Thursday, April 30, 2015

It's All About The Green

We are having one of the most epic springs ever!  Seriously, spring is not usually my favorite season, usually because it gets to hot to quickly, or winter lasts way too long, but this year EPIC.  We have had mostly 60ish degree's, a nice breeze, soft green budding tree's, and the smells of all the growing things.  With all of this picture perfect weather, I had to read one of my favorite short story collections, The Green Man: Tales from the Mythic Forest, edited by Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling.  This is a collection of short stories that deal with the forest (in all its many forms), nature (also in its many forms) and humans (in their many forms) encounters with all of the above. Here are a few of my favorites.  As always SPOILERS AHEAD!
Grand Central Park by Delia Sherman - This story of fairies living in Central Park is one I always think about when I find magic spots in an urban environment.  Also after visiting Central Park last year, I totally believe that fairies and their buddies live all over it.  The forest in this story is of a more urban variety and reminds us that magic can be found anywhere, even after you think you have out grown it.

Among the Leaves So Green by Tanith Lee - I will admit that books by Tanith Lee always leave me feeling a little confused, she tends to go down rabbit holes that I don't always follow.  That being said this short story about two sisters (one "good" and one "bad") and how their lives play out is pretty cool.  I especially like that while the "good" sister gets her just reward of a happy life, the "bad" sister discovers her father, who just happens to be a type of forest god and her subsequent happiness in and around the tree's and kin.  The forest in this story is living, breathing, and as much a character as the other beings.

Hunter's Moon by Patricia A. McKillip - This is one of those stories that combines imagery, character and magic in a way that is rarely done in a short story.  The little brother/big sister relationship that is central to the story comes across as realistic, while the Hunters give us a glimpse into the beyond in a superbly magical way.  I love the combination of the ordinary, the magic, and the weaving of old school myths into a cohesive story.  The forest in this story is one of myth and wildness and I kind of want to visit it.

A World Painted by Birds by Katherine Vaz - This is what a short story is all about, well for me anyways.  This story almost literally paints a picture, using the characters feelings, yearnings, needs and determination, nature itself turns on a cruel despot by creating sights, sounds, and feelings.  The imagery and designs of this story are so stunning that I fall asleep with them still in my head.  This is where I feel the short story format works so well because there is no way a story of this type of sheer artistry would work as effectively in a novel length book.   The forest in this story is artistically visual and creative, showing the art in nature.

Grounded by Nina Kiriki Hoffman - This (by a narrow margin) is my favorite story in the collection.  It is about a girl and her mother, a man and his kids and how they become a family.  In this story we watch a teenage girl learn about the link between life and death, light and shadow and how one cannot live without the other.  I think what I like best about this story is how the mother works in hospice and how her work is not a sad or bad thing, but rather a necessary and even rewarding part of life.  The acknowledgement of this type of work and it's huge benefit is truly amazing.  The forest in this story becomes a metaphor for life and death and how it all works together.

Joshua Tree by Emma Bull - This story features a desert and a teenage girl stuck in a dead end town.  What appeals to me about this story is two fold, first the main character has a sense of yearning for the unknown and magic that she tries to suppress among her small town friends, but eventually learns to embrace it and become her own person...a feeling that I very very very much relate to on a personal level.  The other thing that was neat was the desert atmosphere.  I am NOT a huge fan of the desert, but after reading this story I totally want to go to a desert rave and meet a Joshua Tree.  The forest in this story is one of cacti, sparseness and aridness, yet hiding it's own pockets of vibrant life.

The Pagodas of Ciboure by M. Shayne Bell - This story is sweet in a child like innocence way...does that make sense?  This story brings to life all the magic of being a child, of discovering something that belongs to you completely and believing in it so hard.  Add to this with a take on Maurice Ravel's childhood and you have yourself a charming and wonderfully refreshing story about child like courage and imagination.  The forest in this story is one of a fairy tale in a child's imagination, peopled with fantastical, yet ordinary creatures and villains.
With my love of books, trees, the outdoors and magic, it is no surprise how much I loved this collection.  Add to it the fact that several of my favorite authors contributed to it, Datlow and Windling edited it, and Charles Vess decorated it and it has a treasured place on my shelf.  There is something for everybody and I think you should go find it and read it.  I give it 10 out of 10 Big Giant Trees!

What is the first thing that pops into your head when you think of a forest?  What type of environment appeals to you the most?  Is it totally unreasonable to want to go live in a tree house with a library attached

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Castle Book

It has been a stressful couple of weeks.  Nothing bad, just work and my schedule have been a bit out of control.  Lucky for me, I have the worlds most perfect stress buster BOOKS!
Castle Book
This picture by nokeek(Lena) from  seriously sums up how books make me feel.  By the time I have read a couple of pages I feel as if I have climbed into my happy place of awesome.  Happy Reading Everybody!

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Literary Bucket List

Today I was going to write a post listing my Literary Bucket List, and then I realized that was silly, as it is an ever changing list that needs to be constantly updated as I discover new places and things, and hopefully actually get to cross some off the list.  To this end (I use this phrase a lot don't I?)  I have created a new page called Literary Bucket List that I will fill with all the potential awesome I find and hopefully update it with posts on how I actually accomplished/visited/read/did each entry.  
Please send me any and all cool things and ideas related to the book world that I can add to the list, because seriously you can never have enough booky goodness.   Happy Reading Everybody!

Monday, April 27, 2015

It's The End Of The World As We Know It

With the passing of Terry Pratchett, a great author who has contributed to the field of fantasy in a massive and wonderful way I had the urge to read one of his works.  To this end I chose Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman as this is most probably his most well known work, and I love Neil Gaiman as well so it was a win, win, win for me.  As always SPOILERS AHEAD!
The Antichrist has been born and the prophesied end of the world has now started.  Now this is understandably a big deal and with that we follow a couple of characters through the end of the world.  Our main duo are Crowley, a demon of hell who has spent a lot of time on earth and isn't really that bad of a fellow, and his unlikely buddy Aziraphale, an angel (and occasional rare book dealer) who has also spent a lot of time on earth and is not quit as angelic as one would think.  The two buddies decide that they kind of like Earth as it is and feel that the impending apocalypse might put a damper on things.  When they get recalled by their respective entities both beings decide that maybe they won't go as summoned.  Meanwhile a woman named Anathema Device has been trying to decipher her ancestor Agnes Nutter's obscure prophecies, culminating in her knowing about a whole lot of what's gonna happen without actually understanding it.  We are introduced to the Four Horseman of the Apocalypse, a red woman named War who is followed by violence; A man all in black named Famine who encourages eating without substance and extreme dieting; A pale oozy man by the name of Pollution (who took over after Pestilence got a bit less scary with the advent of
Penicillin) and of course Death, who is pretty awesome and never shows his face.  The four ride pretty kickass motorcycles and are instrumental in bringing about the proper ending of the world.  Arguably the most important character in this whole book is the Antichrist...who through a mixup is being raised as an ordinary boy by the name of Adam (meanwhile Warlock, the boy everybody thinks is the Antichrist is seriously disappointing the evil minions) who runs a small gang of neighborhood kids call the Them.  Adam has an impossible imagination and runs with his gang all over town dreaming up amazing games.  As everything starts coming to a head, Adam meets Anathema, who has taken residence up in Tadfield and gives Adam some literature that lead his imagination to take an even bigger leap.  Adam starts playing games with the Them that involves some of the stuff he has read, what he doesn't realize is that while he "plays" in the real world things are happening.  For example, he and his friends imagine the raising of Atlantis...and out in the ocean an unknown island nation appears.  He also decides that the world has too many weapons and explains to his friends how he wishes all the weapons would disappear...and so it happens.  As time goes on Adam starts to realize his power and scares his friends as he lays out a vision that would essentially empty the world of people, dividing what is left between himself and his three friends.  It becomes apparent to the other players that the epicenter of the power that will end the world is in Tadfield and Anathema, The Four Horseman, and Crowley and Azriaphale all converge on the small, idyllic town.   Adam has a a crisis inside himself when he realizes that he can shape the world as he wants.  He feels the urge to follow the shape of the prophecy, but finally with the help of his friends, he decides not to end the world and there by avoiding the end.  Everybody drifts back to their lives, with just the vaguest of notions something big went down...or almost when down...or something like that.
So if that did not make any sense...I know.  This is a hard book to summarize as it is less of a plot and more a bit of this and that strung together to make a story.  If you have ever read either of these authors you will probably know exactly what I mean :-)  None of this is a bad thing, it just makes it harder to explain.  Let's discuss what I liked about this book.  To start with the premise is just fun, I
mean what other setting could possibly give us the sheer variety and craziness and irreverence as the impending apocalypse.  The biggest strength of this book is the characters, as you can probably gather from the above synopsis.  Adam is my favorite, mostly because of his imagination and the way he sees the world.  I also love the Horsemen and how the authors applied their ancient plagues to the current and modern world.  One of the things I noticed (and enjoyed) was the direct correlation between Adam and his three buddies (a girl and two boys) and the Four Horsemen (and woman).  In fact at one point the four kids and the four Horsemen go head to head in an epic awesome battle.   I liked how the small town of Tadfield was the proxy for the rest of the world.  Instead of the final battle being fought in an epic town, with an epic baddie vs awesome goodie, it came down to a small town, a child, and ordinary people (and a couple of demons and angels for good measure).  The writing is familiar in a good way as I have read both of these authors and enjoyed them thoroughly.  There were a few things that didn't really get me excited as a reader.  The over all book was a bit meandering for me, there were several points where a character was introduced  and then never heard from again, or an event that was described in great detail that while entertaining, didn't really have anything to do with the book.  There was the addition of foot notes, some of which were amusing, but a lot of which were just kind of there.  Over all it was an entertaining book that was worth the read, especially if you like tongue in cheek humor, angels and demons, good times, or small idyllic towns that house the Antichrist.   I give this book 7 out of 10  demonic Bently's.
What is your favorite version of the Apocalypse?  What is the real difference between angels and demons?  Have I ever told you my sister banned me from having kids 'cause she is pretty sure I would give birth to the Antichrist?

Thursday, April 23, 2015

On Every Wall A Page

Sooooo....I'm trying to decide if covering my walls in pages is totally cool and awesome...or getting to the overly obsessed territory.  Take a look at some of these inventive ways people used there walls as one more reading space.
Vintage Wall
This person chose to do one wall in vintage pages in her bedroom
Pages In A Row
I like the idea that you can change the pages out on this wall any time you want
Page and Picture
This person has used simple pages as a background for a larger picture
Page Art
If a whole wall is a bit much, try this book page art instead
Open Book
If single pages are not enough, try the open book method
Alrighty folks let me know if you think this style of decor is awesome...or a tad bit over the top.
Happy Reading Everybody!

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Nerd Alert

Anytime I want to declare my book nerd tenancies to the world, I just slip one of these on.
Library Stamp Shirt
I love the instant recognition of the stamp that this shirt gives off.
Book Symbols Shirt
100 nerd points if you can tell me what every book on this shirt is!
Partying Puns Shirt
Nothing screams uber book nerd like some Shakespearean puns
Book Party!
Sadly this is not entirely untrue :-)
Book Nerd Shirt
Of course the best way to declare your book nerdism is to just say it!
Alrighty all of my book nerds, get out there and read proudly!  Happy Reading Everybody!

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Almost Anywhere's

Welcome to today's rambling part two of my rare double header series.  I am doing another rambling because it is the second book/story in a volume I just recently finished and everything goes together to well to put a gap in between.  Anyways today I ramble about The Lives of Christopher Chant by Diana Wynne Jones and the second story in the Chronicles of Chrestomanci Volume 1.  As always SPOILERS AHEAD!
Christopher Chant has discovered that he has an amazing ability, he can slip out of his body and go to a place he calls the Almost Anywhere's. The Almost Anywhere's appear to Christopher as a bunch of different places connected the The Place In Between a rocky valley like place.  Christopher frequently visits these places and the strange people that populate them.  On occasion Christopher is able to bring back a gift that he is given in an Anywhere.  Back at home Christopher's mother and father (an enchanter and sorceress)  are constantly at odds and at times use Christopher to get at each other.  Christopher is assigned a governess and becomes acquainted with his Uncle Ralph who finds out about Christopher's abilities.  He asks Christopher to meet a colleague of his named Tacroy to conduct some experiments in the Anywhere's.  Christopher agree's and has fun with his new friend.  While working with Tacroy, Christopher runs into a girl called The Living Asheth, or The Goddess, a girl about his own age who has powers of her own.  In exchange for a Temple Cat, the Goddess asks for books and Christopher agrees.  While leaving with the cat, soldiers catch Christopher and hurl a spear through his chest, but as Christopher wakes up in his own bed, he decides no harm no
foul.  Unfortunately for Christopher, the cat he brought back is crazy and knocks the curtain rod into Christopher's chest, but he appears to only be wounded.  Christopher is sent to boarding school where he makes friends and learns that he loves the game of cricket and finds he has no talent for magic as he cannot perform even the simplest of spells in magic class.  He continues to help Tacroy with the "experiments" which usually consist of loading mysterious packages onto a vehicle for Tacroy to take back to wherever.  All of this comes to a screeching halt when his is killed when he is smashed in the head with a cricket bat.  Christopher wakes up in the morgue and it is discovered that he has nine lives and is sent to the current Chrestomanci to be trained as his successor.  It is discovered that by removing all silver from his person, Christopher is capable of performing massive feats of magic.  All kinds of stuff happens and Christopher is feeling lonely in a castle full of fusty adults and only the crabby Chrestomanci to pay any attention to him.  He is told the the Wraith, a nasty gang, has been smuggling illicit magic ingredients from the Related Worlds.  Christopher realizes that the Related Worlds are what he calls the Anywhere's and that his uncle is the one smuggling in the dangerous items.  Tacroy is captured and turns out to be a man who works for Chrestomanci, but even while being questioned, keeps Christophers part in it a secret.  Uncle Ralph kidnaps the Chrestomanci and scatters his lives across the worlds.  Christopher becomes the interim Chrestomanci and along with the Goddess (who found a way to enter the world 12A) and the rest of the household find a way to trap Uncle Ralph.  Tacroy turns out to be a person from world 11 (only one world in that series) a mysterious and dangerous place.  They all travel to world 11 and get Tacroy freed and reclaim the Chrestomanci.  The Chrestomanci is grateful and realizes that Christopher needs to be around kids his own age and forms a bit of a magic school at the castle for him, and that is how Christopher Chant becomes the next Chrestomanci with only two lives left.
Again, a bit of a long synopsis, but again the author is stuffing it full.  In this story we get to learn a lot more about the Related Worlds, how they work, and what they mean to each other.  I think what I liked best about this book was seeing the Related Worlds from so many point of views.  We have Christopher who views it as a child would, with wonders and potential friends around every corner.  He is not even 100% sure if it is real or not and treats it as a wonderful dream.  Uncle Ralph and his cronies see the worlds as a place to get rich.  They harvest and pillage, and even murder for no other reason then to further their own means.  Chrestomanci and his crew see the worlds as counter parts to their own, places that need to be protected and mostly left to their own devices.  Christopher's inability to do magic when in contact with silver was a nice touch, reminding us that for all their power, these enchanters are still human.  As in the last book we have lack of communication being a huge factor in what goes down in this story, showing how little adults tend to trust children...even if it is the children who are the primary concern.  The whole 11th world, getting Tacroy back thing could have probably been left out...unless it plays into other books...which it might...but for this book it seemed different from the rest of the story, like it was part of another idea.  I liked this story a lot, and it has cemented my love of this author and I already have Volume 2 on my shelf.  I give it 7 out of 10 silly ladies!
What Related World would you like to visit?  Why don't adult's think kids can handle at least the basic truth?  Where does one apply to become a living Goddess?

Monday, April 20, 2015

Nine Lives Plus A Horrid Sister

Hello All!  Did you miss me and my long rambley rambles?  Well you are in luck, 'cause to make up for all my short skimpy posts that last week you are gonna get a double header!  Yep that's right. two ramblings in a row.  They are two books that have been combined into one volume and I liked them both so much that I didn't take a breather in between stories, so two ramblings it is.  Today's rambling is Charmed Life by Diana Wynne Jones and is the first story in the Chronicles of Chrestomanci Volume 1.  As always SPOILERS AHEAD!
Eric "Cat" Chant and his older sister Gwendolyn are left orphans after their parents drown in an unfortunate steamboat accident.  Gwendolyn survives because she is a witch and everybody know's witches can't drown, Cat survived by hanging on to Gwendolyn.  After some discussion, the children are placed in the care of a Mrs Sharp, a hedge witch who does the most minor of magics, but is well connected and gets Gwendolyn and her astounding talent some teaching by a man of not so good intentions.  Gwendolyn appears to have a vast amount of power, especially for one so young while Cat appears to have none.  Eventually both children are brought to Chrestomanci Castle, to live with the Chrestomanci and his family.  In case you have never heard the term before Chrestomanci is the term of office and title of the most powerful enchanter in World 12B (where magic is as common as music) and has the responsibility of keeping all the other magic users in line.  What is World 12A?  It is a world in a series of worlds that are all connected in some way, shape, or form and World 12A is where the Chrestomanci is in least of the magic.  Anyways our young friends are brought to Chrestomanci Castle to live with the Chrestomanci (also known as Christopher Chant), his wife Millie, his children Julia and Robert and other various magical staff members.  Cat is torn between excitement (he gets his own room with a shower) and wishing he was back with Old Mrs. Sharp.  Gwendolyn does not make things any better when she finds she is to be a mere student along with Cat and the other two children.  Gwendolyn feels that her immense talent sets her above everybody else and goes into rages when Chrestomanci won't even so much as look in her direction.  To attempt to get Chrestomanci's attention, Gwendolyn uses her magic to pull all kind of grotesque and trouble causing pranks.  This culminates in Chrestomanci taking her magic and forbidding the use of witchcraft.  Meanwhile, Gwendolyn has been in communication with her former teacher and with him and his dastardly group forming some kind of insidious plan.  After her magic is supposedly taken away Cat awakens to find that Gwendolyn has gone and in her place is Janet, another
"Gwendolyn" from one of the Related Worlds.  Turns out that Gwendolyn, using illicit dragon's blood and some sort of magic had gotten into a world where she is queen, the result is that all the other "Gwendolyns" from the other worlds all slid up one to fill the void, leaving Janet trapped in World 12A.  Cat is terrified that his sister will get in trouble (never mind that she abandoned him) and he and Janet get themselves into even more trouble trying to keep it a secret.   Eventually Janet and Cat discover a book of matches among Gwendolyns things and when Cat lights one, goes up in flames himself.  Chrestomanci finally tells Cat that it is he, not his sister that has the power, being one of the rare people who do not have counterparts in the Related Worlds, but instead have all the lives concentrated into one person.  This also makes a person one of the most powerful enchanters and next in line for the title of Chrestomanci.  Gwendolyn figured this out when Cat was a baby and leaned heavily on his power to augment her own.  Still leery of Chrestomanci and unable to fully believe his sister meant him harm, Cat and Janet get into Chrestomanci's secret garden and let in Gwendolyns old teacher and his cronies.  The nefarious group informs Cat that they must kill him to fully break the special garden of Chrestomanci's and take his power.  Cat is frightened but knows that he has a couple lives left so no biggie.  The group capture Chrestomanci with silver (which is his weakness) and go about tying Cat up.  Gwendolyn reappears to tell the group that Cat has multiple lives so that they will have to kill him several times.  Cat finally realizes what a heinous person his sister is and helps Chrestomanci (along with the rest of the household) vanqauish the bad guys.  Gwendolyn flees to another world causing Janet to reappear when she begs to be allowed to stay as the other Janet/Gwendolyn appears to be happy at her world.  Chrestomanci agrees at it appears that all the Gwendolyns are happiest in their new worlds.  Cat is to be taught magic and groomed as the next Chrestomanci and they all appear to be in good shape.
Soooo...that was much longer then intended, but so much stuff needed to be explained...also it might help with understanding the next rambling as well...maybe.  Anyways what did I love about this book?  Well I love this author in general, she also wrote my beloved Howl's Moving Castle and really knows how to write a book that is both complicated, yet easy to follow.  As you can tell from my synopsis a lot goes on in this story, yet I always felt I could follow along.  Part of this is that she doesn't over detail things, a quick description, a comment, a short lesson is all it takes to build this familiar, yet magical world.  I will say, it is a bit frustrating on occasion that the Related Worlds are not fully explained...or really explained at all, but the next story does a good job of remedying that.  I loved Gwendolyn and Cat and their twisted relationship.  Cat clung to Gwendolyn no matter how horrid she was towards him, and up until the very end she would actually treat him quit well on
occasion, playing with him when he was bored, comforting him when he was scared, getting him treats and so forth.  I thing that is what made so much more horrifying at the end when she was not only willing to kill him, but came back on purpose to make sure he lost ALL of his lives.  For a kids book this gets a little dark, I mean seriously could you imagine the psychological ramifications of your beloved sister turning on you like that?  At least if she had been horrid to him the whole time it would not have come as such a blow.  That being said, Gwendolyn was one of my favorite characters if for nothing other then the flavor she added to the book.  I liked the idea of Cat's various lives and the ways you could lose them without even realizing it.  Robert and Julia, Chrestomanci's children added a great perspective and dimension to the story as they come from a house of magic, that is both normal and controlled.  These are children who are taught to control their impulses (mostly...Julia can have a bit of a temper) and use magic to it's best potential.  Really the only thing that drove me crazy about this story was the deliberate lack of communication, so much of the bad stuff could have been avoided if the adults had just let the kiddo's know even a little bit of what was going on!  This is one of my biggest pet peeves...though I'll admit the author did attempt to put in a plausible reason for it, it still irritated me.  Overall I very much enjoyed this book, the characters, and the sheer amount of magic tidbits the author stuffed in.  I recommend it to anybody who likes magic, the English countryside or had a bratty big sister growing up.  I give this book 8 out of 10 fiddles turned cats.
What would you do with nine lives?  Did you have a bratty sibling growing up?  Do you think my siblings would classify me as a bratty older sister?

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Impromptu Slumber Party!

I know I know, I owe you all a nice long juicy rambling or ten...but instead SPONTANEOUS SLEEPOVER!  Yep my bestie L decided to come over and discuss books, catch up on a whole season of Game of Thrones and drink wine with me.  Soooooo I have decided to be a bad girl and ignore all my responsibilities tonight and just enjoy some fun times.
Hopefully I will be in a more inspired/responsible/writing mood tomorrow and get something awesome up.  In the mean time HUBBIN FETCH THE WINE!  Happy Reading Everybody!

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Crazy Week Of Crazy

Working, volunteering and just in general doing lots this week, so sorry for the series of short posts.
Hopefully I will get things under a bit of control and get some juicy ramblings up soon.  Happy Reading Everybody!

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Monday, April 13, 2015


Be warned, this is gonna be one of my random wandering posts, but I'm in that mood and since it's my blog ;-)  This weekend I got to spend time in downtown Washington DC to enjoy the cherry blossoms and then later me and Hubbin spent a couple hours watching random wildlife out in the boonies.  As often happens I started thinking about the books I am reading (and have read and will read) and realized a lot of them fall into the fantasy category, but they also tend to fall into a certain sort of magic category as well.  Let me see if I can show you what I'm talking about.
 Wild Magic - I thought of this as I was wandering around the wetlands, just waiting for a talking beaver to scold me, or a wise heron to dispense some sage words of awesome.  This kind of magic tends to be a wilder, older type.  The stories that involve wild magic are usually set in nature, most often a forest somewhere far away from civilization.  Animals, trees, and old school mythology usually play prominent roles.  Here is where we find the hermit, the wood witch, the hidden fae, the greenman and all sorts of old school magic. A lot of times this is the type of magic you see when a character(s) goes to another world from our.  I love reading about this kind of magic any time I am tired of the real world, or am ready to escape from the pressures of daily life.  Some books that I think are a good example of wild magic are:  The Hunter's MoonThe Tawny Man Trilogy, Alvin Maker Series, The Lord of the Rings Trilogy, The Chronicles of Narnia
Civilized Magic - This is what I call the type of magic that follows rules and tends to be of a bit more of a domestic type.  I always get the urge to read this type of magic book when I am around something old and dignified, aka old manor's, formal gardens, having high tea, that sort of thing.  One finds this type of magic mostly in books set in old school England/Europe and tend to feature society and niceties as much as the magic.  People who perform this type of magic tend to be precise and have to follow very exacting rules.  Magic of this nature can also appear to be a bit less grandiose in nature and be very specific, such as a person having a cooking magic, or able to work in a single medium such as metal or glass.  I like this type when I'm in the mood because it really connects every day life with magic and turns the most mundane tasks into awesomeness.  Some of my favorite books that feature civilized magic: The Paper Magician, Harry Potter Series, The Chronicles of Chrestomanci, Sorcery and Cecelia, The Night Circus
Urban Magic - This may be the stickiest category, but in my head it is where I put all the "modern" magic.  Urban fantasy and mixing science and magic all fall into this category.  This type of magic is a more nitty gritty, down and dirty style.  In some cases magician's have incorporated hard science and/or modern items into their casting.  The books that feature this type of magic tend to have practioners that specialize in a type of career like detective, doctor, or specialized exterminator.  I like this type of book because it reminds me to look for magic, even in the middle of the ugliest most concrete covered of places.  I also like it because it shows how anything can be magic, and in most cases it is just undiscovered or unprovable fact.  It is always interesting to me to read the different ways that authors are able to incorporate the realities of the modern world with the fantastic element of magic.  Some of the best examples that I have read:  Magic Ex Libris SeriesInCryptid Series, Dresden Files, The Essential Bordertown, Monster

This is by no means a complete list, I am sure we could come up with a thousand categories to place the various types of magic in.  I also realize that there is probably some overlap in these definitions as well.  This is just a rough list that in my own chaotic little head books fall into and it makes it easier for me to figure out what type of magic I am craving at any particular moment.  Some day I will take some of my most craveable books and list what I categorize them as, just to give you all a laugh.  Anyways I hope this makes sense, and if not, just chalk it up to 60 hour work weeks and remember HAPPY READING EVERYBODY!

Friday, April 10, 2015

Stained Glass Marks My Spot

I love the look of stained glass, and with the weather finally getting nice, the sunshine streaming through the windows makes me think of some ways to incorporate it into my reading.  These gorgeous bookmarks are exactly what I was looking for.

Stained Glass Colors
Loving the colors

Cathedral of Santa Maria of Palma
Ooooh Ahhhh so pretty
Stained Glass Flowers
I like the spring feeling of this one
Stitched Stained Glass
Here is a different take on the stained glass concept
Peacock Stained Glass Bookmark
These are just fun
Hope you found these as pretty as I did...I think I'm gonna get a couple and hang them from my window until I need them.  Happy Reading Everybody!

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Song Of The Really Expensive Crystal

Grabbed this book literally on my way out the door for my trip last week.  I had a bunch of new books I was very excited about reading, but grabbed this one just because.  I'm glad I did 'cause as I was chilling at the airport awaiting my flight, eating a big girl lunch I had the urge to read this exact book!  Thanks to the literary fates, I had it with me YAY!  The book is Crystal Singer by Anne McCaffrey the first of the Crystal series.  Was this the perfect book for the moment?  Find out, but first as always SPOILERS AHEAD!
Killashandra Ree has just found out that she will never realize her dream of becoming a star concert singer on her home world of Fuerte.  She has spent the last ten years training, only to be told that she has an unbearable burr in a specific range that pretty much will never be fixed.  Understandably upset Killashandra takes off to find adventure when she runs into a man who takes her on a whirlwind tour of her own planet, flashing credit (this books version of money) and status where ever he goes.  Turns out that he is a Crystal Singer, a rare individual with perfect pitch and total recall.  After an accident render's her companion essentially a vegetable, Killashandra decides to become a Crystal Singer herself.  Despite (or maybe because of) numerous warnings against it, Killashandra travels to Ballybran, the headquarters of the Heptite Guild, for which the Crystal Singers are trained and work.  During her research Killashandra finds the planet is under an isolation edict, with no one being allowed to set foot on the planet until full disclosure has happened.  Still undeterred Killa and several others start the process.  We follow the potential recruits as we learn about the Crystal industry.  We learn that as humans expand into the universe, communication has become an issue, as the distances create a time lag.  The discovery of the unique crystal of Ballybran has solved that problem and provided many other uses as well.  This has led the Heptite Guild and it's members to be able to become quite well off and also amass prestige.  Of course with all good things there is a downside and that is why the planet is isolated.  It is revealed that any human who lands on the planet is instantly exposed to a spore.  If a person fully adjusts to the spore, they are rewarded with sharper senses and a long life...sounds great right?  Well there are two HUGE downsides, the first is even if you make a full adaption, a person has to constantly return to Ballybran to recharge the spore, apx every 400 days at a maximum, this means you can never go more then 200 days away from the planet.  If a person fails to return, the ageing process proceeds very rapidly and you can age hundreds of years in seconds.  The other danger is that you will not make a full adaption and will never be able to leave the planet again.  There is no real way to determine 100% who will  make the adaption and who will only partially adapt so there is a real risk.   After this has all been revealed, Killa and her fellow hopefuls go ahead and land on the planet.  While they wait for the spore to adapt they learn all about Crystal, the cutting, the tools, the value, the types, all kinds of stuff.  They also learn about the devastating storms called mach storms that can seriously hurt or kill a Singer.  Killa makes a full transition and turns out to have an affinity for the super rare, super valuable black crystal.  She also catches the eye of Lanzecki, the Guild Master in both a professional and personal capacity.  Killa finishes her training and gets out on the ranges, finding and Singing black crystal on her first trip out.  To get her off planet during the devastating Passover storms, she is sent to install her crystals, finding herself desperate to get back to Ballybran, Killa completes her full cycle as a Crystal Singer.
This book was perfect for when I was reading it, it had a lot of travel, a lot of discovery and a lot of awesome, and reading it at O'Hare Airport with it's big open windows and gray skies was the perfect setting for it.  I have to say, I am sometimes hard pressed to explain why I reread this book so often as it really does not have a plot.  It has a beginning, middle and end, but it is much more about a world and industry then it is anything else.  Ms. McCaffrey in case you have forgotten is one of my absolute favorite authors and this book highlights one of her strengths and that is world building.  This book has top notch world building and gives you a glimpse of an almost unlimited universe, all while detailing what amounts to mining and industry.  This book should not be as interesting as it is, as it is full of technical details and procedures...but I don't know...I still find it fascinating.  As much as this book is about world building, there are some very strong characters in here as well.  This author is great at giving everybody, even minor characters a believable and distinct personality, and she does it by showing, not telling so that you don't feel bogged down by descriptions of people.  Killashandra is of course the most fully developed and I identify with her very closely.  She comes from a theatre arts background and see's things in those terms, which with my background works perfectly.  She also likes to know things, and be the best at what she does.  She get's frustrated when people keep things from her, and she gets fed up with theory very quickly...yet she is a personal research fiend, all things I relate to.  Killa herself acknowledges her tendency to get conceited and tries to make a conscious effort to reign it in, but quickly gets frustrated with petty people.  I love a lot of the support characters who teach Killa and her fellow recruits their jobs, they all are long lived and have their own little quirks and talents.  I did find the relationship between Lanzecki and Killa a bit forced and convenient, since Killa is so good at everything she does, this relationship just made her journey a tad to easy for my taste.  Near the end when Killa heads out to install the black crystal there is a bunch of political type references made that kind of come out of no where and to me just muddy it a bit, but I think she was trying to set up the whole universe so eh, I know that Ms. McCaffrey use some of her own experiences as a singer and theatre person to inspire this book, and I feel that really comes through.  Killashandra and her story feel very personal and I really enjoyed that.  Overall I would recommend this book for any McCaffrey fans, science fiction fan, or world building fan.  I give it 7 out of 10 dodecahedrons.
What aspect of a book is most important to you?  What industry can you read a lot about?  How into random stuff do I get?

Wednesday, April 8, 2015


The real reason their is no B.A.

Happy Reading Everybody!

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Book Quote Book

One of the things that puts a smile on my face is when I read a great quote in a book about reading...did that make any sense?  Here are some examples to hopefully clarify what I mean.
“A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies, said Jojen. The man who never reads lives only one.”
― George R.R. Martin, A Dance with Dragons

“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you'll go.”
― Dr. Seuss, I Can Read With My Eyes Shut!

“The world was a terrible place, cruel, pitiless, dark as a bad dream. Not a good place to live. Only in books could you find pity, comfort, happiness - and love. Books loved anyone who opened them, they gave you security and friendship and didn't ask anything in return; they never went away, never, not even when you treated them badly.”
― Cornelia Funke, The Inkheart Trilogy: Inkheart, Inkspell, Inkdeath

“Sometimes, you read a book and it fills you with this weird evangelical zeal, and you become convinced that the shattered world will never be put back together unless and until all living humans read the book.”
― John Green, The Fault in Our Stars

“I declare after all there is no enjoyment like reading! How much sooner one tires of any thing than of a book! -- When I have a house of my own, I shall be miserable if I have not an excellent library.”
― Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice

“Until I feared I would lose it, I never loved to read. One does not love breathing.”
― Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird

“Isn't it odd how much fatter a book gets when you've read it several times?" Mo had said..."As if something were left between the pages every time you read it. Feelings, thoughts, sounds, smells...and then, when you look at the book again many years later, you find yourself there, too, a slightly younger self, slightly different, as if the book had preserved you like a pressed flower...both strange and familiar.”
― Cornelia Funke, Inkspell

It is only a novel... or, in short, only some work in which the greatest powers of the mind are displayed, in which the most thorough knowledge of human nature, the happiest delineation of its varieties, the liveliest effusions of wit and humour, are conveyed to the world in the best-chosen language”
― Jane Austen, Northanger Abbey

“The books transported her into new worlds and introduced her to amazing people who lived exciting lives. She went on olden-day sailing ships with Joseph Conrad. She went to Africa with Ernest Hemingway and to India with Rudyard Kipling. She travelled all over the world while sitting in her little room in an English village.”
― Roald Dahl, Matilda

“He held up a book then. “I'm going to read it to you for relax.”
“Does it have any sports in it?”
“Fencing. Fighting. Torture. Poison. True Love. Hate. Revenge. Giants. Hunters. Bad men. Good men. Beautifulest Ladies. Snakes. Spiders... Pain. Death. Brave men. Cowardly men. Strongest men. Chases. Escapes. Lies. Truths. Passion. Miracles.”
“Sounds okay,” I said and I kind of closed my eyes.”
― William Goldman, The Princess Bride
I think you all get the idea :-)  Happy Reading Everybody!

Monday, April 6, 2015

Emotional Range Of A Teaspoon

I have finally gotten a chance to read (and finish) the fifth Harry Potter book.  Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J.K. Rowling is one fat book chock full of stuff.  I have to admit, this is the book that marks a bit of a decline in my enjoyment of the series, but still lots of stuff to love.  As with previous HP rereads I will skip the recap as a detailed one can be found here and go straight to my varied and very personal thoughts.
Size-One of the most notable things to me about this book is the sheer size.  It comes in at a whopping 870 pages and a hefty 257,045 words.  In my very own opinion, I think this book was about 200 pages too long.  There was a lot of great stuff in here, but there were a couple of chapters that I admit, I usually skip during my rereads.  This also reminds me why as much as I love actual books, sometime an e-reader can come in handy when I am trying to read a tome this size in between calls.

Politics - I have mentioned wizarding politics before and in previous books I found them to be interesting.  In this book I find I have mixed feelings about them.  Part of the problem is the sheer amount of the book devoted to the magical bureaucrats.  I know that the age of the reader is assumed to be a bit older as the character's age...but it gets a little heavy for your average preteen/teen...and for the adult audience too.  I also found that while I agreed in general with the political premise the author put forth, I found it to start to get a bit preachy and having read the whole series, this is just the beginning of this complaint, sorry.  All of that being said, I understand how the politics of the government, school, and society all play a role in allowing Voldemort to return, and only wish it was a bit more subtle.

More Wizarding World - One of the things this book gives me that I love is even more insight into how the wizarding world works.  I think my absolute favorite thing about this series is the world building and this book uses part of its heft to deliver just that.  Here were my favorite glimpses of the daily life of a wizard.
     The Ministry of Magic - As Harry makes his way through the Ministry of Magic to attend his hearing you see glimpses of an office at work in a magical way.  They have their own version of rush hour using the Floo Network, memo's fly around as magic planes, and window's show whatever weather the temperamental weather wizards decide upon.  There are various offices, jobs and just like any other office building a pecking order.
     St. Mungo's - My absolute, without a doubt favorite idea in this book is the magical hospital with it's various wards for various magical maladies.  If I could have any job in the wizarding world, it would probably be as a healer.  Obviously with my day job as an EMT and my background in medicine I find the various incarnations of fantasy medicine to be fascinating.  St. Mungo's is no exception and I (being the super dork that I am) could probably read a whole book dedicated to the various magical ailments and their wizarding cures.
     O.W.L's - By the time Harry and friends get to their fifth year, they are expected to be able to pass their O.W.L's and the results will help them determine what to study in the future and what potential jobs they can hold.  I like this part because it serves as both a reality check in this crazy fantastical school and a reminder that wizards need jobs to.  It was interesting to see the potential future these kids have (even if as many people have mentioned the majority are with the government) and to realize that they are going to go on to hopefully find partners, maybe have kids, career's and a home to pay for.

Growing Up- This book shows us a lot of our favorite (and not so favorite) characters hitting those crucial teen years of angst.  We see this mostly in Harry as he not only has to cope with this insane Voldemort thing and all the drama it entails, but also with puberty, girls, and grasping that he can't
stay at Hogwarts forever.  Ron and Hermione also go through their own changes, though I like to think Hermione does it with the most grace, but that may be attributed to the fact that she has always been a bit old for her age.  Ginny also has blossomed from the shy little sister of the Weasly's to her own snappy, capable and awesome self. Watching the Fred and George make a decision about their own future, regardless of what anybody else wants is inspiring.  Neville starts coming into his own here, and with the introduction of Luna, and the formation of the DA we see our peeps branching out of their protected Gryffindor tower to mingle, work and play with a larger group.  Sadly we also see some of the down sides of growing up.  Harry has to come to terms with the fact that his idolized parents could just as cruel as any other teenager.  Sirius is not able to stand his isolation and forced inactivity and his inherent recklessness is subconsciously projected onto Harry causing no end of problems. Percy and his falling out with his family is particularly brutal, even if it does have a ring of truth to it. This growing up aspect of the series while inevitable, makes me a little sad as the amazing sense of wonder Harry and his friends experienced in previous books has naturally waned.

Movie - Of all the movies in the series, I find this one to be the most disappointing.  As always I understand that converting a 870 page book into a 2 hour movie is going to result in some cuts, but to me this resulted in a choppy, disjointed movie.  I felt that if you hadn't read the book, the movie would not make a whole lot of sense.  That being said my Hubbin watched it and said he could follow it just fine, so it may just be me.  To me I felt a lot of what I liked about the book got cut or shortened, and what drove me crazy about the book took center stage.

Ok so this post is getting as long as the book, and even though there is so much else I could talk about (Grimmauld Place, The Order, the prophecy, Firenze, Occlumancy, Cho, and everything else!) I'm pretty sure it would just be rehashing the book, so instead I will let you all go back and read (or reread) it yourself and you can tell me what you think.
What is your take on this book?   Do you think I am being overly harsh over a "childrens" book?   How long do you think it will take me to read the next book?

Friday, April 3, 2015

Rainy Read

It's raining, I have the perfect rainy day book and several unfilled hours...guess who's a happy girl?
Happy Reading Everybody!!!!!

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Modern Day Fae

Today's rambling is a short story collection called The Modern Fae's Guide to Surviving Humanity edited by Joshua Palmatier and Patricia Bray.  I remember seeing the cover on Pinterest and just had to have it and this time judging a book by it's cover paid off.  This is a collection about the fae trying to adapt and live in modern times.  Here are a couple of my favorites.  As always SPOILERS AHEAD!
We Will Not Be Undersold by Seanan McGuire - I have always found Ms. McGuire's take on modern fae to be well done so I was not at all surprised to find I loved her contribution to this collection.  In this story we find a Wal-Mart like store that turns out to be run by the king of fairies. The best part is watching the human lover eventually give in to the idea and help the fairies optimize their business using things like the internet and other modern conveniences.  There are plenty of nods to the old ways, like when the king states on of the reasons for the store is to spread plastic (which does not hurt fairies) around the world to replace iron and steel (which is dangerous to them).  A fun and humorous take on the big box corporate store.

Changeling by Susan Jett - This is a great story because it reads like an old tale, set smack dab in the modern world.  This is the tale of Marisol, a young mother who has been told her baby was a stillborn.  She is trying to come to terms with this when her midwife figures out that her baby is not dead, only stolen by a fairy.  She teaches Marisol how to see the fae world and how to get her son back.  The feel of the story is so authentically old school and yet show's how the old world can slide right into ours with just a few adaptions. The author seems to have done her research on the customs and rules of the fairy world and applied them to this story beautifully. I love love loved it.

 The Roots of Aston Quercus by Juliet E. McKenna - This story features dryads and tree's and that makes me so very happy.  We read about a grove of trees that have been inhabited by dryads for thousands of years and is now being threatened by the development of a highway.  The dryads must learn about the modern world, interact with modern humans, and tackle politics to save their homes.  I loved how the author showed a race of beings who continually live within our world, and yet are apart enough from it to not always understand what is going on.  Watching the different dryads and their various knowledge of the different time periods and how they put it all together to save their home was inspiring and magical.

How Much Salt by April Steenburgh - The Selkie plays the starring role in this tale, and as Selkies have long been a favorite of mine, this story was bound to please.  We follow Carrick through the ages as his beach gets slowly taken over by humans.  As his family drifts away Carrick discovers an aquarium that holds a seal show.  Imagine his surprise when he finds it full of Selkies and run by one as well.  Turns out, that since so much of their home has been invaded, they came up with this show to be able to interact with humans, play, sleep, eat and just generally be content.  Carrick see's the wisdom in this and joins the show.  This is probably the best example of how a fae uses their special abilities to adapt to the new world.  I like how Carrick weighs the pros and cons and comes to his own conclusion.  Good story over all.

Hooked by Anton Strout - Here we have a very dark take on the Tinker Bell style of fairy.  This tale features a fairy who has gone so bad and so feral that she has been banished by her own kind.  Her way is to lure men to her glamoured house in Centeral Park with the promise of fantasy sex.  Once there she rips their hearts out and leaves their bodies to rot.  She is finally thwarted by a changeling who's parents had been killed in her rebellion. He has been sent to bring her back to the courts for justice.  He allows her to go through her spiel, letting her pull out her Tinker Bell act and revealing her power source before capturing her.   This story show's how dark our fantasy's can get and how the blending of fantasy and reality can be both awesome and dangerous.
These are just a few of the awesome, amazing stories in this collection.  Over all I loved the cohesion of the theme, the variety of authors, the different takes on the stories.  It was just really, really good.  I recommend it to anybody who likes fantasy, fairies, urban fantasy and/or short stories.  I give this collection 8 out of 10 glimmering wings.

What is your favorite blending of modern and ancient?  What is your favorite urban fairytale setting?  Do you still search for the fae like I do?

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

In Good Book Form

Getting back from my trip this week and unpacking all of the spoily goodness that it entailed, I thought I would quickly show you one of my favoritist gifts I got. (yes I know I am making up words today)  My Mamma found somebody who shapes old books into letters and shapes and this is what I got

Sorry for the crappy picture, but Mamma is the photographer, I'm just the reader :-)  Anyways I thought these were pretty cool (the K is for my nickname, the V is for the Hubbin).  It's a great way to get a book and some decor in the same form.  She got some great ones for my siblings too...but I didn't get pics of those :-(  Oh well, I'm sure you smart people can probably find them on your own.  Happy Reading Everybody!