Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Chilly Read

I have a quick break between work...and well work to give you a quick picture of how I look right about now.
Snowman Reading
Yep in between patients I've been trying to get a couple of pages in resulting in me turning into a reading snow person, teeheehee...I think I might need some sleep...Happy Reading Everybody!

Tuesday, January 26, 2016


Hello All!  If you are a fellow East Coaster I hope you survived the blizzard and were smart enough to not make me and my friends haul you off the road, but instead stayed inside and read.  I worked half of the blizzard and was lucky enough to be home for the second half and I got to finish a bunch of books YAY ME!  Today we will do a ramble on one of those books Vicious by V.E. Scwhab.  I'm gonna try the new format I've been working on and see how it goes, please keep in mind it's a work in progress and suggestions are welcome.  As always SPOILERS AHEAD!
Victor Vale is the dark humored son of self help guru's and has befriended the charming Eli Cardale.  The two appear to be different with Victor being more self contained, dark and sharp.  Eli by contrast comes across as gregarious, and well liked.  Victor however can see a similar darkness under Eli's charming exterior and is intrigued by it.  In the world this book is set in (which is very similar to our own)  the existence of ExtraOrdinary's has been suspected for some time.  An ExtraOrdinary (or EO) is a person who displays an unusual power, usually after a near death experience or NDE.  Both of our boys decide to use this theory in their graduate thesis.  Eventually the boys wonder if you can create and EO by setting up circumstances in which a person dies and is then revived.  Victor tries first and fails.  Eli has better luck, obtaining the power of quick and complete healing, with a side of never appearing to age.  He tries to prevent Eli from trying again, but he does anyways and the result is the death of Eli's girlfriend and the obtaining of the control of pain in himself an others.  Something in Eli snaps when he learns of Victor's transformation and tries to kill him.  Victor is eventually apprehended and put in jail.  While Victor is in jail, Eli decides that EO's are an abomination that are missing parts of their souls and need to be exterminated.  Eli convinces himself that he is on a mission from God and goes about "removing" EO's, justifying his own continued existence as being the tool in which to complete his mission.  Eli eventually runs into an EO by the name of Serena who can bend people, including Eli to her will.  She also shares Eli's feeling that EO's are missing something essential and decides to help him.  Victor breaks out of jail and acquires a couple of friends.  Mitch is a huge hulking tattooed guy, who's real talent lies in computer codes and hacking.  They also run into a twelve year old girl by the name of Sydney...who just happens to be Serena's sister.  Seems both girls were involved in the same incident that caused them both to become EO's.  Serena had lured Sydney to a field where Eli tried to kill her.  Sydney escaped and divulged to Victor that her power was bringing the dead back to life.  Victor uses his friends and a few other people who they run into along the way to set up a trap for Eli.  Eli who has been pre-occupied with Victor through out his mission to eradicate the EO's cannot help but play the game.  There is much back and forth, a lot of violence and death, and eventually Victor is killed by Eli in a way that ensures that Eli will be locked away for good.  Sydney brings Victor back to life and they all go on to live an unusual life.
Ok here is where the format changes a bit.  Let's see if it works shall we?
Essentially instead of one long ramble of diversion, I am going to try and put things into categories so that I can talk about them that way...kind of like my Harry Potter ramblings...anyways lets see what happens.
Worldbuilding - I would classify the world for this book as a near match for our time and world.  It is urban/suburban set in a slightly alternate any town USA. The world building was pretty good, it was pretty much a version of our own world that had EO's in it so that worked.  The town of Merit was especially well done and I felt like it was a complete world with no real problematic areas.
Story -  The actual story was a pretty simple and to the point story that I have heard many times before.  The what is good, what is evil, what makes a hero, when does one cross the line between good and bad.  It was fairly well done, but nothing ground breaking.
Character- I think the characters where the best part of this story.  I loved all of them as they were all a weird mix of stock character, with a unique twist thrown in.  Victor Vale was probably my favorite as his sense of humor very closely matches mine.  Oddly enough I kept seeing Benedict Cumberbatch in my head when I read the Victor parts.  It is very rare that my mind supplies an actual person when reading a character as I prefer to let my own imagination fill that stuff in, but there you have it.  Eli was a great tortured "hero" and Mitch, Sydney and Serena all added good stuff to the story.
Editing - The story was a little skippy around for me.  It employed the back and forth through time technique to show us all the different pieces.  The chapters were clearly labeled and short so I could usually keep up, but it made the story drag.  The action pieces were quick and frenzied, then you would have this skipping around for a couple chapters, then back to the action then back and forth, made the book seem longer then it really was.
Friends and Family - Most of the characters in this story, especially the featured EO's all seemed to suffer from a lack of caring family.  Victor Vale, Sydney and Serena all had successful parents who had very little time for their children.  Other characters either had very little to do with their family, or ended up being abandon by them after their NDE.  I wonder if this was on purpose to make the isolation of the characters more pronounced, or if it was just a convenient way to not have to entangle the characters in extra junk.  For Victor it worked, but when it continued for the other characters it started to feel repetitive.  I also did not really understand why Eli turned so quickly and completely on Victor.  Up until Eli turned they had been best friends, I understand that accidentally killing Eli's girlfriend was probably not kosher, but Eli never really showed signs of true grief about it, instead instantly making Victor his nemesis.  I do find it interesting that even though both Victor and Eli profess a coldness towards other humans, they both find companions for the rest of the story, ones that they are willing to protect and care for.
EO Powers - I did like how the author "assigned" the EO powers, a combination of how a person died and their last thoughts before they came back combined to determine what power a person would have.  For example one character was blown up by an IED and all he could think about was getting away to a dark safe place.  When he eventually came back, his power was the ability to go to a "dark" place and use it to traverse distance in the blink of an eye.  For Victor, he electrocuted himself and then just wanted the pain to stop and his power is control of pain which manifests as a hum like an electrical current.  I love it when writers put details like this in books 'cause it makes me feel like they have actually thought the process through and have not just tossed it in 'cause it sounded cool.
Morality - I thought the author had an interesting take on morality and how it applied to different situations.  I also thought she did a good job creating situations that might make a person question what they thought they believed in.  I'm not 100% sure how I feel about the premise that the EO's left a bit of their soul behind when they came back from their NDE.  I liked how it worked and was pretty consistent in the story, the EO feeling as if they were missing something, that they had to use their knowledge of right or wrong to give themselves the remembered feeling of right and wrong.  This seemed to vary in intensity in each EO, but each one mentions at least some sort of sensation of missing something vital.  As a medical professional whose job it is to bring people back to life, I'm not sure I want people subscribing to the idea that the people I bring back are soulless, because believe me when I say they are most definitely a whole person.   So while the basic story has been told before, I think the added twist of remembered morality in the EO's was original and interesting.
Overall Impressions - I liked it for the most part.  It did not grab and keep my attention like some of my favorite books, but everytime I went back to it I enjoyed it.  A lot of people said they got a comic book vibe out of it, but I felt it to be a much more individual story of a pair of friends who experienced something of such a huge magnitude that it irrevocably changed both of them.  The book seemed to explore the different reactions each boy had to the events and how easy it is to go down any number of paths.  I think that there is a lot to think about, and that the characters were very well done.  I recommend it to anybody who likes an anti-hero, wants a tiny bit of sci fi, or likes a dark sense of humor.
Score - I give this book 6 out of 10 reanimated dogs.
There we have it folks, my first attempt at a new format.  It was actually harder to write then my normal spewing thoughts randomly all over the page, but I think it flows a bit better?  Let me know which style you prefer, or if you have any suggestions.  Happy Reading Everybody!

Sunday, January 24, 2016

New Rambling Guide

Hola Readers!  Here is a quick guide to how I'm gonna attempt to do my ramblings from now on to try and make them a bit more coherent...if that is even possible :-)
Intro - This will be similar to before, with me kind of introducing the book and the reason I read it.

Synopsis - Again not to different from before.  It will still be full of spoilers and spelling/grammer errors, but I am going to attempt to keep them shorter and more concise.

The next section will be my thoughts on various subjects related to the book.  A few I will always have, the rest will be utilized on a book by book basis.

World Building - This is where I will evaluate the setting and world that the author tried to create.  I will talk about what the setting is and how much impact it had on the story...this is also where I will rant about implausibilities.

Story - This category is where I talk about the story, if I liked it, if I felt it was well written or original or a piece of smelly doodoo.  I have yet to figure out how to put into words the importance of the story, or how I evaluate a story, so bear with me while I try and find my big girl words.

Character - This is the place I give a general impression of the characters, were they awesome, were they stock, did they contribute to the story, did I feel like I was introduced to a character, or were they crammed down my throat?  I might mention a favorite here, or one that drove me particularly crazy, but if I really feel strongly they will probably get their own category.

Editing - The more I read, the more important this category becomes.  In a world with self-published books becoming ever more present, the presence or lack of good editing becomes very apparent.  I feel a good story can be ruined by bad editing, and an ok book made great by an editor who understands how to do their job.  Over all this category will be how I feel about the format, pacing and how well it feels the editor and author worked together...or if self published how well the author edited themselves.

Misc. - I can have as many or as few of these as I need to try and get my usually varied and conflicting feeling about any particular tome across.  These categories will be where I ramble about something that struck me in a way either good or bad, a side note, a character or situation that stuck with me, or pretty much anything I want.

Overall Impression - This is where I will try and give a quick and succinct summation of my impression of the book and recommendations to those who may like it.

Score- Again pretty basic, just my 1-10 score of my overall like of the book, but here is a quick breakdown of numbers

  0- Did not finish 'cause I just couldn't deal with it...this one is super rare and the only reason I would even ramble about a book I didn't finish is if I felt like there was something so horrific about it that I would have to share.

 1-5 These are books I did not enjoy for various reasons.  The variance in the score will come on the amount of qualities of the book I did not hate, or had potential.  Any book with a score this low will never be read again and probably be mocked.

6-7 Books with this score are good solid books, not my favorite books, but good solid books.  These are the books I'm glad I read, but may or may not read again, or they are just not my particular cup of tea or they had one major problem area in an otherwise good book.

8-9 These are great books.  These books will be reread and probably have some sort of gushing in the rambling.  They are not perfect, but they are awesome and are going to be my favorites.  These books usually score high in all of my special categories and the things that annoy me usually do not overshadow the book as a whole.

10 - My absolute favoritst books in the whole wide universe!  These books do not have to follow any of the above rules and usually just stick with me regardless.  I have very few 10 books, even most of my favorites don't attain 10's but every once in a while, a book just burrows into my head and heart and becomes family.

This for the moment is my quick guide to my ever changing ramblings.  Hopefully this will force me to order my thoughts in a bit more cohesive manner and really get across what I like, don't like or intrigues me about a book.  We shall see if this experiment works and I reserve the right to make any and all changes I think I need to.  However I would most defiantly appreciate feed back on what works and what doesn't work, what you like about the new vs old and old vs new.
Happy Reading Everybody!

Thursday, January 21, 2016

The Anatomy Of A Good Reading Day

There is nothing like have a few hours to yourself to just read!  The vast majority of the time that is all I want to do, and unfortunately most of my reading is done on the fly so when I get a few solid hours to devote to reading, I want it make it as perfect as possible.  Here is my breakdown of a perfect day of reading.
The Book - Obviously the best part of a reading day is actually reading, so book selection is paramount.  I have found that I enjoy myself the most when my book matches the season/environment/current book craving.  For me this means reading certain books in certain seasons, or maybe gathering a couple of books to really make sure I have the exact right one. This is the most variable of components in a reading day.

The Environment - The next component in a great reading day is the environment.  I like a comfy place that has minimal distractions (I have a hard time reading if there is a tv on...I get too distracted) and a very comfy place to curl up.  This can be any number of places.  I love to read outside, especially int he fall and spring.  Summer time see's me at the pool or beach.  Cold days or tired days you can find me in my comfy reading chair.  I am also a huge fan of pillows/blankets/cushions to really ensure total comfort.  I regularly keep a zillion various cushy items to pad my chosen reading spot and am not above bringing a couple of pillows with me to the great outdoors.  I also really love a unique spot outside of my home zone.  This includes libraries, gardens, restaurants, boats, and well just about anywhere that inspires me.  On vacation my Hubbin has learned to build in at least a couple of hours for me to read in a new local spot.

Libations - I love having the perfect drink next to me while I read...I like it even better when somebody else makes it for me and keeps it full.  I am not horribly picky when it comes to my beverages, I sometimes like to match it to my book, and definitely the weather/environment play a role, but really that's about it.  My favorites include, coffee, tea, wine, Hubbin made cocktails, hot chocolate, cider (hot or cold), occasionally beer or a nice sipping whiskey...pretty much anything that is sippable and enhances the experience.

Snacks - For me it all depends on how I'm feeling as to whether or not snacks are necessary.  Sometimes a certain book will trigger a food craving, or if I'm snacky in general its nice to have some munchies.  My problem is food can get distracting, especially if it's messy, making me pause in my reading to eat.  For the most part any thing I can eat with out utensils or needing to use a napkin after every bite works the best.  I have found a nice box of gourmet chocolates hits the spot.  All that being said, I have on many occasion purposely gone out by myself for a meal at a restaurant with the sole purpose of eating and reading and I find my ebooks work really well for this type of reading day.

Technology - As a general rule, I usually try and banish all technology when I am doing some dedicated reading.  I turn off my phone, tv, computer, and any other distractions and just allow myself to get lost in my books.  The exceptions to this are obviously if I am reading an ebook or if I'm reading something that requires/inspires a quick bit of research...I'll use my phone for that.
If I can get all of these elements to come together at the same time I know I am in for some happy times.  I have spent a lot of time reading and am adept at quickly assembling all components of a perfect reading day anytime I find I have carved out some time.  On that note, it looks like I have a little bit of time now so off I go to brew some coffee and grab a blanket and book.  Happy Reading Everybody!

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Ch Ch Ch Changes

It is that time of year again, the time I re-evaluate my blog and blogging stuff and see what I want to do different in the coming year.  This year is gonna be some significant changes and I thought I would give you all a heads up and invite some input if you so desire.
1.  As I am sure you've noticed, and as I have mentioned, my work schedule is all over the place.  Some days I don't see my bed for 48 hours and as much as i love you all I just don't have it in me to come home and write a good post.  Therefore the biggest change this year is that this will no longer be a daily blog.  I will still try and get as many post up as possible and some weeks it may be every day and some weeks there might only be two or three, keep checking 'cause I will still be writing.

2.  Better quality posts is my goal for this year.  In the interest of trying to maintain this as a daily blog I have noticed I do a lot of quick, pointless repetitive posts that really don't say or contribute much.  I am going to try and focus on stuff that actually matters to me, or that has struck my fancy, or I really want to write about, and a lot less of throwing up a quick stock photo with my "I'm so tired" excuse so yeah, better quality.

3.  I am also working on a new format for my ramblings.  This will be a lot different from my current format and hopefully be a bit more coherent without interrupting what my friends and family call my "you sound just like yourself when you write" style...'cause I like the idea that myself comes through.  I think the new format will allow me to focus in more on the things I personally liked, disliked or found intriguing about any number of things.  I will start using this format as soon as I get all the logistics worked out.
Hopefully these changes will make for a better, more interesting blog and allow me to really take the time I need to work, read and really get some decent writing done.  If anybody has any other suggestions I am open to all advice...may not take it, but am willing to listen.  Happy Reading Everybody!

Monday, January 18, 2016

Shakespeare And The End Of The World

Hello Readers, how's it going?  I just finished a very interesting book and then spent the next week trying to figure out how to ramble about it.  The book was recommended by my baby sis and she had a hard time trying to describe to me, but assured me I would enjoy it so I'm glad I wasn't the only one having a hard time trying to define it.  The book is Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel and here is my best attempt at talking about this (at least to me) indefinable book.  As always SPOILERS AHEAD!
Ok, here we go.  The structure of this book is fairly non-linear with the story jumping back and forth between numerous times and places so it makes it a bit difficult to sum up in the same style as the book so I'm just gonna do this bare bones and suggest you read it your self to truly get the flavor of it.  We start at one of my favorite places, the theatre, wear the acclaimed movie star Arthur Leander is performing as the title character in Shakespeare's King Lear.  On this night, Arthur dies on stage from a heart attacked, which is witnessed by Kirsten Raymonde, a young child actress.  This night is also what becomes known as the first night of a horrific flu virus dubbed the Georgia Flu that ends up decimating over 99% of the human population.  What we see next is the various stories connecting people both past and present.  The two characters of Arthur Raymonde and Kirsten Raymonde seem to be the center points in which the story revolves, but this does not mean every story features them...this is getting more confusing then it really is.  We read the back and forth story of Arthur and the people he comes in contact with including Miranda, who becomes his first wife.  Miranda is also responsible for writing and illustrating a graphic novel called Station Eleven, about a space station gone wrong and a warring population.  This graphic novel shows up in many places through out the story and is in it's entirety help by Kirsten after the world ends.  We also read about Arthur's other wives and his one son Tyler who is still very young at the time of his father's death and the Georgia Flu pandemic.  The readers get to follow Kirsten after the fall of the world as she lives and works with the Traveling Symphony, a group of survivors who travel in a caravan performing music and Shakespeare plays, attempting to keep the arts and beauty alive in a world that is focused on survival.  The group encounters a man who calls himself a prophet who's violent ways of getting what he wants threatens every survivor his group interacts with.  Another story is the founding of the Museum of Civilization in the airport that was the final landing place of many survivors, stranding them and forcing them to start a new life there.  We also find that Arthur's son Tyler was part of that group and it is he who grew up to be the prophet.  This all comes to some sort of ending when the prophet kidnaps a few members of the Traveling Symphony to use as trade and Kirsten kills him.  They all end up at the airport housing the Museum of Civilization and we assume life continues.
I think what I love best about this book is it's indescribable nature, it is a mix of everyday life, memoir, history, dystopia, end of the world, fine arts, religious, medical, redemption, tragedy, family, and so many more things.  I have mostly seen it classified as science fiction...but I'm not sure why.  I guess the "futuristic" pieces of it could speak to science fiction, and the graphic novel that pops up as a unifying thread in the story is defiantly science fiction...but the story itself is not.  I feel it is one of those wonderful works that does not fit into any one genre, instead giving us a glimpse of a time and place through the use of contrasting the new with the old and showing us in pieces how the characters and the world got to where it was in the book.  Alright, in case you haven't figured it out the only real way you are gonna know anything of substance about this book is to read it.  I will now attempt to convey what spoke to me in this book.  My favorite part was of course the weaving of Shakespeare through out the whole book.  It starts with a wonderful depiction of traditional theatre, with glimpses behind the scenes and continues with the Traveling Symphony using it to help keep people human. My love of theatre was kept to happy levels with this book.  I also very much enjoyed the Station Eleven parts of the book.  I loved the glimpses of the story within a story and the description of the art work makes me wish it was real so I could read it.  The style of the writing was wonderful and easy to follow with the potential to get pretentious or overly sappy, but the author kept a strict hand on the sentiment and ended up with great flow.  Arg...I'm not doing a very good job here.  Hmmm.  Ok think of this as a cake with many layers and the cake itself is the foundation the main story is written about and where the author always goes back to.  The frosting is the main characters who's history and future is touched on, and all then their are the bits and pieces of chocolate, nuts and fruit scattered through out to add texture and flavor and that is probably the closest I can get to describe this book.  I give it 8 out of 10 glass paper weights and recommend it for any body who wants to read something different and thought provoking, but is not to pretentious or esoteric for every day reading. Everybody please, please, please read this and come back and discuss it with me!!!!  Happy Reading Everybody!

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Writing Desk

I need a writing desk.  I need one to write this blog and become famous and successful...because I heard that is how it works...if you have a great writing desk you win...I might be a little tired...somebody send me one of these and lets see what happens.
Multidrawer desk
I LOVE all the little drawers...don't know what I would put in them...but I love them
Palm Beach Curved Desk
I could write the prettiest books on this pretty desk
Contemporary Writing Desk
I feel more creative just looking at this desk.
Antique Victorian Desk
For writing it old school
Portable Desk
For on the road
I am positive that possessing any of these fine desks would be very helpful in my reading and writing "career" so anybody who assists me with this acquisition will be mentioned in some sort of literary note.  Ok I'm going to bed now.  Happy Reading Everybody!

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Seriously Useless...(Not Really)

So I just asked my Mamma for a post topic and she had you get this instead.
Because that is just the mood I'm in.  Happy Reading Everybody!

Monday, January 11, 2016

Midnight Rodeo

Hello all, how was your weekend?  Mine was fabulous and as it included reading and finishing a couple of books I thought we would start of the week with a rambling.  Today's book was a gift from a very good friend of mine who along with sharing my love of lights and sirens is possibly crazier then I am (in a good way).  She gave me this book for multiple reasons, some very personal and also 'cause she thought I would enjoy it.  She was right on both counts.  The book is Furiously Happy: A Funny Book About Horrible Things by Jenny Lawson (who is also known as The Bloggess).  I'm gonna jump right in, as always SPOILERS AHEAD!
So this isn't really a book that one can sum up plot wise as it is more of a memoir/random topics/rambly style of book (which is probably one of the reasons I liked it).  Instead I will kind of go back and forth and...well...I call them ramblings for a reason.  The author is bat shit crazy...but so am I and so is most of the rest of the world, so this works for me.  She has been diagnosed with a number of illnesses both physical and mental and this book is a combination memoir and coping mechanism, with a great dose of suggestions for people who either have and/or are dealing with loved ones in the same position.  The author gives us glimpses into her life, some humorous as when she uses her pair of taxidermied raccoons (yep the same ones on the cover) to ride her cats in a midnight cat rodeo while battling insomnia.  Some are sad and scary while she shows us a night she pulls her hair and gouges her scalp to cause herself pain for reasons that are only partially known even to her.  Then we get a mix, like when she battled panic, fear and reason to board a plane with her friend to Australia to run around in a Koala suit and try and cuddle the bears.  These little pieces of her life are interspersed with introspection, therapy sessions and random musings.  A mix of entertaining, informative and for some of us very helpful.

I feel that this book is intended for a very specific audience.  First and foremost it is intended for other crazies like myself.  A lot of people hate that I throw that word around, they feel I am making light of a situation, or putting an un-PC label on people, but as a person with my own identified issues I love the word 'cause that's what I am folks.  Some days I'm crazier then others and some days my peeps are crazier then me, but I think that is part of what makes us interesting.  Anyways I think those of us who deal with the various stages, severities and varieties of what we have deemed mental issues, problems or illnesses will probably find some glimpse of ourselves and the struggles we face in this book.  I also feel the people who live with us, love us and deal with us (and face it probably have crazy of their own) would identify or at least nod and go "mm-hmm" when reading this book.  Other people (those rare so called "normals" with only "normal peeps) will get various mileage from it.  I had a bunch of stuff I was gonna write, but the more I think about it the more I feel like this book is gonna mean very different things to every person.  A lot of people will appreciate the humor...though many will be appalled that a functioning person can think the way the author does.  Many people will be able to use the tips and tricks...some will find them completely pointless.  A few of us will run out and buy a ton of spoons, tie them with silver ribbon and hand them out to everybody who needs extras and that is ok too. I like how the author does not disguise her struggles, and while she knows that she needs and can ask for help, she is not helpless.  She treats all her issues, physical and mental like diseases (which they are) and does what she can to treat all of it.  She tries when she can to use what resources she has to live a life worth living which is more then a lot of us can say.  I absolutely love that she reiterates over and over that she is not everybody and the each person has their own issues and her solutions are not the only ones, nor will they work for everybody.  I think the author just wants us to know we are not alone, and that it is ok to be broken, but we need to find, create and savor the good and pull those times out to get us through the dark parts. Overall I can't really talk about this book other then to say it was a good read, I got what I got out of it, I think everybody can get something out of it and that you should all go read it and tell me what you think. Also side note...I adore her Hubby who reminds me of a less crazy version of my own Hubbin.  I give it 8 out of 10 homicidal swans and will keep my happy days like pretty jewels to pull out on the bad days.  Happy Reading Everybody!

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Hidden Treausres

As if books are not awesome enough, check this stuff out.
I want a whole bookshelf full of these!!!!!  I wonder if I can get Mamma to learn to do this for me.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Book Within Book

One of the many things I love about books and the reading community is how versatile and cross-referenced it is.  I have been noticing in so many of the books that I am reading that other books are referenced, or used as a focal point, or read, or written or some combination of these.  There are ton's of great books out there about books...if that makes any sense and these are always fun if a bit meta.  There are books that use a particular book as a jumping off point, or are referenced through out.  Some books just acknowledge their own characters love of reading.
I think what I love so much about all this meta booky goodness is that it shows just how huge, yet intimate the literary world is. An author can pop in a Shakespeare reference and most matter age or place or genre can get at least the gist of the quote.  Many classics make appearances that tie together the modern world with the older one.  Pretty much any time a book reference pops up in a book I'm reading, it doubles my literary enjoyment and makes me smile.  Happy Reading Everybody!

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Mamma Shorts

My Mamma is here for a visit YIPEEEE!!!! We immediatly set about talking on one of our favorite subjects. Books.  This time though we got into an even better conversation.  Seems we have both been having some really lucid dreams that feel almost like stories.  So we poured a couple of Captain and Cokes and proceeded to discuss turning our dreams into short stories.
The result is a notebook full of short story idea's and a couple of slightly tipsy girls.  I'm am totally stoked for the rest of her trip which includes a day at the bookstore and at least one day nothing but coffee and reading.  Happy Reading Everybody!

Monday, January 4, 2016

Marmee's Girls

Hola, are we all ready to be done with the holiday's and back to our (sort of) regularly scheduled programming?  Great.  To get back into it I'm gonna ramble about one of my favorite old school books.  Little Women by Louisa May Alcott has been a favorite of mine for a long time and I read it as a bit of a counter balance to all the snark and weirdness I was into this year.  As always SPOILERS AHEAD!
This book is about the March family, a family in the New England region during the Civil War era.  Marmee (the mamma) has four girls.  The oldest is Meg, who is beautiful, practical and longs for the finer things in life.  Next comes Jo, a wild girl who when younger wishes she could have been born a boy, is creative, impetuous and loves her family dearly.  Beth comes next and is as sweet and fragile as they come, she is musically and domestically talented and is beloved by all.  Finally the youngest Amy, a fair and pretty girl with artistic talent, a wee bit of pretension and dreams of being a proper lady.  These girls are the main focus of the story and we watch them grow from teenagers into women and follow their lives, dreams, challenges, heartaches and eventual futures.  The book was origanally two separate books, Little Women and Good Wives, but has been published as one book forever.  Lets start with the first half (There is WAY too much stuff going in to put in every detail, but I'll try and give you the highlights).  The girls and their Marmee are trying their hardest to live their live in a greatly reduced state while their father is off being a chaplain for the North during the Civil War.  The are encouraged by their mother to continually improve themselves for the sake of others.  Each girl is continually featured dealing with their own particular flaws, getting into some sort of scrape because of it and becoming better for learning their lesson.  All of this is enhanced by the presence of the neighbor boy Laurie, who has his own good points and bad as well.  Meg continually struggles with her want of nice things, she wants to be comfortable and often over extends herself to the point of foolishness to obtain them.  She is called on it more than once by Laurie who prefers Meg to just be content with her natural beauty and charm.  Meg is the first to grow up and is won over by a man who while poor is honorable and loving.  Jo is continually either up or down, she is constantly frustrated at trying to constrain herself to the ideals of a female in polite society.  Lucky for Jo, her family understands her and gives her great leeway in finding herself.  She and Laurie are very close and run around getting into all sorts of shenanigans, enjoying themselves immensely.  Unfortunately, Jo's mouth and temper are getting her into all kinds of scrapes, some with significant consequences.  She is the most distraught when her sisters start to grow up and have lives of their own, as she is torn between wanting everything to stay the same, and the urge to turn life on its head.  Beth has very few flaws, other then being incredibly shy.  She is sweet and docile and just wants life to be smooth and happy for her little family.  Her giving nature leads her to fall ill with Scarlet Fever, an illness that she never fully recovers from.  Little Amy tries very hard to be good, and usually succeeds...even if she tells everybody just all about the nice things she has done.  Her burden is her desire to be a little lady and accepted in society, even if it means going against her upbringing.  Of all the girls she probably does the most growing.  The second half of the book deals with the girls as they become women and show how the hard work they put in growing up eventually pays off.  Meg marries, John and has a pair of adorable babies.  She works hard at being a good wife and mother and entertains the reader as as she tries to balance the two and her never far desire for the finer things in life.  After a heart breaking decision regarding her relationship with Laurie (she can only see him as a brother and he wants more) she leaves to New York to work on her career and eventually finds her future in a German professor by the name of Behr and a school she founds for the boys of the town.  Beth continues to serve her family and breaks all of their hearts when she can no longer fight her illness and dies.  Amy goes abroad and learns to be a gentle and devoted lady and is rewarded when she and Laurie fall in love and marry.  At the end everybody returns home, watched over by the spirit of Beth and do their best to try and live the best lives they can.
Whew that was a chunk of synopsis and it does not even got into any real detail, and the detail is where the charm lies.  I have always enjoyed this book starting the first time I read waaaaaay back in the second grade.  I think most of it comes from the fact that, especially when I was younger, I very much identified with the March family.  There were four kids, I come from a family of four kids.  There are lots of sisters in the book, I have two sisters.  Laurie reminds me very much of my own adventurous, mischievous brother.  Mamma and Daddy March tried their best to raise decent, thinking kids, with love and acceptance being the main mode of operation, the same at our house.  All of this combined with all the little episodes and going ons of the girls and Laurie made me feel like I was part of the family as it so closely resembled my own.  Now that I am older I appreciate the struggle of many of the characters to just become better humans,  They all have flaws that most humans have, but instead of glorifying them, or vilifying them, the author used them to create very realistic and constantly growing characters.  Now all that being said, the book can very preachy and moralizing, but never in a judgmental way, but more in a gentle "hey maybe not be so selfish so everybody can be happy" sort of way.  All the girls are realistic, with not any one being better then the other, and even little angel Beth had her moments of self-pity and little rebellions.  I also like how all the characters grew and improved, but still struggled with their own particular problems, none of them magically going away, but constantly being worked on.  Jo was always my favorite, with her boyish and bold personality...and since I have been accused of having a big mouth on more then one occasion understand the struggle.  I have read this book so many times that I rarely read the whole thing cover to cover anymore, perfering to flip to the bits and pieces that best suit my mood and situation at the time.  Overall it is a great read for anybody who likes early American fiction, great characters and/or an overall timeline that can be read in small stories.  I give it 8 out of 10 limes and will probably read it several more times.  Happy Reading Everybody!

Friday, January 1, 2016

This Year I Will...

Ok time for some literary New Year Resolutions.  A few of these may sound familiar, but hey if at first you don't succeed...pour a glass of wine and read again.

1.  As my nephew Lil G would say, I need to get off the videos.  I find myself lamenting my lack of reading time, yet spend an insane amount of time in front of some sort of screen.  This year I am going to try and set out at least an hour if I can most days to read.  This shouldn't be hard as I love love love reading (obviously), but I just need to keep better rack of my time.

2.  I need to find all of my books.  This year I have bought, been given, or been loaned a ton of books.  The problem is I'm not exactly sure where I stashed most of them (this would not be a problem if I had more book shelves my sweet Hubbin).  So I need to scour the house and find all of these cool books and read them.

3.  I want to find and read some of the older books that I have discovered through various means.  To often my selections are based on what is screaming at me from the book store shelf and I know there are a ton of older books that I am dying to discover out there so I need to make a conserted effort to find them.

This is what I am going to attempt in my reading life this year...we will see how it goes.  Let me know what your literary resolution is.  Happy Reading Everybody!