Thursday, July 28, 2016

I'm In Trouble Now

Finally starting to settle into the new house.  Boxes are starting to get put away, we have painting and bookshelf installation planned this weekend, it's all starting to come together.  While I was at the station this weekend, Hubbin took a break from unpacking to do some exploring...and guess what he found?  A Barnes and Noble, a Starbucks, an ABC store AND McKay an awesome used bookstore that had been recommended to me by my awesome driver...who also happens to be part of my impromptu fire station book club, all literally less then 5 minutes from my house.
 When I got back from my 48 hour shift, Hubbin took me to McKay's and told me to go to town...7 books later we finally decided to go make dinner as I don't even have a place to put the books yet :-)  I feel that this is a sign we absolutely chose the right house...even if we won't be able to pay the mortgage due to the spending of all our money on books ha. Now to find the other bookstore recommended by my other fire house buddy and I will be good to go!  Happy Reading Everybody!

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Seaborn Transformation

Woohoo, my first rambling from the new house!  With the triple digit heat I thought I would ramble about a summer book.  The book is The Mermaid's Sister by Carrie Anne Noble.  I got it as an e-book a while ago and totally forgot I had it until my fire station book group were all going through our e-books to see what we wanted to swap.  This book checked off my love of fantasy, mermaids, adventure and family.  As always SPOILERS AHEAD!
 Clara and Maren are two very special sisters that were left as infants on the doorstep of the mountain healer/hedgewitch whom they call Auntie.  Maren was left in a giant conch shell in the middle of the path and Clara was brought by a stork.  They are raised by Auntie who regularly tells them the story of how they came to live with her.  The little family works, plays and loves together spending 16 happy years.  The whole time Auntie makes it very clear that Maren will eventually turn into a mermaid and need to be returned to the sea.  At the start of the book we see Maren starting her transformation with her fingers and toes starting to webb and spending hours under water.  Clara is both sad and angry at what she feels is the loss of her beloved and vibrant sister.  Clara spends a lot of her time trying to find a way to keep her sister human.  A welcome break comes in the form of a visit from Scarff and his adopted son O'Neill traveling peddlers of wonders.  Maren in her bold and brash ways flirts with O'Neill intimates that they will some day get married.  O'Neill seems to return her affections, sitting with her as her transformation forces her to live almost full time in a giant tub of water.  Clara finds that she is jealous of O'Neill's attention to her sister and at the same time ashamed that she would ever want to deprive her sister of any happiness.  After trying multiple spells and cures it becomes apparent the Maren will turn completely into a mermaid and that she will need to get to the ocean to survive.  O'Neill and Clara pack up the now water bound Maren into the peddlers wagon and off they set.  Along the way Clara and O'Neill become close, with him telling her it was always Clara he loved, but he felt like a protective brother to Maren and wanted to protect and make her happy.  After a couple of adventures, the peddlers wagon catches on fire and the trio are "rescued" by Dr. Phipps and Company Medicine Show, which consists of Dr. Phipps a show man with a temper, his exotic wife Soraya and their brute of a son Jasper.  Dr. Phipps puts Maren, who has pretty much finished her transformation on display and charges for tickets to see her.  Dr. Phipps and his family use fear and intimidation to keep the trio with the show.  Eventually after mass chaos and such most of the Phipps family is killed and Clara and O'Neill are able to get Maren away.  They get to the sea and the mermaids come and welcome Maren home.  Clara is sad to lose her sister, but recognizes how happy Maren and that she truly belongs in the sea.  Clara and O'Neill decide to get married and return to the mountain where the very happy Scarff and Auntie have made their home.  While they all miss Maren, they realize the best thing to do is live their life to the fullest and be glad that Maren is also happy.

World Building - The world is a mix of medieval Europe with a bit of magic and fantasy thrown in.  The world itself if fairly generic but provides a good setting for the story.  The best part of the world building is Dr. Phipps show which is in turns interesting and horrific.  Not a whole lot to say about the world other then it was a pretty solid canvas in which to tell the story.

Story - The story was very well done.  I felt it was original, detailed and all flowed together in a layered complexity that gave the story depth without confusing the reader.  I like all the elements that came together in the story, mermaids, adventure, family, love, hate, anger, sadness, heroism, everything that makes a good rollicking tale to tell.  I also like that while it had all the elements of a typical fantasyish book, the story felt wholly original and fresh without straying to far from a comfort read territory...not sure if any of that made any sense...but...yep

Character - The characters in this book I felt were very strong.  While they were mostly written to fit the tropes (dutiful sister/daughter, brazen young woman, heroic boy, enigmatic yet motherly hedgewitch, etc) each character seemed to have personality quirks and sparks that made them come alive past the cut and paste basics.  It is nice to see a writer who can nod to the classics when it comes to characters and yet still make them individual and vibrant.  With the new trend in subverting all known tropes, it is refreshing to see a classic worked in such a well written matter.

Editing - The editing was good.  The story was just the right length.  The book was readable and followed through with all of its promises.  The voices were clear and consistent.  Editing was good, with nothing about it that took me out of the story.

Mermaids - I love mermaids, after dragons they are my favorite supposed mythical creature so I enjoy reading any decently written story that involves them.  For the most part I very much enjoyed how the author dealt with the mermaid aspect of this story.  Pretty much Maren was the only mermaid we really dealt with so we did not get...or need to know the whole history of this worlds mermaids.  I liked watching this feisty girls transformation from a passionate young woman to a happy and free mermaid.  The description of her transformation was interesting and pretty and her love of the sea from the very beginning was very clear.  The only thing I wanted to know was why Maren was human at all in the first place.  Is it something that all mermaids start as humans then transform?  Was there special circumstances in Maren's case?  How did Auntie know that she was always going to turn?  Other then that I loved all the mermaid parts.

Traveling Peddlers/Shows - I have always liked the idea of traveling shows and peddlers.  The idea of people traveling all over the place, collecting stories, artifacts, acts and people.  I like that these
things become a bit of a touchstone of far away places.  In this book we see two extremely different examples of this.  We have Scarff and O'Neills wondrous wagon full of amazing things from far off places all with stories of their own.  On the flip side we have Dr. Phipps traveling show which show cases the darker side of these types of shows.  Enslavement of people and creatures for show, exposing of young ladies for the entertainment of others, tyranny and fear.  I like that this book showed both sides of the coin both how wondrous and potentially horrific these things can be.

Family - I think my favorite thing about this book is the concept of family.  Not a single one of our good guys is related by blood and yet they all consider themselves family.  They love each other as sisters, as mother and daughters, as father and son, as uncles, aunts, cousins, nieces, nephews all sorts of familial ties.  This really drives home the point that you do not have to be related by blood to be family.  I love this sentiment, especially in this world of blended families, surrogate families and people just needing people to count on.  In stark contrast we have the Phipps family, who are a family in the traditional sense and they mostly look out for themselves and terrorize each other.  I like that the author is able to point out that family is family either by blood or choice and that just 'cause your family doesn't make your relationships perfect and that if you are not related by blood it does not make you any less family.

Overall the book was pretty good.  Not spectacular, but still very solid.  It made a great summer reading book and with the acknowledgement of a few raised eyebrow moments in the traveling show I would recommend it to anybody over the age of 12 who wants a good original story to sit down and read.  I give it 7 out of 10 pearl tears and am very glad I found it on my phone just in time for summer.  Happy Reading Everybody!

Monday, July 25, 2016

A Spot Of Reading

First full day in the new house and I am exhausted...but....I did get a spot of reading in.
Stay tuned tomorrow for a fabulous summer rambling!

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

New House!

Hi Folks, sorry for the lack of posting.  Unfortunately this will probably continue for the rest of the week as I am trying to unpack while spending 72 hours on an ambulance...doesn't leave a lot of time for posting.  I did however want everybody to know that me and my 20+ boxes of books have arrived safely and are eagerly awaiting completion of the fabled Book Nook.
Pretty sure this is what my movers felt like!
I already love it here and have found at least 13 different awesome places to read, including TWO different reading trees.  I am totally excited to have this week over with so I can get in some solid reading time, book nook creation time and serious rambling time in.   I will try and get some pics up soon, but in the mean time please have some patience until this insane week is over and then it will be rambling city I promise.  Happy Reading Everybody!

Friday, July 15, 2016

It's Getting Real

Oh my goodness folks!  The move is just around the corner...three more days and I will be waking up in my new home.  At the moment though I am feeling rather desolate as all of my many bookshelves look like this.
It is really weird and oddly monochromatic to have all of my books packed away and nothing but sad empty shelves staring back at me.  Of course the upside to all of this is that in my new house all of my friends are coming with me.
Here are 16 of the 22 boxes that are filled with nothing but books that are coming with me...and that is after I *gasp* actually donated some of them.  I am so ready to be at my new home with my Hubbin, my book nook and all of my literary friends.  Happy Reading Everybody!

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Oh No Witches

That does it!  I'm taking a quick packing break to do a quick ramble.  Why?  'Cause I desperately need to do something literary related and if I pick up a book I will probably not put it down until moving day.  Let's ramble about Witch Week by Diana Wynne Jones.  Part of the Chronicles of Chrestomanci and the second story in my special volume, it made me as happy as the other ones have.  Lets get on with it shall we?  As always SPOILERS AHEAD!

 This story again takes us out of Chrestomanci's home world and let's us explore an entirely new one.  This world is one where magic and especially witches (both male and female) are feared to the point that they are burned any time one of them is discovered.  Our story takes place in a boarding school where a significant portion of the student body are what are called witch orphans.  These are children that have been orphaned after one or more of their parents have been executed for being witches.  The school is thrown into turmoil when a teacher is slipped a note informing him that one of his students is a witch.  We are then introduced to a whole bunch of kids who belong to various social groups with in the school.  Nan Pilgrim is the descendant of a very powerful witch who was known for starting a rebellion. Charles Morgan an unpopular boy who uses his ferocious looks to keep people at bay.  Brian Wentworth, the son of the vice principle who is harassed by the popular group.  Theresa Mullett and Simon Silverson, popular and cruel.  And a whole host of other kids who make up this school.  Weird going ons start to happen all of which points to a witch among the students.  As the story progresses each child becomes suspicious of each other, and then of themselves as they realize that most of them possess some sort of mage.  It get's bad enough that the teachers call in the witch hunters to rid the school of whoever is causing the problem.  All of this eventually catches the attention of Chrestomanci who travels to this world to see what is going on.  He is confused as the profusion of magic should make this world embrace witches not fear them.  He discovers that this particular world experienced a schism at some point trapping all the witches on this side and all the embracing of magic on the other.  He uses the witch children to work some big magic, the worlds merge and it appears that people live happier ever after.

World Building - This world is full and slightly unsetteling.  There is the feel of a modernish day England boarding school that most British/Fantasy lovers will recognize.  There is also the feeling that something is slightly off about the whole thing...which considering the ending of the book makes this world feel very carefully built.  It is very different from Chrestomanci's open and pastoral world and really gives us the impression of being in a different place.  It was effective, appropriate and complete.

Story - The story had a beginning, middle and end.  It had layers and depth.  It made sense, we were given all the information we needed with out getting bored by a lecture.  Most off all I kept turning the pages.  I never once got bored with the story and wanted to finish it as fast as possible and at the same time was very sad when it was over.  It is very appropriate for the age group it is written for and as with all stories by this author it is just phenomenal.

Characters - Another strong point to this book, the characters were varied and interesting.  Each character stayed true to how they were written, while still being given the chance to change and grow.  The children and adults all interacted in believable ways.  I liked how the author gave us characters that originally fit into very stereotypical school niches, the popular kids, the bully, the loner, the teachers pet, the stranger, the head of the school, etc...but then gave them all a chance to become something else.  I also liked that not every single character chose the best path, that the author recognized that just 'cause you get the choice to do does not mean everybody does.

Editing - Props to the editor.  This book was readable and made perfect sense.  We get the information we need when we need it and the pacing was wonderful.  The book as a whole fits into the Chrestomanci world.  I feel this type of editing and pacing is perfect for the intended age group, which is the Middle Grade/Young Adult crowd.

The Kids - I loved the children as a whole in this book.  I loved the world with in a world that a bunch of children can create with their own rules, moral, code of conduct and way of thinking.  It is entirely different from the world of adults and I remember as a kid how when a group of us got together we lived a completely different life from the adults.  This book very much sends me back to those days and it is nice to see a children's author who seems to understand children.

The Spells - The various spells the kids used, both intentional and otherwise where very original and refreshing.  The way that a child's mind works to create spells is so different then a "logical and educated" adult and really adds a different dimension to this book about magic.  I also just found the results of the spells amusing...especially when the hundreds of shoes appeared and needed sorting, what a great visual.

The Solution - I very much appreciate that Chrestomanci used the kids to solve this worlds problems.  He recognized that they were the ones with the magic (for the most part) and that they were more open to a solution that involved magic.  Instead of going to the adults to talk or fight the problem, he used his best resources, the children and came up with a complete and elegant solution.

Overall Impression - I really really really wish I had known about this author as a kid.  I feel like these would have been some of my favorite books and this book in particular would have appealed to me.  I give it 8 out of 10 flying carpets and recommend it to any kid who needs a book to read, fans of British fantasy and anybody who just wants a fun read.  Happy Reading Everybody!

Monday, July 11, 2016

Pack, Clean, Work Repeat

Hi All,  Just gonna make this quick 'cause this is moving week!  If I don't get a whole lot up this week it's probably because I have already accidentally packed my computer more then once.
There will however in the next couple of weeks be ramblings galore, pictures of my boxes of books, endless speculation on my new nook book and the occasional side post about what ever.  Anyways I will see you all next week in my new book nook of awesome, ready to blog about books until I fall over.  Happy Reading Everybody!

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Panic Reading!

Ahhhh!!!!  We just signed on our new house and now I am in a bit of a panic freak out mode.
So if anybody needs me I will be hiding under the covers with my face buried in a book pretending that the real world of 30 year loans doesn't exist.  Happy Reading Everybody!

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Bookish Problems

Bookish Problems is a series of absolutely true and funny ecard type deals.  I love them to death.  Here are a few of my favorite.

I'm sure we could come up with hundreds more lol.  Happy Reading Everybody!

Monday, July 4, 2016

Gandalf's Fireworks

Happy Fourth of July to those of you who live in the US.  Here are some of my favorite literary fireworks (I know there from the movie...but that's ok)  Here are Gandalf's Fireworks from The Fellowship of the Ring

"squibs, crackers, backarrapas, sparklers, torches, dwarf-candles, elf-fountains, goblin-barkers and thunderclaps. They were all superb."

Happy Reading Everybody!