Monday, September 29, 2014

Kill The Spare

Ok folks, this has taken a while, but I am finally ready to ramble about Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.  I know I finished rereading it a while ago, but you and such.  If you need a synopsis go to the HP Lexicon and you will get all the details.  As always SPOILERS AHEAD!
This is my favorite HP book, it takes us into the wizarding world as a whole, and starts the end game in a most spectacular fashion.  We also get our first glimpse of just how far the author is willing to go for her story.  Let's go through the things that struck me the most.

Quidditch World Cup - So many things to love about this part of the book.  First off, it is the wizard version of the FIFA World Cup, which is a favorite of mine, so right off the bat I'm pretty happy.  I also really liked seeing people live their everyday lives in the wizarding world.  Having Harry stay at the Weasly's as they eat, clean, play and figure out basic things like how to get to the Quidditch World Cup with a bunch of kids takes the magic from the classroom to the everyday.  We also get to see that wizards are from all over the world, each with their own culture, dress, and ways of doing things. The game itself was wonderfully written and a prime example of why I love these books so much.  It could easily get muddled or boring, describing a bunch of people flying around on brooms and hitting balls, but Ms. Rowling shows us the whole thing from Harry's perspective, which is that of a first timer, just like the readers.  I could read this opening over and over and over...oh wait I have.

Tri-Wizard Tournament - There is a ton to love about the tournament, starting with our first glimpse of other schools.  Hermione makes a point that there obviously has to be more then one school of magic out there as their are thousands of wizards and at most Hogwarts graduates apx 40 kids a year, and that is assuming that they all pass.  Seeing the different way's the students are taught, how their enviroment and culture infulence their uniforms and attitudes is pretty neat.  The challanges are pretty cool, being varied in nature and once again showing us a bunch of things we have never seen before.  Each of the contestants comes at each challange in a different way, showing us that critical thinking plays a part in most magical dealings.  I do however feel bad for the rest of the students at all three schools.  Durmstrang and Beuxbatons both left the bulk of their students behind with some substitue headmaster, while the Hogswarts students have nothing to do all year except go to the three challanges spread through out the year...and the second two were not even visible to the audiance.

Hermione and the Boys - I love love love Hermione in this book (ok I love her in all the books, but seriously she is awesome in this one).  She shows everybody that while she may be super smart and practicle, she is also a girl, with feminine feelings and the ability to clean up pretty when she wants to.  This is one of those cases that adds a sense of reality to the books.  Hermione is around Ron and Harry so much, in the role of friend, researcher, homework nag, and awesome spell caster that the fact that she is also a teenage girl is totaly lost on them.  It takes a boy ( a kind of dumb boy) who has some distance and perspective to make them realize that yes in fact Hermione is a potential love intrest...or at least somebody to ask to a dance.  I like that Hermione deals with it partially in a grown-up, roll her eyes at the idocy of boys way, and also in a frustrated, tear filled, teenage girl way.  It is good to show that even our smarty mcsmarty pants has emotions, and that they are valid and in no way make her any less of an awesome person.

Ron and Harry - Ron and Harry have always had an interesting relationship.  They are mostly inseperable, teaming up when Malfoy gets out of hand, Divination homework is due, or Hermione gets a bit high and mighty for their taste.  It has to be hard on Ron though, already being the youngest boy in a very chaotic family, and then the best friend of the kid who everything seems to happen too.  When Harry's name comes out of the Goblet of Fire, I imagine Ron just lost it, I'm sure he was thing "of course Harry is going to be in the Tri-Wizard Tournament, why would he?  Everything happens to him, or is given to him, or is about him."  Of course Harry rarely goes searching for these things, and many times much angst and anguish accompany these "adventures", but I can see where it would be excruciating at times for Ron.  The fight in this book between the two of them is realistic and heartbreaking, and lets the reader explore some of the problems of being the percieved her and sidekick.

The Ending - So much happened in this book, but of course what most people talk about is the end.  Several BIG things happen in the last couple of chapters.  First of all the normal culmination of all the little tidbits that Ms. Rowling has sprinkled through out the book come to the awesome conclusion of Mad-Eye, Barty Crouch Jr.  and of course the return of HE-WHO-MUST-NOT-BE-NAMED!  Second, they way that Voldemort came back was just...evil.  If we ever thought that maybe our resident Dark Lord was just misunderstood, these chapter's completely dispelled that notion.  The casual death of a young person, the brutal collecting of flesh and blood, the toying with his followers and then attempting to kill Harry (which would be a second dead kid in a short span) all show us just how bad this bad guy is.  The ending leaves us with a sense of dread and foreboding, knowing that it can only get worse.

The Film - The movie version of this book is a bit dissapointing.  I know it is mostley because the book is stuffed full to bursting with all kinds of awesomeness that just does not translate to the screen...but still.  They cut out a lot of characters, Dobby does not even make an apperance, despite his pivotal role in the second challange.  The movie feels rushed and bit like they were catering to what they thought the audiance wants, rather then what the book was doing.  The change to make the two schools all male and all female seemed odd to me as that was not in the book, skipping the whole Duddly and the Ten-Tounge Toffee bit was sad, Dobby missing is never good and...well there was just a bunch of stuff that made me go blah.  The visuals were stunning as always, and I could watch the under the lake challange several times over.  Danial Radcliff , still does a great look of wonder when encountering new magic that makes me smile every time I see it.  The interaction between the three friends is still wonderful on screen, and the kid who played Victor Krum was quit tasty.  Overall the movie was ok, but the book was much better.
I love rereading this book, there is so much to it and it gets the second half of the series off to a rousing start.  When I think of this series, this is the book that usually comes to mind.  It is the perfect mix of a school age adventure, growing up, and how events in the world will always play a role in a persons life, regardless of their age.  I give this book 9 out of ten Hungarian Horntails.

What was your favorite part of this book?  Were you dissapointed in the movie, or do you undertand that it can't be 10 hours long?  How bad do you wish you had the ability to turn certain people into ferrets?

Friday, September 26, 2014

Family Festivities

I'm off to see the family!!!! Lil sis is getting married to the wonderful man who is also an awesome daddy to their kiddo's Lil G and Baby L.  The whole family is gonna be there which means madness, mayhem and all kinds of great memories.  This also means a ROAD TRIP, which means READING TIME!  WHOOOHOOOO! Not going to do my normal list 'cause I have absolutley no idea what I'm bringing with me this time.
 I do know however that I am bringing some Curious George for Baby L and a whole bunch of super hero books for Lil G.  I am excited to get to read with my little guys, be part of my Lil sis's big day, and talk books with my Mamma, Lil sis and Baby sis!  Posting will be a bit spotty as I will be gone and then when I get back, I head rigth back into a zillion hour work week, but I will do my best to keep on top of things.  Happy Reading Everybody!

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Autumn Reading Is The Best

It's officially FALL!!!!!! Ok it's been Fall for a couple of days, but now it actually feels like it.  Now is the time I curl up in my reading chair with a big mug of cider, a snuggly blanket, and a good book.
Or, sometimes I put on my Hubbins big sweatshirt, grab a thermos of coffee, an old blanket and find a big pile of leaves to lean on while reading in the autumn sunshine.  Regardless of wether it is inside or out, I look foward to Autumn reading year round!

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Knowing Your Book

The bound book has transformed our world, allowing for the portable dissemination of knowledge, stories, history, and idea's to spread around the world.  This is not only really really cool, but it comes with it's own set of terms and techniqus.  Here are some terms that you can use to impress your bibliophile friends.
(Found as part of a wikipedia article on bookbinding)
Most of the following terms apply only with respect to American practices:

A leaf  -(often wrongly referred to as a folio) - typically has two pages of text and/or images, front and back, in a finished book. The Latin for leaf is folium, therefore "folio" should be followed by a number to distinguish between recto and verso. Thus "folio 5r" means "on the recto of the leaf numbered 5", although technically not accurate, it is normal to say "on folio 5r". In everyday speech it is common to refer to "turning the pages of a book", although it would be more accurate to say "turning the leaves of a book"; this is the origin of the phrase "to turn over a new leaf" i.e. to start on a fresh blank page.
     The recto side - of a leaf faces left when the leaf is held straight up from the spine (in a paginated book this is usually an odd-numbered page).
     The verso side - of a leaf faces right when the leaf is held straight up from the spine (in a paginated book this is usually an even-numbered page).
A bifolium - (often wrongly called a "bifolio", "bi-folio", or even "bifold") is a single sheet folded in half to make two leaves. The plural is "bifolia", not "bifolios".
A section - sometimes called a gathering, or, especially if unprinted, a quire, is a group of bifolia nested together as a single unit. In a completed book, each quire is sewn through its fold. Depending of how many bifolia a quire is made of, it could be called:
     duernion – two bifolia, producing four leaves;
     ternion – three bifolia, producing six leaves;
     quaternion – four bifolia, producing eight leaves;
     quinternion – five bifolia, producing ten leaves;
     sextern or sexternion – six bifolia, producing twelve leaves.
A codex - is a series of one or more quires sewn through their folds, and linked together by the sewing thread.
A signature - in the context of printed books, is a section that contains text. Though the term signature technically refers to the signature mark, traditionally a letter or number printed on the first leaf of a section in order to facilitate collation, the distinction is rarely made today.
Folio, quarto - and so on may also refer to the size of the finished book, based on the size of sheet that an early paper maker could conveniently turn out with a manual press. Paper sizes could vary considerably, and the finished size was also affected by how the pages were trimmed, so the sizes given are rough values only.
     A folio volume - is typically 15 in (38 cm) or more in height, the largest sort of regular book.
     A quarto volume - is typically about 9 in (23 cm) by 12 in (30 cm), roughly the size of most modern magazines. A sheet folded in quarto (also 4to or 4º) is folded in half twice at right angles to make four leaves. Also called: eight-page signature.
     An octavo volume - is typically about 5 to 6 in (13 to 15 cm) by 8 to 9 in (20 to 23 cm), the size of most modern digest magazines or trade paperbacks. A sheet folded in octavo (also 8vo or 8º) is folded in half 3 times to make 8 leaves. Also called: sixteen-page signature.
     A sextodecimo volume - is about 4 1⁄2 in (11 cm) by 6 3⁄4 in (17 cm), the size of most mass market paperbacks. A sheet folded in sextodecimo (also 16mo or 16º) is folded in half 4 times to make 16 leaves. Also called: 32-page signature.
     Duodecimo - or 12mo, 24mo, 32mo, and even 64mo are other possible sizes. Modern paper mills can produce very large sheets, so a modern printer will often print 64 or 128 pages on a single sheet.
Trimming - separates the leaves of the bound book. A sheet folded in quarto will have folds at the spine and also across the top, so the top folds must be trimmed away before the leaves can be turned. A quire folded in octavo or greater may also require that the other two sides be trimmed. Deckle Edge, or Uncut books are untrimmed or incompletely trimmed, and may be of special interest to book collectors.
Using some of these terms at your next bookclub meeting will make you sound like a smarty mcsmartyson...or a wee bit pretentious.  Regardless now you now some of the terms that make up your beloved books :-)  Happy Reading Everybody!

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

SciFi Awesomeness!

Hey guess what?  Two ramblings in a row!!!  How did you get so lucky you ask?  Mostly I have a ton of books to ramble about and I am low on ideas for other blog ramblings it is.  Today is a ramble about one of my favoritist short story collections.  My baby sis read it, called me and said get it, get it right now, and through the magic of ebooks The Starry Rift: Tales of New Tomorrows edited by Jonathan Strahan was purchased, read and loved.  Here are a couple of my favorites.
Ass-Hat Magic Spider by Scott Westerfeld - Besides being by one of my favorite authors, this story is also about the love of a hard copy book.  In the future colonists have a severely limited weight they are allowed to carry on the colony ship.  The main character goes through some extreme measures to make sure he can take at least one intact book with him.  This just goes to show you I am not the only one with a physical attachment to ones books.

Orange by Neil Gaiman - Another one of my favorite authors contributes this quirky, strange awesome story told entirely through answers.  This is the story that made my baby sis call me and I am glad she did.  The story...if you can call it that is some sort of transcript where all you get is the protagonists answers to unknown questions.  It is surprisingly readable and has a great sense of humor.  I love love love it.

Repair Kit by Stephen Baxter - This whole story is a bit of a deus ex machina in a tongue in cheek way.  The whole story hinges on a box that can repair things by pulling them from the past.  The best part is whenever the mechanic is asked to explain the way the box works, he is tells them that it is unexplainable alien technology.

Anda's Game by Cory Doctorow - Our plucky and pudgy heroine of this story shows us that anybody can choose to do the right thing.  Taking MMORPG's to a whole new level this story gives us a whole lot of social commentary (without to much preaching) in the package of an ordinary girl and her ordinary family. This story has heart and that makes this story awesome.

The Dust Assassin by Ian McDonald - The biggest appeal of this one is that it is set in India.  The author does a great job integrating the future with the culture, customs and religions of this fascinating country.  The combination of this perfect setting and a heart wrenching, yet brilliant story make this a unique and wonderful addition to this collection.

Infestation by Garth Nix - Vampires, aliens, supersoldiers, everything a fast paced story needs.  This story takes an old school baddie, vampires and turns them into supersoldiers from another planet.  In the future these supersoldiers have gotten to Earth and the government allows civilians the chance to take them out...or die trying.  A fun twist on the vampire hunter story.

Pinocchio by Walter Jon Williams - The last entry in this collection deals with a society where children are limited because of over crowding and the ability to switch bodies at will.  The story examines what happens when you are young and basically immortal.  It is also a social commentary on our celebrities, child stars, and the flash in the pan fame the Internet can bring.
This collection is varied and wonderful and re readable (which is a huge plus).  It is technically geared towards the YA crowd and I think it fits the bill perfectly.  Many of the stories are a great jumping off point for discussions of various issues that affect people now and potentially in the future.  I recommend this collection to just about everybody and give it 9 out of 10 real books!

What is your favorite short story genre?  Is social commentary in a story good or obnoxious?  What is your vision of the future? How does one write a story in only answers?

Monday, September 22, 2014

Wizard Detective

Hello All!  Did you get some good reading time in this weekend?  My life finally calmed down to less then hurricane style madness for a wee bit, so I got some great book time in.  I also got some time to sit down and ramble about a couple of books I have finally finished.  Today is a rambling about a book I kept forgetting I had, and then kept forgetting that I finished it.  The book is Storm Front, the first in the Harry Dresden Files series by Jim Butcher.  I have read several short stories featuring Mr. Dresden and thought I would give the full length version a go.  As always SPOILERS AHEAD!!!!
Harry Dresden is an openly practicing wizard in Chicago Illinois.  He uses his magic skills as a Private Investigator and sometimes consult for the Chicago PD.  In this first book his private case and his consulting PD case come together in a bloody, buggy mess of awesome.  On the private side, Harry is hired to find the missing husband of Mrs. Sells.  He had started dabbling in magic so Harry was the go to guy for a case like this.  Meanwhile Karrin Murphey of the Chicago PD calls Harry in on a scene of gruesomeness that could have only been committed by magic.  The bodies have had their hearts ripped out from the inside and can only have been accomplished through very powerful magic.  This makes Harry a bit nervous as he is essentially on probation with the White Council, a governing body meant to keep magic users in line.  After an encounter with a mistress vampire, grappling with giant scorpions, mixing spells with the help of a talking skull, screwing up a couple of dates and bribing a fairy with pizza, our detective wizard realizes that his two cases are related.  A couple of gory deaths later, Harry discovers that the missing husband is actually an amature wizard who has learned to harness the power of storms to boost his own magical ability.  He is using this power to distribute ThreeEye, a mind altering drug, and to disrupt the street trade of local gangster Johnny Marcone.  Harry battles Victor Sells and his assorted demon monsters, killing the amature wizard in the process.  The case is solved and Harry is absolved of his previous issues, unfortunately this all comes at the cost of a couple of friendships.  Harry Dresden is now ready to solve more crimes in more books.
I actually really liked this book, it had a great mix of old school, hard boiled detective novel, and some good wizard vs wizard magic.  The author did a really good job combing these two genre's, keeping everything balanced through out the story.  Harry Dresden comes across as a classic private investigator complete with the witty quips and his own way of doing things.  He is also a bit of a scholar, really understanding his magic and the need to study and practice to perfect it, in fact this comes into play in a very big way in the story.  The other characters are a bit stock, but fairly believable.  My favorite characters are probably Murphy, who is actually a believable PD character.  Her job puts her in a precarious position, one that forces her to believe in magic and utilize people like Harry to help her, while at the same time keeping the law and dealing with her fellow officers.  The trust that is broken between Harry and Murphy, while necessary, was a very realistic issue that would come up in these situations.  The fact that Murphy does not automatically forgive Harry, even after the case is solved, actually made me very happy.  My favorite part of the whole book had to be the spirit that lives in a skull in Harry's basement.  He is snappy, horny, funny and I love him.  He helps Harry with his spells (which are done in a really cool way) and has a ton of knowledge that he has no problem using to get what he wants.  Overall the book was enjoyable and I will probably pick up the next book in the series at some point.  If you like urban fantasy or detective novels, this would be a great book for you.  I give it 7 out of 10 wise cracking skulls.
What do you think of mixing genre's?  What is your favorite type of mystery?   Where would you keep your horny, spirit infested skull?

Friday, September 19, 2014

Fall Is Busy

Hello all, sorry about the lack of/late posting these last couple of days.  I came off of duty with a migrane and then got called into to work and didn't get home until...what time is it now.  To make it up to you here is a pretty picture to look at.
Ok, I' gonna go get some sleep now and try to figure out how to put a coherent sentence together.  I will resume normal posting next week I promise.  Happy Reading and Apple Cider Drinking Everybody!!!!

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Reading In Bed

When the weather gets colder and my work nights get longer I cannot wait to to come home and read all snuggled up in my bed.
Tree Book Nook
 Love the tree and cozy log cabin look of this set.
Bookstore Nook
This one looks like somebody put a bed in a bookstore.
Book Cave
This may be what my room looks like :-)
Book Headboard
Here is one way to read multiple books at once.
Ultimate Bookshelf Bedroom
It's such a pretty bookshelf by such a pretty bed.

Now all I have to do is convince the Hubbin that he would like our bedroom to be taken over by books more then it already is.  Happy Reading Everybody!

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Working Out

I have been trying to work out more.  I think these shirts might inspire me to get my hinny out there a little bit more.
Climb Mordor
Train Hunger Games
Staircase at Hogwarts
Does Thou Hoist
Turning Pages
Of course with all of the books I stuff in my bag on a regular basis, I think I could make the case that I weight lift daily :-)  Happy Reading Everybody!

Monday, September 15, 2014

Don't Tell My Hubbin...

Soooo...somebody thought it would be a good idea to let me loose in a used bookstore.
The problem was two-fold.  The first being I was finding all kinds of books that have been on my list for ages for up to 80% off, in fact the most expensive book was $7.00, but the rest were between $.75-5.00.
The other problem was I was all by myself...all day long...with no time limit...and no one to tell me no...and it was pay day...and I really love books...
The result was a shelf worth of books, a dent in my bank account, and taking my Hubbin to the premiere of Atlas Shrugged III (the last of the movies based on the book Atlas Shrugged by Ayan Rand) to make up for it.  I enjoyed myself immensely and don't regret a single book...Happy Reading Everybody!!!!!

Friday, September 12, 2014

Tick Tock Tales

Awsome Hubbin got me a pretty cool book for our anniversary.  It is a collection of steampunk fairytales called Clockwork Fairy Tales edited by Stephen L. Antczak and James C. Basset.  My last collection of steampunk stories was a bit hit or miss for me so I was bit nervous to start this one, but it turned out to be awesome!  Here are some of my favorites.
La Valse by K.W. Jeter - This gory tale is based on The Red Shoes (which is a pretty gruesome story to begin with) is a bit of a nightmare scenario.  It involves decrepit old nobles locked into a giant music box type apparatus.  A mentor killed.  Revenge taken and so much blood.  Great story!  Just be warned this is not your typical happily ever after fairy tale.

Fair Vasyl by Steven Harper - Lately I've really been into the old Baba Yaga tales and this one based on the old Russian story of Vasilisa the Beautiful captures the essence of the old witch perfectly.  Along with one of my favorite villains, this story really captures the perfect essence of what a family should be, a group of beings who love and need each other.

Mose and the Automatic Fireman by Nancy A. Collins - Mose the Fireboy is the inspiration for this fantastic story of a small boy who becomes a major hero.  The firefighter/EMS girl in me cheered the whole time I was reading this.  It has a fantastic rollicking American Tall Tale feel that is perfect perfect perfect.

The Steampiper, the Stovepiper and the Pied Piper of New Hamelin, Texas by Gregory Nicoll - This story is what I always think of when I think steampunk.  It has humor, it has sass, it has rats and it has so many clockwork toys!  The American West has been used a lot in steampunk as an alternative to the normal Victorian England steampunk we see so much of, and in this story it works to its advantage.
There were several things about this collection that worked for me.  First of all the stories were really steampunky, with lots of actual devices used to change or further the plot.  Unlike a lot of supposed steampunk books I have read, where they toss in an airship, or goggles and call it a day, there was an actual building of alternate worlds using clockwork devices.  The other thing I really liked was the combination in ever single story in this collection of sticking to the original tale they were based on, I mean every single story was recognizable, even down to some of the small details.  While doing this, each story was also wildly original, I'm not sure how these authors pulled it off every single time, but they did.  I give this collection  8 out of 10 wind up birds and recommend it to anybody who loves fairytales, steampunk, or a well told story.
What good steampunk stories have you read?  How do you think the authors managed to stay true to the original tale, while still being completely original themselves?  How bad do you want a clockwork pet?

Thursday, September 11, 2014

What To Wear?

Ever since I read the description of Claudia Kishi's clothes in the Baby-Sitters Club series, I have LOVED reading great descriptions of clothes.  This got me to thinking, which outfits would I love to pull out of my books and into my closets?
The Watchful Dress - The Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland and Led The Revels There
"It was orange. to be sure.  No dress that was not could tempt her.  But it was a dark, reddish, grown-up orange, stitched with droplets of gold.  Garnets hung on its plunging neckline.  The shimmery copper-crimson skirt had soft, draping tiers held up by jewelled black rosettes.  A deep, dark green silken rope circled the waist three times and a pair of bright copper pocket watches dangled from the slim bustle."
The Swan Dress - The Black Swan
"In heavy black silk-satin, embroidered all over in a pattern with a suggestion of feathers, encrusted with jet beads and tiny black gemstones that reflected the light in a million miniscule facets.  Beneath the heavy overgown with its long, elaborate train and divided front panal, was and underdress of black gossmer silk, and beneath that were so many black silk petticoats, each as light as a breath of air."
The Coelura Dress - The Coelura
"Laughing uninhibidtedly, she started to twirl in gadness, revelling in the comfort of the coelura against her bare skin.  The fabric responded to her mood in pulsing reds and purples, shot with cerulean blues, breaking into spontaneous patterns as her steps fell into different dance modes."
Aunt Docia's Dress - Little House in the Big Woods
"Aunt Docia's dress was a sprigged print, dark blue, with sprigs of red flowers and green leaves thick upon it.  The basque was buttoned downd the front with black buttons that looked so exactly like juicy big blackberries that Laura wanted to taste them.
The Butterfly Dress - Wildwood Dancing
"It was not-quite-white-the olor of a pale spring flower with the smallest hint of sunshine to soften its stark purity.  The cloth was exceptionally fine and clung to Tati's fingers.  The whole surface was closely embroidered with a pattern of butterflies done in the same subtle color as the background, so they showed best when light shone through the shher fabric.  Here and there an eye or wing or antenna was accented by tiny pearls, by miniature crystals, by odd glass beads with swirling patterns in them."

All of these dresses have a certain appeal for me and I am sure I could find some sort of magic fairy ball to where them to...right?  What clothes from a book would you like to have?  Anybody handy with a sewing maching?

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Reading In A Bubble

Cocoon 1
Could you imagine cuddled up with a blanket in this bubble in the rain?!?  Or...well pretty much anywhere you want to read and enjoy the environment without all that pesky nature :-) At a little under $3000 it may be a bit of a dream...but if anybody wants to make this bookworm happy...

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Bond Girl

One of the best things about my friends is that they are all little book freaks like me...well not quite like me, I'm my own special brand of freaky, but still way into books.  The best thing about having book buddies is getting reccomendations and book swaps that happen with fabulous frequency.  One of those books was the start of a series called One For the Money by Janet Evanovich.  It was not a type of book I usually pick up, but she said I would enjoy it and I'm glad I listened to her.  As always SPOILERS AHEAD!
Stephanie Plum is a recently divorced, recently unemployed 30 year old Jersey resident.  She is in desperate need of money, having sold almost all of her possesions (or in the case of her car had them repossessed) just to keep the lights on.  Her overbearing mother suggests that she check with her cousin Vinny to see if he needs any filing done.  Filing is not what Vinnie needs, he needs somebody to track down and bring in people who have missed their trial date.  If she can manage this she gets a percentage of the returned bail money as her fee.  The biggest fish for Stephanie to catch is Joe Morelli, a cop accused of murder...and a guy who has gotten into Stephanie's pants on occasion.  Stephanie being brand new to all of this is coached by Ranger, a pro who takes the poor girl under his wing and trains her the best he can.  With this minimal training and some new supplies Stephanie sets off to catch her fugitive.  One of the tips leads to Benito Ramirez, a proffesional fighter with
violence against women issues.  He takes Stephanie's rejection personally and starts to stalk her.  As the case progresses Stephanie finds herself in situations that she never imagined possible and learns as she goes.  She befriends two hookers named Lula and Jackie who end up giving her information on women linked to Ramirez dissapering.  One of these woman was one linked to the Morelli case.  At some point Stephanie "requisitions" Morelli's car, causing him grief, and being saved by him on occasion.  Eventually Morelli tells Stephanie that he will work with her to clear his name and in return she can turn him in after they get proof of innocence so she can still get her money.  Chaos, intrigue, and blowing up cars ensues. Eventually they think they have everything figured out and Stephanie turns Morelli in.  Unfortunatly when she gets back to her apartment, Ramirez's manager is waiting to kill her, as she knows to much about everything.  She is saved at the last second and all the bad guys go to jail.  Morelli is released, and mostly forgives her for all the grief she understandably caused him and Stephanie decides that she likes the life of a bond least for now.
I orginally brought this book with me on my road trip to counter balance a couple of books I knew were gonna be heavy...the problem is I could not put this book down to start those.  Lucky for me it is a series so I have more to look foward too.  I think what I liked best about this book is how well put together it was.  The main character had a believable back story, a good motivation to go into this unusual job, she had no super skills, or amazing beauty, or unusual smarts, her only real defining factor was her desperation, and her incredible ability to wrench the good side out of a bad situation. She is not good at her new job and requires a lot of help and training to become even adequate.  By the end of the book, she knows she still has a ton to learn before she can consider herself even a decent bond girl.  The various other characters made perfect sense in their enviroment, right down to the appliance salesman/blind date.  The settings were done in a way that I feel like I could probably navigate my way around this town with little trouble, but the descriptions never dragged on.   I also liked how the author dealt with her women characters.  I know I have been having issuses with a couple of books lately, escpecially ones by women authors, so it was refreshing to see some of these issues dealt with so well.  Stephanie is a belivable woman.  She is of an age of most readers who will pick this book up, she has been through some realistic stuff, and she is dealing with a lot of the same issues the readers are probably dealing with.  The character is not hopless though, she works her way through things with a desperate wit that is both relatable and entertaining.  I liked that while the
character was not a super knock out beauty, she was aware of her attractiveness and owned it. She also awknowledged and owned her own sexuality in a non-destructive way which was awesome.  The other issue I thought was well done was the violence towards women angle.  I have been reading a lot of books where it is condoned, or glossed over, or forgiven, or turns the woman into either a gibbering dehumanzied victim, or a wild, uncontrollable, revenge seeking bitch.  In this book the violence was not glossed over, it was borderline unconfortable in its realism.  The character of Ramirez (the main perpatrator of said violence) was constantly getting off the hook because of his celeberty status and the fact that he mostly beat up women who seem to not matter to society, hookers, poor women, women who did not have the resources to make a proper fuss.  I personally felt that the author did a fantastic job of showing how often this happens in society, and then made sure her woman beater got jailed.  She did all of this while still keeping a fairly light hearted, entertaining narrative that made you keep turning the page.  The few critiques I have relate to the fact that this book was published in 1994 and several plot points depend on the lack of cell phones and internet or Stephanie being a little dumber then need be, but hey that is getting super nit picky.  Needless to say I really liked this book and hope the rest of the series lives up to the first one.  I give this book 8 out of 10 junky cars.
What book(s) have you read and loved on a reccomendation?  How does when a book was written affect it's future readability?  Did my feelings on how women are portrayed in books come out clearly?  Did you see the movie?

Monday, September 8, 2014

ABC's And 123's

Tis the season where the little ones run off to school to get there head stuffed full of knowledge.  I used to love the first week of school...after that not so much :-)  Here are some interesting books to get the kiddo's off to a good start.
This beautifully illustrated alphabet book is still one of my favorites.  The amazing amount of detail, plus a couple puzzles keep me flipping through this one for hours.
Fire Fighters A to Z
A look at my other job in an alphabetic format.  Great old school illustrations just add extra awesome.
The Skull Alphabet Book
Not as creepy as it sounds I promise.  This really cool book combines the alphabet, science and a bit of detective work to figure out what each skull is.
Uncle Shelby's ABZ Book
Oh I have so many fond memories of this twisted little book.  Definitely for the adult crowd only...but so so so very funny.
Quentin Blake's ABC
This is a fun, quirky little book that gives a different spin on the traditional A is for apple format.
Teeth, Tails & Tentacles
Counting has never been more fun then when you are counting the various ways an animal could gore and then devour you.
Ten Orange Pumpkins
Just in time for Halloween season, this gently spooky counting book is the perfect fall addition to your learning library.
I hope that you have all found this post to be helpful in furthering your education as far as the alphabet and numbers are concerned.  If not hopefully you will at least be entertained.  Remember to get those kids reading as soon and often as possible, it is the best gift you can give a person.  Happy Reading Everybody!

Friday, September 5, 2014


I have worked 36 out of the last 48 hours so...

Looking foward to the weekend off to read and write some good rambles.  Happy Reading Everybody!

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Smells Like Peaches

I have been saving The Peach Keeper by Sarah Addison Allen for the perfect rural summer day.  I have found the books by Ms. Addison tend to be very atmospheric and I always forget to bring a summer book with me to the farm so this one seemed to be a perfect match.  I have mixed feelings about this book, but first, as always SPOILERS AHEAD!
In Walls of Water North Carolina, socialite Paxton Osgood has finally finished refurbishing the old Blue Ridge Madam.  A manor house built and then lost by the Jackson family.  Paxton plans on using the manor to host the 75th anniversary gala commemorating the formation of the Women's Society Club by Paxton's grandmother, Agatha and her friend Georgie, who is the grandmother of Willa Jackson, another Wall of Water resident.  Strange little things start happening throughout the town, culminating in the discovery of a skeleton buried beneath a peach tree in the manor yard.  Willa and Paxton, who were never friends in high school, form a friendship to discover the truth behind the skeleton.  Meanwhile, Paxton's brother Colin comes home for an extended visit to help Paxton with the renovations and falls in love with Willa.  Sebastian, a guy with a mysterious air has returned as the town dentist and befriended Paxton.  This is a bit of a problem when Paxton ends up falling in love with him, even though she assumes he is gay from a past encounter.  Things and stuff happen and the partial truth of the skeleton is revealed.  Back before the Jackson's lost the manor, a travelling salesmen by the name of Tucker Devlin came and charmed the whole town, ripping friendships apart and promising everybody the world.  He eventually moved into the Blue Ridge Madame on the premise that he would help Mr. Jackson plant a peach orchard (even though they do not grow at that altitude) and reverse his fortunes.  While living there he raped Willa's grandmother, Georgie several times, resulting in her pregnancy and Georgie smashing him upside the head with a frying pan.  When Georgie turned to Paxton's grandmother Agatha for help, they buried Tucker under the lone peach tree he had planted and formed the Women's Society Club to help each other and other women in town that may need a shoulder to lean on.  Back in the present Paxton resigns as president of the club, stating that she feels it has gotten to far away from its roots.  Willa and Colin come to an understanding about their living situation and reconcile their past with their present and future.  Sebastian turns out to be not gay and him and Paxton hook up.  Agatha and Georgie continue to keep their secrets and the peach smelling ghost of Tucker Devlin is finally laid to rest.
I have to admit, I like this authors other books more then I did this one.  The other books seemed to have a more defined magic touch to them, where this one only had the nebulous ghost, and I missed the magic.  The author did set the feel of the town beautifully, the atmosphere being everything it should be.  The best part of the book, I thought was the history of the town itself.  It's origins as a logging town, it's economic decline when the government turned the forest into a protected national park, the evolution of the town into a tourist spot, all culminated in a believable history.  I also liked how the story focused on friendships as being so important, especially between women.  When Paxton and Willa become friends through a shared experience, like their grandmothers before them, I cheered.  Both friendships were great examples of why women can take over the world if we quit being so petty and fought together.  I also liked the idea that people can change as they grow.  Sometimes a person who can't wait to leave a place, find that they are happy when they finally return, sometimes not staying is good, sometimes staying is the best thing, and sometimes a person has to do both during their life. The author aslo kept in her trademark magic food, this time in a much smaller form of Rachel, the barista who is trying to figure people out according to their coffee order.  The book tried to show how one's perception of oneself is usually different then other peoples, and that can be both good and bad, I'm not sure it got it across as clearly as the author intended, but the point was still there.  I thought the story of Tucker Devlin was ok, nothing to special or inventive, but it served its purpose. One thing I did not like was the whole is Sebastian gay or not thing.  I understand the author wanted to show how people categorize people, with no real information.  Sebastian was very pretty, and a bit odd, so apparently in this town that makes you gay.  Since he did not fit in anywhere else Sebastian hung out with the gay kids, because they would accept him.  As he became an adult, he just didn't address his sexuality until Paxton conveniently came along, and then he strung her along, causing her much anguish.  Again I understand what the author was trying to do, but it seemed a bit too pat, and a bit too drawn out, and a bit too disingenuous for my personal comfort.  I wanted more of a mystery, or more magic in the book, as that is what I loved about the authors last couple of books, but that is a personal thing.   So that is what I thought of the book.  I give it 6 out of 10 peach smelling ghosts and recommend it if you have read the authors other books, or you are looking for a book about a small town, a mystery and new friendships.
Are you ever disappointed in an authors later book?  How do you feel about straight characters falling in love with gay characters? Do I read way to much into every book I read?

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

I'm Home!!!!

Hello all my readers.  How was your long weekend?  Did you do anything fun?  Did you read any good books?   I had a fabulous time down at the pepper farm working Pepperfest and my anniverssary with my amazing Hubbin.  I got tons of reading done (four whole books!) so be ready for some epic rambles.  The Hubbin kept me full of coffee and let me run amok in a bookstore as an anniverasary present.
It rained and thundered and lightininged the whole time, which was the perfect excuse to curl up with a good book.  Hubbin even drove the whole way home so I could finish my last book.  I crammed in a couple last summer books and bought a couple new fall books, so I'm excited about that.  Ok now I have to go and try and snag a couple hours of sleep before I head back to work so off I go.  Happy Reading Everybody!