Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Dueling With Fans

Alright folks, time for part two of yesterday's rambling.  Technically this is a second book, but it has been published in the same volume as the first book and really feels like a direct continuation so I always consider them two parts of the same story.  The book is Court Duel by Sherwood Smith and as always SPOILERS AHEAD (and seriously there are some major spoilers so DO NOT READ if you don't want to know the main surprise in the story).
We again are told this story by our barefoot countess Meliara (known as Mel).  She tells us that they have received all of the ill gotten riches of the former disposed bad king.  She uses the money to repair, restore, and restock her dilapidated realm, improving not only her own home, but the village as well.  She has appointed many people to act as stewards, housekeepers and generally help her run things.  Mel has also decided to try and remedy some of her ignorance by the acquisition of as many books as possible.  Her brother the Count Branaric (known as Bran)  surprises her by coming home from court with the lady Nimiar (called Nee) as his fiancee and the Marquis of Shevreath (who turns out to be name Vidanric).  Bran inadvertently embarrasses Mel by pointing out her shabby clothes (which she wears while working) and some of her less courtly manners. Nee takes pity on her and while turning out to be a wonderful friend to Mel, also offers to teach her the ways of Court in return for Mel coming to the capital until the wedding.  Mel agrees and her courtly education begins.  Meanwhile she and Shevreath continue to have spats, which Mel begrudgingly admits are mostly her fault.  They start out as conversations, but Mel almost always finds some way to turn it into an argument.  The whole group heads to the castle where it is assumed that Shevraeth will become King and start to deal with the aftermath of the disposal of the old king. Mel does her best to fit in, finding that she has become something of a celebrity following her part in the rebellion and is eased into society by the attentions of the ever popular Duke of Savona.  She runs afoul of the Lady Tamera, a popular girl who tries to ruin Mel, but is instead caught in her own trap.  Mel instead of making her a pariah uses her new found court manners to show Tamera is forgiven, which also boosts Mel's popularity.  Along with trying to deal with court, Mel aquires a secret admirer who leaves her gifts and later a lengthy back and forth correspondence about various court matters, personal matters, and how to best fix the kingdom.  She has a golden ring made for him that he will not wear until she is ready to meet, and she realizes she has fallen for this mysterious guy.  Mel learns of a plot to overthrow Shevreath and the new kingdom, along with killing the Hill Folk of her home to get to the colorwoods by the sister of the former king.  Mel rides out to stop the the killing of the Hill folks and runs into Shevreath on the way.  After ascertaining that he also knows of the plot he takes off his gloves to show her the golden ring, revealing himself as her secret admirer.  They stop the killing of the Hill Folk and turn back the troops sent to take the city, but something else seems wrong.  Getting back to the city they find Flauvic, the son of the woman who was trying to overthrow the city has learned magic and turned every person in the palace to glass.  He is defeated when the Hill Folk turn him into a tree in thanks for saving them.  Nee and Bran get married, Mel and Shevreath get married and they all continue to work for the good of the kingdom.
Trying to write the synopsis of this book is harder then the last one because where the first one deals with sweeping issues and Mel's part in them, this book is lot more subtle, with every little encounter meaning something.  Things I love.  I like how this is a direct continuation of the first book and that it shows that just because the "good" guys won the war, the problems don't just go away.  A large part of this book is the various characters talking and debating the best way to fix things.  It shows people having different opinions and the acknowledgment that there is more then one "right" way to do things.  There is conversation on how best to deal with the nobles who helped the bad king, and how to determine whether they helped him willingly or out of fear and coercion.  I found court to be interesting as it was clear the way the nobles could never speak truth aloud or state opinion openly was a direct result of the fear based rule of the former queen. One of the benefits of the new rule was a more open communication between the people.  I loved the secret admirer part of this book as it added a great romance without it overcoming the whole book.  I liked that they fell in love with each other at different times and that it was their shared love of their country, intellect, ideas and even arguments that brought them together.  I also like that the whole romance wasn't them sneaking off for a kiss.  On that note I LOVE Bran and Nee and their romance.  It is sweet, fun, genuine and included Mel as a sister to both of them.  The author could easily have make Nee a rival to Mel, but instead she became a sister that Mel desperately needed.  I liked the complexities of court and how Mel both learned about it and learned when to disregard it.  Shevreath continues to be a book crush of mine, his subtlety, his devotion to his people, his love for the odd Meliara all make me a happy girl. There were a couple of overly convenient resolutions for some of the problems our people faced and the resolution at the end was a bit weird, but it's still not the worst ending I've read.   Oddly enough there is a short story in the Firebirds short story anthology that gives a glimpse into Mel and Shevreath's future with their kids that actually works as a bit of a better ending then the one in the book, but that is kind of cool too.  Overall I recommend this book for lovers of fantasy, court intrigue and a romance that doesn't make you gag.  I give it 8 out of 10 fans and suggest reading it with the first one.  Happy Reading Everybody!
How do you feel about books like this, should they be two separate books or one book two parts?  Who do you wish was your secret admirer?  Why can't I live in a book filled castle?

Monday, June 29, 2015

Dueling With Weapons

Hello all, how was your weekend?  Mine was busy busy busy BUT I did get to finish a book I couldn't put down, so that is good.  Best part is it is actually two books in one so you get a double rambling YAY!!!!  The book is Crown Duel by Sherwood Smith and contains both Crown Duel and Court Duel so I will do two ramblings in a row, one on each book.  As always SPOILERS AHEAD!
Meliara and Branaric (known as Mel and Bran) promise their dying father that they will do their best to overthrow the bad king that is currently on the throne.  To keep this promise the young count and countess gather who and what they can from their poor and far flung home of Tlanth and start a guerrilla war against the king and one of his cronies who seek to get the coveted colorwoods that are part of Tlanth for themselves.  The colorwoods are protected by the Covenant, that was put in place when it was discovered that the chopping down of the colorwoods was killing the indigenous and mysterious Hill Folk.  The folk of Tlanth appear to be doing fairly well in their battle against the crown, until the young Marquis of Shevraeth comes to take command.  Mel (who is telling the story) is caught when she gets to close to the enemy camp and is taken captive.  The Marquis take Mel back to the capital city to await the kings judgement.  Along the way Mel and Shevraeth fight and bicker and get to know one another.  Mel is taken to a cell, where mysterious little kindness's are granted to her through the bribing of sympathetic, yet anonymous nobles.  Shevraeth visits Mel and informs her that unless she renounces her rebellion and turns over her land and her brother, she will be put to death.  Mel refuses and is sentenced to a traitors death.  A dear friend and spy comes to Mel's cell and helps her escape.  As she tries to sneak home, Mel encounters many people willing to help her, despite the sentence of death for any who aid her.  She also has some odd encounters with Shevreath.  Eventually she is recaptured, but Shevreath reveals that he is also trying to overthrow the king, and has been working towards the goal for quit some time.  Mel returns home to her brother who tells her the same thing and asks that she work with them instead of against Shevreath.  Mel has a hard time with this as this has been her fight her entire life, and she is not particularly fond of the Marquis of Shevreath.  She has a hard time trusting the Marquis, especially when she and her brother are attacked by what appears to be an ambush.  Shevreath once again proves his friendship and they all go to do battle with the king.  Mel and her friends get some unexpected help from the Hill Folk who seem to realize that Mel and Bran are fighting to protect them and the Covenant, along with overthrowing the king.  The battle is won, Bran is relieved that he won't have to be king (it is assumed Shevreath will take on that role), and Mel is left confused and a little lost now that her life's work has been accomplished.  She heads back to Tlanth to try and repair and restore it with their new found wealth and Bran and Shevreath head to the capital to figure out life there.  We end with Mel contemplating her place in the grand scheme of things, her ignorance of the outside world, and want she wants for her future.
I found so much to love about this book that I'm gonna just jump right in and get started.  Let's start with Mel.  Mel is one of those characters I adore because she is SOOOOO far from perfect, and yet almost all of her intentions are, at least in her mind, honorable.  She is a girl with a mission, a purpose and a promise to a dying father.  This is what motivates her entire life.  The problem with this is that it is her only purpose, and unfortunately her upbringing, though filled with rhetoric against the depravities of the bad king, has left her woefully unprepared for real life.  Her father in a fit of rage burned his library and allowed his children free reign to run as they would, which Mel took copious advantage of...which left her uneducated, unworldly, and with a very small view of things.  I think what I like best about this book is watching our heroine struggle not only against outside injustice, but her own lack knowledge as well.  It is very interesting to read about a hero who is not the smartest, prettiest, quickest, or most gifted of anybody, she is just a girl with a naturally kind heart who's ignorance leads to their own consequences.  We get to see Mel start by being almost proud of her lack of worldliness, using it as a sort of shield against the dreaded "nobility", but she slowly starts to realize that her actions, mostly done out of impulse or misguidedness, have consequences and she has no one but herself to blame.   The best part though is her acknowledgement of said deficiencies and her willingness (eventually) to remedy them.  The Marquis of Shevreath is another great character who realizes his mistakes, especially when it comes to lack of communication percipitaitng certain events and again his ability to try and rectify it.  Shevraeth could easily come across as acting cold and superior to the poor little Tlanth nobles, but actually comes across if anything as a bit uncomfortable in his own skin, trying to balance the grand plan against individual lives.  He has enough of a sense of humor to temper him, and seriously he has become one of my book crushes.  Bran is a character who by all rights should be less developed and regulated to the side, but I can't help but love him too as he is in no way heroic, but is able to win people to him by his sheer genuineness. The mix of realisticness (that's a word right?) and complete fantasy is wielded expertly in this book, giving me enough magic to escape into another world, and enough realism for me to believe in it.  There is no instant love story, there are no easy fixes, and even at the end of this book many things are left unresolved as it would be in real life.  Just because you win a war doesn't mean everything is fixed.  Just because you become aware of your shortcomings you don't miraculously overcome them.  There are no easy answers in this book, yet it does not come across pretentious or pseudodeep.  It is readable and engaging and sets up the next book perfectly.  The few complaints I may have are some of the tidbits about the world feel like you would already have to know the history for them to make sense.  The bad king felt a little contrived with no real depth or originality, just the bad king tax good people must die type of guy.  Overall I recommend this book for anybody who likes a great story, the castle fantasy style, or great and fairly realistic characters.  I give this first book 8 out of 10 cups of listerblossom tea.  Happy Reading Everybody!
Why is it so hard to write realistic, yet likable characters?  How much background of a fictional world do you need to enjoy it?  Do I get completely different things out books then you do?

Friday, June 26, 2015

Frouds Faeries

Sometimes I just want to disappear into the land of Faery for a bit.  When that happens, all I have to do is pick up one of my Brian Froud books and off I go.  The best part is that there are plenty of books to choose from, ranging from the informative to the humorous, but all beautiful, fun, and breathtaking.  Here are my favorites.
World of Faerie
Good Faeries/Bad Faeries
Lady Cottington's Pressed Fairy Book
Faeries Tales
All of these books, and numerous others in his collection are one of the quickest ways for me to immerse myself in the world of faerie.  I love keeping these close by for those moments when I just need a break, but don't have time or the brain power to get into a book.  I hope these have inspired you to make your own journey to the fae realms for a quick break.  Happy Reading Everybody!

Thursday, June 25, 2015

End Of Book Sadness

Can I just say I hate finishing a good book or series?  Seriously I get a sense of impending sadness when I get near the end of a book I love.  It doesn't matter if it's new, or a book I've read a thousand times, but there is a sense of loss when I finally close the book after the last page.  Now in someways (ok a lot of ways) I know this is silly.
I know I can always read the book again, I know that are always new amazing books to find...but still.  It's like hanging out with one of your favorite people, you know your gonna see them again, but every time they leave you still are sad.   I know this is not the worlds worst problem to have...but I don't care, I'm going to wallow in my end of book sadness, or at least start another one :-)  Happy Reading Everybody!

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Hitchhiking Ghost

Usually I like to save my ghosts stories for Halloween, but sometimes, a ghost story falls into the campfire ghost story category and therefore must be read in the summer/camping season.  Sparrow Hill Road by Seanan McGuire is just such a book and thus has been read in heat of summer.  How did I like it?  I'll tell you, but first, as always SPOILERS AHEAD!
I'm gonna try and get back go shorter synopsis 'cause if you want that many details, I'm gonna assume your gonna go read the book.  Rose Marshall is dead and has been dead since 1952.  Her manner of death (car accident) has led to her becoming a hitchhiking ghost. She is able to gain a measure of "life" if a person voluntarily gives her the equivalent of a jacket and she is able to use/taste/feel, anything given to her willingly.  She travels the dayside world thumbing for rides and either helping people avoid accidents, or when unavoidable, she helps guide people where they need to be after they die (almost always in a car accident).  When she isn't dayside, she inhabits the twilight side of life/death, hanging out with her bean sidhe friend Emma (who can act as a human to let her taste food) at the Last Dance Diner.  We learn that Rose was killed when she was run off the road by a man by the name of Bobby Cross. Bobby Cross made a deal at the crossroads which allows him eternal youth as long as he feeds his cars souls that he can take as long as they fit certain criteria (I never understood exactly who he could and couldn't take).  Rose's spirit got away from him and now she spends her time avoiding him and hitchhiking.  Since she has been doing the hitchhiking ghost thing for so long and all around the country, several legends have grown up around her, she is called The Girl in the Diner, the Phantom Prom Date, or the girl in the Green Silk Gown.  Most of the book is little snippets and stories of her time in the dayside, interspersed with her battle (or lack of) with Bobby Cross.  The book ends with Rose challenging Bobby for her friend Emma's life, which she wins, with the understanding that he can keep chasing her.  Rose gets Emma back to the Last Chance Diner and she end by telling us she will continue hitchhiking on the dayside.
Let's start with the good.  I liked the stories of Rose's time hitchhiking the best.  I enjoyed the different people and situations she encountered and I liked how she had to work within the confines of the rules of her ghosthood, and how she also used them to her advantage.  I liked how the various stories and legends about her death and subsequent hauntings/appearances grew and changed and spread.  The vibe was neat as well as it was very North American road inspired...almost like a cross country road trip with a ghost.  I always like it when North America gets it own shot at making mythical history.  On to what I didn't like so much.  The overall vibe of the ghost world was a weird mix of confusing and complicated, and overly angsty.  The book was written in first person, which we all know is not my favorite, and this is an example of why.  I felt (and this is strictly my opinion) that we got stuck in Rose's head way to much as she would wax philosophical about life, death and the afterworld.   It got very repetitive, using the exact same phrases over and over.  It's possible that since the book was broken up into different time period snippets that the author was trying to create the feeling of being in that moment, and that other moments were being written at different times, but to me the result was a lot of repetition that wasn't needed.  Rose would also allude to other types of ghosts, and types of living that touched to varying degrees into the twilight...but we never really got a whole lot of solid info on these beings.  Take routewitches for example.  They play a pretty significant role in this story, but I never really got a clear picture into who or what they were, what there actual role (other then moving the story along) was, or what the rules for their existence was.  Overall it made for a bit of an uneven read that I would have liked better if it had either stuck with mostly "ghost" stories, or a more cohesive world.  I give the book 6 out of 10 malted milkshakes and would recommend it to people who like a good ghost story with heart. Happy Reading Everybody!
What type of ghost would you be?  How far would you go to obtain eternal life?  Is it bad that the idea of being able to change my clothes at will makes it almost cool to be a ghost>

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Towels For The Literary Inclined

Summer time!  Time to read at the beach, by the pool, on the porch and anywhere else I can stop for a few minutes.   Of course one needs a great towel to on as one reads, here are a few that let your fellow poolsiders know that you are serious about your beach reading :-)
Book Beach Towel

Lying on a stack of books makes quit the statement
Bibliophile Beach Towel
In  case anybody isn't sure on your stance on books
Alice In Wonderland Beach Towel
I'm mad, your mad, we're all mad about this beach towel
Jane Austen Beach Towel
Quotes about reading by one of my favorite authors
Shakespeare Insult Beach Towel
Not only literary, but very convenient when those people get a little too rowdy.

So now I need to go buy a whole ton of these so I always have the perfect towel to go with the perfect summer read!  Happy Reading Everybody!

Monday, June 22, 2015

Reading To Daddy

Happy Fathers Day!!!! (I know it was yesterday, but still...)  My daddy has always encouraged his kids love of reading, often setting the example by always having a book in his hand.  When I was around 10ish Daddy went back to school to become a Physician's Assistant, or a PA.  This of course required TONS of studying and reading.  Living in Seattle at the time also meant a lot of traffic to and from various places.  One day Daddy came in and saw me flipping through one of his medical
text books and asked if I could read it, turns out not only could I pronounce the insanely weird words, but I actually enjoyed it!  For the next four years I would go places with him and read aloud from his books as we drove, I would quiz him, asked way more questions than he probably thought possible and generally formed a bond over my new found passion in the medical field.  Our learning and reading things related to our profession endures to this day, with us sending each other articles and case studies that we thing the other would find interesting or discussing a difficult patient or call.  I am eternally grateful to my Daddy for including me in his quest for education, for not being to big of a man to let his little girl read to him, and for just always being there as an amazing daddy!  Happy Reading Everybody!

Friday, June 19, 2015

If Wonka Owned A Library

I was at the bookstore the other day getting a birthday present for a friend when I randomly found a book called Escape from Mr. Lemoncello's Library by Chris Grabenstein.  The cover is awesome and colorful and the premise (a bunch of kids stuck in a fantastic library) sounded right up my ally.  How did it turn out?  As always SPOILERS AHEAD.
Kyle Keeley is in constant competition with his older brothers, and their favorite games are the ones by the eccentric Mr. Lemoncello.  Turns out that Mr. Lemoncello has donated the money to build a new public library and it is going to spectacular.  The local school holds an essay contest open to all 12 year olds that will be judged by the one and only Mr. Lemoncello.  Kyle decides to do a last minute essay, saying only "Balloons.  There might be balloons." as his reason for wanting to go to the grand opening.  Oddly enough Kyle, along with his friends Akimi, Miguel, the school suckup Charles, the dreamy bookworm Sierra, the underperforming Andrew, the popular Haley and five others all win a night in the library.  The kids all arrive at the library and are given library cards, all with two different books on them and are told that these are the "keys" to the library.  The kids are awed at what they see in the library.  There are 10 dewey decimal rooms, based on the dewey decimal system , various rooms dedicated to reading, genre's, high tech simulations, education and other various things.  The children play some games and win some prizes.  The next morning they are informed that if they choose, they may stay and play an epic game of escape the library.  5 kids decide to leave, leaving the seven remaining children to play the game.  The kids team up in various ways and find clues and puzzles to try and figure out the solution.  After either breaking rules, or losing Extreme Challanges it comes down to the final team of Kyle, Akimi, Miguel, Sierra and Haley.  The kids work together and find the solution, winning the grand prize of appearing in commercials for Mr. Lemoncello.  The kids learn that reading, kindness and teamwork are what it takes and they all live happily ever after for at least the year.
This was a pretty typical MG book.  It had all the various types of kids, the leader, the suck-up, the hanger on, the bookworm, the smarty, the popular girl, and the best friend.  We had choices to make of a moral nature, with good decisions being rewarded and bad behavior being punished.  Like I said pretty typical.  I'm not really sure what to say about the book.  It was a good idea, and was successful in some ways with the cool modern library combining the classic books with newer technology.  The puzzles were ok, though I wanted more of them and for them to be more concise.  I thought the characters were a little one note, and Mr. Lemoncello was a bit over the top for me.  The comparisons to Charlie and the Chocolate Factory were inevitable and over all I think I like the chocolate factory a bit more for it's sheer craziness.  It was a good book, not a great book and I think I would enjoy it a lot more if I were a 12 year old.  The author did manage to stuff the story full of great book references both classic and modern and rally tried to show the merits of reading, while still acknowledging technology and it's appeal.  I give this book 6 out of 10 trivia cards and recommend it to middle grades everywhere.  Happy Reading Everybody?
What is your favorite game/puzzle based book?  What crazy Mr. Lemoncello game do you want to play?  How cool would it be to be able to sleep in a library?

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Where Dreams Start

My schedule is seriously trying to kick my hinny these next two weeks (big surprise right :-) ).  Trying to sleep when I can.
Getting in a bit of reading when I can't sleep so hopefully some good dreams will happen as well.  Happy Reading Everybody!

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

A Book Experience

Sometimes I get to have what I call a book experience.  This is what I call an experience that feels like it came out of one of my books.  Sometimes it is from a specific book, or a genre, or author, or just a feeling that I have "read" this experience before...does that make sense?  For example, this weekend my amazing Hubbin and bestie L took me out to one of the most interactive dinners I have ever had.  We started with custom drinks, and then we were taken to our table where we were attended by a score of well dressed men taking care of our every need.  We had a multi course dinner that was ordered all at once, accompanied by a paired wine.  Where the "book experience" comes in
 is that I have been reading a lot of books set in the early 1900's America and one of the hallmarks of this era and setting is how the rich would go to the high end hotels and have these lavish meals where they were served and pampered by the hospitality elite.  Our dining experience felt very similar to the ones I had read about, right down to the lack of female presence in anything other then the diners (because God forbid back in the day a mere female sully atmosphere).  Another experience I've had is last October when we went to a Halloween festival that included a haunted forest, bonfires, demons, the seven deadly sins and a late night atmosphere one usually only feels while reading a really great horror novel.  The whole night I kept feeling like we were turning the pages of our very own story, it was awesome.  I love going to botanical gardens because I feel like I am wandering around an English novel, and I love going hiking because depending on the weather and the hike, I feel like I am in any number of fantastic stories.  All of this to say, as much as I adore, love, am obsessed with reading, it is going out and having these experiences that I can then relate back to the books, or remember them when reading new ones that really makes life and reading the awesome thing that it is.  Lucky for me I am surrounded by people who are willing to indulge my real life book experiences and continue to help me find new ones.  Happy Reading Everybody!

Monday, June 15, 2015

Color Books

Sometimes when I want to unwind I like to color.  Yep just like a little four year old, I get out my color book and crayons, markers, pencils and what not and I lay down on the floor in my pj's with a yummy drink, a movie and color my little heart out.  Of course when the pictures I'm coloring are literary related it just makes it that much better!
Peter Pan
One of my favorite books, I love coloring all the different types of characters, pirates, mermaids, fairy's, Indians, lost boys, all kinds of awesome
Alice in Wonderland
How awesome is it that this coloring book has all the original illustrations from the book to color!
Arabian Nights
This coloring book is totally different and awesome and cool and I love it.
A Midsummer Night's Dream
One of my favorite Shakespearean plays, just waiting for me to add a little color.
Sherlock Holmes
I get to read the story AND color all at the same time, awesome!
Yep so now I am off to live in my little fantasy world where nothing is more important then staying in the lines and choosing the right color (Sherlock can have green hair right?) and reading a great story.  Happy Reading Everybody!!!

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Reading To The Beast

Ready for another story?  Cool, today we ramble about The Fire Rose by Mercedes Lackey, the unofficial first book in the Elemental Masters Series.  This book is a retelling of Beauty and the Beast and works pretty well.  As always SPOILERS AHEAD!
Rosalind Hawkins, known as Rose to her friends and family is facing a crisis.  She is a scholar in the 1900's where it was still unseemly for females to do much other then marry, or in dire circumstances be a maid, shop girl or governess.  Unfortunately for Rose she is in just such dire circumstances after her father dies leaving her penniless.  A mysterious proposition appears for a job in San Francisco that just happens to detail her exact qualifications.  Rose packs her meager belongings and heads out to her new job.  She is surprised by the sheer luxury of the position and is just a wee bit uneasy when it turns out the "governess" position is actually a position reading through a speaking tube to a man she has never seen.  Turns out Jason Cameron, the man who hired her has had an "accident" that has left him horribly disfigured and housebound.  What he doesn't tell Rose is that he is an Elemental Master of Fire and that one of his experiments went horribly wrong and he is now stuck in a body that is half wolf and half man.  Jason has dismissed all of his human servants, depending solely on his elemental Salamanders to keep his vast house in order.  The only other human Jason has contact with is the lazy and devious Paul DuMond who is supposed to be acting as Jason's apprentice, but is to lazy to apply himself to the discipline needed to truly become a Master.  After much back and forth Rose and Jason find each others company to be mutually pleasing, adding much to their nightly reading sessions.  Rose quickly discovers the world of Magyk and after a bit of mulling it over decides to accept it.  A mishap brings rose to Jason's rooms where she discovers his state, and surprises him by handling it with more composure then expected.  Rose also discovers her own Magyk, the element of Air and command of the Sylphs which compliments Jason's own Magyk.  Meanwhile DuMond has been in cahoots with Jason's rival, the Fire Master Simon Beltaire.  Simon wants nothing more then to destroy Jason, and by promising DuMond an easier (and more destructive) way to become a Master, enlists his help.  To this end DuMond goes to try and kidnap Rose to use in one of his nasty spells.  Rose is rescued when Jason comes to her aid in full beast mode and rips DuMonds throat out.  This is the first time Rose has seen him act in such a pure beast like manner and is very disturbed.  Recognizing this, Jason sends her to the city on a holiday that had already been planned to give her some space.  Rose is approached by Simon to try and enlist her to his side, but to no avail.  As Rose contemplates her future with Jason, a great earthquake happens and Rose does what she can to help.  Simon again approaches her and tries to force her to go with him when Jason again appears.  Using the combination of Jason's Fire and Rose's Air they finally defeat the evil Fire Master.  They head back to Jason's manor and decide to marry, even if they never find a cure for Jason't half wold state.  Everybody good lives mostly happily ever after and we get to move on to the next book.
I liked this book.  I liked it for several reasons.  The best of course is that it is another retelling of one of my favorite stories, and we all know how I love a good retelling.  This is a good retelling as in it followed all the basic points of the original story, girl left penniless, beastly, yet eventually kind hearted well of man, pride, looks, lessons, even the roses.  I really liked Rose as a main character because she was super bookish, a bit independent, but not super girl.  She defiantly needed help in some of the more physical aspects of this story (though she was by no means delicate.)  and she very much enjoyed pretty clothes.  I liked the mix of intelligence, femininity, stubbornness, and sheer love of books that was mixed into this character.  Jason was pretty cool, he has an arrogance about him that keeps him from being to perfect and is happily willing to admit a female as being at a minimum his equal in all things intellectual.  The setting was pretty neat.  This time period, especially on the American West Coast is one of massive change and opportunities which makes it the perfect place to make a story like this plausible.  There were a few things that were not my favorite.  Jason ALWAYS has a way to see Rose and uses this ability constantly, with out her permission, even after they come to their understandings.  As convenient a of a plot device that this is, it kind of creeps me out a bit.  I know if somebody was constantly observing me, and using that information to their advantage with out my knowledge I would be livid.  If I found out about it later, especially after I had fallen in love with somebody, bad bad things would happen.  I also found some of the introspective phrases (of which there were many) to be a bit over the top and more tell me instead of show me in nature.  There were a lot of "reminiscing" thoughts that were just there to explain stuff...which felt forced.  That being said, one of my complaints in the last Elemental Masters book I read was a lack of understanding of how the Magyk worked and this cleared up a tiny bit of that, so that was good.  Overall I enjoyed this book and recommend it to anybody who like fairy tale retellings, Magyk, and smart people.  I give it 7 out of 10 herb packets and can't wait to read the next one.
What is your favorite retelling?  What Element would you control?  How much do I love bookish heroines?

Opening Line

Hello all, during a conversation with one of my friends I was reminded how much I adore the opening line of Moby Dick "Call me Ishmael".  So simple, so effective, so perfect.  Here are some other opening lines that I personally find perfect for their books.
"There was a boy named Eustace Clarence Scrubb, and he almost deserved it." C.S. Lewis, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader

"When Mr. Bilbo Baggins of Bag End announced that he would shortly be celebrating his eleventy-first birthday with a party of special magnificence, there was much talk and excitement in Hobbiton." J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring

“Mr. and Mrs. Dursley of number four, Privet Drive, were proud to say that they were perfectly normal, thank you very much.” J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Philosophers Stone

"This is my favorite book in all the world, though I have never read it."  William Golding The Princess Bride

"Marley was dead to begin with" Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol

" It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife." Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice

"Some people would say it's a bad idea to bring a fire-spider into a public library." Jim C. Hines, Libriomancer

"I am a coward" Elizabeth Wein, Code Name Verity

"Not every thirteen year old girl is accused of murder, brought to trial and found guilty."  Avi, The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle

"They murdered him."  Robert Cromier, The Chocolate War

"No live organism can continue for long to exist sanely under conditions of absolute reality; even larks and katydids are supposed, by some, to dream."  Shirley Jackson, The Haunting of Hill House

"There was a hand in the darkness, and it held a knife."  Neil Gaiman, The Graveyard Book

"If you are interested in stories with happy endings, you would be better off reading some other book." Lemony Snicket, The Bad Beginning

"I was born with a light covering of fur" Justine Larbalestier, Liar

Openings like these, grab my attention and I feel set the perfect tone for the books.  There are many other awesome lines I am sure I don't have up here, but that will just mean another post :-)  What is your favorite opening line?  Happy Reading Everybody! 

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Have A Seat

Sometimes you just need to sit on a bench and read for a few minutes.  Here are the most perfect places to do just that.

I kind of want to collect all of these and put them in my imaginary library garden!  Happy Reading Everybody!

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Nostalgia For The Old Reading Days

I've been lucky enough to have some extra reading time last week, and it kind of makes me nostalgic for my younger years.  I miss the years that when I was done with homework and chores that I literally had nothing I had to do other then read.  My parents were big on limiting the TV and other screen time, leaving me a TON of time to read.  My best memories of this time of year are going to the library with the family, picking up a stack of books and racing home to finish chores.  I would then take advantage of the perfect weather to curl up in my Mamma's amazing backyard (which helping to create and upkeep was part of the chores I had to finish) on the big swing in the late afternoon/early evening.
The air was full of apple blossoms (or little green apples depending on what month it was), the ocean and growing things.  There was always a breeze and the mountain panorama completed the idyllic scene.  Now I know this all sounds a little to perfect, but there were seriously enough nights like this to stick very clearly in my mind.  Now to be fair, I still have an awesome reading chair by the porch doors that overlook an impossibly picturesque river AND I am now allowed to add wine to my reading drinks, so my reading time is still pretty awesome.  It just feels like now I have so many obligations and distractions...some of them my own fault (stupid Netflix, Xbox, and computer games!).  I think what I miss the most though is the sheer abandon that I had when I was younger, I could pick up a book and lose all track of time, not coming up for air until one of my parents or siblings hauled me to bed...where I usually continued reading.  Now, even when all my stuff is done and I am in one of my designated reading periods in the back of my mind real life tends to intrude.  I'm not complaining per say, just reminiscing...Happy Reading Everybody!

Monday, June 8, 2015

Parallel Earth Resources Negligable

Today we get to go back to Pern YAY!  The book The Chronicles of Pern: First Fall by Anne McCaffery is a collection of stories giving us a quick history of our beloved Pern.  It takes us from the initial survey of the planet, to the mass exodus to the Northern Continent, to the spreading out of the colonists to one last rescue run.  Here is a quick overview of the stories in the book, as always SPOILER AHEAD!
The Survey of P.E.R.N. - This is the shortest story of the bunch and just gives us a quick overview of the planet before anybody arrived to colonize it.  The survey group is tight on time so they just do enough of a look to declare it habitable.  There are hints of the menace of Thread, but nobody realizes what it is.  This story ends with the suggestion that the planet be colonized.

The Dolphin's Bell - With the double menace of Thread and the volatile seismic activity of the local volcano's the entire colony has to move to the north.  This story follows them through storms, volcano's and the sheer logistics of moving an entire population with dwindling resources.  We see the dolphins which play a roll in later books and meet some of the people that places are named after.  We start to see how the society moves from high tech to survival and the beginnings of the dragon riders becoming their own group.

The Ford of Red Hanrahan - The colonist have all been crowded into Fort Hold and are ready to start expanding to the rest of the continent.  Red, his family and a portion of the colonists go to found the new Ruatha Hold.  This story shows how the colonists make the transition from well colonists to true people of Pern.  They start there own traditions, names, and social structure all while morphing into the Pern we know and love.

The Second Weyr - The dragons are outgrowing their first Weyr, and with the people of Pern spreading further out, the need for more Weyr's has become pressing.  We follow the young dragon riders as they establish new Weyr's, new customs and cement their role as protectors of Pern.  It is cool to see the stuff that is accepted as the norm in later books get developed here.

Rescue Run - A passing space ship picks up an almost 50 year old distress signal sent by an individual when Thread first started falling.  When the crew arrives they find Stev Kimmer and his family the sole survivors of the Southern Continent.  Due to the low level of technology and the thickness of the caves, the Northern contingent are not noticed and it is assumed that they are the only ones.  They (with a few mishaps) are rescued and the planet is marked as dangerous and no other ships come.
The coolest part about this book is if you have read the other ones, it makes thing very clear.  The Pern books tend to start from their present with no more then hints of the history of the people who live there.  This book gives us quick glimpses into the major events that shaped Pern into the form it is now.  It's a pretty straight forward, easy read that is broken up in perfect chunks.  I give it 8 out of 10 air sleds and recommend it to anybody who is a fan of Pern.  Happy Reading Everybody!

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Clean or Read...

Sooo...I was totally supposed to clean my house today...and then I started putting my piles of books away...and then it started raining...and then the wine fell into my glass...so I read instead!
It's amazing how often this happens, oh well Happy Reading Everybody!

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Alternative Books

Sometime I get a book that just doesn't fall into one of my normal categories or reading patterns.  Some of them are meant to be read piecemeal, some are interactive and some just are so unique that they don't have a genre.  Here are three books I've been playing with this week that fall into this catch all.

The Book of Ballads
This unique books combines interpretations of old ballads by various authors and illustrated graphic novel style (usually) by Charles Vess.  To make it even cooler, the original ballads are also included with their own awesome illustrations.
The Dragonlover's Guide to Pern
This is a combination "history"/written wiki of the fabulous world of Pern.  It gives all kinds of cool details, stories, author's thoughts and other various treats.  This book is not one you "read" more like one you study.
The Dictionary of Imaginary Places
This is essentially a reference book about places in books and movies and myth.  Pretty cool huh?!?

So these are the alternative books that are scattered through out my house at the moment for me to glance at a page, a story, or some cool little tidbit.  Happy Reading Everybody!

Tuesday, June 2, 2015


Hola!  Guess what?  I finished another book, YAY ME!  Sorry, still a bit sleep deprived and loopy, but very very happy to have gotten a chance to read Afterworlds by one of my favorites Scott Westerfeld.  I actually got this book back around January with one of the gift cards Hubbin got me, but have just now gotten to read it.  Do I love it?  Lets find out, but first as always SPOILERS AHEAD!!!!
This is a bit of a tricky one to sum up, so I'll just try and quickly get the basic points across.  The premise of the book is unique in that it alternates chapters between an actual story and the fictional author who wrote it...confused yet?  It seems very complicated, but it actually works very smoothly.  I will sum up the two stories separately so that we don't get to mixed up.
 The Story - The story portion of the book (helpfully highlighted in black) is called Afterworlds and is the story of Lizzy a girl who survives a horrific terrorist attack by playing dead.  She plays dead so well that she accidentally finds her way to the Afterworld.  In this strange world of the dead she meets Yama a supernatural hottie who has been the lord of the underworld for a very long time.  He sends Lizzie back to the world of the living where she discovers that she can now see ghosts.  She discovers she is what is commonly referred to as a psychopomp, a living person who can navigate the afterworld and guide the souls of the dead.  Lizzy also meets Mindy, the ghost of her mothers friend who was murdered when she was 11 years old.  Lizzy uses her new powers to try and help Mindy out, all while getting all kissy faced with Yama, and learning some very intresting and disturbing techniques from Mr. Hamlyn, a twisted psychopomp who has taken a liking to our heroine.  Lizzy ends up killing the man who killed Mindy and this causes a rift between her and Yama.  She is sad, but learns to move on with her little ghost friend and carries on with her life on both sides.
The Writer - The other half of the book (helpfully marked in white) is about the author of the above story.  Darcy Patel is an Indian-American 18 year old who wrote the book in her last year of highschool.  She gets a huge signing deal for the first book and it's unwritten sequel which makes it possible for her to move to New York and write.  We follow Darcy as she struggles with becoming an adult and working on her writing career.  We watch her try and balance her writers integrity with the need to please her editors, deal with a brand new relationship with fellow new writer Imogene White, balance her budget, and just survive.
Ok...so that was probably a super simplistic summation of the book, but that is essentially what it was.  The question is, did this make for a good read?  I think it did for several reasons...want to hear them?  Good.  The book as a whole seemed to be a big commentary of the world of YA writing, which is not really surprising as I feel most of Mr. Westerfeld's books are a commentary of some sort.  What works so well in this book is that he also tells a great story and creates his signature worlds.  The story side of the book was a very typical (if original) YA paranormal romance, it has all the elements of the genre and checks all the boxes.  I have read a few reviews where people were complaining that the story was a very typical YA paranormal romance and that they expected more, but I think that was kind of the point of the story.  The story side was supposed to be written by a 17 year old girl writing her first novel that was to be published by a company looking for its next big money maker, not an established adult male author who is known for writing original stories.  All that being said, I still thought the story idea was pretty original.  On Darcy's side, I thought it was kind of fun to watch her make decisions about her book and then read the changes in the next chapter.  I like watching her try and juggle her new life, her new relationship and her new career all at the same time.  This allowed the author to bring up several different topics and discuss them in different ways.  The topics of cultural appropriation, writer's integrity, money, sellability, customer expectations, deadlines, stealing ideas, sharing idea's, other authors, and other writery things.  There is a bit of a"wow this girl is super lucky" feel to Darcy's journey, but even this is addressed in the book.  It was fun learning a bit about the process of writing and publishing, while reading the "book" that was being written and published.  Overall I give this book 7 out of 10 ramen noodle bowls and would recommend it to any Westerfeld fans, people who are interested in writing or like a typical paranormal romance.
What do you think of the duel story format?  Do you like knowing how the sausage is made?  What kind of book should I write?

Monday, June 1, 2015

Found My Bed

Hey!  I found it!  I've been searching for you all weekend!  It's MY BED!!!!!!  I thought I had lost you forever!
Ok now I am going to spend the next 24 hours reading and sleeping, talk to you all tomorrow!  Happy Reading Everybody!