddle magic, which made me happy, so kind of happy magic.  Ok now I'm just babbling so lets get to it shall we. The book is The Bards of Bone Plain by Patricia A. McKillip, and as always SPOILERS AHEAD!
The book is at first divided into two parts.  The books present, which is an Edwardian type era, with touches of old school bardic embellishments (it makes sense in the book, I promise) and features Phelan, a young man of great talent who spends his time scraping through bard school and chasing after his drunken, brilliant, eccentric archaeologist father Jonah.  Beatrice, the youngest daughter of the king with a love for all things ancient, which leads her to be part of Jonah's digs instead of a proper princess.  Zoe, a phenomenal bard of immense talent and skill. Lastly we have Jonah and Kelda, two strange men with stranger histories.  The other part of this book takes place in the past, set in the same place as the modern story, but set thousands of years before in a medieval era.  This story features Nairn, a crofter who has learned the ancient songs to become a bard of power and destined to become legend.  Declan the bard of the conqueror king, who builds the bard school that stands to modern times.  Odelet, a high-born beauty that enchants all, and feeds many.  Welkin, a bard of force from unknown places.  Also a "character" in both stories is the standing stones that litter the river and plain that is the setting for these stories.  Essentially, in short telling, there is a great bardic competition to become the kings new bard.  This competition has been held for thousands of years and brings musicians from all over the land to the city to compete.  Meanwhile Phelan is just trying to get through his schooling, and one of the requirements is a paper which he decides to write about the Bone Plain.  He does this because it should be easy as the legend has been written of hundreds of times before.  Of course nothing is this simple and the arrival of a man named Kelda, who knows the mysterious words of an ancient order known as The Circle of Days throws everything into chaos.  We flash back and forth between the past and present, putting pieces of the legend of Nairn, the Three Trials of Bone Plain, ancient rune-words that describe everyday things, yet hold immense power, Phelan's unusually knowledgeable father, and an unbroken line of stewards to discover that Jonah, is actually Nairn, and the legend of the Three Trials holds more truth then fiction. This all comes to a loud and stunning conclusion, with Jonah/Nairn redeeming himself after thousands of years of failure, Zoe passing the trials to become the new royal bard, Phelan and Beatrice finding mutual love, and a mystery solved.  All of this in language that is so beautiful it makes you want to cry.
I loved this book.  It is less a book and more of a story, if that makes any sense.  Let me see if I can put into words what appeals to me so much about this book.  To start with the lyricalness of the writing is just beautiful, yet it is completely readable.  A lot of time a writer uses that lyrical style and it can be hard to follow, but that is not the case in this book.  I love almost any book that uses the strong bardic tradition, as it is one of my favorites.  I love the concept of history, deeds, hero's, wars, events, and all kinds of stuff being passed down by people trained to use it as a combination of entertainment and news.  I liked that the author would start off the history sections with the bardic version of events, which tend to have the patina of embellishment across it, and then proceed to give us the more accurate, mundane version of what really happened.  I saw the "twist" coming a mile away, but that did not detract too much from the overall story.  I do wish that since the Three Trials turned out to be real not once, but twice, that it was better explained just what the trials were and how it was that Nairn failed them and Zoe/Jonah passed them, it never made any sense at all, which was unfortunately very frustrating as it was the crux of the whole story.  The fact that the words of power were everyday words like bread, water, field and such made me happy.  You could see the use of them in the everyday, especially in the older times when people would use the individual words as tradition, or labels, or draw it in the flour because their grandmother did it, never knowing the power that lay in the words and at the same time realizing that it is the everyday tasks of living that make up the Circle of Days, and without them life could not continue and the magic would fail.  The characters talk about collecting songs and stories as one would a treasure, delighting in finding new ones, or variations they had never heard before and now I want a treasure room full of stories and songs. I remember trying to read one of Ms. McKillips books when I was younger and having a hard time getting through it, but now that I am old and a wee bit more patient I find I like the style and pacing of at least this book very much.  I picked up the book this time around because the cover was just to stunning to not be on my shelf, and was pleasantly surprised to find that the scenes on both the front and back of the book are actually in the story.  Ok enough trying to get across all my happy feelings on this book and more going to buy more of them :-)  I give this book 8 out of 10 harps and recommend it to anybody who likes high fantasy, music, or amazing book covers.
Do you ever go back and retry books you had a hard time with before?  Do you love it as much as I do when a book lives up to its pretty cover?  What type of book makes you lose track of reality?  Who wants to come and sing all of my books to me?

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

I Need Lots Of The Same Book...And Here's Why

Hello all, how was your weekend?  I got to spend some time with my sweet baby E, who promptly rearranged on of my bookshelves :-)  At first I was like "Oh no all my books!" and then I remembered that I had purposely put all my trashed copies of books on that shelf so that he could go to town.  This of course led to a discussion with my wonderful Hubbin on just why it is I need so many copies of certain books.  If it were up to me I would have multiple copies of every book I own and here is why...I need them.  Hmm, lets try this another way.  Here are the reasons I need multiple copies.

Hardcover - I would love to have a shelf copy of every book I own in hard cover, because they are just so pretty.  This would be my collection version that would look pretty on my show shelves and on occasion the specially lit stands under glass. (I think I need a bigger library)

Pretty Covers - I want all the different covers to my books, some in paticular come in all kinds of coolness.  Seriously if I could have all the cover versions of The Chronicles of Narnia, Harry Potter, 20'000 Leagues Under the Sea, Pride and Prejudice...well you get the idea.  (Seriously I need  more shelves)

Scribble Copies - What is a scribble copy?  It is a copy of a book that I can take notes in.  Right now I write in one of my pretty notebooks, but I would love to have an additional copy of all my books to make notes in right there.  Also it would be awesome to pass those copies down someday and see if people can actually read my writing. (maybe I should rent a storage unit for extra bookshelves)

Electronic Book - Because seriously lugging around my entire collection of Shakespeare gets exhausting, especially when I have to take the train.  Also it is nice to have access to any book at any time.  Also they can be really cheap. (Also don't require an extra book shelf)

Reading Copy - Of course I also need just a plain old reading copy, you know to read, for fun.  This can also count as a back up copy for when I enevitably destroy the current copy I am reading.  You see friends, I am a klutz, I spill things, leave books places, read everywhere, and this takes its toll on my precious books, so multiple copies are in order.  (Maybe I'll just by a library...anybody know where I can get one for cheap?)

So this is why I need lots and lots of copies of the same book, any questions?  Happy Reading Everybody!
How many copies of a single book is too many?  What book do you have multiple copies of?  How big a library do I need to hold every version of every book I will ever own?

Friday, August 1, 2014

An Ode To Books

Good Books
Good books are friendly things to own.
If you are busy they will wait.
They will not call you on the phone
Or wake you if the hour is late.
They stand together row by row,
Upon the low shelf or the high.
But if you're lonesome this you know:
You have a friend or two nearby.

The fellowship of books is real.
They're never noisy when you're still.
They won't disturb you at your meal.
They'll comfort you when you are ill.
The lonesome hours they'll always share.
When slighted they will not complain. 
And though for them you've ceased to care
Your constant friends they'll still remain.

Good books your faults will never see
Or tell about them round the town.
If you would have their company
You merely have to take them down.
They'll help you pass the time away,
They'll counsel give if that you need.
He has true friends for night and day
Who has a few good books to read.
written by Edgar Guest