Monday, August 31, 2015

Renn Fest!

Woohooo!  It's the last day of August, which means in my twisted little brain I can put out all my fall stuff tomorrow WOOOHOOOO!!!!!  I've been waiting for this since July.  To this end I got to do one of my favorite summer to fall transition events The Maryland Renaissance Festival.  This is one of the events I look forward to all year, and go at least twice while it is going.  I love this festival for many reasons, are you ready to hear about them?  Good.
1) People can be whoever they want, you want to do a ton of research and dress in a historically accurate manner...go ahead.  You want to dress like your favorite book character...sounds like fun.  You want to do your own special steampunk, fairy, Dr Who with a jedi sword and green man mask...well why not.  I have seen everything from jeans and t-shirts to the most elaborate and amazing costumes.  It is like walking through a library and seeing all kinds of stories playing out in front of you, pretty awesome.
2) You get to be part of a story.  Seriously, all of the various actors, performers, and shows are pro's at involving the audience.  Wether it be a quick chat with the King while you are walking around, participating in a magic show, or getting heckled by a singer (yep, here the performers heckle the audience as much as it is the other way around), you will always be able to be an integral part of the show.  All of the workers, shopkeepers and artisans also stay in some sort of character or another adding to the feel that you are walking around in a book.
3) Food on a stick and as much beer/ale/cider as one can drink...also turkey legs.
As you can probably tell, I love love love the Renn Fest as us pro's call it.  It does have the side effect of me wanting to quit work and read for the next month or two...but that is most of the time so...anyways I am stoked that the Renn Fest is here, that fall is just around the corner and that I get the opportunity to be a part of a cool, imaginative event and can't wait to go back in a couple of weeks.

Friday, August 28, 2015

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Creatures Of The Deep

Fall is just around the corner, I can feel the air starting to change YAY!  First, how about one last summer book ramble?  OK here we go.  Today we will go through the short story collection Mermaids and Other Mysteries of the Deep edited by Paula Guran.  I got it to read on the cruise, 'cause what better place to read about water creatures then in the middle of the ocean.  I did not get to finish it on the cruise, then it took forever 'cause I could only read it next to water.  But here we are and it is finished and here are my favorite stories.  As always SPOILERS AHEAD!
Miss Carstairs and the Merman by Delia Sherman - Miss Carstairs is an old maid scholar who is obsessed with learning about the natural world.  One day she get's a hold of what turns out to be a merman and the exchange of learning that happens between the two is pretty cool.  This is one of those stories that makes is both familiar and introduces some new ideas that make you go hmmmm in a good way.  I would read a whole book about this woman and her explorations.

Sea-Hearts by Margo Lanagan - An island where all the wives and mothers are captured Selkies is the setting for this story.  It is told from the prospective of a child and is in parts magical, disturbing and melancholy.  I always like tales set in isolated places, seems to add to the atmosphere of what is possible and the unusual perspective gives you time to figure things out for yourself.  The bond between husband and wife, mother and child and captor and captive is explored in a vary unique way.

Each to Each by Seanan McGuire - There are several stories about humans adapting to live beneath the waves in this book, but this one was probably my favorite.  I think what I liked best about this story was the fictional science behind it and the descriptions of the various types of sea creatures the girls used to turn themselves into the proverbial "mermaid"  The transformation from women to sea creatures in this tale is a pretty cool path to follow.

Salt Wine by Peter S. Beagle - A man saves a merrow (a male mermaid) and in return gets the recipe for Salt Wine, a wine that encapsulates the sea in a drink.   The man and his friend build an empire around it only to discover that on the rare occasion, the drinker of the Salt Wine turns into a mermaid/merrow.  In the end the man to his sorrow discovers that his beloved wife had fallen victim to the Salt Wine and turns into a mermaid herself.  A very interesting tale of the sea.

A Good Husband by Angela Slater - We leave the sea for a small lake in this tale and visit a water spirit that lives in the lake.  We watch her interact with the women and girls of the local village through out the years and finally see her help a girl with an abusive relationship.  I like the completely different take on a water creature that this story takes and enjoyed it thoroughly.
Overall I had mixed feelings about this collection.  I wanted a lot more variety.  Several of the stories felt extremely similar and had a "I'm trying to be cooler then I really am" vibe to them.  If you have no idea what that last phrase means, I don't blame you, let me try and explain.  A good chunk of the stories tried to be mysterious and allegoryish and esoteric and to me they just came across as a story that didn't go anywhere with lots of big words.  Sometimes it's ok to have a story or two in a collection like this, but this book felt like at least half of them had the same vibe.  I just feel that the subject matter had so many zillions of ways that an author could go with and that they all felt similar was disappointing.   That being said, the stories I did like, I really really liked so there was that. Also the cover is pretty awesome.  I give the collection as a whole a 6 out of 10 fish tales and recommend it to anybody who likes mermaids, the ocean or fish.  Happy Reading Everybody!

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

The Wiberary

Got to hang out with my nephew E last night.  Love that little guy so much!!!!  I have to say the best part was he greeted me at the door all two feet of him exclaiming "Auntie I went to the wiberary, I went to the wibrary and got books!!!!"
 He was totally stoked about getting a weekend trip to the library.  I must say his parents are doing a fabulous job raising him :-)  It makes me happy to see the short people getting so excited about books and libraries.  Keep it up little guy! Happy Reading Everybody!!!

Monday, August 24, 2015

A Game Of TV

Reading random book news today and read that unless a miracle happens, George R.R. Martin will not complete his epic series A Song of Ice and Fire before the HBO TV series does.  The various articles pretty much say that the tv series will finish up long before us readers get our hands on the last books and that it is a possibility that the tv series story and ending will differ from the books...cause they won't be written yet.  For some reason this made me really mad.  Completely unreasonable and petty and a true first world problem, but still...kind of pissed off.  Now to be fair, the show has recently gone WAY off the rails in staying true to the books, so I guess I'm not all that surprised to here they are just gonna go their own way.  My true anger comes from the idea that an author would allow his work to be essentially taken away from him in this way.  The idea that the end of the story has not been written yet (there are at least two books left according to the author) makes me leery to read them when they do come out because a) they will be somewhat spoiled by the tv show, and b) I won't help but feel like the tv show influenced the books instead of the other way around.  Again this is all my own personal gut reaction feelings and that is all they are.  For all I know Mr. Martin already has all his own stuff set in stone somewhere, or he secretly never watches the show...I don't know.  Just thought I would share my two cents :-)  Happy Reading Everybody!

Friday, August 21, 2015

A Pygmy Puff, But I Didn’t Say Where

I got a craving to read Harry Potter right before my cruise, so spent the week before leaving, rereading Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince (now known as HBP) by J.K. Rowling.  It's taken this long for me to ramble about it 'cause I had to get through the movie first.  Like before, if you want a full synopsis look here.  Now on to my very own, very personal thoughts on this sixth book. As always SPOILERS AHEAD!
Voldemort - I loved loved loved finding out about Tom Riddles history and journey to becoming the Dark Lord.  It gives some substance and meaning to this slithery guy's actions.  One of my favorite things is when the bad guys have a reason for being the way they are.  It was cool to see Voldemort's history intersect with the mythos history as well.  The following of Slytherin's line from it's glorious founder to it's ignominious end with the Gaunt's was very interesting.  I also liked the continuation of pointing out the similarities between Harry and Tom and showing how various circumstances and decisions have led them to become such different people.

Romance - I am normally not a huge fan of teenage romance 'cause it can get very angsty and stupid, but I thought the author actually imbued the book with a decent sense of humor and realism when it came to the many many many romances in the book.  Ron especially got some great page time with his various romances, love potions and sheer teenage boy stupidity.  We finally get our Ginny/Harry romance which actually made some sense.  I really enjoyed how in this book we see every form of romance, from crushes, to teenage puppy love, to complicated adult relationships, to engagements to marriages.

Harry Harry Harry - Usually I talk about the characters in context of the trio of Harry, Ron and Hermione, and while the three of them definitely had their time together (and apart, and fighting, and saving etc.) Harry really started to stand apart as the main guy in this book.  Harry went with Dumbledore (who finally decided to include him in stuff), Harry had the irrational issue with Draco (even if he did turn out to be right), Harry found the potion book, Harry was a favorite of Slughorn, Harry got the memory, Harry witnessed the BIG DEATH, this book was all about the Harry.

The Potion Book - The world building in this book was more minimal then in some of the other books, focusing more on the characters and stories.  That being said, using the Half Blood Prince's potion book allowed to spend some time with Potions and learning more about that subject which was pretty cool.  I also LOVED how the whole book was kind of a misdirection about the previous owner of the book and the ultimate importance Snape (who turned out to be the Half-Blood Prince) played not only in this book, but the series as a whole.

Movie - This movie sucks.  They changed so much, cut out so much, focused so much on relationships that I felt the true point of this book was completely lost.  I know that the audience for this movie is the teeny bopper crowd, but let's give them some credit and assume that they would at least like to follow the over all story.  In fact now that I have reread the book and re watched the movie, I'm wondering if some of my apathy towards this book is partly based on the movie...hmm...

The Big Death - Since GF, death has been present in the Harry Potter books, we have had numerous people die and have felt the consequences of those deaths through out the series.  This book is no exception with the author stepping up the deaths big time, really showing us the impact of Voldemorts return.  Of course we still have the BIG DEATH, I am of course talking about Dumbledore.  I think the biggest thing here is not so much who died, but how he died, who killed him, and the twisty path it sends our trio of friends on.
Overall still not my favorite book, but I did find that I enjoyed more the second time around.  It is much darker then the previous books and set's up the last installment for all of its heavy epic conclusion.  There are still some light-hearted moments, a little bit of wide eyed magic, but you also start to feel the fear and angst of a world in danger and turmoil.  I give this installment 7 out of 10 splinched eyebrows.  Just one more book to go folks!  Happy Reading Everybody!

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Why I Hate My Baby Sis

I think I have mentioned that my baby sis is on a tour around the world.  Her latest stop is in Ireland, and I pretty much hate her guts.  Mostly 'cause she gets to go see all this great stuff on my bucket list.  For example, her are just a few of her amazing pics from the library at Trinity College

Yep she is one of the top places on my bucket list...lucky duck.  She is charming enough that she got the security guard to get out one of the books that is several hundred years old and let her hold it!!!!!! At least I can say that she is as big a book freak as I am and actually appreciates it.  Hope she is having a blast and continues to smuggle me pictures...I'll be over here crying jealous tears.  Happy Reading Everybody!!!

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Blechy Day

Had to take a sick day, I fought it tooth and nail, but it got the better of me.
18 Hours of sleep later I am finally well enough to hold a book.  Happy Reading Everybody!

Monday, August 17, 2015

Mirror Magic

Hola Readers.  How was your weekend?  Did you all do something fun?  I finished a book (finally!) and am ready for a quick ramble so how about it?  The book is The Glass Magician by Charlie Holmbeg.  It is the second book in the Magicians series and follow our paper folder Ceony Twill.  How did I like it?  First as always SPOILERS AHEAD!
Ceony, our Folder apprentice from the last book is continuing with her learning.  Mg. Thane is continuing to teach her the intricate, delicate, yet oddly versatile world of paper magic.  Of course all of this is tinged with a bit of awkardness after Ceony's trip through Mg. Thane's heart in the last book.  Luckily for Ceony, the trip seems to have affected both participants in a positive way.  Meanwhile Ceony and her friends and family have been targeted by violence stemming from two villains from the last book.  We have Saraj, an Excisioner ( essentially a magician who uses flesh and blood to perform usually nasty tricks) who pretty much just likes to inflict pain and Grath, a Gaffer (a magician who works with glass), a man who wants Ceony to release Lira (again from the last book) from her frozen state.  After several close calls, including a brush with Grath at a restaurant,  and a paper mill exploding, Ceony and Mg. Thane move into London to get things worked out.  Ceony as an apprentice is denied any real part in stopping the villians and she enlists Delilah, a fellow apprentice (who is a Gaffer) to help her catch the bad guys.  Meanwhile, Ceony is dealing with her feelings for Mg. Thane, one cannot expect to explore a person's heart without knowing them intimately.   As for Mg. Thane, it seems as if he shares Ceony's feelings, but keeps her at a bit of a distance due to her being his apprentice.   Ceony convinces Delilah to enchant a mirror for her to travel through and confronts Grath.  This leads to madness and mayhem ( a common theme in books I read).  Eventually Ceony falls into a trap where Grath has learned to unbond with a material and rebond with another (in case you forgot a magician takes an oath at the beginning of their apprentiship that bonds them to their material).  The ritual is simple enough, using the raw material of the magicians bonding element (eg:  sand for glass, wood for paper, etc..) to unbind oneself and then retaking the oath with a new material.  Grath turns into an Excisioner, killing Delilah in the process, and Ceony using the same method turns Gaffer to stop him.  Chaos ensues and Grath is stopped, but Delilah is dead and Ceony injured.  Meanwhile, Mg. Thane sets a nifty little trap for Seraj and imprisons him as well.  He and Ceony profess there love for each other and Ceony admits that she has changed materials, but plans to change back to paper.  She decides to keep the process a secret, but realizes that she is no longer constrained to one material.
First off, you pretty much have to read the first book The Paper Magician for this one to make any sense whatsoever, so there is that.  I felt that compared to the last book, there was a bit more world building in this one which made me happy.  The parts where some of the other magicians and their talents were showcased not only made the world a more sensible place, but allowed for later in the book when Ceony changed materials to make sense.  Since it was shown that she had been taught, had access to, and observed many of these spells being performed, she could then use at least the basics when she changed materials.  I liked that they acknowledged that there is no way for either Ceony or Mg. Thane to go back to "normal" after all of the escapades in the last book.  Speaking of that, I did not really enjoy the inevitable romance between Ceony and Mg. Thane (you will note I refuse to call him Emery, even though in the book it was a big deal).  All of the touching, significant looks, skin tingling and such got repetitive and obnoxious.  They hinted, danced and inferred all the way to the end of the book, but seriously there was no real romantic tension and the rest just felt like grade school note passing.  Delilah's death added some real consequences to Ceony's running off whenever she felt like it, which I felt was much needed since Ceony did not seem to appreciate the magnitude of her behavior most of the time.  On the flip side, the sheer lack of information and allowing of Ceony to do ANYTHING even though it was herself and her family and friends that were in danger was ridiculous considering Ceony was of an age to be an adult!  I enjoyed the extra info on the magics, but felt that such a simple solution to the bonding to materials thing, should/would have been discovered long before and Ceony's insistence on keeping it a secret, even with her valid reasoning seemed kind of selfish and stupid.  Over all it wasn't a bad read.  Not mind blowing, but not unfinishable.  I give it 6 out of 10 paper dolls and will probably finish off the trilogy at some point.  I recommend it to anybody who has read the first book and didn't hate it.  Happy Reading Everybody!

Friday, August 14, 2015

Reading ADD

These last couple weeks I have had a very hard time concentrating on any one book.  I start one and...nah...not what I want...I pick up another one, read a chapter or two...nope not it either.  My whole floor is covered in piles of books that I have started and discarded, seriously it's like 14 different books!
This happens to me on occasion, usually when the weather is about to change, or I'm really really tired and all of that is going on right now.  I just don't have the energy to really get into any book, and at the moment I am not all that inspired by any one thing to really delve into it.  I'm sure that this phase will pass, it always does.  Until then I will keep reading a chapter here and there until something finally catches and holds my attention.  Happy Reading Everybody!

Thursday, August 13, 2015


Sooo beyond tired right keeps slipping out of my fingers...
Book Dreaming Reading Everybody!

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Mythical Bookends

I have been reading a lot of books about mythical creatures lately and thought we could use some new bookends to keep with the theme.
Dragon Bookends
 I love dragons, I love books, I love these dragon bookends!
Mermaid Bookends
So purty!
Unicorn Bookends
Makes my bookshelf a bit more majestic
Phoenix Bookends
A little old school elegance
Centaur Bookends
Half horse, half man all awesome

Maybe some of these will appear on a bookshelf near you.  Happy Reading Everybody!

Monday, August 10, 2015

Adventures And Nightmares

I finished a book right before vacation that had been in my TBR pile for ages.  I finally purchased a beautiful hard back version of it (for cheap at the used bookstore woohoo) and then it sat on my shelf.  It was a completely different read then I thought it would be.  The book is Abarat by Clive Barker.  As always SPOILERS AHEAD!
As with most of the books I have been reading lately this book is a bit convoluted so I will do my best.  The book centers around Candy Quackenbush (I love that name!) a teenage girl who is feeling stuck in her tiny Midwestern town of Chickentown.  Her home life, school life and what passes for a social life are all difficult, dull and pointless.  All of this changes when she runs into a strange creature by the name of John Mischief.  John has 7 brothers who are all represented by heads on antlers above his head.  The John's are being perused by a creature named Mendelson Shape who is trying to prevent John from completing his mission.  Candy assists John and the result is a sea rolling over the plains and sweeping everybody away to Abarat.  Abarat is a land made up of islands that are all in a fixed hour of the clock..for example, the island of Yebba Dim Day (an island in the shape of a giant head) it is always 8:00pm.  There are 24 large islands and multiple tiny islands making up this land.  Candy gets seperated from her companions and embarks on what can only be described as a cross between a nightmare and a dream of an adventure.  We meet Christopher Carrion, a man (I guess we can call him a man) who is cruel and scary and wants to plunge the world into darkness.  He rules the island of Gorgossium, which is always fixed at the midnight hour and controls some very hideous creatures.  He plans to unlock a vault deep in the ocean and release a hoard of pure evil on the land.  We also meet a fellow by the name of Rojo Pixler who wants to get rid of all the magic and replace it with technology and his way of doing things.  Candy is chased through all the islands, learning bits and pieces of the history and workings of this new land.  Oddly enough Candy feels completely at home in this strange place that would through most people off their game.  Candy discovers that there is a good chance that she has been to Abarat at some point before, even if she can't remember it.  We end the book with nothing really resolved other then Candy's resolve to stay in Abarat and do what she can to protect it.
To me this book is mostly about imagery, the story is very very secondary to the visuals and world in this book.  The book is full of insane (and very) cool illustrations done in oils in a style that is like a creepy Van Gogh.  I found the world to be pretty cool, with all kinds of impossible characters, buildings and landscapes and the illustrations did a good job in keeping me in the world.  Unfortunatly the story did not seem very developed and seemed to hop all over the place.  Usually I really enjoy the crazy insane worlds, but this one seemed a bit...scattered for my taste.  The characters were ok, with John Mischief being my favorite.  I'm not sure why this book didn't do it for me.  I think it was the story, which seemed to try and go somewhere and say something...but it just didn't get anywhere.  I also was a bit hesitant to call this a book for anybody under the age of 14 or so 'cause the imagery and cruelty was pretty pronounced.  I know a lot of people love this book, and that is awesome and I hope others read it and love it...but I am not one of them.  I give this book 6 out of 10 and recommend it to anybody who loves some great imagery with a bit of a dark twist.

Friday, August 7, 2015

Back To Work...Blah

Been back at work for a week after my vacation of awesome...forgot how exhausting it was!
Just another 48 hours to go!!!!  Happy Reading Everybody!

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Highly Inappropriate

If you guys knew how many times I had to stop myself from writing a highly inappropriate post...well you would probably never read this blog again :-)  Seriously though, some day's I have to completely rewrite my post, or at least have somebody with some sort of social decorum read it through.  I am a very candid person and my thoughts and views tend to just pour out with very little filter.  I am sure you have seen this come out a bit in some of my posts, especially my ramblings where I am not shy about talking about...well just about anything.
This sever lack of appropriateness is not at all helped by the sheer variety of books I read and the people I discuss them with (most of my friends are part of the firehouse and have even less of a filter then I do).  All that being said, I am quit proud of myself for keeping the majority of the these posts at a PG-13 or better level and will try to keep the really insane stuff to myself (or at least just share with those who won't have me committed).  Please let me know if I ever go to far...or if you want to see just how crazy I can be.  Happy Reading Everybody!

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

How To Use The Words

I feel like I haven't said this in a while, but everything on this blog is completley my own opinion.  I do not think I am the ultimate authority on anything...I just know what I like and what drives me crazy.  So on that we go.  With the books I've been reading lately I have noticed something that either makes me very happy or makes me roll my eye and that thing is words.  Ummm hmmm what are talking about is what you are probably saying right now.  Are not books all about the words?  How do words do anything but enable me to read?  Let me see if I can explain with any coherency what I mean.  It's not so much words that have grabbed my notice, but the way authors use words.  Hmm let me try this in list form and see if it makes more sense.
Flowery Words - Words that are put in a story strictly to make it sound more poetic, lyrical or artsy.  This works on occasion, especially in certain short stories.  They can add an extra layer to a place or feel and in piece that is supposed to be mostly imagery it is necessary.  Unfortunately I have found that certain authors, especially first timers use these types of words to over describe everything, or make a book...I don't know...more that a word?  To use these over the top phrases takes skill and restraint, and an author who can successfully pull it off is rare and amazing. Mostly though when used improperly you come across as overly pretentious.

Repeat Words - Lot's of authors (myself included I am sure) find a word or turn of phrase and get stuck on it.  I see this in everything from first time writers, to established authors to your local book bloggers.  Some writers stick it in ever other sentence, some spread it out in a more palatable manner, but I would say I could probably put together a list of authors and their favorite words and/or phrases (hmmm possible blog post).

Descriptive Words - These words are different then flowery words as in they are almost always adjectives.  These words when used appropriately are wonderful, necessary and can make a good book great.  On the other hand when over used can turn a great book into a tedious laundry list.  I have read books where every single outfit, piece of furniture and the physical description of every person in the room was detailed, and let me tell you BORING.  I also don't need every single landscape described to me in perfect detail, give me the general idea and only use the super descriptions on the things or people that need my attention.

Font Styles and Punctuation- I will be the first to admit that I suffer from this myself, I love ellipses...tee hee hee.  The occasional use of italics, Bold, Underline, or some combination can give some variation to a text, especially when they are used to delineate between characters.  The same goes with other punctuation (other then your normal grammatically correct stuff), but when any of these becomes over used, it just gets confusing.  Although I have seen this in every type of book, recent YA novels seem to be the biggest offenders, especially with the exclamation points!!!!

Simple Words - Some of my favorite books in the world utilize simple words and phrasing to produce a clean, beautiful read.  I think this is the hardest style of wording to use because it takes the skill of a master. Unfortunately I have read to many books that do not utilize the simple words as well as they could and the result reads as very stilted and juvenile.  As much as I love e-books and the ability to read authors that would never have gotten published by a major print outfit, I feel it has also led to a lot of wannabe's putting out stuff that hasn't had the benefit of an editor or even other people reading it resulting in a lot of the above misuse of the simple word.
I have seen all of the above examples used in both awesome ways and in ways that have driven me bonkers.  The words themselves and never good or bad, it is the way they are used and crafted that make a book what it is.  Words are tools, and some authors just know how to use them better then others.  I know that for good or bad, without words, I would be a sad person.  Happy Reading Everybody!

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

End Atlantis Begin Again

Hola Readers.  How are you all?  Are you ready to hear about a book I read while on vacation?  Good, the book is Prospero's Children by Jan Siegel.  I picked this book up at the used book store 'cause the cover was cool and it totally looked like a great vacation book and I WAS RIGHT!!!!  Why was I right (I mean besides the obvious I am always right)?  I'll tell you, but first, as always SPOILERS AHEAD!!!!
I will warn you that the book is a bit convoluted, but I will do my best to sum it up in semi coherent manner, but your best bet is just to read it.  The book is divide into two parts plus a prologue and and epilogue.  Ok let's get to this shall we?  A man is desperately trying to keep his ship afloat amidst the biggest storm the planet has ever seen.  He fails and drowns, his body taken by a mermaid for her collection after she notices a peculiar key around his neck.  Untold years later the mermaid gives a fisherman the key as payment for his son who died after capturing her.  We then come to present times and the first half of the book.  We meet Fern, a 16 year old girl who has turned very practical after her mother died so that she could keep her flighty father and younger brother in line.  She has been doing very well acting the keeper of the house until her father inherits an old house of a relative who was a sea captain.  Fern is not thrilled to spend her holiday in the country, but makes the best of it.  While there, she and her brother Will discover many locked trunks and cabinets, but no keys.  Meanwhile, Fern and Will experience many strange sounds and sights in and around the house.  This does not trouble Will, but Fern has a hard time reconciling it all with her practical way of thinking.  Eventually Fern meets with a man called Ragginbone who hints that there is a lot more going on then they know.  Alison, a coworker of Fern and Will's father offers to "help" them get the property ready to sell.  As soon as she arrives, something seems off and even more strange things happen.  Turns out everybody seems to be searching for a mysterious key that has insane powers.  Fern and Will eventually discover that the key was made from a mysterious source called the Loadstone, an object that held great power and was the center of the culture of the fabled Atlantis.  It seems that the Loadstone altered the Atlanteans genetics, enhancing them to now wield all sorts of useful powers. The people who have these powers are called Gifted and to this day, the few descendants of the Atlanteans still have it.  Fern discovers that she has the Gift.  The Loadstone was destroyed when the last queen of Atlantis Zohran, decided that she wanted to make a key to the Gate of Death so that she would become truly immortal.  This act caused Atlantis to be destroyed and the all powerful key to become last.  Alison, along with an Old Spirit by the name of Azmordis are desperately searching for the key for their own ends.  Turns out that the key is in the house.  Much crazyness ensues (this happens in most books I read) and the key is found, then taken by Alison.  When she opens the Gate, instead of death, she opens a door in time to when the last queen also opened the door causing a time paradox AND the huge wave that destroys Atlantis comes through the door, drowning Alison and wreaking all kinds of havoc in the little town.  Time is now all messed up and Fern is told that the only solution is to go back in time and use the key to lock the door from the other side.  Fern uses a picture as a focus and goes back in time, followed by Azmordis.  The second half of the book shows us how Fern (who has had all her memories replaced by ones that fit the time period better...yeah I know that doesn't make sense, read the book) runs around Atlantis making friends and living out the final days of that fabled city.  The most significant person Fern meets is Rafarl, an Atlantean noble who helps Fern on her quest.  As always more crazyness ensues and after watching the queen Zohran open the gate only to find Alison on the other side and the beginning of the destruction of Atlantis, Fern gets a hold of the key.  Even though she tried to make Rafarl go and escape the coming destruction, he comes back for her (aw, true love, stupid, but sweet).  They go to his ship, but they are perused by Azmordis who wants the key.  Fern gives the key to Rafarl and gives herself up to buy them some time.  The giant wave hits and Fern jumps to the sea.  Fern wakes up back in her own time, with a very worried brother and father.  All seems to be well, as the time leaks have stopped thanks to Ferns sacrifice.  She misses Rafarl, but starts to look forward.  The book ends with Rafarl doing his best to keep the boat afloat, but to no avail.  As he drowns a mermaid takes his body, fascinated by a mysterious key.
Soooo that really did no justice at all to this book.  I can't even begin to get into all the great detail, characters and just coolness that this book held, seriously go read it.  This book was a great book from a first time author who did several things I really liked.  First of all, I like this interesting re-imagining of the Atlantis fable, since there is no definitive myth it allows the author to use it as she likes.  She makes a good case of how a city could be so advanced, and why it may have fallen.  For the most part I enjoyed all of the characters, they all had a part to play, they all had a history, and they all fit into the story without feeling forced.  Fern was interesting as a practical heroine who had to figure out that being an adult was not as straight forward as she thought.  Will was one of my favorite characters, being the perfect counterpoint to Fern.  The relationship between brother and sister was just great. The bad guys were a bit one dimensional, but I did like that there was more then one, they were all different and that they all had a different agenda, this made the alliances and enemies much more interesting.  The author did not try and "get" us by keeping information from us, one of the reasons I found this book to be so interesting is that the author actually made sure we knew for the most part what was going on, having our characters discover truths and mysteries in a timely manner instead of drawing it out forever YAY!  I was a bit worried about the time travel part as the logistics of time travel tend to make my head hurt, but the author did a pretty good job of that.  One of the things she did was have Fern's memories replaced by pertinent ones that applied to the time and place she traveled too.  This gave us a plausible explanation as to why Fern could fit in so easily and made a lot of the tedious acclimation moot. That being said, there was no real reason or mechanism given as to how or why this happened...apparently it is just a side affect of Gifted time traveling?  A side note I found interesting was one of the scenes with the crazy queen Zohran, doing despicable things to assure her power, surrounded by the nobles of the land put me very much in the mind of a similar scene in The Magician's Nephew by C.S. Lewis.  There is a scene in that book where the two children encounter an ancient world filled with frozen nobles of increasingly greedy and evil countenance, culminating in Jadis, a witch queen who destroyed her world for power.  The parallel of these scenes was unexpected and kind of cool.  The best part may be the ending.  I know I know, I usually HATE endings, but this author tied it right back to the beginning in the most clever and believable fashion, making me very very happy. The few things that I was not so keen on.  I found the writing to be a bit uneven, some times when describing something, or a character gets introspective, the writing got over flowery and pretentious.  I felt when the author just told the story instead of trying to author it up, that the book flowed much better.  It was almost like she was trying to write in an overly lyrical, esoteric style, and then would forget to use her pretentious words and just tell a good story.  Some of the "magic" and such were not well explained, and Fern got a bit angsty on occasion, but overall I really enjoyed it.  I am totally stoked when my random picks turn out so well and it was the perfect book to read in the middle of the ocean.  I give this book 7 out of 10 house goblins and recommend it to anybody with an interest in Atlantis, mermaids, magic or time travel that actually works. Happy Reading Everybody!

Monday, August 3, 2015

Books Bikini's And Booze

I'm back my bookish friends, a wee bit burnt, a wee bit hung over, but very very happy and relaxed.  This is the first real vacation Hubbin and I have taken in ten years and it was much much needed.  Here is a quick rundown of the trip...'cause I'm sure you are all desperate to know every detail teeheehee.
Day 1-My bestie L drove us to Baltimore Harbor to check in.  People kept staring at me 'cause I had a HUGE beach bag full to bursting with books I refused to check, I mean what if I got stuck in line and needed something to read?  Or worse, what if they lost them?!?  Anyways we got on the ship with all my books and promptly got our drink on while waiting for our room to be ready...and maybe got a few chapters in too.
Day 2 - The day started with a mimosa and a hot rock massage and a couple of chapters in one of my books.  We mostly spent the day exploring the ship, reading and sleeping.
Day 3 - We spent the day at the Florida Brewing Company, touring the facility, drinking and playing giant Jenga.  Met some new friends who helped us sneak off to a place with atomic cherries.  What are atomic cherries?  They are cherries that have been soaked in grain alcohol and then eaten...needless to say I don't remember much more about the day...other then I made Hubbin haul around as least three books in the know just in case.
Day 4 -  Nassau was our stop for the day and after a morning of reading and sexiest man alive competition we were ready to explore.  We decided to go off on our own, and man am I glad we did.  The experience was AMAZING! We met locals who were more then willing to talk with us and show all the best places.  My favorites were the Queen's Staircase which has a heartbreaking, yet ultimately redemptive history and the Nassau Public Library which used to be a prison.  This is one of those day's I call a book experience, because I feel like our day could have come right out of the pages of a story.
Day 5 - This day held one of my favorite parts of the whole trip.  I got to hold, hug and kiss a stingray!!!!!!!!!  I don't know why the experience was so insanely awesome for me, I'm not particularly fond of stingrays but for some reason holding one of these big alive creatures was just...I'm not sure, amazing, awesome, different, really really cool.  Sipping rum out of pineapples, snorkeling and getting stung on the butt by a jellyfish finished off this day.
Day 6 - This day was dedicated to reading.  We got into our bikini's and swimsuits told the waiter to keep the drinks coming and read and read and read and read.  I love day's like this because I can get really into a story with no fear of interruption (well except for the drinks).  It was by far the most relaxed I have been in a long time.
Day 7 - Our last day was spent finishing everything up.  I finished my book, we finished spending all our money, met up with our new friends to finish up the atomic cherries and ended the night by finishing annoying the piano guy in our favorite bar.

It was a great vacation spent with an amazing guy doing everything we wanted.  I am sososososo glad we did this and now every time I curl up with my book I expect somebody to be standing there with a drink tee hee hee.  Happy Reading Everybody!