Friday, January 30, 2015

Just Got To Make It To Tomorrow

Since I am apparently certifiable, I picked up extra shifts this week and am now counting down the minutes until tonight when I get two whole days of FREEDOM!!!
What am I going to do with 48 hours all to myself?  Well 12 of them go to the Super Bowl, but the other 36 will be devoted to READING!!!!!!  Just 12 hours, 38 minutes and 42 seconds to go.
Happy Reading Everybody!!!!!!!

Thursday, January 29, 2015

TV That Needs Its Books

As much as reading is my favoritist thing in the world, I also really like to watch TV.  I was sitting here trying to figure out how to mush the two, when I realized...a lot of the shows I like have books as an integral part of their appeal.  Here are a couple examples.
The Gilmore Girls - This show is all about the books, quoting the books, mentioning books, reading books, hauling books.  If there was a show ever made just for me this would be it.  The fact that it is about a mom/daughter best friend duo is just icing on a literary cake

Buffy the Vampire Slayer - If any of had illusions to my true level of nerdism, then this should clear it up for you.  I really love the fact that this kick-ass girl show spends a good amount of time in various libraries, using books to find the best ways to defeat the bad it should be.

Warehouse 13 - This show is chock full of literary goodies.  It mostly deals with artifacts from various authors, everything from Lewis Carroll's Looking Glass (which contains an evil Alice entity) to Edgar Allan Poe's Pen (which makes anything written with it become real).  This is just the start of the bookish aweomeness that is this show.

Ok so it is now obvious that I am not only super bookworm girl, but super nerd girl as well :-)  It just goes to show how intertwined books and tv and art and anything creative can be.  Happy Reading (and watching) Everybody!

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Where The Whales Go To Die

Growing up, one of my favorite movies was (and still is) The Island at the Top of the World.  It's a weird, strange movie, but it triggered my sense of adventure (and scared the bejeebus out of me) so a favorite it became.  I have recently discovered the book The Lost Ones by Ian Cameron, on which the movie was based, and fell in love with it as well. Since it is set in the frozen tundra I held on to it until winter set in.   Before we get into that though, as always SPOILERS AHEAD!
The book is written in first person/journal form and follows the strange adventures of Keith Rogers, a whaler; Professor Somerville, a teacher of flora and Captain Anthony McIver, a man looking for his son.  The Professor and McIver convince Rogers to come with them to find McIver's lost son Donald Ross.  Donald it seems has found some information on the mythical legend of a place where the whales go to die.  He was last seen hijacking a helicopter and heading out over the frozen tundra.  The threesome put together an expedition and head out in the undiscovered snow and ice to see if they can find out what happened to him.  As they travel, they uncover some unsettelling information about the mysterious island they are heading towards.  The island is Prince Patrick Island and there is no official record of anybody ever actually setting foot on the island and all maps, such as they are were made by aerial recon and even the aerial footage is iffy because of a perpetual mist that obscures parts of the island.  They are warned against the yellow-haired men that supposedly inhabit the island, confusing the trio as only Eskimos are known to inhabit any of the area.  Many cold
adventures follow, culminating with the men stranded on the mystical island, under siege by the mysterious yellow haired men.  They are captured and taken to an impossible city, that has survived and flourished due to thermal vents warming the area to comfortably habital temps.  The natives, who all sport blond hair, seem to live under a very medieval code of suspicion, taboo's, and rituals.  The men are found guilty of trespassing and are sentenced to death.  They meet Freyja, a girl who knew Donald, and was his lover.  She helps the men escape and promises to guide them to where she thinks Donald may be.  The place Freyja takes them is a sacred spot that only the Shaman's may go and look upon, keeping the natives in their grip.  After some more harrowing events the trio plus Freyja end up trapped on a sort of beach, along with numerous whale carcasses where they find Donald, alive.  They have finally found where the whales go to die.  Freyja tells them the story of how whales used to eat the young of other animals, and as punishment they were barred from heaven and must circle the waters of hell.  To this end, when a whale gets old it goes to a special grave yard to be tipped into the waters of hell.  This strange beach is littered with the bodies of all kinds of whales, and they are eventually carried by a river to an underground whirlpool, fulfilling the story.  The other part of this myth is the Guardians that Freyja is terrified of, which turn out to be very aggressive Orca's.  In desperation the five of them build a boat out of various whale parts and try and get past the Orca's.  Freyja, out of guilt and fear feeling that she is the reason the Guardians won't leave them alone is because of her, she jumps into the water, dying as she gives the men a way to escape.  They all finally head home and go about their various lives, always having this surreal adventure to think back on.
To be 100% honest, I was not prepared to like this book as much as I did.  I wanted to see the source material for my favorite movie, and found a decently written adventure.  It is hard for me to talk about the book without talking about the movie which are intertwined in my head, even though they are both very different.  I think what struck me most about both is the sense of adventure, the idea that there is something still unknown out there.  As a kid...ok even now, I always wanted to discover something, always looking over the next ridge, or opening the old doors, or squeezing through the holes, hoping to find something new.  I also love the idea of hidden things, lost things rediscovered, mystical myths and this book had it all.  The pacing of the book was surprisingly brisk considering 90% of it was spent trying to survive on the frozen tundra.  I loved the mix of science, exploration,
anthropology and myth.  This is one of those books that reminds you how many facets of life come together to form a culture ore society.  The actual physical book itself was also pretty neat.  The story was published in 1970 and the book I have was printed not much later, making the physical tome itself about 45 years old, which doesn't seem that old, until you realize that it is in paper back, still in one piece and older then me :-)  It felt like holding a discovery, which added to the enjoyment reading it.  Of course now I am terrified it's gonna fall apart.  I also loved the words that the author used.  One of my favorite things about older books is that people use grown up words in every day conversation, I miss that, none of this shortening or acronyming of words, just full, meaningful, beautiful words.    This book rekindled my love of adventure and exploring and now I want to go find more books like this.  I give this book 7 out of 10 sacred lockets and recommend it to anybody who likes adventure, myths, or snow.
When is it ok for the movie and the book to differ?  How awesome is the combo of myth and science?  Is this the reason people say "Hey this is a weird book/movie...I think you'll love it"?

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

DIY Bookshelves

I've been in a DIY mood lately...well enough of one to look through endless pictures on Pinterest anyways :-)  Anyways here are some cool DIY bookshelves to consider for your own home, or you know you can always come to my house and put them up for me :-)
Floating Books
These floating bookshelves are super simple and super awesome
Ladder Shelf
This ladder shelf is pretty quick and adds a great rustic touch
Leather Bookshelf
This is a really cool way to dress up an old bookshelf
Pipe Bookshelf
I think these are so cool!  I've seen these both as DIY and premade.
Wine Crate Bookshelf
Cheap, easy, and adaptable to any materials you have access to 
So many idea's so little time.  This is one of my favorite things about bookshelves, a little glue, a couple of nails and you can turn ANYTHING into a place to hold books,  Happy Reading Everybody!

Monday, January 26, 2015

Kitten To Lioness

Now that I have finished my individual ramblings, it is time for me to sum up the series The Song of the Lioness by Tamora Pierce as a whole.  This is where I put down my feeling about the series as a whole.  I have noticed when I do my ramblings and critique/gush about the books individually that it comes across very differently then when I think of a series as whole.  I think a lot of this has to do with going back and reading books and enjoying them more as an overall story...ok not relating this very well.  Let's talk about the series shall we?   SPOILERS AHEAD.
Biggest thing about this quartet is that it follows our heroine Alanna from the time she is 10 until she is in her 20's.  This makes for a HUGE range in the age these books are appropriate for.  The first book is one I would recommend for any young lady (or man) starting to read chapter books...the later books may have a bit of content we may want to reserve for our slightly older readers.  The books start out very simply, a girl, a dream, and a bunch of quick vignettes showing us as she grows.  As we move on in the series each book gets fatter and more complex with less telling and more showing of our girl Alanna.  I sometimes forget that these were the authors first books, and her ability seems to grow along with her heroine.  I also like watching Alanna's friends grow along with her, especially Prince Jonathan and George Cooper.  In the start Jon is almost as young as Alanna and he grows in his responsibilities as a Prince, and eventually a King.  It is great to watch his transformation from a spoiled teenager to a regal and just man.  George also gets his own arc, going from the carefree King of Thieves to a man who is ready to become "respectable" if it means the ability to protect his loved ones.  Myles, Corum, and the other characters in Alanna's world all grow up in some way or another...even if they were already adults :-).
Alanna herself goes through the biggest transformation...and as the main character that makes sense.  It is interesting to watch this young girl start with the simple dream of being a knight and then realize that there is so much more to life then a single dream.  Her knighthood turns out to be just one aspect of what she wants out of life, realizing that every time she achieves a goal, that it does not fulfill her in the way she thought it would.  The ability to recognize that she needs friends, loves, and a variety of goals helps her become a well rounded person.  This series, being the first in a series of series (wow we are starting to get meta in here) set in Tortall and the surrounding areas really sets up the world for the rest of the books.  The stories we read in this series very much color the future books, making rereads even better as we know what happens far into the future.  This quartet of books tends to hold up better as a whole, then as individual least for me, and I actually enjoy rereading them more then the original read.  I am very glad that I discovered this series and it's message of figure out who you are and be yourself 'cause that is probably your best bet at happiness :-)  Happy Reading Everybody!

Friday, January 23, 2015

Woman And Warrior

I MADE IT!!!!!  Sorry it's my first real day off in a couple weeks and I am so so so deliriously happy...also I get the whole weekend off!  To celebrate let's ramble shall we?  I'm gonna go ahead and finish up the Song of the Lioness by talking about Lioness Rampant by Tamora  Pierce.  It is the final book in the quartet and wraps most things up quit nicely, but first as always SPOILERS AHEAD!
After her falling out with the Prince Jonathan, Alanna and her man Corum head to other lands to try and figure out what the map she received at the end of the last book means.  Along the way they meet up Liam Ironarm the Shang Dragon.  The Shang are legendary fighters, trained from a very very young age and the Shang Dragon is the best of them all.  He and Alanna start a relationship (you go girl).  They discover that their map leads them to the fabled Dominion Jewel, that when used by a just ruler can prosper any country that possess it.  Alanna decides that if she can bring this artifact back, she will be able to prove her worth as a knight.  As they are traveling through Sairan, a country torn apart by a very bloody civil war, they happen upon the dead warlords daughter, the Princess Thayet and her K'miri bodyguard Buri.  Both women belay any royal prissyness by being pretty bad ass (YAY!).  Alanna instantly realizes that Thayet, aside from being the most beautiful person she has ever seen, is also one of the only people who could match Jonathan and keep him in check.  She starts aking plans to introduce them, and if they like each other, get them to marry.  They add the girls to their group and head up to the roof of the world to get the jewel.  Alanna discovers that Liam is deathly afraid of all magic, and that includes her Gift.  The group stops at an inn and Alanna can feel the jewel calling her.  She uses her gift to keep everybody asleep and heads out into the blizzard.  Alanna battles the elemental protecting the Dominion Jewel and after some fighting and
conversation obtains the fabled treasure.  She wakes up days later, being rescued by her group to find she is pretty battered, but has secured her jewel.  Liam is upset about her using magic on him and the two end their romantic relationship, but remain friends.  They head home to find that both the Queen and King have died, leaving Prince Jonathan as the new king.  They also discover that Alanna's twin brother Thom has brought back Duke Roger from the grave.  George finally agrees to become a respectable spy master for Jonathan after the infamous Claw (who turns out to be the noble Ralon of Malvon from the first book) continues to kill innocents in his quest for...well who knows what.  Stuff happens and the group uncover a plot to kill Jonathan.  Duke Roger has been sapping magic from Thom and intends to pretty much destroy the who country.  With the help of the jewel Jonathan holds the earth together while the rest of the group battle the traitors.  Alanna kills the Duke and all is ended.  In the aftermath it is discovered that Thom, Liam and Alanna's cat Faithful have all been killed.  Alanna goes to the Bloody Hawk tribe to grieve and recoup.  Thayet comes to get her friends ok to marry Jonathan, which Alanna happily gives.  George comes down to make an honest woman out of her.  That ends the Song of the Lioness Quartet.
This last book is the fattest of all four of the books, and contains the most story of all the books as well.  There is a lot of things I like about this book.  Let's start with the adding of a couple of kick ass women shall we?  The addition of Thayet and Buri do a lot for this book and the story in general.  They show us that Alanna is not the only brave, physical, warrior woman.  They show us that there can be more then one kind of kick ass woman.  Thayet is beautiful, but it is not something she is ashamed of, nor does she use it as a crutch.  For Thayet she is what she is.  She is not afraid to be a woman, a ruler, a mother figure, or a warrior.  All that being said, she has her soft side, her fears and her flaws.  Buri on the other hand, along with reminding Alanna of what she used to be like and giving some great perspective, comes from a different background then the other two women.  She is a commoner, born and bred to serve.  She has no interest in anything other then fighting and protecting her charge.  She has a great outlook on life, giving us another many layered woman
character.  I love that Alanna almost instantly recognizes in Thayet a good partner for Jonathan.  She is able to get past her hurt, and history and help find her friend a good match that will not only make him happy, but be good for the kingdom as well.  I found Alanna and Liam's relationship to be interesting.  I like that she goes for a variety of guys, not always falling for the same type every time.  I also like that even as a warrior who doesn't want to be tied down, that she is not cold and closed off, but open and even eager to explore new relationships (which in my opinion can be even scarier then fighting a monster).  Liam was good for Alanna in some ways, being a bit older and more mature, he was able to allow her to be the "kitten" as he called her.  He taught her a lot of fighting and of the world.  I also liked how they both acknowledged that due to his inability to ever accept her Gift, that their relationship was probably doomed from the start, but both of them agreed to give it a shot anyways.  There was one part when Alanna dresses up for fun that Liam seemed to have an uncharacteristic about face on his ability to view Alanna as a real woman...but it was brief so I guess I can overlook it.  The second have of the book got a bit complicated as the author was trying to tie everything together.  The plot got a bit overly complicated with to many players trying for to many things and we never really got what Roger the Duke of Conte was trying to accomplish...other then mass destruction.  I did appreciate that the author killed of some key people, reminding us that even in stories, battles and violence have its cost.  I also appreciated that Alanna did not just get over the deaths of her loved ones, but needed to take time to grieve.  As far as George and Alanna are concerned...I'm pretty sure they are gonna be ok, but her acquiescence to his desire to have a true wife, mother and Lady as his partner seems to be kind of sudden and uncharacteristic.  I have read more books in this world that give me more insight into George and Alanna's life, but without that it seems a bit...I don't know...trite maybe.  Anyways, the country is saved, the survivors are happily paired off and the realm is on the way to recovery.  Alanna is the King's Champion, finally realizing her dream of knighthood, adventure and glory all while discovering who she really is.  A good ending to a good series and a great set up for further books set in this world.  I give this book 7 out of 10 black pearl earbobs and recommend it everybody who has been following the series.
How do you feel about characters that change their minds about fundamental things?    How many characters are to many?  How much do I love me a strong female character?

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Reading And Riding

As crazy as life has been, I have actually been able to squeeze in quite a bit of reading.  In fact my To Be Rambled About pile is starting to rival my To Be Read pile.  It's weird because I am absolutely exhausted and feel like I have been doing NOTHING but riding my various ambulances in some capacity or another but in reality I have started and finished at least 6 books in the last three weeks.  This my friends is why I always have a book, or e-reader on me.
It's amazing how much reading can get done while waiting on nurses, dispatch, traffic (not when I'm driving of course) or the rare occasion when I get a lunch break.  I can read a quick short story, or a chapter while my partner finishes a report, or when one of my students is working on a quiz.  It all adds up to lots and lots of books read in little tiny chunks.  Now this is not anywhere near as satisfying as sitting down and really reading, but it is enough to keep my sanity and enough to get my reading list finished.  Now if I could just find time to ramble about them :-)  Happy Reading Everybody!

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Treasure Hunt

My baby sis came to visit me this weekend and I decided this would be the perfect opportunity to go on a book treasure hunt.  I made a list of a bunch of books, mostly series pieces and authors that I have been having a hard time finding and armed with a fresh gift card headed off to the used bookstore.  The best part of this particular book store (2nd and Charles) is that they have shopping carts!  Yep a whole shopping cart for us to pile high with reasonably priced books!!!!  Baby sis and Hubbin got into the spirit of the treasure hunt and before we knew it we had a pile of book booty.  We then created many many piles, sorted through them and ended up with about 20 or so books, many of which were actually on my list.  Of course being the unpredictable bookworm that I am a few non list books may have snuck in there.
Hauling the booty home was a bit of an adventure as the bookstore, in an effort to be green and save money so that they can continue to sell me 75 cent books don't use here is me an baby sis stumbling out of the store our arms so full of books they are literally spilling on the ground.  We finally fill up the trunk with our non-ill gotten gains and head home.  Hubbin had to pull the car up to the door so that we could bundle our loot into the lobby, then into the elevator, then up to the house...whew this treasure hunting is hard work.  Now we have our hard won treasure and will now spend the next week lamenting the need to go to work instead of exploring all my new books boo, and my baby sis will have to explain to her Hubby why she came home with 20 new books...   Happy Reading Everybody!

Monday, January 19, 2015

Riding Boy Style

Continuing on with my Song of the Lioness reread is the third book, The Woman Who Rides Like A Man by Tamora Pierce.  This book is nice because the story is a bit more cohesive and linear then the earlier books and really launches our girl Alanna into the rest of her life.  Before I get into all that though, as always SPOILERS AHEAD!
In the aftermath of Alanna being knighted, revealed as a female and killing Duke Roger of Conte (the princes cousin) she decides she needs a bit of a breather from the capital and heads out with her man Corum to seek adventure.  She ends up in the desert with a tribe of Bazhir called the Bloody Hawk.  She fights for the right to become part of the tribe and is named as The Woman Who Rides Like a
Man...which is a really long title, but hey it is also very descriptive.  The Bazhir are fierce nomadic people who have a pretty strict division between males and females, and Alanna is setting all that on it's head acquiring a magical crystal sword of potential evil along the way. As she gets to know her adopted people the tribes shaman (who is a bit crazy...ok he's a lot crazy) challenges her and ends up being slain by our lady knight.  According to custom, Alanna takes over as shaman of the tribe until she can train up her apprentices, including two girls to take over.   Prince Jonathan and Sir Myles end up coming from Corus so Jonathan can become the Voice of the tribes and unite the desert people with the kingdom of Tortall.  Myles decides to make Alanna his heir, giving her resources and a home that she did not have before.  Jonathan renews his attentions to Alanna, culminating in a marriage proposal.  After much thinking and fighting, Alanna decides that she does not want to become a traditional lady and declines...which of course makes things a bit awkward between the two.  Alanna leaves the tribe in the hands of her young apprentices, fulfilling the rite to make them full fledged shamans.  She goes to visit George, the king of thieves and her dear friend.  The two start a relationship which lasts until there is an attempt on George's life by a young upstart by the name of Claw.  George returns to Corus to find out what is behind the attacks and Alanna moves on to further adventure.
This book like I said earlier is much tighter of a timeline then previous books.  The story is much more focused and it some ways it makes more sense.  I really enjoyed spending an extended amount of time with Alanna, learning about her and seeing her on a daily basis instead skipping over  months and years at a time.  It is nice to see some of the other cultures that are actually part of the kingdom and not a completely different country.  I will say that I personally found the Bahzir to be a bit stereotypical of a desert/nomadic tribe, but that is just my personal feelings.  I'm still not sure how I feel about Alanna's relationships with Jonathan and George.  I felt Jonathan changed feelings about Alanna very quickly, going from completely accepting who and what she was to demanding she
become a traditional lady.  George's love for Alanna was well established in previous books and he is much more accepting of her as a a person, which is nice, but the speed in which Alanna went from one serious relationship to another is a bit disturbing.  I like watching Alanna come to grips with her own magic Gift, learning to use it and not to fear is cool to see.  This book gives us glimpses into the lives of some of the other characters, showing us what is going on while Alanna is gone, reminding us that just because she is not there does not mean that everybody else's life stops.  We are introduced to the Shang warriors, Thom's increasing magic, and the feeling that all of this is building up to something big in the next book.  Overall it was good to see a story from beginning to end and to not skip around the time  line.  I feel like we have established Alanna's character, likes, dislikes, quirks, strengths and weaknesses making her for the most part a very believable human character.  I enjoyed this installment and feel like we are at the perfect set-up for the final book.  I give this book 7 out of 10 evil crystal swords.
Do you like the longer or shorter time lines in books?  How do you feel about relationship jumping? Do I sound like I am repeating myself in these ramblings?

Friday, January 16, 2015

Tower Of Books

How cool is this?!?  The tower structure is a helical structure of 7 stories high covered with 30,000 books in different languages ​​and dialects.  It is made of all donated and recycled books.
Tower of Babel
Check out the website for in progress shots...I wanna go see this so bad!
Happy Reading Everybody!

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Hiding Treasure From Viking Hamsters In Balls

I am pretty sure that viking hamster's in balls are looking for my here are some tricky hiding places for my precious...(I may be a wee bit exhausted teeheehee)
Book Stack Drawers
Nobody will be able to to tell that this is not one of my many many stacks of books!
Book Trunk
Nothing to see here...just a trunk of books...
Hidden Bookshelf Door
One more reason for a zillion bookshelves
Book Safe
I would just be scared I would lose it among my real books
Book Cubby
This is how to get through security :-)
These crafty little secret books should hopefully deter any viking hamster in balls from getting to my special seriously there out there...I'm gonna go to bed now :-)  Happy Reading Everybody!

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

The Tempest LIVE!

My amazing Hubbin and a couple of friends took me out the other night to a fabulous dinner, and a killer performance of William Shakespeare's The Tempest.  The Tempest is one of my favorite Shakespeare plays and seeing performed live was the best.  A quick summation (and SPOILERS) of the play is as follows.
Prospero, a magician and his daughter Miranda have been marooned/exiled on a magical isle for years.  Prospero was the Duke of Milan before being exiled by his brother Antonio.  He learns that that his brother and company are on a ship and he raises a tempest to wreck the ship on his island.  Prospero commands the spirit Ariel and tasks it with several jobs concerning the shipwrecked crew.  Antonio's son Ferdinand is separated from the group and put to work by Prospero.  Meanwhile, Caliban, a native of the island, and a slave of Prospero's who falls in with a drunk and a clown from the shipwreck.  The three form a drunken agreement to overthrow Prospero, adding some much needed humor tot the play.  Antonio and his group experience several difficulties and finally end up with Prospero through the machinations of Ariel.  They discover that Ferdinand and Miranda have fallen in love and want to be married.  Prospero forgives all who have wronged him, sets Caliban free and enjoins Ariel to make ready good sailing weather.  Ariel is finally freed after this last task and Prospero renounces magic by breaking his staff.  This is but a brief synopsis if you want more...well go read or watch it :-).
The production of The Tempest I got to see was put on by the Shakespeare Theatre Company and was very well done.  The best part of the whole production had to be the set.  The stage and theatre itself was super cool to begin with, there were no bad seats and it was just awesome.  The sets themselves were extremely well done.  They utilized the entire stage, including the wings, which made for a very dynamic staging.  The main set was an impressive shipwreck on a mound of real sand, with a sun that traveled across the sky.  The casting and costumes were pretty well done,  I really liked how they showed Prospero's magic using actors as spirits that blended into the island background and were almost always present.  They did what Prospero bid but were supposed to be "invisible" to the characters, which was pretty cool.  The only real problem I had was with the
character of Ariel.  This is my favorite character in the play and I have a very definite preference for how the spirit is played.  I like it to be played androgynous, wild and elemental.  This is totally a personal preference.  This Ariel was played a bit to saucy and comical for my taste.  They had her on this really cool rope system to fly around the stage, and they made the rope a part of what tied her to Prospero, which was a great way to incorporate a necessary part of the staging.  The actress felt to practiced in her movements, I could almost see her thinking about each move "place this hand here, extend toes now" and so on and so forth.  Considering the rest of the blocking, this could have been how the director wanted it played as most of the characters moved in a very deliberate and pointed manner, but for me the character lost a lot of it's wildness and elementalness.  I felt like instead of a captured spirit of the wind, I was watching a Christmas angel.  Overall I very much enjoyed the play and cannot wait to go see another one.  Happy Reading Everybody!

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Rough Days

I have had an incredibaly rough week, and am anticipating the same for the next seven days.  That being said, I have had some amazing people, do some amazing things to help me feel amazing, so as much chaos and crap that has happend, and is gonna happen, at least I know I have these awesome people in my life to make it bearable.
Also I have some amazing books that have helped me escape for a little while.  It is very comforting to know that no matter how crazy life gets, all I have to do is reach into my backpack and pull out one of my old friends and get to leave all this behind for a few minutes.  So between my people and my books I am pretty sure I can get through this next bit of life and come out even better then before.  Happy Reading Everybody!

Monday, January 12, 2015

Purple Eyed Kitty Cat

Continuing my reread of the Song of the Lioness Quartet, I finished up In the Hands of the Goddess by Tamora Pierce the other night.  Of course my extreme insomnia made so I actuallys started and finished the book in the same night, but that's ok.  As always SPOILERS AHEAD!
Our cross-dressing heorine Alanna has made it to the rank of Squire and has also secured the position of squireing for the newly knighted Prince Jonathan.  Jon now know's Alan is actually Alanna and is totally cool with it (yay for semi-enlightened boys).  In the course of her duties as a squire Alanna is out camping when a curious kitten with purple eyes that match Alanna's appears.  Along with this kitten, Alanna if visited by the Goddess, the female head of the Tortall pantheon of gods.  She hangs out for a while and then gives Alanna an amulet which allows her to see when magic is being used.  When she get's back to Tortall, she continues to train for her Ordeal, which if she passes will allow her to become a knight and finally realize her dream.  In the meantime she is busy trying to balance becoming a woman and her love of the knighthood.  Jon and and the King of Thieves George, both make a move, George declaring his love for Alanna and promising to wait until she is ready.  Jon a bit more aggressive, though always circumpspect as to not give away her secret.  After some flirting and uncomfortable moments, Jon and Alanna become lovers.  Alanna continues to be looked after by Sir Myles, an old knight who takes Alanna under his wing.  Jon's cousin Roger the Duke of Conte
continues to teach the young men (and Alanna) how to use their gift and he still creeps Alanna out. Alanna finally gets through her Ordeal, becoming a knight as she has always dreamed.  Her borther Thom comes down to give her the gift of a shield with their family crest on it.  As a surpise he shows her that when she is ready to reveal herself as a female, she can say a spell to change the shield to show a glorious lioness rampant...very very cool. After her suspicions become aroused she uses her amulet to discover that Duke Roger has been keeping the Queen sick and other's ignorant of his true plans through the use of sorcery.  Showing proof of this to the King and Queen, Roger demands a trial by combat and he and Alanna battle.  During the course of the battle, the corset Alanna wears to hide her feminity is cut and she is revealed as a woman.  She wins the battle, killing Roger and chaos ensues.  She decides that she cannot deal with all the aftermath of her reveal and she and Corum decide to travel for a while, as she had originally planned on doing.  They pack up and set of to somewhere warm to await the nest book.
So this is another book where a lot happens, not as much as the last one, but still pretty packed.  I remeber liking this one when I was younger because it mirrored a lot of the conflict I felt and some of my fellow friends felt about being able to kick butt and be strong, and yet still want to wear sparklies and be girly.  This book showed not just the good parts of being both, but the struggle as well.  One of the things that struck me is that both Jon and George were attracted to Alanna for different reasons and showed it in different ways.  In some ways George bugged me, stealing kisses from Alanna, almost by force, which made me a bit uncomfortable, but it end he acknowledges that she is not ready and backs off.  Jon on the other hand, makes more of a game of it and in the end, the less serious
relationship is the one Alanna chooses.  This book shows us a lot of Alanna's fears how she has to face them mostley on her own, which to  me makes her a bit more human then the last book.  Mostly this book sets up the last two books and gives us a solid foundation of knowledge of the land and the primary players.  Ahhh I almost forgot to mention Faithful, the purple eyed kittycat.  Faithful is one of my favorite characters throughout the series.  He technically only meows, but anybody he wants to "talk" to can understand his meows as speech.  Their is obviously something supernatural about him, but for the most part he comes across as a snarky cat.  He is helpful, observant, and adds a touch of humor to the whole proceedings.  Overall, I enjoy this book as part of the series and give it a 7 out of 10 picture changing shields and recommend it to anybody who likes kick-ass conflicted heroine, or has already started the series :-)
Do you thing being a favored of a god/goddess is cheating?  How relieved would you be to finally have your long kept secret out?  What snarky supernatural animal companion do you want?

Friday, January 9, 2015

Book Chick

Happy Happy Happy Birthday and eternal reading to my Mammasan!
Chicken Page Print
Happy Reading Everybody!

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Reading With Dragons

I have totally been craving a good fantasy read lately, maybe something with dragons.
So instead of the post I was gonna write, I'm gonna go read...about dragons.
Happy Reading Everybody!

Tuesday, January 6, 2015


Put all my Christmas stuff away this weekend, the house seems really empty :-(  To make my house less dreary, I like to cover it in sparkly snowflakes all winter long.  Here are some literary snowflakes I may attempt this year to add some sparkly cheer to the potentially dull winter.
Book Page Sparkly Snowflake
I like how intricate these look, and the sparkles are a bonus
Cut Out Snowflakes
I remeber making ones like this with my Mamma...still love making these
Vintage Snowflake
This one looks very simple to make
Folded Snowflake
This would look so cool on top of my bookshelf
Book Page Snowflake
More pretty cut out snowflakes
If anybody needs me, I will be using my quote paper I made to cut out a zillion snowflakes and hang them all over my house.  If that doesn't stave off the winter blues, I don't know what will.
Happy Reading Everybody!

Monday, January 5, 2015

It's Ok To Be A Girl

One of the few good things about the holiday's being over is that I can get back to my normal reading pattern.  I always feel a bit nostalgic right after the holidays and since for once I didn't have a deadline looming over me, I picked up one of my favorite series by one of my favorite authors.  I read Alanna: The First Adventure, the first book in the Song of the Lioness Quartet by Tamora Pierce.  How did it hold up over the years?  I'll tell you, but first, as always SPOILERS AHEAD!
Alanna and Thom are pre-teen twins with a crappy father (as all good MG/YA books start).  They both have the Gift, a form of magic certain people posses in the realm of Tortall.  To this end, Thom wants to become a mage, and Alanna wants to become a night, the problem being that females can't become knights, and their father insists that Thom go become a knight instead of a mage.  They decide to switch places and Thom goes on to the City of the Gods to become a mage ('cause both guys and gals can practice magic) and Alanna becomes Alan and signs up to be a Page at the court in Corus, the capital of Tortall.  Only Corum, Alanna's trusted friend and guardian knows her secret and helps her when he can.  Alanna works extremely hard to overcome her smallness and the beatings of a much larger bully.  In town one day Alanna (in the guise of Alan) meets George Cooper, the King of Thieves who takes her under his wing and teaches her how to fight.  Between this and all her extra work at her Page lessons, Alanna earns her place among her fellow Pages and Squires.  She
eventually befriends the Prince Jonathan, and her ability with the Gift is revealed when she uses it to heal him after an awful illness called the Sweating Sickness sweeps through the city, killing many.  It is thought that the illness was sent by a sorcerer, who may have targeted the royal family.  After saving the prince, he and Alanna, along with a few other guys get to be good enough friends that she introduces them to George, who in turn helps them by keeping an eye on the city.  Eventually Alanna gets older, and as it goes, hits puberty.  Since she has no mother, and not female to talk to, Alanna is understandably freaked out by her first period and goes to George's mother, a healer to find out what is what.  Mrs. Cooper explains the birds and the bees to her and gives her a charm against pregnancy and encourages her to be a girl when she can. She also let's George in on the fact that she is a girl.  The prince's cousin, Roger the Duke of Conte arrives to teach the pages/squire's with the Gift how to use it. A bunch of stuff happens (don't you love how I skip over all this stuff in every rambling :-) )   The bunch of them head off to hang out at Persopolis, an oasis city in the middle of the desert.  In site of the encampment is the Black City, an evil place that compels people to come and they are never seen again.  Roger, goad/tricks Jonathan into going to the city and Alanna follows him.  They confront an ancient evil called the Ysandir and defeat them using Alanna and the princes combined Gifts.  In the process, Prince Jonathan discovers that Alanna is really a girl.  He decides he is ok with this, agrees to keep it a secret and the book ends with him choosing her as his squire once he is knighted.
This is one of those books where a lot of stuff happens very quickly.  If I remember correctly just this book spans the course of at least 5 years and each page if packed full of stuff.  Most of the events are pretty simply described, with out a whole lot of detail or angst, and while this makes things a bit quick, it keeps the pace up.  This book, and series in general is pretty cool in that the main message is that it is ok to be yourself.  Alanna is hellbent on being a knight, even at the tender age of 11 and she thinks this means she pretty much has to turn herself into a boy.  While this is true to some degree, she learns that it does not have to be her whole life.  Through out the book, she is lucky enough to have several people encourage her to be who she wants to be, if that's a knight, great go for it, but don't let that completely squash your femininity if you don't want it to.  I really like the idea that it is ok to be whatever, a girl who likes to swing swords and wear a pretty pair of earrings.  A boy who wants a quieter life of study, but is still able to ride a horse like a pro.  Just because you like one thing, or are good at something, does not automatically mean the rest of your life has to follow suite.
 I also really like how hard Alanna has to work to achieve her goal.  Besides her Gift (which she is afraid of AND many other people also have), she is not all that special.  She is small so she has to work extra hard just to be as good as the other guys.  Through out the book (and the series) she makes no secret of the fact that there are some things she will probably never be good at.  The only real "convenient" part that bugs me a bit, is her ability to have people fall head over heels to help her out of most situations.  George Cooper, while a great character, for some reason decides to take the scrawny little Page under his wing even before he knows she is a girl, same with the Prince (though I guess saving his life helped with that).  It is a bit convenient for her to have a lot of support in a time and place where she should have very little.  As this is a reread, I always like to compare the first time I read it to subsequent rereads.  In this case, I still love the book, but found it to be a bit simpler then I remember.  The time frame in which it is written makes it go fast, and certain things go unexamined and stuff gets glossed over. I think it is a great first book in this series and is a great pace for a younger reader to really get into.  I love it for anybody who struggles with reconciling who they are with what they do, or what they like.  It has adventure, intrigue, swords and magic and it will always have a spot on my shelf.  I give it 7 out of 10 crystal swords.
What books do you feel like rereading this year?  Do you have changing feelings about books you reread?  What would a sword fighting tutu look like?

Friday, January 2, 2015

Literary Libations

One of my favorite things about the holidays is the abundance of alcohol and the excuse to drink it...I mean the love and family and spirits...I mean spirit of love...and drinks :-)  Here are some cool literary drink ideas from the book Tequila Mockingbird by Tim Federle (which if anybody feels like getting me will not be refused).
A Midsummers Night Dream
A Midsummer Night’s Beam
Take two parts Ren Faire and one part Greek mythology, add a liberal dash of forest-dwelling nymphs, and you’ve got Shakespeare’s whimsical meditation on love and lunacy. An amateur might toast this oft-produced play with two melatonin and a gulp of cough syrup, but Lord, only a foolish mortal would try that – this is a dream, not a blackout. You’ll want to stay upright, if drowsily so, for a light, vegetation-heavy drink that will keep you skimmin all five acts before a proper fairy-blessed slumber. You might just wake up in love.

8 sprigs fresh mint

1/1 ounce lime juice

2 teaspoons granulated sugar

2 ounces bourbon

1 (12-ounce) can club soda

Muddle the mint, lime juice and sugar in a highball glass. add ice and bourbon and fill to the top with the club soda. Sip to your imagination’s content 0 stopping only if you shadow begins to speak.
Sherlock Holmes
The Adventures of Sherbert Holmes
Pro-tip: “Elementary, my dear Watson” was never exactly spoken by Sherlock Holmes. Conan Doyle’s beloved sleuth appeared on the big screen saying that phrase, but not on the page; he was too busy being the only detective who could crack a case from the comfort of his arm chair. We take a tip from a lesser-known story that appeared alongside twelve others in a blazingly popular magazine series: raise a glass ti “The Blue Carbuncle.” a Holmes whodunnit involving a goose with a very expensive gem lodged very inconveniently in its neck. After you trade jewels for berries, the only remaining mystery will be why you’ve never made this party pleaser before.

(Makes 10 drinks)

1 quart sherbet

1 bottle (about 3 cups) Champagne, chilled

1 litre ginger ale 

1/2 cup fresh blueberries, washed, for garnish

Empty the sherbet into a punch bowl and pour the Champagne and ginger ale on top. Float the blueberries and serve. Don’t leave the room for long – you’ll return to a fast-empty bowl and a classic whodrunkit.
The Picture of Dorian Gray
The Pitcher of Dorian Grey Goose
Boy, did this book have it all: knife fights, magic paintings and (spoiler alert!) people who never age. Wilde wasn’t just ahead of the cosmetic surgery boom here – he also pushed the envelope on homoeroticism, resulting in widespread censorship in later versions of the book. Try getting your hands on the juicy early copies for Dorian, and then gather a group of ageing beauty queens (or simply ageing queens), who’ll be guaranteed to love our hedonistic youth serum. Just keep them away from your expensive art.

(Makes 10 drinks)

10 sprigs fresh mint,

1 (12-ounce) can frozen lemonade concentrate

2 cups vodka

Cucumber, sliced into wheels for garnish  

Tear the mint, then place in the pitcher. Add the lemonade concentrate and stir until thawed. Pour in the vodka and three cups cold water and stir. Serve over ice, garnish with the cucumber wheels, and remember: age before beauty – if anyone will fess up.

These are just a couple of the awesome and literary puntastic drinks in this nifty little book.  I really really want it for my kitchen bookshelf (yes I even have bookshelves in my kitchen) to put with my other food related books...or book related food stuff...or whatever.  Send me your favorite literary libations and as always Happy Reading Everybody!