Thursday, May 28, 2015

17th Century Books Or Why I Hate My Baby Sis

Sooooo...I really really hate my baby sis right now...not really, she is still by book club buddy and my baby sis of awesomeness, but seriously hate her :-)  Why this intense loathing?  Well it's not so much hate as it is insane jealousy because she and her wonderful husband are on a tour around the world.
Monastery of San Francisco 
She gets to go see things like 17th Century choir books bound in wood and displayed in a library with a whole ton of other antique and amazing books in Lima, Peru.  The upside to all of this is that she is my sweet baby sis and we do share a love of a lot of the same things, especially books, so she is constantly taking pictures for me (even illegal ones like the one above).  So while I will continue to cry jealous tears at least she will keep me supplied in new and unique literary awesomeness.  I will also continue to post the cool stuff she finds here.  Happy Reading Everybody!

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Page Turning

For as fast of a reader as I am (and I can read really really fast), I have noticed I don't read all types of books at the same speed, or with the same enthusiasm.  Here are a couple of categories I have created in a completely arbitrary manner into which my reading speeds/book types fall into.
Standard - Most books I read for fun are read in about 1-2 weeks, depending on how much time I have.  I usually get in 3 chapters or so in a sitting and then process what I read and then continue on.  Books that fall into this category are usually ones by authors I am familiar with, or a continuation in a series, you know, the comfy clothes of books.

Dense - I love me a dense book, I like them thick, rich, detailed and thought provoking.  Books like this tend to take me a little longer to read, usually because I have to stop and process the idea or think through the plot and make sure I understand where everything fits together.  These are books that you read a paragraph or a concept and just have to put it down and chew it over for a while.   These books can take me up to a month to read.

What is the Big Secret?!? - These are the books that may or not be that good, but hint at a big twist or reveal.  These books tend to get read very quickly, usually so I can figure out just what the big deal is.  A lot of times these books actually frustrate me because most of the book is just about setting up the twist or reveal and I am just trying to get through it to find out what the big secret is.  Plus side is I can usually power through these in a week or less.

Have to Finish It - Sometimes I start a book and I just have a hard time getting into it.  There is nothing objectionable to it, I don't hate it, I just am not that into it.  For some reason though, I feel guilty about starting books and not finishing them.  These books tend to take me FOREVER to read, sometimes I even put them away and try again later.  That being said, sometimes when I pick it back up again, or finally get into it they turn out really really good.

Page Turners - These are my favorite books, these are the books I can't put down for any number of reasons.  Sometimes the writing is just so phenomenal I start reading, look up and find that several hours have passed.  Sometimes I start reading, get forced to put it down and then can't stop thinking about the world, story or characters.  These are the books you look forward to picking back up as soon as you can, the ones that make you angry when you get interrupted and the ones that are always over way to soon.  I usually finish this type of book in 1-3 days.
These are the categories that most of my books fall into.  There are of course always exceptions and I am sure that I will find that I need to create other categories later, but for now, I think it will suffice.  Happy Reading Everybody!

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

What Nightmares Are Made Of

I just finished what is either one of the coolest books, or the most frustrating books ever.  What is this book that inspires such conflicting feelings? More Than This by Patrick Ness is a book that has been sitting in my e-reader tbr pile for a long time, along with a bunch of other books by this author.  I have heard lots of good things about this guy, and the yellow door on the cover of this book made it the one I picked up.  As always SPOILERS AHEAD, and by spoilers I mean ALL the SPOILERS so if you ever plan on reading this book, read it first and then read this post, because a huge part of this book is the not knowing so again, you are warned SPOILERS AHEAD!
The book is broken into four parts, each one changing the mood and direction of the story.
Prologue - We start the book with a boy drowning.  He is in a cold sea and though he struggles to stay alive, in the end the ocean wins and after slamming the boy against the rocks he dies.
Part 1 - The boy, who's name is Seth wakes up confused, scared and in pain.  He stumbles around trying to make sense of the fact that he is seemingly alive, even though he can remember drowning.  After finally getting his bearings, he realizes he is in his old childhood home in England, even though he and his family moved to America years before.  He discovers that his house and the whole town have been completely abandon for at least a couple of years.  There is no signs of life anywhere and everything is falling apart.  He falls asleep and has super vivid dreams of his past, both childhood and recent.  This happens through out this part of the book and we find out two major events in his life.  The first being when he was about 8 and living in this home, his mother left him and 4 year old brother home alone for a few minutes.  While she was gone, an escaped prisoner from the prison behind their home convinced Seth to let him in.  The prisoner kidnaps his little brother Owen and though he is finally recovered, he needs a lot of therapy.  This results in the family moving to Washington state and Seth feeling like they blame him for Owen's issues.  The other big event is after he and his friend Gudmund fall in love, a picture of the two of them is leaked and they are forced apart by Gudmund's parents.  Seth becomes a pariah at school and it is all too much for him.  In between these vivid dreams, Seth finds all the supplies he needs to survive.  He also discovers a weird dusty coffin in his old room with tubes and stuff inside.  At this point Seth decides that this is his own personal Hell and that it is his punishment.  He goes a bit crazy and starts running through the ruined town and sees a black van driving around.
Part 2 - Just as Seth starts to go to the van, he is pulled into a cave by a pair of kids Regine, a girl about his age and Tomasz a kid around 12.  They tell him that they are the only others here, and the person in the van, who they call The Driver and he kills anybody he comes across.  Seth is understandably reluctant to trust these two, but agrees to go with them.  They go to Seth's house where they are pursued by the Driver and narrowly escape.  Seth takes them to the grocery store he found and they collect food.  Seth insists that they tell him what they know, and after a whole ton of back and forth and interruptions, they finally tell him.  Their theory is that the world went bad and everybody connect themselves online to live.  They think the coffins are essentially lifepods that keep them alive while they are connected.  Seth immediately comes up with all kinds of problems with this theory.  He wonders why if they live in an artificial world, that all of their lives suck so bad in it.  He also wonders where all the other coffins are, and where the technology came from.  The other two do not have answers, but at the moment it is the best theory they have. Seth goes to the prison and discovers a very high tech area that contains the coffins.  He searches for his parents and finds them, but can't find his brother.  The Driver comes in and puts him in a coffin, trying to reattach him, but he is again miraculously saved by his new friends.  He tells them he now knows what happens but needs to process the info.  When he wakes up the next morning it is all clear.
Part 3 - Seth runs to a church where he finds a graveyard and his brothers grave.  Turns out his brother was not recovered, but instead he was murdered by the escaped convict.  After being told this, an official type person tells his parents about Lethe, a program that lets you forget your former life and restart in the online world.  Unfortunately their is only so much they can do to alter the brain so while they can get Owen "back" they cannot erase all the events, thus the story of his kidnapping and recovery.  The official tells them eventually everybody will be forced online because the state of the world is in such bad shape. They agree and are put online.  This seems to confirm the theory that Regine and Tomasz came up with, but something is still bugging Seth.  He feels like everything is unfolding like a story, that he keeps getting rescued, just in time, or he finds just the supplies he needs, he is having a hard time completely accepting the present reality. He theorizes that while the online reality may be true, this might also be a way for his mind to deal with death, or maybe an alien experiment, or, well who knows.
Part 4 - Seth decides that now that he has the truth, he is going to go back into the coffin before his death, not die, and tell all the onliners the truth.  Regine and Tomasz are against it at first, but end up supporting him.  On their way back to Seth's house to use his coffin, he has a feeling that even though they have defeated the Driver, if this was a story, he would appear one last time.  Sure enough, the melted, twisted body of the Driver appears and essentially all but kills Seth and then brings him back to life before being disintegrated by Tomasz in one more miraculous save.  Seth decides it doesn't matter if this is real or not, he has to do something and to try and live the best he can.  He gets into the coffin saying to his friends "I'm ready".
Whew talk about you long synopsis, and as always I did not even get more then the bare bones of it down.  Let's start with what really stuck with me about this book.  The first thing is the way the author wrote the first death scene and the part about Seth waking up.  I have to tell you folks, the way these were written really feels like nightmares I've actually had.  I had the same terrifying, queasy, trapped feeling I get when I have nightmares, it was really a work of authorial art.  It's really hard to describe why this whole first part made me so happy and yet so freaked out at the same time, but there you have it.  The flashback were cool because they felt so real and authentic.  The part with Seth and Gudmund could have come from almost any high school relationship, that angst, that falling so hard with no restraint, that feeling that this is the one good thing in your life.  The part with the high school turning into a nightmare after the pictures got out is unfortunately all to understandable to, and for a gay couple it would be all the worse (which is so unfair).  The parental reactions on both sides to the relationship came across true, with one set freaking out in a complete homophobic manner and the other set, more concerned about the problems it will cause.  The flashbacks about
Owen and the family falling apart around the events that happened are actually fairly accurate.  I have worked a lot in foster care and the medical field and unfortunately events such as this often come with a family never learning how to cope.  Seth working his way through both of these events in his life, figuring out what they really mean in the context of himself and other people was a great study in individual human thought process.  The open ended ending was superb.  I hate books that build up to a big reveal and then bam, a "what the heck was that" ending with a ton of questions that don't make sense.  Ending the book in this way, the author acknowledges that there is a bunch of stuff that doesn't make sense, and in all honesty there is probably no one ending that would satisfy all the questions and elements posed.  Really the only thing I did not like about this book was its length.  Many time, especially in the second part it felt like the author was dragging things out, that Regine could have filled Seth in anytime, but a bunch of bs reasons, or random events stopped her from talking, or something else to prevent Seth (and us) from knowing basic stuff. that I'm thinking about it, maybe that was part of Seth's brain trying to come up with an explanation...or the program hiding info...or...Ahhh this book is so frustrating and awesome!  Ok now that this post is going on a zillion pages I'm gonna wrap it up.  I give this book an 8 out of 10 cans of custard and recommend it to anybody who survived high school, likes a book that will make you think, or enjoy's a read that mixes genre's.  I will definitely be reading another one of these guy's books.
How do you feel about ambiguous endings?  What ending do you think is the real one?  Is this finally a way to give me an ending I don't have a huge problem with?

Monday, May 25, 2015

Memorial Day Remembered

Today is the day we remember the men and women who gave their lives to that we can be free to live, believe, say, think and read what we want.  I also want to remember the moms, dads, sons,
daughters, boyfriends, girlfriends, aunts, uncles. nieces, nephews, grandmothers, grandfathers and friends of those who made the ultimate sacrifice, as they have to live with it every day of their lives. Thank you.
Happy Reading Everybody!

Friday, May 22, 2015

Blank Page

So...this week and next week are crazy crazy crazy ones,  between the two weeks I will have put in close to 200 hours on my ambulance.  On that note I am instituting what I am now calling blank page days.
These are the days I don't post, and they act like the blank page in a book that starts a new chapter, or a blank page in a note book just waiting for a story, or well just that I am either not at a computer (they frown on blog writing while performing CPR...who knew?), or if I am at home, I am just way to tired to write anything remotely coherent (not that my posts are usually coherent).  I am still going to try my best to have a daily post...but if it doesn't happen, just consider it a blank page day and use it to do whatever you want.  Anyways, hopefully my posting won't suffer too much, but I did want to give fair warning.  Happy Reading Everybody!

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Smarty Pants Scavenger Hunt

I've been ready for something a bit more light-hearted, and since I enjoyed the first book so much I decided to read The Mysterious Benedict Society and the Perilous Journey by Trenton Lee Stewart, the second book in The Mysterious Benedict Society series.  Was it as delightfully puzzling as the first book?  Lets find out, but first as always SPOILERS AHEAD!
Reynie Muldoon (a smart guy who can puzzle out almost anything) is finally reunited with his friend the resourceful and daring Kate Wetherall on the farm she is now living on with her long lost father Mulligan.  The two have not seen each other since their adventures at the L.I.V.E. institute.  They are soon joined by Sticky Washington (the boy with the photographic memory), his parents, and Mrs. Permal who has adopted Reynie.  The group all head to Mr. Benedict's house to meet up with the super young super perceptive Constance and for a surprise that he has in store for the children.  Upon arriving the group discovers that Mr. Benedict and his assistant Number Two were supposed to have put together a scavenger hunt across the world for the children, but instead have been kidnapped by his twin brother, the nefarious Mr. Curtain.  The kids obtain the first clue that was supposed to start them on their trip and sneak out to rescue their mentor and friend.  The clue leads them to a boat and Captain Noland and a sailor called Cannonball.  They end up in Portugal and after dodging a couple of Mr. Curtains henchmen they find the next clue.  Off to Holland they go.  After they make it to the library, they discover letters and journals written by Mr. Benedicts parents. Reading these informs the children that the Benedicts had been looking for a cure for the family narcolepsy curse.  They found a plant that when processed correctly would potentially cure the sleeping disease. Unfortunately they had to keep it a secret because if used the wrong way, could be used as a weapon to put people to sleep.  The children are attacked by guys known as the Ten Men, people who use nasty objects to inflict pain, all while being very sharply dressed.  The kids are rescued by the surprise appearance of Milligan who agrees to help the kids rescue Mr. Benedict and Number Two.  They work out where the island is and attempt to find the prisoners whereabouts.  The children and are captured and Milligan is defeated by the suave Ten Men and the children are taken to the cave where Mr. Curtain is keeping Mr. Benedict prisoner.  Much banter and exchange of wits occur with the result of Mr. Curtain going of with one of the Ten Men and Mr. Benedict securing his and the children's release.  The friends the children made through out their adventure come to their rescue and Kate proves herself better then the bad guys by showing them mercy.  They all return home to their worried family's and live happily until the next book.
This book was a classic second book in a kids series.  It was a bit predictable, a bit safe, but kept all the stuff I liked about the first one.  A couple of things that caught my attention in this book.  The kids abilities have all grown at a believable rate, now that they know they possesses certain skills, they (and the adults who are awesome) have helped nurture and hone them.  The result is the kids are able to more complicated issues quicker.  The kids themselves have grown up a bit and to that end there are some new tensions in the group that were not there before.  Reynie is struggling to find the good in the world, suspicious of most people, Kate has gotten even more impatient and impulsive, Sticky has the urge to show off, and Constance is trying to cope with her new awareness of patterns and people.  The kids fight and bicker among themselves, certain pairings get along better then others, but in the end they are all try hard to get along, and deep down value their friendships.  The adults in this book crack me up, they are portrayed exactly as I remember feeling about them as a kid.  Most of them come across as loving and a bit overprotective.  We also see the self important adults and the adults who underestimate kids.  One of the things that struck me most, being both realistic, and a bit silly is how after the kids survived their last adventure, proven themselves to be able to work through difficult situations, and be generally good kids, all most of the adults want to do is protect them.  They have a hard time understanding that after the freedom they had previously, trying to make them go back to being ordinary kids is a bit ridiculous.  The children circumvent this by pretty much doing what they want anyways...but always with the best of intentions.  Over all I miss some of the solvable puzzles from the first book, and some of the freshness was gone.  That being said if I was 11 years old, I would be reading and rereading these constantly.  I give this book 6 out of 10 fake diamonds and would recommend it to read aloud with your kids/kids in your life. Happy Reading Everybody!
 What is your favorite sort of puzzle?  How bad do you want to meet Constance when she is a crotchety old lady? Is it just me or are some of these illustrations a bit creepy?

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Monday, May 18, 2015

See Through My Book

I love glass as a medium.  I love it clear, I love it colored, I love it functional and I love it just to look at.  Here are a few things that combine my love of glass and my love of books
Recycled Glass Book
 Glass Book by Janis Nedela
Book Lamp
Glass Inside Books
Glass Book Holder
Oh so many pretties :-)  Happy Reading Everybody!

Friday, May 15, 2015

Divine Deities Dot Com

Are we all ready for a bit of a light hearted adventure involving ALL the gods, goddesses, deities and any other thing a person could worship?  You are?  Good 'cause I have just the book for you.  It is Divine Misfortune by the always fabulous and wonderful A. Lee Martinez and it is just as good as his other ones. But first as always  SPOILERS AHEAD!
We start our story in a world very similar to ours...with one exception, all of the deities from all over the world are available to become your own personal god.  People go online to one of the various matchmaking services (think for the divine) and after perusing the various deities submit an application to one that suites them the most.  If the human applicant is accepted, they then sign a contract to give a stipulated tribute (food, dances, songs, blood, you know, the norm) at regular intervals and in return the chosen deity will do their special thing and hopefully make the humans life better.  Our story centers around a husband and wife by the name of Phil and Teri, your average suburban couple who are just a wee bit down on their luck due to all of the their coworkers, neighbors, and friends using the added benefits of their gods to enhance their lives.  Though initially against it (her dad was struck down by a vengeful god) Teri finally gets on board and she and Phil find their match in Luka (called Lucky by his friends and followers) a raccoon god of luck.  All Lucky requires is a bit of food, a little shrine, and oh yeah, to crash on their couch.  This causes no end of headaches for the pair, but the little bit of added luck seems to be worth it.  Meanwhile, unbeknownst to the pair, the horrible god Gorgoz, a slimy dude who requires a whole lot of death and destruction from his followers has a grudge against Lucky and is taking it out on his new roommates.  Add to this a jealous goddess of love turned goddess of revenge, a down on his luck Quetzalcatl and a whole lot of crazy takes place.  Eventually with the help of the Divine Affairs agents (the government agency in charge of enforcing the divine contracts) and some favors called in by Lucky in a bit of a deus ex machina  (seriously that's what Lucky calls it) every thing gets sorted out in a fairly awesome manner.
This is another awesome book by this author, and I am just so excited that these books continue to be so great.  I found much to love in this book, so lets dive in shall we.  The whole concept of this book works for me.  The deities (some familiar, some a bit more foreign) mixed with the every day modern world with all its rules and regulations and niceties leaves almost unlimited room for story telling.  The mix of the ancient worship practices, the old gods/goddesses, government oversight and contractual obligations make for a lot of fun.  It is kind of like a bit of a spoof/fun take on Neil Gaiman's American Gods...kind of like the author read it and then took it in a completely different direction (all my own personal opinion of course).  The characters are fun and well rounded. Teri and Phil are your very typical suburban working pair, but they are not cliches, they each have their own personalities and in the end really love each other very much.  The various gods/goddess featured in the book are great, a bit egotistical, a bit quirky, and a bit enamored with the mortals (not that they would admit that of course).  The book has the right mix of world building, process, story line, character development, and a whole lot of humor.  This book does something I love, which is takes a concept and explores it pretty completely, instead of giving us a bit in the beginning and then only popping it back in on occasion.  This book took the concept and adeptly applied it through out the whole book.  Obviously I very much enjoyed this book.  It was easy to read, had an engaging story, and made me want to continue reading so yeah YAY!  I give this book 8 out of 10 navigation charms and recommend it to anybody who wants a good read, some laughs and likes a bit of the divine with their morning coffee.
What deity would you choose as your patron?  What is an acceptable tribute?  Do you think their is a deity of reading and books?

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Around The Fictional Worlds

My baby sis and her husband have set off on their world tour.  To say that I am extremely jealous is a massive understatement...and I may send her pics of me crying piteously every time another one of their fabulous posts gets published.   Lucky for me, while not quit as awesome as actual traveling, I do still have my books.  My books can take me to worlds beyond what any human can travel to.  Here are some places I would love to explore in person.
This will always be the epitome of the magical land I want to travel to.  Ever since I could pick up a book I have been looking for a way to get to this world and explore it from top to bottom!
Middle Earth
I can't decide if I want to visit Rivendale, the mines of Moria or Rohan first...or maybe I'll take tea in the climb the trees of wait...sigh so much to do.
Flying, pirates, faires, mermaids, adventure, what is not to love about this place, I think it would be the perfect summer vacation spot.
There is so much to see in Oz, and with it constantly changing I have a feeling one would never run out of places to see in this land of color and magic. 
This place holds an amazing amount of diversity packed into a fairly small space.  The idea of sailing from island to island to enjoy all the various cultures is exciting.
I don't so much want to visit Pern as I want to live there, work there, ride dragons there, study there, pretty much do anything and everything all the time there.
As much as I love and adore my make believe worlds, the one we live on right now holds so many wonders and much magic just waiting to be discovered, so it too goes on  my list.
So there it is, my short list of any of the thousands of places I want to explore.  The best part about being a book lover is the ability to, at least in my head, travel to every place imaginable.  The other cool part is that people are constantly inventing new places, new worlds, new stories and new adventures for me to go on so I will never run out of places to travel.  Happy Reading Everybody!

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

More Books For Me!

I have finally booked our cruise!!!!! But more on that later, the important thing is that now I get to buy books for the trip!  Ok ok, so maybe the cruise isn't until the end of July...and maybe even somebody who reads as fast as me does not need 50 new books for a week long trip...but I don't care!
 My poor Hubbin is already shaking his head as he comes home to piles of packages all containing books piled by the front door, bags of new books stuffed into every nook and cranny and endless lists of appropriate cruise ship reading.  Now all I have to do is remember not to read them all before the trip!  OH!  I just thought of another book to add to the list...gotta go.  Happy Reading Everybody!

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Anger Management

I am in a really pissy mood today.  I really don't have a super good reason for it, just a lot of little stuff compounded by other stuff and then you know that thing that just sends you over the edge.  I hate being in a bad mood, I hate being angry, and I hate how whiney I get over trivial things when I am in this mood.
To fix this I think I am going to grab a glass of wine, a good book (probably an old favorite I know I will love) and go soak in a yummy smelling bath until all the mad goes away.  So if anybody is looking for me, I will be the frowny faced girl in the tub scowling until the wine and book take effect.  Happy Reading Everybody!

Monday, May 11, 2015

The Dry Lands

Hello All, did you all have a fabulous weekend?  I most certainly did and it included finishing a couple of books.  On that got finished was The Farthest Shore by Ursula K. LeGuin the third book in the Earthsea series.  How did it stack up to the previous two books?  I'll tell you, but first, as always SPOILERS AHEAD!
Arren, a prince of one of the islands of Earthsea has come to the school of magic on Roke to bring tidings of magic disappearing.  According to the young prince the words of Making that are used in sorcery no longer have power and strange instances are occurring.  Ged called Sparrowhawk, the Archemage of Earthsea decides to investigate as this is not the first instance of this that he has heard of.  He takes Arren with him, and setting out in his little magic boat Lookfar sets out to find out what he can.  The duo's first stop is the city of Hort on the island of Wathort where they encounter people Ged (who is in disguise) knew to be wizards.  These wizards however now deny ever having any real magic, instead calling it tricks that they no longer remember.  One magician in particular, a man by the name of Hare tells them that he has given up his true name and magic to never die.  He tells them that he can lead them to the man that offered this undying gift.  This produces nothing other then
putting both of them in danger and after a bit of an adventure the duo travel on.  They end up on the island of Lorbanery where previously amazingly dyed silks were produced.  What they find now is a town on the edge of ruin, and a population who can no longer remember the arts of their dying and silk making.  Ged and his young friend explore further, eventually coming upon a mad man who is from the family of dyers and is terrified of dying.  He promises to lead the pair to where the man who offers immortality to those who would give up their true names.  He leads them to the island of Obehol where they are attacked.  The mad man leaps into the water and apparently drowns while Ged is seriously injured.  Arren, though quickly losing faith, cares for Ged, keeping him alive until they are found by a group calling themselves the Children of the Open Sea.  These folks are a nomadic people who live on rafts most of the year.  They care for Arren and Ged until they are well enough to travel, and the raft people themselves start to feel the effect of the draining magic.  The dragon Orm Embar comes to Ged on the raft and tells him to come to the island of Selidor, the island of dragons, where the dark wizard can be found.  As they approach the island the pair notice that the dragons, an ancient and wise race of sentient beings are acting as wild animals.  They learn that the dark wizard is draining the very life out of the world, causing the dragons and all wizards and magic users to lose the language of Making, which is what the whole world is founded on.  Ged and Arren go to the Dry Lands, the land of death and find the hole in which the life force is flowing through.  Ged gives up his wizardry to close the hole and he and Arren fight their way back to life.  The ancient dragon Kallesin takes the two back home where Ged makes it clear that he thinks that Arren is the to be the King of Earthsea, a throne that had been vacant for a very long time.  Arren is crowned King Lebannen (his true name) and Ged sails away.
As with most of my synopsis, this hardly does this book justice.  In some ways I don't think you can really sum up this book, as it is more of a book of ideas then a full on story.  As with the last book in this series, Ged plays a role, but is not the central character.  Arren fills the role of the main protagonist and it is his journey we follow, with Ged as a companion.  I like this idea of Ged being an almost Merlin type character in this world, with his own story, his own deeds, but always being a part, not the focus of the larger history and story of the world of Earthsea.  This book gave us more of the history and culture of Earthsea, we learn of the prophecy of the King who will finally reunite the fragmented islands of Earthsea.  We learn a bit about the Balance, which is what governs magic and life in this world.  We also get a better look at the ancient dragons that inhabit this world (and are one of my favorite parts).  We learn of Ged's status as a dragonlord, and snatches of his time searching for the ring of the great wizard Erreth-Akbe, which we read snippets of in the last book.  We also got to
travel to some new islands, and meet the Children of the Open Ocean, who I absolutely adored.  All of this added to the incredible world building that has been going on through out the books in this series.  The story on the other hand, just didn't do it for me the way the first two books did.  In some ways it felt like every other "a man/woman/being tries to defy death and in the process makes a huge mess of the country/world and some 'good' guy who is not afraid of death, or learns to not be afraid of death comes and fixes it, usually at great cost to himself" story that ends up in series that go on for a while.  I feel like I have read this story before and got nothing new out of it.  This is not to say it is not a good story...just one I felt like I had read before.  I also felt that the pacing started to drag a little, it felt like maybe the author was going for a couple of stories before deciding to settle on the Dry Lands one and never completely wove everything together.  Again, this is just how I felt reading the book.  I did feel that the author gave us a ton of great stuff for the world that we have been getting to know, and put in enough stuff for me to look forward to reading the next one.  I hope we get more of the dragons, more of the story of Earthsea and more of the people who populate this diverse, yet cohesive world.  I give this book 6 out of 10 magic staffs and recommend it to anybody who is reading the series.  Happy Reading Everybody!
How do you feel about the "defeating death" storyline?  What world have you read about that feels complete in history and people?  Is it sad that I find any book taking over two weeks to finish "a long time"?

Friday, May 8, 2015

So Many Children

Happy Mothers Day (a couple days early).  One of the things I remember growing up is when my Mamma would take the four of us out, everybody would ask how many were hers.  The look on their faces when she claimed all four of us was priceless.  Now to be fair my Mamma has always looked MUCH younger then she actually is...and in all honesty acts like one of the kids more often then not.  That paired with the fact that she had four children in an age where anything over two was considered a lot was always good for a conversation starter.  Here are some of my favorite books about other mamma's with large families.
This was a favorite in our house growing up.  This collection of stories about a family with five girls and a patient mother struck home with three out of four of us kids.
Mrs. Purdy's Children
This hard to find book about a family that just keeps adding children was one I remember from my childhood days.  I think every time my Mamma had another kid she got the same kind of comments as this Mother of the Year.
Ten Kids, No Pets
A huge fan of the Babysitters Club series, this book by the same author features a large family who's kids just want a pet.  I remember before we got our dog, using my siblings as pets to show my parents I could take care of one.
Little Women
The four girls plus their neighbor who is more of an adopted brother reminds me very much of my own family.  This is a family full of imagination and spunk and always in some sort of mostly harmless trouble...just like mine.
The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe
This is the very first book that I personally identified with, and the fact that it featured four sibling probably had a lot to do with it.  To this day all four of us remember casting ourselves in the roles (gender swapping Edmund) and making up our own Narnian adventures.
I love love love being part of a large family.  I love that we all read and share our passion of books.  We can all thank our Mamma for her tireless efforts to instill a love of reading in all of us, of constantly dragging us to the library, for instituting reading time, and now that we are all grown up having regular bookshop coffee time and a suitcase full of books when she comes to visit.  I love you so much Mamma and from your big giant family WE LOVE YOU!  Happy Reading Everybody!

Thursday, May 7, 2015

In Praise Of My Smartphone

I am usually of two minds when it comes to technology.  On one hand, I can see (and use) many benefits.  In the medical field it is saving life and limb, we have improved communication (I get to see my nephews every week!) and information is widely available.  I also see it's evils, I see little kids who have to be bribed to put down the ipad and play, people torturing others via social media, and just a lack of appreciating real life.  I think it gets to me the most when I am somewhere amazing and when I look around all I see are people with their heads down checking messages, looking up random stuff, playing games, or posting a selfie (that doesn't even show the place).  I feel like people miss out on just looking at something, or hearing something, or eating something without posting a picture of it.
All of this to say, lately I have totally fallen in love with my smartphone.  Um wait a minute you all say, isn't this a book blog?  Yes it is and give me a second and I will tell you how the two are related.  In my line of work we have bursts of " Ahhh get moving quick, ah crap do this, so that ahhhh..." and then the rest of the time is pretty much waiting around.  We wait to get a call, wait to get to destination, wait on the nurse, wait on your partner, wait on your intern, wait to get back to the station.  In fact I would say up to 75% of our time is spent waiting on something.  Here is where my smartphone comes into play.  I keep a book on in the background almost all of the time.  I can not tell you how much reading I have gotten done in the hallways of hospitals, in the EMS room, or at the station all because I could pop up a book in seconds and get a couple of pages read.  Now of course I don't ever do this while I am with a patient, but all the rest of the hurry up and wait time is fair game.  I love that I don't have to carry a book around with me, I can access almost instantly any book I want, and as long as I have at least one up and downloaded I don't even need a signal.  This has been a sanity saver on many occasions as my job can be quit stressful, and the ability to read a couple pages and calm down has probably saved me from running my big mouth on more then one occasion.  This application of technology is quit awesome and I fully endorse it. Happy Reading Everybody!

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Philosophical Clones

Sorry for the black out yesterday, but my internets was being dumb...silly internets.  We are up and running now and will now do a quick ramble on a weird/cool/thinky/undefinable book I just finished.  The book is Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro.  I really don't remember where I heard about this book, or why I picked it up, but it was worth the read.  As always SPOILERS AHEAD!
I'll try and keep this briefer then my more current ramblings and try and focus on my thoughts and feelings of the book rather then every detail of the plot.  The book is in the form of a diary/confessional style narrative.  Kathy is our guide to this familiar, yet odd world.  We start with Kathy reflecting as her years as a Carer for people called Donors and how she will soon make the switch from one to the other.  We learn pretty quickly that Donors are clones that are required to donate their organs as they become needed, and Carers are clones who care for them until it is their time to donate.  Oddly enough, this is not really what the "story" is about.  I put "story" in quotes because it does not have a solid plot line like we are used to, instead getting flashbacks into Kathy, and her best friends Ruth and Tommy's life as she is reminded by various things of her past.  The first part of the book is mostly devoted to the the trio's life at Hailsham, a school where some of the clones are raised.  As they grow up, they are encouraged to create art in various forms to share with each other, with the best pieces going into a mysterious gallery.  As Kathy, Ruth and Tommy grow older, more and more is revealed to them about their role in society and what is expected of them.  Most of the narrative is spent in various scenes and vignettes of the trio and their evolving relationship.  The second part of the book follows our characters as they leave Hailsham for a place called The Cottages.  Here Ruth and Tommy continue to pursue a relationship and Kathy tries to figure out where she fits in. Ruth learns of a rumor that if a couple can prove that they are truly in love that they will get a defferal for their donations, getting to spend a couple of years together before the surgeries begin.  As time goes on Ruth gets more and more brash, Tommy starts to withdraw, and Kathy becomes a Carer. The last part of the book is where Kathy tells us what happened after the trio goes their separate ways.  After several years of becoming a top Carer, Kathy runs into Ruth after a particularly hard donation.  Kathy becomes Ruth's Carer and they seek out Tommy who has also started his donations.  Ruth admits that she kept Tommy and Kathy apart and want them to spend what little time they have left together, trying to get a deferment.  Ruth only makes it through one more donation before she "completes", which is what they call dying.  Ruth becomes Tommny's Carer and they hook up.  They find their old teacher and a woman they only know as Madame (Hailsham has been closed for years) to try and learn about the deferral.  Instead of this minor miracle they learn that Hailsham and the art were a group of humanitarian's way of trying to prove that clones had souls and should be raised and treated well until their donation time.  Unfortunately circumstances turned public opinion and the clones were once again raised in basic conditions.  Tommy and Ruth are disappointed, but understand.  Tommy asks Ruth to leave before he dies so she doesn't have to watch.  The book ends with Kathy ready to retire as a Carer and start her donations.
As I said earlier, this is less a beginning middle end story and more of a personal reflection, which worked well for this odd book.  This book is very hard to define, with the clones and donations you have a scifi/dystopia style theme, but it reads more like a classic fiction novel...strange, but original and kind of neat.  What struck me the most about this book was the sheer acceptance of the clones of their role in society.  Their was no talk of a revolution, or protest, or even people complaining of unfairness.  These kids are raised from birth to accept what they are with no questions asked. In fact at certain times, certain clones even seemed to look forward to starting donations.  I really liked how the author had the clones be in society, living, playing, and being among the normal people, but still apart in their own dwellings and their lack of meaningful interaction with non clones.  As far as I can tell, there is no visual way to distinguish a clone from a normal, so one would never be 100% sure if you were dealing with a clone or not.  The way the characters viewed life was understandably skewed with their exceptions of their future being so vastly different from our own, little things are more important to them, and they are able to face death in a calm and accepting manner.  At times the book got a little slow, with Kathy's narrative meandering here and their as her memories cropped up at random.  For somebody like me who likes to know things, the minimum of background information was a wee bit frustrating, but since that wasn't what the book was really about I was able to get over it.  Overall it is really hard to describe what was good, or bad, or eh about this book.  I love it for its undefinability and it's unique take on a scifi staple.  I do know that reading this has made me want to look at this authors other books, so that is good.  I give this book 7 out of 10 cassette tapes and recommend it to anybody who is looking for a unique book, a book that makes you think, or a book with a nice slow pace. Happy Reading Everybody!
Do you think society will accept anything give enough time?  How much does conditioning play into a persons acceptance of the horrible things in life?  Do I sound like a pretentious snot booger in this post?

Monday, May 4, 2015


I love me a good super hero story, be it a traditional comic book hero, a novel featuring a good guy with some sort of super power, or reading a story of a real life hero (many of which I get the pleasure of working with on a daily basis).  I think the super hero appeals to me because of what I do for a living.  I see people in the worst situations and can only do so much to help.  I often time wish for a super power to be able to give more help, or prevent the situation in the first place, or the anonymity to work beyond the "correct" and "PC" and "polite/professional" boundaries I am understandably placed under.  Reading and watching (full disclosure Daredevil and Avengers: Age of Ultron may have been binged watched this weekend) characters over come odds to help others makes me feel like this is something that may actually be possible.  Many times (ok almost all the time) what I am reading and my real life have a very real connection and these last couple of weeks have had me craving superhero's like no bodies business.  So what do I read when I need a super hero boost?  Here are some of my favorites (and yes comic books totaly count as good reading...seriously some of these plots are more complicated then The Wheel of Time series and A Song of Fire and Ice put together!).
Iron Man
I have always been an Iron Man fan.  I love that his "super powers" extend from his incredible smartness and not just physical prowess...of course his vast fortune doesn't hurt.
Helen and Troy's Epic Road Quest
Ok so these two don't wear masks and capes, but they embody everything a super hero should be, kind, heroic, brave and in an epic gender reversal the girl is the kick ass one!
Captain Underpants
First off, the guy's name is Captain Underpants...that is totally awesome, second this is a big reason one of my nephews started reading so double win for this superhero.  
I know, I know Buffy started as a movie/tv show, but there are now plenty of novels and comics that are available and seriously this girl kicks all kinds of butt, and looks super cute while doing it.

Storm is just pretty much as awesome as they come.  She can control the weather, fly AND still finds the time and patience to teach all the kiddo's the art of mutant superheroness.

Aside from the fictional variety, I love to search out stories and articles of every day hero's.  This is awesome because it can be anybody from a soldier that saved his buddy, to a woman helping out a person in the grocery line who may be short on cash.  Everybody please remember whether you where a cape and save the universe, or wear flip flops and help somebody carry groceries into their house, hero's are needed and wanted and make the world a better place.  Happy Reading Everybody!

Friday, May 1, 2015

Books On The Bed.

I have been running my hinny off at work and every time I go to open a book I get another call!  I've been trying to sneak some reading time in before I go to sleep, but I have to admit, I've been so tired I keep falling asleep.
So my bed/room/backback/livingroom and various other places are covered in books I am desperate to read, but no able to stay awake long enough to get more then a page read...hopefully I will get some time in this weekend.  Happy Reading Everybody!