Wednesday, September 30, 2015

The Perfect Day Of Reading

I have really been getting my reading on lately and I have to tell  you that it has been WONDERFUL!  Today is no exception with the perfect fall weather, a cup of coffee, my snuggly blanky and a good book.
So instead of one of the many many ramblings I had planned, I am going to go read some more.  Happy Reading Everybody!

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Banned Books Week

We are into Banned Books Week this week.  As I've mentioned in previous posts, this is the week I celebrate my freedom to write, buy, read, and discuss whatever my little heart desires.  This year I thought I would list some of my favorite books that were at one point banned for some reason or another.
The Perks of Being a Wallflower
I understand the instinct to want to ban this book from younger readers, but I felt that after reading this, it is a book most teenagers can personally relate to AND that makes it perfect reading and discussion material.  I feel that if more kids were encouraged to read books like this and then openly discuss them they would feel less alienated and be able to actually talk and deal with issues instead of feeling like they need to hide them all of the time.
Bridge to Terabithia
To me this book, and many other ones on the challenged and banned list is a case of people getting so caught up in the most minor of details that they completely miss the point of the book.  This book had issues for it's supposed profanity (using the term "Oh Lord") and this wasn't even like in the 1800's, this was 1986.  Again I understand parents wanting to keep an eye on what their young children read, but to challenge a book with so many great points to it on the basis of a few phrases that a quick conversation could cover just seems dumb to me.
The Chocolate War
This book is deemed "inappropriate" for several reasons, language, sex, abuse, violence, authority issues and such.  This book has all of this...and again a brutal and realistic look of how teenage life really is.  When books like this get challenged I almost want to laugh, because what do these adults think kids live on a regular basis?  This book and others like do nothing more then put it in written form and to ban a book just because it makes somebody uncomfortable that stuff like this is happening is kind of counter productive.
To Kill A Mockingbird
 I feel that books like this get challenged sometimes because people are uncomfortable about the idea that stuff like this happens in real life.  I also feel that sometimes parents and institutions get a bit overprotective and feel the need to protect kids from the potential harsh realities of life.  I think that by having kids read about this kind of thing, we can use it as a stepping stone to a discussion instead of having them find out unawares with potentially disastrous consequences.
The Golden Compass
I hate this book, I do not get the hype, I think it is scary, traumatizing and I just really don't like it.  It has been on the challenged list for years because of it's supposed "Anti-Christian" overtones.  Guess what?  I don't want it banned or challenged and if my nephews want to read it, I hope they do.  I then hope they discuss is with each other, with their parents, with me, with whomever, and if they don't feel the same way about I do, awesome 'cause that my friends is how we learn and grow as a society.

I do not think that we should take away the rights of parents to keep an eye on what their children read, especially young ones.  I agree that there are books out there that are more appropriate for a mature audience and that not ever book out there is a healthy one.  I do however think that all people need to examine why they want to challenge a book and if there is not a better way to help kids choose and understand appropriate books.  I also believe that as soon as you hit the high school age (give or take, each person is different) that unless there is extenuating circumstances we need to trust that we have raised them well enough to start choosing their own reading materials.  I love that I live in a country where I have this awesome freedom to choose and hope that we never lose it.  Happy Reading Everybody!

Monday, September 28, 2015

Bookish Thoughts

Here are some thoughts on books that pretty much sum up my literary life.

Happy Reading Everybody!

Friday, September 25, 2015

"The Book"

Here is an awesome piece of art that I stumbled upon on Deviant Art.  I really really love the mood it evokes.
The Book by Zancan
I like all the different little pieces and over feel of this piece, hope you enjoy it too.  Happy Reading Everybody!

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Space Faring Bureaucracy

To appease my summer SciFi appetite I finally finished reading the short story collection Federations edited by John Joseph Adams.  The editor says he took the inspiration for this collection from watching shows like Star Trek and Star Wars and reading book like those in the Dune series.  The common theme in all of the above mentioned is the interstellar government that spans the stars.  This inspiration has lead to book chock full of a myriad different stories, governments, worlds and organizations that come together to make for a very though provoking, page turning collection that makes me want even more stories.  Here are just a few of the stellar stories in this anthology.
Carthago Delenda Est by Genevieve Valentine - A being from deep space has sent out a vision to a select member of every race in the known galaxy.  The vision is powerful enough that when the being states it will only come if all the races stop warring with each other they all comply.  The story is set many many years after the initial contact and leaves one wondering if the fact that the wars have stopped is the whole point of the secret glorious mission.  Good story, very good story.

Terra-Exulta by S.L. Gilbow - This may be one of my favorite short stories of all time.  It explores the use of language and how labeling something in a certain way can change ones perception completely.  We get a quick glimpse of a man who using only words changes a galaxy's perception of a planet form thinking it is the most beautiful paradise to being disgusted with the whole endeavor.  The story is short, sweet, to the point and really gets the point of the power of words across in a direct and entertaining manner.

Twilight of the Gods by John C. Wright - Imagine a ship so large it feels like a world.  Now imaging the people on it have lived there for so many generations that the newest ones think Earth and any other planet is nothing more then a myth or fantasy.  This story turns our pre-conceived notion of a space ship and it's inhabitants on its head.  I love the idea that this decrepit space is all these people know and how it has shaped their culture and mind set.

Pardon our Conquest by Alan Den Foster - An entire empire is conquered with out so much as a shot being fired.  The premise of this story is made even more interesting by the perspective that it is told in.  Instead of the grand hero's swooping in and gallantly helping a backwards race, we see the story from the conquered empires point of view and understand their confusion when this new alliance actually seeks to integrate them into their federation (but only if they want to) while giving them complete freedom and autonomy.  This is a great story that gets you thinking long after you have finished it.

My She by Mary Rosenblum - This is the kind of short story I love.  A to the point, thought provoking tale about the line between an individual person and a tool.  The story is about clones of a very specific pair of humans that serve as an invaluable communication tool in the future.  The tale if further enriched by the presence of a anthropomorphic dog character that acts as a servant/guide.  If this story does not get you thinking about a myriad of different things...then I don't know what will.

The Shoulders of Giants by Robert J. Sawyer - A look at what happens when the present catches up to the future.  This story is another thought provoking look at life and what happens when the continues experimentation and exploration comes to a critical mass and all converges on one point.  I also like how this story in a very concise manner manages to convoy a story, characters, humor and a thought provoking premise all in a very limited amount of pages.

Golubash, or Wine-Blood-War-Elegy by Catherynne M. Valente - Imagine my surprise, consternation and eventual delight when I discovered the author of my beloved September stories had contributed to what was an already awesome collection.  This super visual story was focused on interstellar wine as a way to convoy a story, a history, and a universe.  This story had all the trademarks of this authors insanely awesome image driven story telling with an adult twist...and wine...'cause wine is awesome...just go read the story.
In case you haven't figured it out I loved this collection.  One of the unique things about this collection is the little bit of editor commentary at the beginning of each story.  He obviously really enjoys the subject matter and has an enthusiastic and fairly concise insight into each story.  I enjoyed this collection immensely, it was varied, well edited and yet stayed easily within the identifiable confines of the theme.  I still keep picking it up, hoping more stories will magically appear because I just don't want to stop reading!  I recommend it to anybody who likes sci-fi, Star Trek, Star Wars or well written, varied, thought provoking stories.  I give it 8 out of 10 Galactic Senates and am going to go find ALL the collections edited by this guy 'cause seriously awesome stuff here.  Happy Reading Everybody!!!!

Fall Spruce Up

It is FINALLY starting to feel like fall WOOOOHOOOOO....and of course I work 48 hours this week.  Oh well, that just means more book money.  You may have noticed a few changes around the old blog.  I felt that the previous incarnation of design was a bit wintery and I wanted some COLOR (also I am really liking my shift key today OH YEAH!).  The orange background is inspired by fall leaves and my nephew G-man who LOVES orange.  I have also started going through all of my posts starting with the oldest and sort of sprucing them up, fixing spelling and grammar errors, formatting and link issues, key words, stuff like that. Now that I actually know a bit more on some of the
programming stuff I can at least make them look better.  Reading a lot of my old posts I am tempted to delete or edit a bunch of them as I sound, but I also kind of like looking back and watching my blog develop.  I can't wait for another couple of years to see how far I progress.  Lets see, what else have I done.  Oh yeah  I've added the post "No Apologies" to the main page group because I feel like I reference it a lot and it kind of sums up my views on the blogging/reviewing part of reading.  I hope the changes are to your liking, if not...well it's my blog teeheehee.  But seriously if you have any suggestions let me know.  Happy Reading Everybody!

Monday, September 21, 2015

Sock It To Me

Fall means boot weather, and what is the best thing in the world to wear with your boots?  Book socks of course.  What the heck are book socks?  These are book socks.
Banned Book Socks
Support the freedom to read while keeping your feet warm
Bookshelf Socks
How cute would these little bookshelves look peeking over a cute pair of ankle boots?
Library Checkout Socks
 A fantastic way to keep the old school library card alive...and keep my toes dry
Bookworm Socks
Have them, wear them, I LOVE THEM!
Book Socks
It's raining books Hallalulah it's raining books!
Ok I'm gonna go put my socks on and curl up with a good book for a few minutes.  Happy Reading Everybody!!!

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Melting Tingling Alice

Dear Baby Sis, please don't read this post, love your Biggest Sis.  Ok now that is out of the way, today we are going to ramble about The Collector's Society by Heather Lyons, the first in a series also called The Collector's Society.  I'm going to tell you two things right off the bat.  One I did not really like this book.  Two I am in a very small minority as the reviews on this thing show it to be insanely popular and well received.  Why is this?  I'll tell you but first, as always SPOILERS AHEAD!
Alice has returned from her third trip to Wonderland as a 25 year old woman.  She checks herself into a mental institution to try and essentially detox from her adventures in the hope that she can rejoin a normal Victorian English society.  All of this gets blown to pieces when she is invited by a Mr. Brom Van Brunt to join an organization known as the Collector's Society.  The only information she is given is that without her help Wonderland will be destroyed.  She agree's and they step through some sort of doorway into modern day New York City.  Here Alice meet's a host of characters that give her absolutely no information about anything, which is fine because Alice does not share anything either.  After a bit of not sharing back and forth Alice meets Finn Van Brut...formally known as Huckleberry Finn.  She falls in instant lust, melting every single time he so much as glances her way...which happens quit a bit.  Alice (and the reader) finally find out that the point of the Society is to find the catalyst for each Timeline.  A Timeline is a world that comes to life somehow when a book or series of books, or an author becomes widely read and loved.  Apparently each Timeline has a catalyst that if destroyed will destroy the Timeline...I'm not sure in anyway shape or form how this works, or why it works, or how it was discovered, or how a Timeline can disappear when the books are still around and loved, or well all kinds of stuff that makes no sense but is never explained.  Anyways the Society sends agents (who are usually characters or related in someway to the characters in other all gets very meta)  into the Timelines to collect the catalysts to keep them safe from some sort of villain that for some reason is destroying the Timelines.  The majority of the first two thirds of the book however is taken up with Alice keeping some sort of secret from everybody including the reader, while also melting and having the little hairs stand up on the back of her neck every time Finn is so much as thought of.  Finn (who is an impossibly stand up guy) seems to reciprocate the melting and the tingling and the secret keeping.  So pretty much we have a very repetitive secret romance going for a really long time.  Eventually the book picks up a bit when we FINALLY get to Wonderland.  We discover that Alice was made the Queen of Diamonds and fell in love with the White King.  Because of some sort of screwed up Wonderland politics, Alice agreed to leave Wonderland in the hopes of alleviating the suffering of her people.  Alice, Finn and a couple of their friends (Victor the son of Dr. Frankenstein and Mary Lennox of The Secret Garden) go to Wonderland to get Alice's crown which is the catalyst for this Timeline.  They enter a Wonderland in the middle of a brutal war and eventually meet up with the White King who aids them in their quest.  There are some moments between Alice and the White King, but she makes a choice to stay with Finn in the new world she is now part of.  They bring the crown back and melt and tingle some more and we never figure out anything else because that is what the next books are for.
In case you didn't pick up on it, I did not really like this book.  In general it felt like a rote romance book with a potentially couple of good idea's thrown in that suffered from execution issues.  I'll go through what bugged me the most, and then tell what parts I did like.  To start with the book was in first person, so we were stuck in Alice's head, which was problematic for many reasons.  First off, she did not know ANYTHING so we didn't either and we only got an extremely limited view of what was going on in this new world.  This works if the character learns and discovers as they go, but that was not the case.  Second of all, even though we are stuck in Alice's head, we are not even privy to her thoughts and secrets so pretty much we spend the vast majority of the book with vague, yet overly dramatic phrases meant to keep everything in the dark.  This is one of my biggest pet peeves when an author drags out a supposed secret or bit of information for no other reason then to try and keep you reading.  This is especially aggravating when the secret finally gets revealed and really is not that big of a deal.  There was nothing that got revealed that made me gasp out loud.  The romance drove me absolutely batty.  I am not a huge fan of romance novels in general, mostly because they all feel like the same book to me and at least on the romance side to me this book was no exception.  Alice was supposed to be this strong kick-ass character, but she spent the majority of the book alternating between dramatically declaring to herself that she does not want to have any sort of human contact with Finn and melting and tingling and going weak kneed every time Finn is even mentioned.  This happens over and over and over and over and the worst part is the author uses pretty much the exact same phrasing in every angsty encounter.  Even worse, when they finally get together and have sexy time...well lets just say it was so tame and bland and repetitive that I would let my eight year old nephew read it (ok not really, but you get the point). Finn was waaaaaay to perfect to be of any interest to me.  He was always doing an over the top good guy thing, with his only real flaw being his getting super angry when those he loves are hurt, seriously I don't see the appeal.  The White King was a much more interesting and complex character and I would have loved to spent more time with him.  Ok let's move on.  Getting away from Alice for a few minutes the premise of the book could have been pretty cool except for the fact that I still don't really know what it is.  It felt like the author had an idea about using characters from different books to create a society to protect books, but let it get to complicated with no real world building at all.  We never really get a good explanation for anything.  There were a couple of parts I did enjoy.  I liked it when Alice wasn't getting all angsty and just had conversations or some very witty one liners.  What I really liked was the time spent in Wonderland, I really wish the author had pretty much skipped everything else and just written this future Wonderland.  I like the idea of Alice as an adult and the potential adjusting from Wonderland back to her home.  This idea would have been plenty for a really great book.  I am most definitely in the minority in my feelings on this book, the vast majority of the reviews have been very positive and glowing.  I am thrilled that so many people love.  It's books like this that prove my point that not every book is for every person and just because everybody else loved it, doesn't mean I have to.  Nor does every book I love have to be a home run for anybody else.  Overall I give this book 4 out of 10 cups of tea and recommend to anybody who enjoys romance, or some potentially good ideas.  Happy Reading Everybody!

Tuesday, September 15, 2015


School is now in full swing, along with homework, after school programs and all kinds of growing up goodness.  Schools are awesome, besides being somewhere to learn all kinds of stuff, it is the perfect story setting.  You have a huge pool of people with a variety of backgrounds, personalities, and issues to choose from.  You have various settings, classes, and of course a ton of "major events".  Here are a couple of my favorite literary scholarly institutes.
Hogwarts - I don't think there is a single literary person who does not want to attend Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry from the Harry Potter Series.  Who wouldn't want to take a class where you can brew a potion to shrink your enemies head, or learn how to care for a Hippogriff.  I would love to explore the various secret passages and find all the weird and wonderful things that have been stuffed into this castle of awesome...all while getting a quality magical education of course.

One Room School House - The Little House on the Prairie series made the idea of a cozy one room school house seem absolutely awesome.  In this series we see it from both the student and the teacher perspective.  I like the idea of everybody learning together, listening as all the various ages help each other learn and interact.  The idea that the teachers need to know enough to teach everything from 1st grade on up is kind of cool.  I also really want to take my lunch to school with me in a literal lunch pail.

Harper Hall - In the Pern Series there is an amazing place called Harper Hall.  This is a place that music is at the center of most education and most peoples basic knowledge comes in the form of Teaching Songs.  Add this to the fact the the Healer Hall is in the same area I am pretty sure I could find plenty to learn for a very very long time.  I like how even though music is the central tenet of the Hall is music, the students and staff are taught to think outside of their group and consider the whole world of Pern in their dealings.

Winding Circle - The four protagonists in the Circle of Magic series attend specialized classes at Winding Circle and let me tell you I just want to go and watch all the classes.  This school specializes in all the different types of magic and the insane number of ways you can use them.  I feel this school give a person a chance to be creative with the various types of magic.  I also like how the school encourages the various practitioners to learn to work together to create awesome and new feats of magic.

Battle School - In Ender's Game the prospective commanders and other war personnel are sent to the Battle School at an impossibly young age.  These kids use their lack of pre-conceived notions to come up with battle strategies that an adult who is stuck in their ways would never come up with.  As brutal as this school is I REALLY want to play in the battle room.  I want to have an epic game of capture the flag in the zero-g environment...and maybe freeze a few people as well.
These are just a few of the many school settings that make me want to go back to school...well any school that teaches magic or involves dinner pails.  Happy Reading Everybody!

Monday, September 14, 2015

Work Work Work

After 78 hours of work this week and another 48 to go, coming home and curling up with a book feels just like this.
Is NOT jus a book
Mmmm a I can't wait to get my hands on my book.  Happy Reading Everybody!

Thursday, September 10, 2015

The Alien In My Head

Today is a good day.  Work was surprisingly reasonable (no literal last minute calls), partner was awesome, met Hubbin on the way into the house in a serendipitous bout of timing and to top it all off I FINALLY get some fall weather in the form of a lightning storm of epic proportions.  All of this makes it feel like the perfect time to ramble about an amazing book I just finished, The Lives of Tao by Wesley Chu.  What is so amazing about this book (other then it's yellow cover)?  I will tell you, but first, as always SPOILERS AHEAD!
Tao is an alien, and he resides inside the heads of various humans.  He and the rest of his race crash landed on Earth a zillion years ago and have spent the intervening years trying to find a way home.  This was made difficult by the fact that the aliens (or Quasing as their race is called) can only survive on Earth by hitching a ride in a living creature.  Our alien friends jump from one evolutionary step to the next until they get a hold of a couple of homo sapiens.  They find that these creatures can be led and guided to start producing innovations and inventions that lead the Quasing closer to finding a way home.  The aliens also note that violence and war tend to breed the best technological leaps and therefore lead their humans into the bloodiest of situations.  At some point a group of Quasing realize that they are essentially killing off their human hosts and try to find a more peaceful solution, even if it means a longer time to get home, if they ever do.  This group is known as the Prophus.  The rest of the Quasing decide that they are getting home no matter what the cost an form the Genjix.  The two groups wage a war using their vast knowledge and human hosts to try and promote their way.  This all leads to the Prophus Quasing Tao on a mission with his human host Edward.  Tao and Edward have shared a long and mutually beneficial relationship which is sadly cut short when Edward is killed.  When a Quasing host is killed, the alien is released (in fact the death of a host is the only way to leave a host...) and for lack of better host (usually a human host that is in the know has trained for years to become a host for a Quasing and is on hand when the old host dies) merges with a Chicago man by the name of Roen Tam, an out of shape, unmotivated tech worker who live with his roommate a newly graduated doctor.  Roen wakes up to a voice in his head and off we go as Roen learns to accept that Tao is real, not some psychotic hallucination and the history of both his own human race and Taos.  We then spend the next couple of chapters as they span months of Tao training Roen both physically and mentally to carry out the missions that are vital to the Prophus success.  Along the way Roen makes several new friends, some with Quasing of their own, like the attractive and lethal Sonya who carries Baji, a Prophus Quasing inherited from her mother.  Others are normal humans who have been recruited to the cause.  Much mayhem and madness ensues and Roen decides that he no longer wants to participate in the war, he is sick of the violence and the killing and the disregard of human well-being.  Tao gives him plenty of time to come around on his own, as he cannot directly control his host without an insane amount of effort and even then not for long.  Meanwhile Roen begins (with Tao's help) courting an old co-worker by the name of Jill, enjoying his stab at normalcy.  Roen eventually rejoins the fight and more madness and mayhem are read about resulting in the kidnapping of Sonya and Jill.  Roen leads a team with the duel purpose of rescuing the girls and halting some nefarious plan of the Genjix.  Sadly, despite their best efforts Sonya is killed and Bali takes up residence in Jill.  The battle is won, but the war still rages on and the surviving peeps go on to continue the fight.
Whew that was really long, but the book was very complex in a very readable way and the synopsis does it very little justice.  So just what was it that made me love this book?  I think I like how realistic the whole thing was, yes we are talking about symbiotic, near immortal aliens...but it all made so much sense.  I'm gonna focus mostly on Tao and Roen.  Roen is a slightly overweight, junk food snarfing, slogging to work, living a dull life, scared of moving on, jaded guy.  We see this guy all the time, a guy who could be smarter, fitter, happier...but for some reason does not put in the effort.  This is a character the vast majority of us can relate to, which makes it easier to accept the bizarre alien in his head.  The juxtaposition of the two characters is what makes this book so very readable.  They get to know each other over a span of time, they take an even longer time to learn to trust one another, and it is very clear that while Tao is the brains of the operation, he does not control Roen.  All the choices that are made, are made by the man.  The alien has its influence, but human nature tends to take over in the end.  This idea appeals to me on many levels.  The first one is that this is not an easy cop out plot device, an alien does not come and make Roen magically awesome.  Roen has to work and work hard AND he has to choose to do so...given having an alien constantly goading you in your head in a way that is inescapable is a great motivator, still Roen makes the choice.  This is very apparent when Roen decides to step back and Tao holds his peace and allows Roen to come to his own conclusions.  In the matter of his personal life, Tao helps, but again lets Roen choose his own path with Jill.  Tao says he finds it important to let his humans have their own lives as that is what the Prophus are fighting for in the first place.  The interactions between Tao and Roan are awesome, they mostly consist of a very dry and sarcastic Tao goading his host into doing something and Roen snarkily coming right back at him.  The rate and speed at which Roen learns his various skills is fairly reasonable pace for a human...even with an alien backer and I love that his missions start out boring, easy and almost insulting and then progress.  I also really loved the flashback story telling that Tao does at the beginning of each chapter giving us a history without an info dump. Overall I think my favorite part is the plausibleness of Roen, and the other humans reactions in general.  So many times in a book I will think "what the heck, I would flip if that happened to me!" but the character reacts in a wholly unrealistic yet essential to the plot manner, pissing me off.  In this book Roen is allowed to have natural human emotions and reactions to the crazyness going on around him, making him not only readable, but relatable.   There is so much entertainment, action, spying, aliens, sci-fi, Chicago, Tai-Chi, awesomeness all written in a style that keeps you coming back for more.  I give this book 9 out of 10 code writers and recommend it to anybody who wants to read a well-thought out, entertaining, thought provoking, multi-genre tale of super cool.   Happy Reading Everybody!

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

My Grade School Series

Mmmm fall is my favorite.  I spent the day putting up all my fall stuff, making cider and blasting the AC to pretend that the weather is less the 95 degrees.  This time of year all makes me want to pull out the old books I used to read in my grade school days.

Ramona Collection
This quirky girl series makes me happy to this day.  Everything from Ramona's imaginative pre-school day's to her becoming a young lady hit home with me as a young reader.
Mrs. Piggle-WIggle Series
I love the various means both magical and practical that our eccentric widow uses to help parents with their problem children...also I want to live in an upside down house.
Nancy Drew Mystery Stories
Mysteries, smart girls, and some decent fashion made this my go to series for many of my grade school years.
The Boxcar Children
A series about four inventive children...kind of like my family.  This series never failed to provide many adventure ideas for me to inflict upon my siblings
Encyclopedia Brown: Boy Detective
This was essentially a child version of Sherlock Holmes.  A boy who is very observant and able to put the pieces together in an ingenious fashion.  I always loved trying to solve the mystery before the end of the story.

So that is my list of my favorite series when I was in grade school.  These are the series I read and reread over and over again far into the night.  With school starting again, I think I will pull a couple of these out to read again.  Happy Reading Everybody!

Thursday, September 3, 2015

14 Hours Of Reading Time

I'm off on another road trip and look forward to 14 hours of reading YAY,  Hubbin of course has other ideas...something about me taking my turn driving or something...Anyways it will be a few days before I get another post up.

I hope you all have a wonderful weekend, get lots of reading in and some good fall weather soon.  Happy Reading Everybody!

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Magic Sleep

Hi all, how is your fall going?  Have you broken out the boots yet, or are you stuck with 90 degree heat like I am?  To make myself feel better about this icky heat, I'm gonna ramble about a book 'cause who doesn't love a good rambling.  The book is The Gates of Sleep by Mercedes Lackey and is part of the Elemental Masters series.  As always SPOILERS AHEAD!
Marina Rosewood is born to Alanna and Hugh Rosewood, two Earth Masters who have looked forward to her birth very much.  They are having a private christening party where several of her godparents...who also happen to be Elemental Masters are giving her various gifts that compliment her own Water powers.  Just as they last godparent is getting ready to give her gift, Hugh's estranged sister Arachne (how is that for a villain name?) curses the child to die before her 18th birthday.  The family understandably freaks out a bit, but one last godparent, Elizabeth, a Water Master is able to modify the curse so that if the curse is not activated by the time the child is 18, the curse will rebound on Arachne, and if the curse is activated, then Marina will only sleep until a cure is found.  To try and keep the curse from taking effect, Mariana is sent right then and there with Margahrita (Earth Master), her husband Sebastian (a Fire Master) and her brother Thomas (also an Earth Master) to live in an artist cottage in the woods.  Marina is raised with much love, art and magic by these three until tragedy strikes when she is 17.  Marina's parents die in an "accident" and she become the ward of her aunt Arachne who summons the child to live with her.  Marina is hauled away from her godparents and the only life she has ever known and thrust into a "high society" world that she is entitled to.  Arachne determines that for some reason Marina is clueless about the curse and has no real idea why her parents sent her away.  Arachne keeps a very tight leash on her niece under the guise of prepping her to enter society.  Marina's only break is when she goes to the vicar to work with him.  Marina meets Dr. Andrew Pike, an Earth Master who has built a sanitarium dedicated to actually helping patients instead of just warehousing them.  He also takes in children with Elemental Magic that do not have the benefit of parents or guardians who understand that the kid's are not crazy, just gifted.  Marina helps Dr. Pike when she can and the two fall in love.  Meanwhile Arachne and her odious (I love that word) son Reggie split their time between trying to keep Marina in line, and working on their dark arts in which they steal magic from those who have it by slowly poisoning them in their pottery factories.  Eventually Arachne activates her spell by getting Marina to accidentally prick her finger on a needle hidden in her childhood cradle.  Marina's godparents find her and along with the vicar, and Dr. Pike help Marina defeat Arachne when they are both pulled into the spirit world.  Archacne is defeated, Marina FINALLY learns about her own history and they all live happily ever after.
In case you didn't get it from the synopsis, this installment of the series was based on the fairy tale of Sleeping Beauty.  Of all the books I've read in this series so far this is the most straight forward retelling, with the story following very closely to the original tale.  That made it...I don't want to say boring...but maybe a tad to predictable for my taste as I could pretty much figure out exactly what was going to happen every step of the way.  This was also one of those books that uses a lack of information to further the story.  The whole thing pretty much hinged on Marina not knowing of the curse and ways to counter it.  I would think with all the other things the godparents taught to her, and the way they treated her as an adult most of the time, that they would have pretty much trained her since birth to protect herself.  The love story was also a wee bit forced, but it could have been worse.  What I did like about this particular installment of the series is the almost minimizing of the Elemental Powers in certain characters.  The godparents were essentially artists who used their powers in small, domestic ways...almost as an after thought.  They are more focused on perfecting their art, no their powers and are therefore weaker then a practitioner who spends all their time practicing with their Elements.  I loved that this book showed that there were other less epic ways to wield the elements and still have a great life.  I liked the portrayal of both the vicar and Dr. Pike as men of gentleness, open mindedness and sensibleness.  Many times, especially in Victorian era books, the church men are portrayed as either lecherous power hungry dictators, or bumbling simple comic relief.  The vicar in this book was none of this AND helpful as well.  Dr. Pike along with the sanitarium he ran was also awesome as the evil torturous crazy house is a trope seen way to often in Victorian era books.  Learning about how a person could steal magic using the dark arts was interesting and the two different beliefs of mother and son when it came to the same rituals was cool as well. I did like that Marina could appreciate both the simple artists colony, but still want to have the modern pretty clothes and some part in society.  I think this shows how most people feel, enjoying more than one type of lifestyle and liking pretty things, or wanting to be a part of something different does not make you a bad person, or even lessen your love for another way of life.  Overall it was an ok book, it fits in with the series very well, but is not my favorite one.  I would recommend it to anybody who likes a fairy tale retelling, the Elemental Masters series, or certain tropes turned on their head.  I give this book 7 out of 10 carved cradles.  Happy Reading Everybody!

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

"Fall"ing For My Books

It's September 1st, which in my books means FALL!!!!!!  Here are completely random book/fall pictures to get us in the mood (I know a bit of a cop out, but I be really tired).

Now to make some cider, curl up in my reading chair and crank the AC 'cause it's still 90+ degrees outside and get my fall on!  Happy Reading Everybody!