Wednesday, November 30, 2016

I'm So Excited And I Just Can't Hide It

Can I tell you all what one of the best feelings in the world is?  When one of your favorite authors comes out with a new trilogy set in one of your favorite worlds!  I was perusing the shelves at my bookstore and caught sight of a book with the name of one of my beloved never fail authors on it.  I got really excited then noticed that the title sounded like books that were already out.  "Oh well" I thought, "at least her books are getting some attention".  The title kept niggling (isn't that one of the best words ever?) at the back of my mind so I hopped on her website and lo and behold sure enough IT WAS A NEW TRILOGY!!!!!!!!!!!!!  Seriously though folks, this is not the first time I have had
this thrill.  A lot of my favorite authors are either not super know 'cause they actually take time to create awesome books instead of spewing out lather rinse repeat novels every six months (sorry, literary pet peeve coming out there) or they have multiple series or projects and I am waiting for a specific one.  I love the excitement and surprise of finding an unexpected book that I have never read from one of my favorite authors, it's like a special present just for me.  Anyways I am now off to my local bookstore to see if there are any other undiscovered treasures hiding out.  Happy Reading Everybody!

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

This Tree Is Ready For Books!

Hi All, had a whirlwind of a holiday with family both blood and adopted.
We got a chance to get Christmas up...all that's missing is some more books for under the tree!  Happy Reading Everybody!

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Book Sandwich

This week kicks off the start to binging on every sort of food one can find for the next three months.  YAY!  To start us off I found this nifty little book.

This is an art piece/book by the artist Pawel Piotrowski and I absolutely love it!  Go check out the rest of his stuff too!  Happy Reading Everybody!

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Bringing Magic Back To England

I DID IT!!!!  I finally finished my big fat book!  Clocking in at a whopping 1006 pages of teeny tiny type complete with footnotes is the book Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke.  This book had been on my TBR pile for a while and got pulled out after Hubbin discovered a BBC version of the book.  Despite it's length the book was very readable and I am now ready to attempt to ramble about it.
The book is written as a bit of a history, complete with foot notes and follows two very different magicians the staid and cautious Mr. Norrell and the younger more fiery Jonathan Strange.   Essentially we are taken to an alternate version of Victorianish England (though there is a King on the throne not a Queen) where magic is accepted as part of life.  Being a magician is a respectable job and magic is talked about in all circles.  However, magic at this time is only theoretical.  Magicians are actually just men who study any sort of magical text they can get there hands on.  True magic has been gone from the realm of England for hundreds of years for some reason.  Enter Mr. Norrell, a scholarly little man who is obsessed with buying, reading and hoarding books of a magical nature.  To this end he has actually been able to perform real magic and is brought to England to become the authority and sole practicer of magic.  Mr. Norrell has in his employ a mysterious man by the name of Childermass who pretty much runs Mr. Norrell's life for him. To prove the respectability and genuine nature of magic, Mr. Norrell engages the help of a fairy, known as the Gentlman with the thistle-down hair, to bring the Lady Pole back to life after she dies.  The deal Mr. Norrell brokers with the
Gentleman essentially dooms the Lady Pole to be held in fairy whenever the Gentlman chooses. Along comes Jonathan Strange, a gentleman who has started practicing magic after a run in with the vagabond Vinculus who speaks a prophecy stating among other things that two magicians will bring back magic to England.  We then follow our two magicians as they use their own styles of magic, sometimes together and sometimes at odds to help England win a war, protect the country and try and discover lost spells.  Meanwhile the Lady Pole continues to be sucked into fairy at any given time, makeing her appear quit mad. The butler Stehpen black, a black servant who the Gentleman has taken a liking to does his best to support Lady Pole.  Strange's wife Arabella is the only other person who is able to be with Lady Pole.  Eventually the two magicians have a falling out.  Mr. Norrell wants to continue and keep a tight reign on all things magic while Strange wants to bring magic to the masses.  All kinds of stuff happens one of which is the unfortunate death of Arabella Strange.  Strange leaves the country to finish his book and recover from his wife's death and Mr. Norrell stays in London to fret and work with the government on improving the country.  Strange discovers that madness is the key to seeing fairy and finds a way to distill it to its essence and become mad at will.  With this madness he discovers the Gentleman has actually stolen Arabella to fairy to be a companion to Lady Pole and she is not dead after all.  After a battle of wills, the Gentleman wraps Strange in eternal night and Strange devotes his time to trying to find John Uskglass, the Raven King who brought magic to England in the first place.  More crazyness and mayhem and Strange finally comes to Mr. Norrell for help.  The two magicians work together to find a way to summon the Raven King and unintentionally give Stephen Black the power to finally defeat the Gentleman.  Lady Pole and Arabella are released and Mr. Norrell and Jonathan Strange, wrapped in their eternal night disappear from England.  Childermass, along with Vinculus assemble all who want to learn magic and utilize the power that now flows through England.  This my friends does not even begin to summarize the complexity of this book, the stories and the characters, I just do not have enough time or space to truly give you the gist of this book, so this will have to do.

World Building - This book has a very Jane Austinesque vibe when it comes to world building.  We get to see a variety of English places (and few other places in Europe) mostly through the eyes of the gentleman class.  It is a bit drearier and a bit harsher then true Austin, but the vibe totally comes through.  One extra aspect of world building is the realm of fairy.  I really very much enjoyed how the author built the world of fairy as being right next door to our world, complete with cross-roads and touch stones.  The best parts of fairy where the descriptions of the familiar with a fantastic twist.  Ever time I picked up this book I was easily able to slip into the worlds the author created.

Story - So this was an interesting book as far as story goes.  I am not 100% sure that there was an actual whole beginning, middle and end story or if it was more of a history with the reader just catching a slice of time.  There were bits of story, mostly connected with individual characters, but over all I felt that this was more of an old school history of an alternate place/time.  That being said, it was still a book that I could pick up and read and stay interested in so yeah.  Maybe it was that there were many many stories with in the framework of the history that kept it interesting...yeah, so not really sure how to describe it, but I liked it.

Character - This may be where the Austin feel really came through in this book.  The characters were many and varied and true to themselves.  Right when I was about to get tired of reading about a certain character or story line, bam the author switched to somebody else and it was awesome.  I particularly liked the Raven King as an overarching presence that was constantly felt but only once actually seen; Childermass who probably actually knew and understood more then any other character; Stephen Black a man who was kind, smart, brave, and searching to belong; Vinculus the vagabond man with all the answers and of course the Gentleman who tied everybody together.  The characters may be the best part of this book.

Editing - This was a very very long book and I want to be tempted to say that it could have easily been broken up...but you know what?  I'm glad it is one long self contained book.  It really gives the vibe of a history in this format.  For all it's length, the way it is broken up in parts and chapters makes it very very readable and the fun footnotes that are scattered through out just adds to the overall feel.  It was consistent, follow able and readable, editing for the win.

The Author - Ok so I really feel like the author and the way she wrote this book has to be talked about.  She started writing it in 1993 and did not actually publish the whole book until 2003, that my friends is dedication.  She worked on it in her spare time and had to work with trying to put all her ideas and fragments into a cohesive form.  I totally feel her and her writing style 'cause every time I try and write something I feel the same way.  I obviously don't have the patience she does, but it makes the book all that better for me that I feel a kinship with her thought process and writing style.

Fairy - I love love love old school English/Welsh/Scottish/Irish/Celtic style fairy land.  This book brought the old school ideas of stolen humans, especially children, timelessness, agreements between fairy and human kind, the glamour vs the reality of magic, just everything that I love.  I felt like I could go hunt down a fairy road and ride off and explore this whole other world behind the mirrors.  I have not read such a great take on the old school fairy in a while and I have to say I loved every second of it and totally want to read more about the Raven King...hint hint lol.

Manners - Ok ok I know I have mentioned the Austin feel of this book 100 times, but here it is again.  I am a Jane Austin fan, her ability to mingle peoples everyday lives with wit and story have always made her books a go to for me.  When an author can capture that style in a whole new book I am always happy.  This book had the feel of manners and little intrigues (along with the big stuff), just instead of marriages it was magic.  The combination of the Austin feel with the old school Fairy feel and then turning it into something wholly original is pretty epic.

Overall Impression - I liked this book, it is a book book, it is a book for people who like to READ!  This is not a book for the beach, or a quick pick me up, it requires concentration, time, and a love of reading.   That being said, it is a wonderful book, I give it 8 out of 9 viles of mad cat lady essence and recommend it to anybody who loves to read, likes Austen, magic, Fairy or just some good writing.  Happy Reading Everybody!

Friday, November 18, 2016

This Is Taking Forever

So.  I am like 100 or so pages away from finally finishing a book that I swear I started when I was like 7.  Do ever run into a book like this?  This book in particular is over 1000 pages long and while it is very good and very interesting...I don't think it is ever gonna end.  I run into this problem on occasion as I love all books, and big books are no exception.  It is also books like this that give me a reason to read more then one book at a time...'cause no matter how good a book is about a week or so in I just need a change of pace.  Big books also help me keep my ego in check, especially dense
books that I actually have to pay attention to.  I get all high and mighty and proud of myself for my reading speed and comprehension then BAM my big fat book takes me down a peg.  Eventually I get sick of the unfinished book mocking me then I do what I have been doing this week and buckle down and finish.  The unfortunate side effect is nothing else gets read, hence the lack of ramblings.  However I shall not be defeated so you can all look forward to a rambling on this epic book and then hopefully back to my book a week routine.  Happy Reading Everybody!

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Stuffed Reading

It's birthday season for my nephews...seriously all 6 of them were born within months of each other.  They range in age from 8 months to 9 years and one thing they all have in common is a love of what they call stuffy's.  These are what they call there stuffed animals.  They also love reading...'cause what kid with me for an aunt wouldn't.  Here are a couple literary stuffy's for you tiny tot.

I loved this book so much growing up, it's such a classic.

This monkey has been a favorite of every nephew at some point in time.

This book series is STILL one of my go to's...I just love it

Instant nostalgia with this set

Who didn't love this canine growing up?
Just a couple of ideas for the little guys and gals in your life.  Of course these are just a few...the possibilities are ENDLESS!  Happy Reading Everybody!

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

This Is A Post

Hi everyone.  This is pretty much a post to let you all know I'm still alive.  I've been out of town for work so I'm a bit toasty.'m gonna go keep trying to finish the big giant book that I swear I have been reading for a million years.  Better posting tomorrow.  Happy Reading Everybody!

Wednesday, November 9, 2016


Yesterday was election day.  We now have the results and regardless of how you voted you can at least know you did what you could to make your voice heard. did vote didn't you?  Voting is so very important, even in elections that may seem ridiculous.  What does this have to do with reading you may ask.  I tell you it has everything to do with reading.  We live in a country (or at least I do...if you don't live in the US then this post is probably not very applicable...) where we can walk into a bookstore or log on to the internet and pretty much pick up and book we want.  We can write any book we want.  We can sell any book we want.  We can own, rent, loan or give any book we want. We can do all this without fear of imprisonment, fines or repercussions other then the
occasional ridicule from pretentious book bloggers.  The reason we can do this is because we continually exercise our right to vote.  We need to use this right to maintain our voice, our freedoms and our ability to educate our selves, to entertain our selves, to discover new ideas and in all honesty I find books a very effective way to do this.  We need to always be on guard to make sure complacency does not result in leadership that curbs these rights.  I never want to have to live here and not be able to pick up any book I want.  I always want the ability to read anything and everything.  For this reason, no matter how difficult it may be to make myself vote for one of the candidates I know at the very least I have to go and write in a choice, because if I don't use my right to make some sort of choice I know I will quickly lose it.  So please, for the sake of my bookshelves vote!  Happy Reading Everybody!

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Reading In The Woods

As we were getting ready for our Trip of Awesome as our adventure in the redwoods will now officially be called, my already amazing Hubbin took me to the bookstore to get a book.  He asked what I wanted and I said I was looking for faries and woods and short stories.  Well folks the literary spirits must have heard me 'cause as soon as we walked into the store a book called Beyond the Woods: Fairy Tales Retold, edited by Paula Guran.  Let's see, fairies...check, woods...check...short stories...check, and check out the cover below!  This is a collection of retold fairy tales (or wonder stories as she calls them) which is one of my favorite genre's.  Here are a couple of my favorites.
The Bone Mother by Angela Slatter - I have a thing for Baba Yaga stories and this retelling of Vasilisa the Beautiful did not disappoint.  In this version we explore the relationship between mothers and daughters and the various ways they can delight and disappoint each other. We also get a different take on the Baba Yaga character.  Most stories show her as either an evil witch or a misunderstood granny.  This story shows us all the facets and motivations of this Russian staple giving us a very well rounded story within just a few pages.

The Coin of Heart's Desire by Yoon Ha Lee - For this story the author was inspired by Korean folklore and The Dragon King Under the Sea in particular.  In this stories few pages we get a glimpse of a most noble young empress who makes a life altering decision when she is confronted with a dragon and his wish giving coin.  This is my favorite type of short story as it not only entertains but makes a person think.  How does one obtain their hearts desire and not become corrupted, especially when a whole country is concerned.  Loved it!

The Coat of Stars by Holly Black - Can I just say I am seriously loving this author lately.  Anyways here we have a story that is very much a mix of modern and fae and to me it is seamless.  Drawing from any number of brave tailor tales we follow Rafael, a New York costume designer as he comes home to his super traditional family and how he finds a child hood friend by using his skills as a tailor to woo the fairy queen.  This story has so many layers to it and yet it is very readable and very to the point.  Another spot on story by this author.

The Queen and the Cambion by Richard Bowes - One of my favorite subjects in general is Queen Victoria and her reign.  When you combine that with Merlin, one of my favorite wizards, then we have a match made in heaven.  This story gives us a glimpse of both Victoria and Merlin through out the years as their lives intersect at various points and not always in a linear fashion.  This makes for a fascinating, yet intimate look at two larger then life English icons.  This combination is a winner and I totally want to read so much more.

Rats by Veronica Schanoes - This is a very different sort of "fairy tale".  It is essentially this authors telling of the tragedy of Sid and Nancy.  The author tries to convey the mental illness of the main character with fantastical imagery and I think she does a great job.  The author wanted to get the point across that the Nancy character was not an evil horrible person hell bent on destruction but a sick and troubled child who needed help not shunning.  I'm not sure if most people would call it a fairy tale and yet that is what fairy tales were originally intended for, to tell a cautionary tale and draw attention to things that needed to be fixed...I liked it.

Good Hunting by Ken Liu - I love foxes so it follows that I very much enjoy any tale involving kitsune or any other fox spirit.  In this tale we follow a former hunter of spirits and a kitsune as they try and adapt to a new and changing world.  They go from simple country hunter and spirit to working with steam engines and prostitution in the modern Hong Kong.  Eventually the pair use new technology to restore the spirits shape shifting abilities.  I love stories like this that show that magic can come in so many different forms and like anything else needs to evolve and adapt.
Over all I very much liked the variety of stories in this collection.  The vast majority made me very happy and I will probably pull it out and read it again.  I also now have so many happy memories associated with it as I read it in a redwood, on a tree throne, laying by a river and curled up with my nephews.  This is definitely a book that comes with experiences and it will forever be in my favorites collection for at least that reason.  I give it 8 out of 10 haute coutre coats and recommend it to anybody who loves a retold fairy tale and originality.  Happy Reading Everybody!

Thursday, November 3, 2016

I Want A Rewrite

Nothing makes annoys me more then a book that should have been awesome.  I am talking about those books that have a great premise, and amazing world, or just really good writing but somehow still fall short in the execution phase.  I don't know if it is just that I read so much that I have gotten insanely picky about what I consider a good book (Hubbin calls me a book snob) or that I just have a very specific sense of what I think a book should be...I don't know.  Anyways there are many times (as I am sure going through my ramblings will show you) that I really want to like a book, or that there is an aspect of the book I really enjoyed...but the book still ends up with a 4-6 rating.  These are books that I have decided need a re-write.  What does this mean?  Let me give you an example...I'll use the Twilight Saga series...mostly 'cause most people know at least the basic plot of the book even if they haven't read it themselves.  I have read the four original books in the series for two reasons, a) I can't ramble/rant about books I haven't read and b) I kept wanting these books to get better 'cause the idea was pretty spot on.
I actually very much enjoyed the idea of these books, a vampire family that comes from different times and places living together as a family unit doing it's best to fit in.  The girl who "discovers" them gives the author the chance to show us how they use their immortal time.  Pretty cool.  Unfortunately the ridiculous saccharine girl in distress theme and the over the top immortal/teenage/shaggy dog love triangle make this series almost unreadable.  I desperately want to go back and rewrite this possibly intriguing and complex story to it's full potential.  I feel this way about a lot of books I read.  Some times I find myself rewriting the story in my head long after I have finished the book.  Sometimes I take it in a new direction, sometimes I expound on a particular character or aspect of the world,  sometimes I even combine books in my head to make the perfect Frankenstein monster of a story.  I guess in some ways this is where we get fan fiction, a place where people take what they love about a book or story and turn it into their own perfect version.  I also understand that what I think would make a perfect story is not necessarily what other people would want to read.  Anyways, I guess as long as I am still thinking about at least some aspect of a book the author did their job to some degree.  I will continue looking for those great books and in between I shall be re-writing them in my head and probably slipping some of that into my ramblings.  Let me know what books you think need a re-write.  Happy Reading Everybody!

October Update/Wrap Up...Yes I Know It Is November

Ok folks, I know it's November, but I can't let October go without a final farewell.  This was seriously one of the best birthday months I have ever had and it was really wholly due to my amazing friends and family.  They all bent over backwards to make what was already my favorite month of the year absolutely unforgettable in such a great way.  Hubbin especially went so far above and beyond that I want to marry him all over again (see my previous posts about my trip of unreal perfection).  To end this month of awesome I got to spend Halloween at my fire station, which is my happy place so already good.  My driver and I both had the same idea and brought costume props (we can't go full on costume on calls...something about doing CPR dressed like death makes some people a little uncomfortable...) and took tons of pictures of the whole crew all dressed up.  Several scary movies and jumpy pranks later we decided to actually do some work and run some calls.  The best part however was our friend came in with presents!!! Yep not only did I get birthday presents, but I got a Halloween gift too...seriously I am so spoiled.  Anyways my girl decided to start a new tradition where we all read the same scary book each October and every year a different person picks the book.  She started it by gifting us with The Girl With All the Gifts by M.R. Carey...which besides being on my TBR list, also has a yellow cover so pretty much awesome.  I am so excited to read this book with my firehouse book club people and absolutely love the fact that going to my happy place results in new books and people to discuss them with!  I am so deliouresly happy about almost everything that happened this month (there were crappy things...cause you know real life...but I'm pretending they didn't happen in my happy retrospect lol) and cannot believe how blessed I am in my friends and family.  I love you all, and cannot wait to see what happens off to go read my new book under my reading tree so I have something to ramble about.  Happy Reading Everybody!

Tuesday, November 1, 2016


So October is over...that's sad...sniff.  I seriously had the best October ever!  BUT...we are now getting into November which is the perfect transition time from my beloved fall into the holidays.
I am getting all set up for the raw cold weather with my snuggley blankets, hot and yummy drinks and a big stack of books.  Happy Reading Everybody!