Thursday, March 31, 2016

Reading For Myself

Lately I have noticed that my reading list has become a bit of a chore.  Because of the blog I feel like I have to read a certain variety of books, or a planned sequence of books, or read the book with a certain slant to make a coherent rambling.  Lately this mind set has diminished my ability to just grab a book that suits my mood and dive in.  I find that this is a hazard of turning something you love into a job.  So I decided to just say screw it and read what I want when I want.  This has helped me rediscover the whole reason why reading is such an essential part of my being.  I have to remember that as much as I love writing this blog, as much fun it is to discuss my current reads ad nauseam and how great it is for my brain to exercise it's creative strength with writing, that if I am not getting what I personally need from my books, then this blog is pretty worthless.  Anyways thanks for listening to my wandering thoughts today.  Hopefully my future rambles will be better for my new mindset.  Happy Reading Everybody!

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Lost In A Book

This amazing piece of art pretty much sums up how I feel when I read THAT book.
Get Lost in a Book
Love it!  Happy Reading Everybody!

Monday, March 28, 2016

Series Vs Stand Alone

I have been a wee bit obsessed with two book series lately, mostly because of the quality of the writing, but also 'cause I know every time I pick up a book in either series, I'm gonna love it (these are both longer running series that have so far stood the test of time).  This got me thinking that a) I really need to read some other books on my list, and b) what are the pro's and con's of series vs stand alone's (hence the post title tee hee hee).  Anyways here is a randomly put together list of what I love and hate and meh about the different formats.
     Pros - A good series means I can walk into a bookstore/hop online and buy any book in the series                   and know I'm gonna love it.
             - When I'm in a good book slump I can pick up the next book in a beloved series and know                     I'm gonna get what I want.

             - It gives the author time to truly explore a world/storyline/character and develop them in a                   fully readable manner

             - Gives the reader a chance to continually go back to a world they love, characters that feel                   like friends and a variety of stories.  Sometimes it feels like going to a best friends house or                 a favorite vacation spot, it's just great for the literary brain

            - The books look really pretty when they are lined up on your shelf with their coordinating                      covers.
     Cons - Waiting for the next book in a beloved series to come out, especially when the last book                        ends on a cliff hanger.

              - Some books just don't need to be made into a series...seriously, just finish that fabulous                        story that only needs one book and let it go.

             - When a series rambles on longer then it needs to or goes off track, some worlds/stories                         support an unending amount of books, others have a definite end date...

             -  A series that finishes unsatisfactory.  Seriously a huge pet peeve is when I invest all this                       time and emotion into a really great series and then the last book or two just screws all of it                 up...grrr

             - When a loved series author dies...especially if the series is left unfinished
Stand Alone Books
     Pros - A great beginning to end story contained between two covers is invigorating to me.

              - No waiting for the next book in the series.

              -  A sense of completion when you have finished a novel.

              - A good stand alone novel forces the author to choose each word and phrase with care as                       there is no later chance to fix it.  This usually leads to better writing. (Again talking about                   pros and good books here)

              - A slightly better chance that the movie made from the book might actually follow the                           actual story.

              - You don't have to worry if the stand alone novel matches the rest of the series :-)

     Cons - If the book had great world building, I am sad that I don't get to go back to it in a different                   way.

               - Less of a change to develop long term story's and sometimes a character does not get as                      fully developed.

               - A one off book that is not really the authors normal style, leaving you to be unreasonably                    disappointed in the authors other books (think of it like a radio played single that is the                        weird song on the album).

              - An overly long book that probably could have been separated into at least a couple of                           books, making you feel like the book will never end.

              - A book that has been edited for length to be a single novel from a potential multi book                         format when the editing leads to me be totally confused because key information was                           edited out for length.
I am sure that there are many other pro's and con's for both formats that we could add, and I haven't even gotten into things like shared worlds, multi-authors and things like that, but I think I have the basic point across.  Happy Reading Everybody!

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Wonka's Whipple-Scrumptious Fudgemallow Delight

Usually when I need to give my brain a break I go to my childhood favorites.  This time I picked up Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl.  This book has always appealed to me for many reasons, not the least of which is the idea of endless chocolate.  Ready to go on a wild ride?  As always SPOILERS AHEAD!
Charlie Bucket is a very poor boy who lives with his parents and his four bed bound Grandparents in a tiny drafty house.  They subsist mostly on cabbage soup with the occasional bite of bread.  They are a loving family though and do there best to help each other survive.  Grandpa Joe tells little Charlie the story of Willy Wonka's Chocolate factory that had to shut its doors to the public due to all the spying going on.  Grandpa Joe tells Charlie that one day the factory started up again, with mysterious workers helping Wonka produce sweet wonders...but the gates remained closed and locked.  One night an announcement goes out that in five random Wonka chocolate bars are golden tickets that will allow a person into the Wonka factory.  Obviously the world is vary excited and a run on chocolate bars ensues.  The first person to find a golden ticket is the gluttonous Agustus Gloop, a little boy who won't stop eating.  Next is the very spoiled Veruca Salt who obtained her ticket when her father paid his peanut shellers to open candy bars instead.  Charlies birthday happens and he gets his traditional chocolate bar which sadly contains no golden ticket.  The third ticket goes to the annoying, gum chewing Violet Beauregarde and the fourth to the television and violence obsessed Mike Teavee.  Grandpa Joe figures out a way to get Charlie another chocolate bar, which again holds no ticket.  Mr. Bucket loses his job at the toothpaste factory and the family begins to starve.  Charlie finds a dollar bill on the way home and uses it to buy chocolate (smart boy) he wolfs it down and buys another and lo and behold GOLDEN TICKET!  The long anticipated day arrives and the five winners along with their parents (except Charlie who just brings Grandpa Joe) arrive at the factory to meet the mysterious Willy Wonka.  They are greeted by a funny little man in a green had and purple velvet coat who promptly brings them inside the wondrous factory.   The first stop is my personal favorite, a huge meadow area where EVERYTHING is edible and made of candy! How cool is that ?!?  The best part is the chocolate river running through it.  Here we lose our first winner when Augustus Gloop falls into the river while drinking the chocolate and is sucked up the pipe.  Here we also meet the Oompa Loompa's, small weird colored guys who sing mean, yet insightful songs about our wayward winners.  The remaining people get into a fantastic boat and go hurtling down the chocolate river past many tantalizing doors stopping in an experimental room where our next child leaves us.  The gum chewing Violet grabs an experimental piece of gum and turns into a giant blueberry.  New up the nut sorting squirrles who decide Veruca is a bad nut when she try's to get her greedy little hands on one, bye bye Veruca.  We are now down to Mike TeaVee and Charlie Bucket.  Mike requests something TV related and Wonka takes them to a room where he is transmitting chocolate by radio waves to televisions.  Mike gets himself miniaturized when he jumps in front of the camera to get on TV.  We are now left with just sweet Charlie Bucket and his grandfather.  Willy Wonka then reveals that the whole point of the competition was to find an heir to his factory.  He offers it to Charlie, telling him the whole family can move in.  The book ends with Wonka telling Charlie to press a special button on the glass elevator that hurls them to Charlies home where they pick up his family to start a better life.
World Building - The book is a semi-fantastical novel mostly set in this awesome chocolate factory.  The world is fairly contained and more hinted at then shown.  There is a huge scope for people to fill in details and use their imagination to make the factory anything they want it to be.  My favorite spot is the meadow and chocolate river as it makes my imagination explode.

Story - The main story was pretty straight forward, a cautionary tale for children.  This is the type of story that tells you if you behave you can inherit a chocolate factory :-)  It also had a good punch of humor and straight up crazy which is always a plus for me.  Keeping in mind that this is an old school MG book I think the story kept a good balance between cheeky and a morality tale.

Character - The main characters were all pretty stock style characters, but this was done on purpose to illustrate a point, so I will give the kids a pass on this one.  I do however love Veruca Salt not for any real reason, I just do.  I also really enjoy Grandpa Joe's spunkyness and his ability to take quiet Charlie on this great adventure.  Of course my absolute favorite character is Willy Wonka. Just his name makes me smile, but what I really love is his sheer eccentricness.  He is the perfect mix of creative, dreamy, responsible, compassionate, logical and bat sh*t crazy.  I love everything about him.

Editing - This was a pretty simple and straight forward book told in a simple and straight forward way.  Not a lot to say about the editing other then it was fine.  Also there a bunch of really weird, scary yet fitting illustrations by Quentin Blake that add the perfect touch to this book.

Parents - The children in this book all had very obvious flaws that caused their downfall, but what I thought was interesting and very cool was that the book was very clear that the reason the children had gotten as bad as they were was the fault of the parents.  We see multiple times where the parents could have brought their precious darlings to heel, but instead indulged and defended them.  It's good to know that the author at least knew where bad kids come from...bad parents.  In contrast Charlie's family was responsible and loving and had trained Charlie so well he didn't even need his parents at factory, instead he go his spunky Grandpa Joe.

Imagination - I like how this book inspires imagination.  There are a couple well explained rooms and candies, but most are just hinted at.  I like this because it gives the reader a chance to imagine what all the different things could be, or look like, or taste like.  The lay out of the book also hints at almost endless possibilities, making this a great book to read with your kids or nephews and nieces or whoever because it leaves a ton of open ended conversations.  Even the "punishments" that the naughty kids get are creative, and in the end not permanent.

Movies - I can't mention this book without talking about the movies.  There is Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory with Gene Wilder as the title character, and the later Charlie and the Chocolate Factory with Johnny Depp at Willy Wonka.  Now I adore Johnny Depp and I know that to some degree Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is more faithful to the book, but I mostly find it a tad too creepy for my taste.  The Gene Wilder version on the other hand is one of my favorite movies ever!  While it definitely does not follow the book word for word it most definitely keeps the spirit of the book to the fullest extant.  It will probably come as no surprise to anybody that my favorite scene is the World of Pure Imagination song/scene.  Also I feel that Gene Wilder captures the person of Willy Wonka perfectly.

Overall Impression - I very much enjoy this book, I feel it is entirley age appropriate, not overly complicated or angsty and is perfect for reading with a younger person.  I feel it encourages conversation and imagination and pretty much recommend it to everybody.  I give it 8 out of 10 everlasting gobstoppers and am now going to go watch the movie and eat some chocolate.  Happy Reading Everybody!!!

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

How I Make Friends

As if there was any question, I feel that books are the absolute best way to make friends.  I have made so many connections with the most amazing and random of people because of books.  I know we can be friends if you fulfill any of these requirements.

1. I see you read a book...pretty much anybody who reads can be my friend.

2.  I see you read a book that I love and you seem to love it too...then we will probably be best friends.

3.  You recommend a book to me we can be  friends

4.  You recommend a book to me 'cause as soon as you read it you knew I would love it because (insert awesome reason here)...we will probably be best friends.

5.  You quote literature at opportune moments, you can be my friend

6.  You use books, quotes, characters and settings to describe everyday life you will probably be my best friend.

7. You discuss books with me, you can be my friend.

8 You argue, gush, theorize, fanfic and parse out every iota of a are gonna be my best friend.

9.  You go see a movie based on a book and put up with  my unending can be my friend.

10. You go see a movie based on a book, in costume, at the midnight showing and actively help me record all the absurd departures from the beloved book while simultaneously secretly loving the are gonna be my bestie.

11.  You think taking me out to coffee at a bookstore is a perfect can be my boyfriend.

12.  You constantly search out every library, bookshop and book event in a 500 mile radius, stand in line for half a day to get my book signed, hand over pretty much every shelf to my collection and constantly feed my literary addiction...I'm probably gonna marry you!

If you find your self in need of some extra literary friends, just follow these helpful tips and you too will find a friend...or if your lucky a bosom friend (anybody who gets this reference is automatically my best friend ever!)  Happy Reading Everybody!

Monday, March 21, 2016

A Glass Of Wine

I am a fan of my numerous posts talking about my consumption of said libation while reading can attest.  This weekend while exploring more book themed things that I don't really need but really want...while sipping vino...led me to these great glasses that I need to sip/gulp/slam wine from while I read.
Julius Caesar Quote Glass
Drink Me Alice In Wonderland Wine Glass
Pride and Prejudice Glass
Harry Potter House Cup Wine Glasses
Lord of the Rings Wine Glasses
So anybody who wants to send a couple of these over my way will be invited over to drink a couple of glasses of vino while discussing all the awesome books!  Happy Reading Everybody!

Wednesday, March 16, 2016


Ok so I have FINALLY started to catch up on my reading.  After apx 200 hours spent on an ambulance or in a fire station I desperately needed the reading time.  One of the books that got me through the epic shift of crazy was Epic: Legends of Fantasy edited by John Joseph Adams.  It is a short story collection featuring authors who have set these stories in their previously written epic, sweeping worlds and it hit the spot. Here are a few of my favorite.  As always SPOILERS AHEAD!
 Homecoming by Robin Hobb - I was totally stoked to see the first story was by one of my current favorite authors AND set in my favorite world that this author writes in.  The story is a pre-qual to her Rain Wilds world and gives readers of her books a bit of a glimpse into how this harsh land was settled.  The author brings her signature in depth characters and an amazing ability to paint a world that feels real and complete with out over explaining things.

The Alchemist by Paolo Bacciglupi - This was a complete story with a beginning, middle and end...which is usually very hard to do in a short story format.  The story is about a man who risks everything to save his small family.  When he comes up with a solution to save his world, it is taken by the government and used to control what is left of the population.  The world was inventive and complete, the characters detailed and realistic and the story was both entertaining and nuanced.  I loved every page of this story and am now inspired to pick up a book by this guy as I have never read him before...I love it when that happens.

The Road to Levinshire by Patrick Rothfuss - This story set in a world I now want to go read about is both sad and very very good.  It shows what happens when people make assumptions, especially about whole groups of people.  There is trauma, violence and hopefully a change of thinking when a man goes through some pretty extreme measures to change peoples perspective on pre conceived notions.  This is a story of ideas, which I always find the short story format is perfect for.  This is another author I am now going to look up.

Bound Man by Mary Robinette Kowal - Two different worlds and two different times define this story.  A warrior woman is called from her time and world against her will by a man who considers her a god.  She goes through many emotions trying to figure out why everything happened the way it did.  I love stories like this that essentially turn inside out on themselves.  The contrast between the two characters, what they knew and how they felt about the current situation made for plenty to think about and was a fantastic read.

The Mystery Knight by George R. R. Martin - At this point I am sure the majority of fantasy fans have at least heard of The Song of Ice and Fire series and this entry into that universe is pretty much perfect.  It sets the story in a bit of history of the world of the Seven Kingdoms, but it is not required for a person to have read the series to enjoy it.  It is the quintessential jousting tournament/wedding/knights tale that seems to be the basis for what one would consider "classical" fantasy and it delivers every bit of castlely goodness one could want.
One of my favorite things about this collection was actually the introduction that FINALLY summed up what it is that I love about epic fantasy...seriously go read it.  The only real flaw I could come up with is that several of these stories...while they can be read and enjoyed by anybody...probably are most fully appreciated if the reader has read other books that set up the world the stories are set in...does that make any sense at all?  Anyways, this collection lived up to it's promise of EPIC.  I loved the stories set in the worlds I know and now have a couple of new authors to look up.  I give this collection 7 out of 10 demonic swords and recommend it to anybody who loves a well built world and epic fantasy!  Happy Reading Everybody!


I got to spend the day with one of my firefighter/EMT/booklover/awesome friend yesterday and it was pretty great.  We spent some time in the Smithsonian National Gallery of Art and can I just say it was very inspiring.  There is just so much variety in styles, mediums, time periods and aesthetics that I spent most of the time torn between wanting somebody to write a story about certain pieces and running straight home to my bookshelf to immerse myself in worlds inspired by these works of art.
We finished our day of awesome at a concert where again I was reminded how all the different art forms work and compliment each other...and also how much I was again inspired to read certain books.  Seriously the whole day was just one running list of books I now wanted to read because of all the cool things I saw and heard.  I love day's like this that remind me how the whole world fits together so well, and how reading is one part of it.  Go get inspired people...and if a couple of you want to write me some cool stories, even better!  Happy Reading Everybody!

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Out Of The Box

The Firehouse book club strikes again!  Today I'm gonna ramble about a book recommended to me by my driver, and if this is the quality of books she chooses, I will be reading everything she passes to me!  The book is Room by Emma Donoghue and it was INTENSE!  First things first, a quick synopsis followed by a good long rambling.  As always SPOILERS AHEAD!
The story is told excursively through the eyes of five year old Jack...which is a bit weird, but works really well for this story.  Jack has lived his entire life in an 11x11 foot place called Room.  He lives with his Ma and is very content with his itty bitty life, mostly 'cause he doesn't know any better.  In this Room Jack and his Ma eat, sleep, play, learn, and live as best they can.  At night Ma puts Jack in a wardrobe to sleep until Old Nick is finished with Ma.  We start the book on Jack's fifth birthday and Ma starts to let Jack know that there is more to the world then Room.  This freaks Jack out as literally all he has known was the four wall, floor and skylight that is Room.  Ma does everything she can to teach her little boy, but only so much can learned in such a restricted environment.  Ma tells Jack that she too used to be young, that she had a mom and dad and brother.  She tells Jack that when she was in college a man tricked her and kidnapped her.  She has been held captive for 7 years, giving birth to Jack apx two years into her captivity.  Ma comes up with a plan to escape, but Jack has a bit part he needs to play and he is understandably reluctant.  The plan is to pretend Jack has died from a sickness that they have been faking for a while and when he wraps up the "body" to bury that is when Jack will escape and get help.  The plan...while having a few flaws to hinder it...ends up working and Jack and Ma are finally rescued.  The second half of the book is how the two adjust to being in the world.  For Ma it is coming back to life after 7 years, for Jack it is discovering how to live in a world he didn't even know existed.  Jack and Ma stay in hospital for a while, working with psychologists and doctors to try and adjust to their new life.  Ma's family comes to visit with different reactions.  Her mother is overjoyed to have her daughter back and does her best to try and adjust, taking a shine to Jack almost instantly.  Her father, whom divorced her mother after the kidnapping is happy to see her, but can't accept Jack as anything other then proof of what the monster who took his daughter did to her.  Ma's brother, his wife and young daughter do their best to make Jack feel like a normal kid.  As expected there are many bumps in this road to regaining life.  Ma has a melt down and takes pills which lands her in a real hospital.  Jack goes with his grandmother and step grandfather and I think this is my favorite part of the book to watch this weird little family learn to work together.  Ma is released and she and Jack move into an apartment that is part of the program to get them back into life.  Jack wants to go back to Room, understandably wanting to find comfort in familiarity.  Ma finally agrees and Jack realizes that Room is no longer home and Ma finds some bit of closer.
World Building - The first half of this book is set in Room and the author did a phenomenal job in making this space both a suffocating prison, and a place a little boy calls home.  The rest of the book is set in a contemporary time and place.  Watching Ma and Jack's world expand from an 11x11 room to a whole town was wonderful and very well done.

Story - The story was simple, elegant and complete.  I kept turning the pages, immersed in what would happen next to this little family.  The story felt fairly realistic and well researched.  I think what I liked most about the story was the fact that it showed simple every day things in a whole new light.  Having it told through the eyes of a five year old boy who had never seen the outside world gave a very different, yet very honest point of view.  This is the kind of story that reminds us that all humans have a story to tell and the perspective is everything.

Character - I felt that the characters were the strongest point in this book.  Every single character felt very real and very honest which is very hard to do in a story that could very easily get angsty.  I thought the relationships between each character was valid and appropriate.  I am so so so so so happy that the author showed a perfect mix of compassion, restraint and empathy when it came to every one of her characters.  Ma was in turns strong for herself and her son, and yet had some real issues that I imagine one would have in the situation she was thrust into.  Jack was a great voice to show the reader how confusing and also how simple the every day world can be.  Ma's family showed us the whole spectrum of emotions and reactions people would have when a loved one comes back from such a horrific ordeal.  Even the various doctors, nurses, specialists and reporters had a very authentic feel.

Editing - I don't have a whole lot to say about the editing other then it was border line perfect.  The pacing was wonderful, the story had a beginning, middle and end.  The book progressed in a realistic and understandable was just really well edited (and written).

Family Dynamic - I LOVED the various reactions that Ma's family had to her return and to the fact that she now has a son.  The fathers reaction, while sad, is understandable.  Seeing Jack must have been a constant reminder that he could not protect his little girl from the ravages of the sicko who took her.  Her brother doing his best to treat Jack as a normal kid...had it's issues but it was wonderful to see him do his best to accept Jack at face value.  Ma's mother and new step-father where just great.  I love watching Jack's grandmother try to balance her shock and awe at the weirdness of Jack, with the need to love and help him.  Her solutions to some of his more different problems where both loving and practical.  His step-grandfather was the best at just going with the flow, understanding that sometimes this sheltered little boy just needed some space.  The relationship between Ma and Jack was the absolute best.  The author somehow managed to walk that fine line between Ma being protective, loving and the only thing to matter to Jack without crossing over into weird/gross/uncomfortable territory.  It was truly a story of a mamma doing what ever it took to give her son the best life possible.  This doesn't mean she was perfect, but she did the best she could.

Psychology - Being in the field I am in (medical/EMS/Fire) I see all kind of...well pretty much everything that the human condition has to offer.  I have also in the course of my education had to take numerous psychology while I don't consider myself an expert, I think I can say I have some experience with human psychology.  A lot of times having this knowledge is a downer when I read or watch something, because to many authors ignore the practicalities of human nature so that they can tell a fantastic story.  Not so in this book.  The author really seemed to know her stuff and the varied reactions, time to adjust, mood swings, really just about everything these characters experienced was spot on.  I really really appreciate the effort that went into making this book so believable.

Voice - Like I noted before, this entire story is told in the voice of five year old Jack.  At first it took some getting used fact for a while it was down right annoying, I mean seriously do you have to name EVERYTHING!  As the book progressed though you could watch everything unfold through this unique perspective.  I think what struck me the most was the sheer honesty that this perspective brings.  Most five year olds I know are not that adept at keeping things to themselves and a boy who has only had interaction with one other person is not all that great at lying.  The perspective brought a complete, authentic and different story to the reader and I am very glad that the author made the bold choice to go this route.

Overall Impression - This book was emotional, intense, though provoking, sad, happy, crazy, awesome, it was just really really really well written.  It is not an easy read.  I made the mistake of getting into it on some down time at work and I seriously had to hold back tears on more then one occasion.  As intense and traumatizing as this book is, there is so much hope in it that it balances out perfectly.  I recommend it to anybody looking for a good, emotional read and has some private time to just blitz through it 'cause once you pick it up, you won't put it down.  I give it 8 out of 10 Egg Snakes and can't wait to watch the movie...and pick up another of the authors books.
Happy Reading Everybody!

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Bookworm Romance

If there was any doubt in my mind that I totally married the bestest Hubbin in the universe (there never was) he totally did the most romantic thing for me the other day.  I had a couple hours off from the fire station and my sweet Hubbin took me to the book store and bought me books!!!!!  Seriously the guy is just awesome.  He got me coffee, breakfast and then straight to the bookstore.
I got to roam the shelves to my hearts content and he followed me around holding every book I handed to him.  After exhausting myself he marched up to the cash register and paid for my books.  He handed them to me, took me home, made me coffee, handed me chocolate and let me read read read.  Seriously folks best Hubbin EVER!  Happy Reading Everybody!

Tuesday, March 8, 2016


Hello all,  I would like to bring an issue to your attention.  It is the private shame of many a voracious reader and I think it is high time we brought this sickness to light.  Yes folks, I am talking about Schizobookia.  I am suffering from a bout of Schizobookia and want to let others know that they don't suffer alone.  Wait...what?  You have never heard of Schizobookia?  Seriously?  Schizobookia is when a reader starts a book, gets 10 or so pages in can't focus and then picks up a different book, and then a different book and then buys a ton more books and then starts those books and then finds a book she forgot she had and then starts that one as well.
The result is books all over the place with bookmarks and dog ears stuck in various states of unreadness and nothing actually getting finished. This is compounded by cantgetenoughbookitis in which the reader is continually acquiring books that just feed the Schizobookia.  I'm not quit sure what the cure is, but I need to find it and fast or I will be so overwhelmed by barely started book that I just might drown.  I have heard that actually finishing a book is considered a pretty sure fire treatment so I'm gonna go see if I can't buckle down and focus.  Happy Reading Everybody!

Monday, March 7, 2016

Off The Blog

Hi Folks!  How is everybody today?  Today I am gonna do something a wee bit different.  Hubbin sent me the most wonderful and amazing post today.  It's called I am in a Bookshop by Julian Stodd and it pretty much sums up everything about books and reading and bookshops and libraries and well pretty much all thing book related.
 Please go read it, I found it inspiring and hope every person who has ever picked up a book and found a new world, thought, idea or feeling will get a chance to read this post.  Ok I'm gonna quit yapping at you and let you get over to that other site and read it for yourself.  Happy Reading Everybody!

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

So Ready For Spring!

I am usually not a warm weather person but I am SOOOOOO ready for spring!  I am ready to read outside on nice days, to open all the doors and windows and let the spring showers refresh the house.  I am ready to break out my Jane Austen and Diana Wynn Jones (my go to spring authors).
 I am ready for color and farmers markets and waterfalls and discovering new nooks and crannies to read in.  I am ready to climb a tree and read in the branches, I am ready to go hunt down some new faeries and see if they have any new stories for me.  Bring on the Spring!!!!!

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Ash And Mist

Tough month this month, some amazing things, some not so amazing things and some straight up super crappy things.  This is a month where I am so grateful for the ability to read and the means to feed my addiction, I think it is the only thing that got me through it all.  So let's ramble about one of the books that got read this month of chaos shall we?  Today we shall ramble about Mistborn: The Final Empire by Brandon Sanderson, the first book in the Mistborn series.  I have read a couple other books by this author and really enjoyed them and decided to pick this one up based soley on that premise.  This book enchanted me, frustrated me, intrigued me, made me think, made me scream, made me roll my eyes, but mostly made me want to read the next book.  Let's get on with it shall we?  As always SPOILERS AHEAD!
I'm not even going to pretend to cover this whole book, it is insanely complicated and in depth so I will just go with a quick bare bones summation.  Our book is set in a world of haves and have nots.  We have the nobles, a high class that is beloved by virtue of having ancestors who supported the current immortal ruler (more on that later) and we have the skaa, a peasant/slave class who are doomed to a life of servitude and destitution due to their ancestors opposing the current immortal ruler (talk about sins of the father...).   The world has become a place of falling ash chocking off most living things and a supernatural mist permeating the night.  In this strange and dreary world a man named Kelsier bursts with his unnatural optimism and a talent for Allomancy, which a kind of complicated magical use of metal alloys to produce various results...and as one reader put it a bit of a video game way to's hard to describe...just read the book.  Anyways our boy Kel decides to get a band of his buddies together to pull of the greatest caper ever, to overthrow the Final Empire.  To this end he gathers a motley crew that includes Breeze: known as a Soother he burns brass and is able to calm peoples emotions; Hammond a pewter burning Thug who enhances his physical prowess; Dockson, who does not burn metal, but can organize a group like nobody else; Marsh, Kels brother who burns bronze to reveal other Allomancers; Sazed a Terrisman (who is apparently different from a skaa and a noble) who possess the unique ability to internalize his own strengths into metals on his body and call upon them later, he is also a Keeper, a person who searches out and remembers an astounding amount of information in a specific area, religion in Sazeds case; and Vin,
a girl who like Kelsier himself is what is called a Mistborn a rare person who can burn all the metals and have all the powers.  With this motley crew of half breed ska (only noble born...or people with noble born blood aka half breeds can be Allomancers) Kelsier comes up with a multi point plan to overthrow the Final Empire.  Vin's part of the plan is two-fold, the first part is to learn to use and control her substantial powers and two to infiltrate the nobility as a young country noble relation of an up and coming house.  Vin of course falls in love with the heir to the most powerful house of the nobility, Eland Venture who of course is secretly sympathetic to the cause.  As one can imagine all kinds of chaos and craziness ensues as the merry band tries to accomplish their gargantuan goals.  Through out the book we find out snippets of the history of this world.  The immortal ruler that has been in charge for close to 1000 years, according to vague stories was a normal guy who went on a quest to defeat the Deepness, and unexplained terror that threatened the world.  The hero defeated the Deepness at the Well of Ascension and then became the immortal ruler.  He then divided the population into the nobles and the skaa, rewarding the people who helped him and punishing those who defied him.  We learn that nobody actually knows what happened, that the world was a different place before the mists and ash and that the Lord Ruler is assumed to be an insanely talented Allomancer.  The story culminates in Kelsier being killed by the Lord Ruler and by doing so becomes a martyr who sparks a new type of religion.  Vin takes the opportunity to infiltrate the Lord Rulers castle and after more madness an mayhem guesses the Lord Rulers secret.  He is not the Hero everybody thought he was, he was a Terrisman who felt that the Hero was the wrong man for the job and took his place some how.  Using this information Vin pulls out his embedded metal and the Lord Ruler dies.  Vin's love interest takes over as ruler (in a good way) and we end the book with much contemplatives.

World Building - This world is a mix of a very complete medieval style fantasy world with a complicated government and a magic based on metal and a whole lot of confusing details.  I feel like the world itself is fairly complete, but the author threw in a ton of stuff that was never really explained.  This led to a world that worked, but had gaps...not sure if it was successful or not...yes on some points, no on others...but yes...I felt that there were a lot of contradictions that were never satisfactorily resolved and I admit that it took me out of the world on occasion.  That being said the parts that were complete, were very complete and I felt I got a good grasp on the feel of the parts we were shown at the very least.
Story - This was very complicated story, not in a bad way necessarily, just a lot to take in.  I very much appreciated how the author understood that most societies are not based on "good" and "bad" but on various nuances, individuals, and groups.  The author also made sure to have a mix of broad world scope stories and small personal stories.  I love it when stories are told like this, I feel it gives perspective and realism to the who thing.  The only part of the story that I really had a hard time with was the history.  The whole of the story is based on the idea that their was an epic event in this worlds history that led to this point.  The history is never really made clear which leads to frustration and confusion...that being said the author made sure that to get the point across that the reason WE don't know the history, is because the inhabitants of this world don't know it either.  This at least gives a plausibility, but it is still frustrating.

Character - I loved the characters in this book.  They were all varied and individual with stories, families, histories and just enough of a twist to make them all interesting.  Kelsier has every right to be a depressive, morose, violent leader, but he makes a point to be as positive as least in public.  I love watching his struggle to maintain an optimistic outlook despite the myriads of things against him.  He is never unrealistically cheerful as we get to see the struggle behind the smile.  Vin is the character who has to essentially reassess her whole life, she is thrust into a whole new world and her views on all kinds of things have to slowly change and the journey is both realistic and fascinating, also for once, a character who doesn't LOVE to read :-).  Sazed is the type of character I love because of his extensive history and his different outlook on life.  His views on religion and belief especially intrigue me.

Editing - Overall the editing of this book was pretty good.  For the most part it flowed and made sense, I kept reading it and didn't realize how quickly I was turning the pages...always a good sign.  The format was a little skippy with the view point switching with no warning, making it a bit jarring when I had to wrench my brain to a different character.  Also a couple of times things were mentioned without any explanation, like since the characters knew what was going on, we should too.  This made me flip back and forth a couple times 'cause I thought I may have missed something...not cool dude.  I did however love the bits of journal entry at the top of each chapter, it gave a cool history vibe to follow along with, especially with the twist at the end of the book.  I also like that the journal was talked about in the book, a bit of meta editing.

Allomancy - So much to say about this central magic of the book.  First off I found it a bit weird that the metals used in this fantasy world were all Earth metals...kind of made me pause and wonder if their was a connection.  I liked the idea of Allomancy better then I liked the execution of it in the book.  The use of it was fairly consistent which was good, every element assigned to a certain action that when used did a certain thing. I like the idea that most people with Allomancy were only able to use a single metal with the rare few being able to use more then that.  I also really appreciated that Vin saw the wisdom in learning from Allomancers who specialized in one metal to truly fully appreciate the full potential use of each metal.  I still don't understand how/why only nobles could use Allomancy.  Are the nobles and skaa two different races?  Was the Lord Ruler able to "gift" Allomancy to certain people?  How many generations removed could Allomancy be genetically viable?  Like I noted earlier, another reader stated that a lot of the Allomancy sequences read like a video game, which is a very accurate description.  I think the bigger problem was that the fight sequences were numerous and all felt the same.  Obviously Allomancy is a central part to the books, I just wish it was better explained and more streamlined.

Religion - I think one of the best things about the fantasy genre is the ability to explore sticky topics like religion with out offending to many people.  I absolutely LOVED the questions of religion posed in this book.  Let's star with Sazed and his Keeper memory.  In this world, the only "acceptable" religion is the one where the Lord Ruler is considered the Sliver of Divinity.  During the...whatever it is that happened, religions were the last organizations to fall to the Lord Ruler.  According to Sazed it wasn't because of the religion, but because of the belief that people had.  Sazed as a Keeper has over 300 religions in his head and is working on discovering more.  As he interacts with people, he tries to find a belief that fits them, to give them something to fight for.  I like the idea that the true important part.  This inspires Kelsier, who figures out how to turn himself into a religion, knowing that his death will spark the rebellion needed to win the fight.  This brings up uncomfortable comparisons with the Lord Ruler who essentially did the same thing.  I  just love love love when a book makes me think, and this aspect send my brain reeling in a million directions.

Genetics - One of the things that was never really clear to me was the genetics of this world.  I can't tell if the world is made up of genetically different races, or if the Lord Ruler made different races, or there were some differences before the Lord Ruler and more after...I don't know, it's all really confusing.  It seems that maybe the Terrismen were a separate race from...I don't know what they were called originally and then the Lord Ruler did his Well of Ascension thing and then maybe turned everybody else into two races, noble/skaa.  Also what are the nobles called?  Is there race just called the nobles?  Are there more races/people we haven't seen yet?  Are the mist wraiths and kanda (which we also get very little explanation for) of the same stock? Animal? Alien? Demon?  SOMEBODY JUST TELL ME?!?

Overall Impression - Many aspects of this book intrigued me, made me thing and kept me turning the pages.  Many aspects of this book drove me crazy, made me flip back and forth and just generally made me scream.  It is complicated, full, and overall pretty good.  I want to keep reading, I want to know more, and I have a feeling that I will like the series as a whole better then I will any individual book...which is not a bad thing per se, I just have to read the books with the whole series in mind.  I give this book 7 out of 10 metal coins and will continue the series and see where it takes me.
Happy Reading Everybody!