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"I may not know how to fly but I know how to read and that's almost the same thing."-- Gregory Maguire, Out of Oz

"...while finding true love was one of the most splendid things that could happen to you in life, finding a friend was equally splendid." -- Felix J Palma, The Map of the Sky

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Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Top Ten Favorites of 2013

My picks for the Tuesday Top Ten, as invented by The Broke and Bookish.

The Broke & Bookish bloggers seem to be operating on the same wavelength as me this week; I'd planned a blog of my favorite 2013 reads before I even read it on their schedule. Gotta love convenient coincidences. So here's the list of my personal faves, based on what I read this year, not necessarily publication date. These are the stories I didn't know I couldn't live without.

1. Battleship: A Daring Heiress, A Teenage Jockey, and America's Horse by Dorothy Ours. 
-----Nonfiction about Marion Dupont and her hunt race enterprise, reads like fiction.

2.Life of Pi by Yann Martel. 
-----This has plenty of metaphors for the reader who likes to analyze and plenty of adventure for the reader who doesn't need a romantic subplot in every story.

3.A Density of Souls by Christopher Rice. 
-----Emotionally raw story of bullying, bigotry, and the overwhelming power of mother nature.

4. The War of the Worlds by H.G. Wells.
-----Classic lit and sci-fi. This book present the vicious struggle between conquerors and their inferiors.

5. Map of the Sky by Felix J Palma.
-----Historical fiction/Science fiction. Plenty of plot twists to keep readers guessing.

6. Out of Oz by Gregory Maguire. 
-----The final installment of the Wicked Years, brings Dorothy back to Oz for one final hurrah, and ends with closure for those who need it most.

7. World War Z by Max Brooks.
-----Smart story of the zombie apocalypse, told from varying viewpoints by those who experienced it.

8. The Casual Vacancy by JK Rowling.
-----The biggest virtue of this book is the characters. Every character revelation made me gasp with shock and every act of petty revenge or retaliation made me laugh and the ending sent me running for a box of tissues.

9. Mongoliad Book 1 by Neal Stephenson, Greg Bear, Mark Teppo, and friends. 
-----Historical/speculative fiction written by multiple writers instead of just one...Part of one of a story stretched over 3 books, but let's be honest, the other two parts weren't as good as they could have been.

10. The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho. 
-----This is probably a better read for kids than adults, but either could read it and gain something from the message. "It's the possibility of having a dream come true that makes life interesting."--The Alchemist.

~~~~~~~~~~
All my reviews for the above stories can be found on 5. Loved It page...Although I admit my review for War of the Worlds was really small and does the story little justice.

Monday, December 30, 2013

Dog Shaming by Pascale Lemire


If you're familiar with the blog, you are probably already in love with the book and it certainly won't be a surprise or a let down to see this collection of amateur photography. 

If you're unfamiliar with the blog, Dog Shaming, it's basically a photo blog like Tumblr or Pinterest where people can send pictures of their canine companions posing with signs that confess their crimes. That means these photos weren't done in a studio by trained photographers, they were captured by shutterbugs with naughty pooches.

Personally, I thought the book was absolutely darling! I do think anyone familiar with dogs and the naughty things they do, will enjoy looking through these photos of guilty canine companions; it certainly a good gift idea for the dog lover in your life.

Rating 4/5

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Perplexed by the Fire

Guess who got the new Kindle Fire for Christmas? If you guessed me, you're right. Guess who doesn't entirely know what to do with it? If you guess me, you're right again.

Here's the thing. I spend a lot of time on my computer. I spend a lot of time with books. I spend a lot of time on horses. I try very hard to keep my worlds from colliding. The barn is probably the one place in the world where I never carry a book. And when I'm reading books, on a device, I want the device to resemble the pages of an actual book more than my computer screen. Which is why I picked out a Kindle Touch the day I went shopping for a eReader. It's simple, black and white, no extra buttons, no back light to tire my eyes. It had extremely long battery life and great memory.

The Kindle Fire is an eReader for the gadget lover...Which I am not. Dog Shaming  was my first download, mainly because I knew a book of photographs was the most obvious thing to have on a Kindle made for color. The second download, was Minion Rush, a time sucking adorable game that I keep playing even though I feel a little guilty about it, lol.

But I'm slowly coming to the realization, I'm not sure what to do with my Fire. I can spend hours reading, but the battery has a short life, and my eyes will eventually tire from staring at the lit screen. For reading, I still prefer my Touch. And as fun as Minion Rush is, there will come a time when I am bored with it and it won't be cute anymore...

So my question is this:
Aside from TV apps, is there anything really clever and/or fun I can use Kindle Fire for that I'm just not seeing at the moment? What unique things do you do with yours (assuming you have one)?

Friday, December 27, 2013

Providence by Chris Coppernoll

Providence: Once Upon a Second Chance by Chris Coppernoll


Jack Clayton is a devout Christian, who has spent most of his adult life working to help the poor. He collected the stories of the people who blessed his life, published those stories, and finds himself on a best-seller list with a bossy publishing agent who demands a personal memoir... A memoir Jack doesn't actually want to write because of a misspent youth in which he hurt a lot of people.

I had trouble with the book. The writing was straightforward and easy to follow, but in the beginning Jack felt a bit bland. His character develops a bit more, after he's agreed to write his memoir and his character starts to become more flushed out. But then I feel like the story was wrongly titled, Once Upon a Second Chance...I felt like it could also have been named, Self Flagellation for People Who Blame Themselves for Everything.

Jack starts his memoir as he's graduating high school, leaving for Providence College with his best friend Mitchell. He thinks about what a jerk he was to his mother; after his parents divorce and the loss of his sister Ruthie, he and his mom didn't have much of a relationship. Someone should have told him, its okay to hate your parents, most teenagers do...Also relationships are always double sided. His mother could have reached out before he was on his way out the door; they're both responsible for  that animosity.

Shortly after arriving at school, he and Mitchell meet Erin and Jenny. Mitchell and Erin are very much in love. Jack becomes besotted with Jenny; she's beautiful and she knows what she wants. The problem is, Jenny is also clingy and naive. She wants Jack to be the man she's always wanted... Not the eighteen year old from a broken home that he actually is. He blames himself for the eventual failure of the relationship; I blame Jenny. She's almost as selfish as he is--Because she knows what she wants, it never occurs to her that he might want different things.

Then the horrible ordeal with Mitchell. It sounds like survivor's guilt more than actual fault; sure getting into a car with a drug dealer is never a great idea, but they were supposed to be going to a party. Neither Jack nor Mitchell knew where they were actually going. If we have to blame someone, why not Brian? Why not the guy with the gun?

And then the God stuff. Okay, it's Christian Lit, I understand there is going to be a lot of God talk. My problem is with some of the views promoted. First with Jenny wanting Jack to be a certain way and then with Mitchell post-conversion carrying on in her absence: Basically, If you don't believe in the Lord and God's Divine Plan you're a loser and should convert immediately to save face. Then take Jack-Now who has found God and compare him to Jack-Then and I think it is unbelievable how many mishaps Jack takes credit for versus how many blessings he attributes to God. Either God's got the Plans or he doesn't, right? So either God intended for all the bad to happen and it isn't all on your shoulders... or if the bad is your fault than the good things must have something to do with you too.

The Christian viewpoints that were expressed really well were: help the needy and the power of forgiveness. And it's a shame they were only touched on, instead of embraced, because I'd rather have read that story. The story of how he helped people and how he learned to forgive himself for bad choices. Taking time off from helping people to write a memoir and rediscover himself, didn't do much for me.

I'm rating this as a 3, but I think this would probably be a 4 or 5 for the right person.

Rating: 3/5

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Quotable Thursday

I stuck with Providence and I found myself starting to enjoy it. It's a slow story and it get's a little preachy, but it's pretty good, so you're getting two quotes today instead of one.
"Arthur Reed had been selling my book for five months-- and taking 50 percent of the proceeds from retailers even before I'd agreed to write it. Arthur could aggressive, certainly ambitious but this seemed out of character."
and
"Facts are two dimensional. They can't describe depth or intensity, or mystery; and that is, of course, where all the action is. Where the story lies. LIfe is what happens when the skies roll dark and the daylight burns away."
I can't help but notice, all the things I highlight haven't been recorded as having been highlighted before... And the passages labeled as frequent reader favorites, mean next to nothing to me. Is it because this was intended for a reader with more Faith than I possess? Or because the people reading have a sudden need for Faith? It's always interesting to see what other people thought was important and how it compares with what you personally find important.

Quotable Thursday originally brought to you by Bookshelf Fantasies.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

The Next Queen of Heaven by Gregory Maguire


Y2K approaches and the town of Thebes spirals into chaos as Mrs. Leontina Scales sustains a head injury that leaves her senseless and her daughter, Tabitha, of questionable morals, takes control of the household. Jeremy Carr, a gay church choir singer, is torn between his past and his future, and left to perform for a convent full of aging nuns.

I loved Gregory Maguire's first step out of the realm of fairy-tales and into that of religious satire and I'm surprised to find I'm one of the few who thought this book earned 5 stars. I think anyone who gave it a rating of two stars or less, doesn't understand satire or is too deeply devout to laugh at themselves. I thought it was fantastic to use humor to bring a bit of reality to light; the constant press for moral conformity in religious groups and the conflicts with the flawed individuals who attend.

I also thought the parallels between Jeremy's long failed relationship with Willem to Tabitha's recently failed relationship with Caleb were nicely drawn. So what if Jeremy's gay and Tabitha's a bit loose? They both loved someone who loved someone else more, and it hurt no matter the sexual orientation. Then look at the nuns growing older and older, locked away from the world, while the young die from accidents and disease... The old are certain of their own upcoming deaths, while the young are certain of their longevity... Proving again that everyday is a gift not a promise.

In between bursts of sarcasm and crazy, GM brings to life the old clichés of living life well and to the fullest... Otherwise the Virgin Mary or Flying Baby Jesus might try to brain you.

Rating: 5/5
Original review date:
Apr 21, 12



Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Top Ten Books I Wouldn't Mind from Santa

My picks for the Tuesday Top Ten, as invented by The Broke and Bookish. Today's theme is Top Ten Books I Wouldn't Mind Santa Bringing Me. I struggled for this one. One could reasonably say, "Well, wouldn't the books on the Dec 3 and Dec 10 lists also be qualified for this list?" And why are so many lists revolving around books we don't yet have? But then I thought about how many books I have downloaded on my kindle, unread and unrated and it occurred to me: No matter how many books you want to read, there is always those books you just have to have a physical copy of... So which books on my To-Read list, do I want to physically feel in my hands, smell the new-book-smell, and lovingly peel each page back...?
  1. Hollow City by Ransom Riggs-- Though I don't think its going to be released in time for Xmas, but if I win a ARC copy it'll be a Christmas miracle!
  2. Inferno by Dan Brown--I just got this on kindle, but I have his 3 other Robert Langdon books and the OCD in me won't let me have an incomplete collection on my shelves!
  3. Dog Shaming by Pascale Lemire--I'm pretty sure its a book made up of photographs.
  4. Watership Down by Richard Adams--As I've discovered with Fitzgerald debacle the only way to read a piece of classic lit, is in a hard copy. I will never get over the trauma as long as I live.
  5. Red-Tails in Love: PALE MALE'S STORY--A True Wildlife Drama in Central Park by Marie Winn --I like to get animal books in hard copy; the friends I'm most likely to share books with are the ladies I ride horses with; animal lovers as well as book lovers...
  6. The Horse God Built by Lawrence Scanlan--Story of Secretariat and Secretariat's groom.
  7. Crazy Good: The True Story of Dan Patch, the Most Famous Horse in America by Charles Leerhsen--Even as I want it for myself, I've considered getting it for my mother, lol. I love Thoroughbred, but she loves Pacers!
  8. Grumpy Cat: A Grumpy Book by Grumpy Cat--I don't know that I believe Grumpy Cat really wrote the book...

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Christmas Is Coming

I am not a Christmas person; for me, the best part of this holiday is the tree in my living room, sparkling and bright, wafting its scent through the house. But as I am surrounded by Christmas people, I am obligated to try my hardest to make the holiday bright and cheerful for them even if I'm not having the time of my life.

Bah-Humbug! Where's the Grinch when you need him?

Yesterday night, my dad gave me a bit of money, and sent me to Walmart to look for some Stocking-stuffers for my mother's stocking. Normally that's his job, but his actual job had him working overtime and it was unlikely he'd escape to a store. So I discovered Walmart, the week of Christmas, was the epitome of madness. It was like watching panicked looters during the end of the world. Most of the shelves were cleaned out, others looked like they'd suffered a tornado. If I could get near a shelf, I had to get what I wanted or get out...Otherwise, strangers would growl at me. I walked fast, avoided eye contact, grabbed what I needed, and got the Hell out of there.

I'm also done. No more shopping until after the New Year. Bargain shoppers are like wild animals.

I'm also very sure, my brother is going to wait until the last minute to ask me to help him wrap gifts. By last minute, I mean midnight on Christmas Eve. Then I will briefly entertain a fantasy in which I slap a bow on his forehead before throwing him out a window because all I want to do at midnight is go to sleep, before sucking it up and helping him do what he needs done.

Needless to say, with Holiday Shenanigans afoot, I might not be around much this week. So I've pre-scheduled my Top Ten Tuesday post, my Wednesday review, and my Quotable Thursday, to go on without me. The blog will continue to run normally, except I might take longer to answer reviews than normal.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Inferno by Dan Brown


Robert Langdon -- a world renowned Harvard professor of Symbology -- wakes up in a hospital in Florence, Italy with no memory of ever leaving Cambridge, Massachusetts. What's more, the doctors are telling him that he came into the ER with a gunshot wound to his head: the cause of his retrograde amnesia. When an assassin tries to finish the job, Dr. Sienna Brooks helps Robert escape, revealing the troubling item that she'd found in his coat pocket: a container traditionally used to transport biohazardous materials. Robert's search for answers must be conducted under the watchful eye of an organization out to silence him.

First, Dan Brown couldn't have picked scarier subject content if he tried...There's more to this mystery than secret cults and ancient artifacts. The villain of this story is a mad scientist with some pretty radical ideas and he's using Dante's Inferno as a guide to "save" the world. He's worried that humanity is racing toward extinction by overpopulation and believes the only way to save the world is through large scale bioterrorism. It's scary because it's true: in today's modern society people are reproducing faster than they're dying and an engineered virus would spread like a wildfire before doctors could identify it, never mind combat it...

The drawback to being on my fourth story in a mystery series, is I'm getting too used to the formula. Don't get me wrong, I love the idea of all these puzzles encoded in art. Half the appeal of these books, is that I get to learn something new, in a fictional way. But I am slightly put off by a new woman every book, Robert Langdon re-informing us that he's a bachelor, they are both mysteriously attracted to each other, but they never act on it, never experience a truly romantic moment... I don't object to the lack of romance. If it doesn't help the plot, it doesn't need to be in there. But on the other hand, if they aren't ever going to hook up, why do they need to be attracted to each other? Can't they be content with friendship? And why is it always a woman? He's an art professor, not James Bond. Nothing kills a story like predictability.

And I should take a moment to add: this story isn't as predictable as I thought it would be. Sure there's a smart chick, a suspicious acting male ally, secret organizations, and secret messages hidden inside masterpieces...in the beginning. But to my surprise, this time around, I got my wish--Sort of. As this story progresses, it is slowly revealed that no one is who they say they are and everyone is manipulating Robert Langdon for their own purposes. The story feels predictable which makes the giant plot twists way more exciting.

Rating: 4/5

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Quotable Thursday


This week for Quotable Thursday, I'm reading Providence by Chris Coppernoll. I've just started this, not sure if I like it or not. On the one hand, the writing is pretty good, not superb, but better than a lot of what's floating around out there these days. On the other hand, the main character Jack Clayton is a bit of a bore.

"Though Christmas was nearing, my house was absent of a decorated tree or colored lights. Every corner of the room felt like how C.S. Lewis described Narnia: always winter, but never Christmas."
 I'm going to give it a chance though, if only because I'm not far enough in to make an informed decision.


Quotable Thursday originally brought to you by Bookshelf Fantasies.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Out of Oz by Gregory Maguire


Out of Oz (The Wicked Years #4) by Gregory Maguire

Civil unrest doesn't quite cover the state of Oz as Dorothy re-enters, as Rain grows up. The world of Oz is at war, The Free State of Munchkinland versus Everyone Else. Rain spends her half her childhood in hiding and alone, the other half spent on the run with the Company of the Clock of the Time Dragon. By adolescence she's reunited with her family, unsure how to love, fearless, and angry.

Out of Oz ties up the series beautifully. The story starts with its fair share of tragedies; Rain seemingly orphaned, Lady Glinda a prisoner of war, Sir Brr and Nor in a union destined for doom, and hapless Dorothy riding an earthquake in to Munchkinland just as Munchkinland needs a scapegoat. Emperor Shell has declared himself a deity. Liir and Candle struggle to do what's right by their daughter, when the hardly know what's right for themselves. Trism, Commander Cherrystone, Chistery and Nanny, all make an appearance, to push the characters forward on their journey to do what is right...or wrong depending on whose point of view.

The point of this story isn't so much for the characters to find happy endings, but for the characters to find closure, to rise up despite their misfortunes and shine for however long life allows. And there is closure to be had...just not the way one might expect. The character of Rain, is as angry and isolated as her grandmother, but without Elphaba's desire for rash action. She has a thirst for knowledge, stands carefully with her friends, inadvertently finishing the Wicked Witch of the West's life work...From which Brr benefits greatly. Brr whose life has been filled with mistakes and cowardice from the very beginning, now get to experience love and respect. Not everybody gets a happy ending in life and nobody is entitled to all the answers. Not everybody gets to have things like true love or a place to call home-- but everybody gets the chance to live.

Rating 5/5
Review originally posted on:
May 26, 13

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Top Ten New-To-Me Authors

My picks for the Tuesday Top Ten, as invented by The Broke and Bookish. Today's theme is, Top Ten New-To-Me Authors I Read In 2013 Here are ten authors that blew me away with their talent this year.
(I linked the names on my list to the stories I reviewed.)
  1. Robert Crais
  2. Max Brooks
  3. Christopher Rice
  4. Justin Cronin
  5. Charles Portis 
  6. Justin Blaney
  7. Brian Godawa
  8. Yann Martel
  9. Dorothy Ours
  10. Paulo Coelho

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Quotable Thursday


I finally did my Christmas shopping, so I could splurge on a new book without feeling too bad about it...And I grabbed myself a copy of Inferno by Dan Brown. Dan Brown wasted no time in this book; Robert Langdon has retrograde amnesia; he can't remember why he is in Italy, when he arrived, or why he has a gunshot wound to the head. So this is probably the fastest paced mystery in the series....
She ran a hand through her spiked hair, suddenly grasping the dire consequences of her botched assignment last night. With the single coo of a dove, everything had spiraled wildly out of control. What had begun as a simple mission... had now turned into a living nightmare.
...That quote is by a character called Vayentha; she's is just one of many people who seem to want Robert Langdon dead.


Quotable Thursday originally brought to you by Bookshelf Fantasies.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

War of the Worlds by HG Wells


I loved this story, it was dark and exciting; the narrator is a survivor of an alien invasion, searching for his wife in the chaos. For the literature lover, this is a tale written when stories were produced to teach and not just entertain. HG Wells subtly used a martian invasion to snub his nose at British imperialism; presenting a vicious struggle between conquerors and their inferiors. The book ends with the hopeful thought, that even something little can stand up against something big.

Of course, this is another instance of me seeing the movie before I read the book, so in this case the narrator--in my head-- sounded an awful lot like Morgan Freeman. And if we're ever invaded for real, I hope the aliens hire him to narrate their evil plans...

I know my review for this is tiny, but I absolutely loved it.

Rating 5/5
Review originally posted:
 Jul 13, 13

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Top Ten Books On My Winter TBR

My picks for the Tuesday Top Ten, as invented by The Broke and Bookish.  Todays theme is books on my Winter To-Read List.

  1. The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey 
  2. The Lies of Locke Lamora (Gentleman Bastard #1) by Scott Lynch
  3. The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair that Changed America by Erik Larson
  4. Parasite (Parasitology, #1) byMira Grant
  5. City of Saints and Madmen (Ambergris, #1) by Jeff  VanderMeer
  6. Breathing Ghosts by Laekan Zea Kemp
  7. Angelfall (Penryn & the End of Days, #1) by Susan Ee
  8. The Gone-Away World by Nick Harkaway
  9. Imaginary Girls by Nova Ren Suma
  10. The Horse God Built by Lawrence Scanlan

Monday, December 9, 2013

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern


Welcome to Le Cirque des Rêves. A mysterious, one of a kind circus that, "Opens at nightfall, closes at dawn," and is filled with wondrously impossible exhibits. Hector Bowen and Alexander choose their prodigies, Celia and Marco, and manipulate them into participating in a game, with the circus as their venue. This is no ordinary circus and it isn't just a venue; this is a battleground where magicians wage war in plain sight of people who don't believe in magic. This is about the people who play the game, those who witness it, and those swept along in unforgiving, enchanting wake of the night circus.

First things first. There is absolutely, no way to review this book without praising the attention to detail. Everyone's heard the phase, "Show, don't tell," and Erin Morgenstern took great pains to make sure the reader was transported into the events happening inside her book. Everything was vividly described, from flavors of food to the scents in the air the characters were breathing; from something as obvious as what each wonder looked like to the subtleties of how people moved.

The characters themselves are vibrant. Alexander and Hector are both cold and calculating, but Hector is selfish and poisonous, while Alexander remains inscrutable and mysterious; his sympathies are sincere even as his callous decisions continue to inflict pain. Celia is passionate, quick to anger and quick to love, desperately trying to prove herself and protect those closest to her. Marco is steadfast and determined, as calculating as Hector and Alexander, but with a better set of morals than either of them. Then you have Murray twins, Poppet and Widget, born on opening night, with abnormal gifts all their own; a side effect of the night circus... They're not just witnessing it, or helping it along. They're living in it, sensing both the beauties and the horrors. Further out, on the fringes, exist the grand architects of the night circus; the theater producer, the engineers, the costume designers, and the choreographers. And beyond them, the rêveurs. People like Bailey, who fall in love with the circus to the point of obsession for it represents, people willing to follow it across country and continent.

I've heard this story is a product NaNoWriMo... And honestly, between the attention to detail and the attention to balance, it is hard to believe this was churned out in a month. And there is balance: the color scheme for starter's, all done up in black and white, but if you're into treading deeper, let's not forget the simplicity of dark and light. The characters viewed as "evil" and those viewed as "good" and those titles being a matter of perspective. Nobody stands up and shouts, "Love me, I'm the hero!" or "Kill that guy, he's clearly dangerous!" There are characters in this story you'll love to hate, characters you'll love to love, and they'll be forced to mix with each other rather than epically battle to a predictable ending.

There's even balance in how the circus is perceived and those perceptions handled. Some of the character realize this is no ordinary circus others feel content to bury their heads... For those that suspect the magic is real, love the circus more for it, or are driven mad by it. There's differences in how magic can be handled, natural versus learned. Which brings us to Marco and Celia. Their skills and personalities both compliment and conflict. At opposite ends of the earth they couldn't be more different; put them together and they couldn't be more similar. And I won't neglect the obvious balance of life and death...Some characters accept it as a fact of life, others strive to avoid it.

In case you couldn't tell from the way I'm gushing, I loved this story and I didn't want it to end. It was abnormal from fantasy in some ways; usually magic has more rules attached to it. So if you're a hardcore fantasy fan, this might not be for you. And its probably not going to blow the mind of strict literary fans who want to find deeper meaning behind every word. And all though I love books that can be deciphered, I also believe the world has a place for well written, imaginative stories meant to entertain.

Rating 5/5

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Quotable Thursday


I'm still reading it The Night Circus, but I'm almost done with it...
"The seek each other out, these people of such specific like mind. The tell of how they found the circus, how those first few steps were like magic. Like stepping into a fairy tale under a curtain of stars. They pontificate upon the fluffiness of the popcorn, the sweetness of the chocolate. They spend hours discussing the quality of light, the heat of the bonfire..."
 Quotable Thursday originally brought to you by Bookshelf Fantasies.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

What Came After by Sam Winston


About 50 years in the future, the government as we know it no longer exists, the pharmaceutical companies own everything, and nature took what PharmAgra didn't want. The rich got richer, the poor got poorer, and the sick dropped dead. Anderson Carmichael just wants a car. Henry Weller wants his daughter's vision. Carmichael's got the ultimate bargaining chip; access to medical care. This is the dystopian story of how far a father will go to see his child healthy.

There were big gaping holes in the story, as entertaining as it was... Little tidbits that weren't explained but maybe should have been. The Great Dying -- clues are dropped throughout the story and one can safely assume mutated food made people sick, less safely assume PharmAgra may have been responsible for it? but most definitely knew how to un-mutate the food. Branding-- little microchips implanted in necks, used to identify people. If you have a brand, you're a someone. If you don't, you live in the Zone. But what qualifies someone for a brand and which brand? and when are they implanted?

But the plot was interesting enough and I didn't mind the cliffhanger ending... I noticed a nicely drawn parallel between the first sentence and the last and I love story ideas that make you think. I also can't help but notice parallels between the fictional future Sam Winston thought up and the US's currently precarious economic standing. People are worrying about the affordability of food and people who can afford it are stopping to wonder about what's in the food they're so eager to buy.

Rating: 3/5
Original post date:
Dec 26, 12

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Top Ten Books I'm Dying To Read

My picks for the Tuesday Top Ten, as invented by The Broke and Bookish.

Originally, The Broke and Bookish, had Top Ten 2014 Releases I'm Dying to Read scheduled for today. I took a creative liberty and changed it to Books because I don't really keep track of the books I want to read by publication dates... Also, some of the books I'm waiting on, haven't necessarily announced a pub-date. So the subtle change in list-subject makes more sense for me.

1.  Parasite by Mira Grant; I spent the month of November posting my reviews for Mira Grant's zombie series, which were so much fun to read, but now I want to see what she did with Parasites! Newish release.

2. Dan Brown, Inferno; new this year.

3.  Hollow City by Ransom Riggs; I actually think the expected publication is 2014.

4.  The Exorcist... I had no idea the movie was based on the book until the week after this past Halloween, lol. I've never seen the movie, but I'd like to read the book.

5.  Pym by Mat Johnson. Goodreads keeps recommending I read this; after reading the blurb I decided I was intrigued.

6. Winter's Tale by Mark Helprin. Another user on GR, recc'd this, after I'd requested fantasy intended for adults (as opposed to young readers).

7. I've just discovered Christopher Rice; his novel A Density of Souls, convinced me of the man's genius...Now I must read everything, lol.

8.  The Fort by Aric Davis.

9.  Palimpsest by Catherynne Valente.

10. The Doors of Stone (The Kingkiller Chronicle #3) by Patrick Rothfuss... As of yet there is no cover art for this book. And the author thinks the book will be released sometime in 2014...Which means its highly probable that there will be another delay. But I can be patient.

Thank goodness for Thanksgiving sales; a few of these wound up inside my Kindle over the weekend!

Monday, December 2, 2013

Thanksgiving Deals

I was sooo excited when I realized from Thursday to CyberMonday, Amazon was offering so many book deals! I've spent the last few days hunting for e-bargains and picking at leftover turkey. I must have checked in every few hours to look for books on my wishlist and was rewarded for my persistence. I managed to get 9 new books for little more than pocket change before the money on my Amazon account ran out. I should be all set with reading material for awhile...

I hope everyone had an enjoyable holiday, or at the very least got some good food and great titles out of it!

Happy Monday!

Friday, November 29, 2013

Countdown by Mira Grant

Countdown: A Newsflesh Novella 
by Mira Grant

This was an ok novella... A bit of a let down after reading the Newsflesh Trilogy.

What worked:
  • I liked seeing the doctors who created the virus and the jerk who set it free as far as understanding how it all began. 
  • And despite the peeks at the Mason family before Shaun and Georgia became a part of it, the POV of Marigold was most effective at explaining how innocent lives were being affected. 
  • I liked at the end of each "chapter" they showed the news reports. 

What didn't work:
  • The writing was frantic and vague; I know it was supposed to be a short story, but if a prequel is going to be invented it should add to the story somehow--it needed a little development. 
  • I wish the cause and effect had been built upon a little more; the Mason's are lovely before the infection and despite the devastating loss of their son I don't really see how they transformed into rating-hungry villains.

Rating: 2/5
Originally posted:
 May 16, 12

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Quotable Thursday


This week for Quotable Thursday, I'm reading The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern...I admit after taking holiday craziness into consideration, I decided to pick a book I already knew I'd enjoy, having already read it (but not yet reviewed).There's no shame in reliving the magic and there is certainly plenty in this book!
Then, so swiftly she appears not even to move, she picks up her jacket from the stage and flings it out over the seats where, instead of tumbling down, it swoops back up, folding into itself. In the blink of an eye folds of silk are glossy black feathers, large beating wings, and it is impossible to pinpoint the moment when it's fully raven and no longer cloth. The raven swoops over the red velvet seats and up into the balcony where it flies in curious circles.
Quotable Thursday originally brought to you by Bookshelf Fantasies.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Blackout by Mira Grant

Blackout (Newsflesh Trilogy #3) 
by Mira Grant

I was surprised by Blackout. It does not have the high suspense of Feed, or the dark action of Deadline, but it's no less frightening. The CDC is out to prove that zombies haven't taken over the world, mad scientists have; and you're being given a truly inside look at the mad science by the pov of a clone. As you see the story inside the CDC progress, you begin to understand the gravity of the "cold equations"; the corruption, the power, the danger, involved in the science. She may have been created in a test tube, but she's still human... And they talk about her like a used car.

You also get Sean's pov; he's still crazy, but the voices in his head are learning to go from helpful to venomous whenever he doubts himself. There is a severe lack of emotion in this book - not altogether unexpected from the CDC - but the team is coping with the possibility nobody's getting out alive, and if they do survive they have to hide, by shutting down on anything other than what it will take to keep them breathing for one more day. The emotionless outlook, helps remind the readers (as if they could forget) that in a world full of zombies nobody is guaranteed a happy ending.

Your main characters range from the clinically insane to the genetically altered. The doctors you trusted to save the world want to destroy it. The people in a position powerful enough to do something about the madness may have been compromised. The reporters you trusted to tell the truth to the world have been silenced. Yes, the science slows the book. No, it detracts nothing from the plot. If anything, it goes to show you there are worse things in this futuristic world than zombies...and that's really something.

The trilogy keeps repeating the question "When will you rise?" Blackout makes it necessary to ask "Who will you trust when you do?"

Rating: 5/5
Review originally post date:
May 30, 12

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Top Ten Things I Am Thankful For

My picks for the Tuesday Top Ten, as invented by The Broke and Bookish. This week's theme is: Top Ten Things I Am Thankful For (could be bookish or not). Here is what I'm most thankful for this year!

1. Horses. They're my therapists; they keep grounded and sane.
2. Books. My escape from a world that tries to drive me crazy.
3.The Roof Over My Head. Seriously,when you're a broke computer-nerd/book-worm you can appreciate the fact that you have somewhere to live.
4. My Guinea Pig. He's old and ailing, but he still whistle's "Good morning," to me when I get out of bed. He's my little buddy.
5. The Internet. Some of my best friend can be contacted through it!
6. Chocolate. Mmmm....

The works of:
7. JK Rowling and Brian Jacques,
8. Edgar Allen Poe and Bram Stoker,
9. Gregory Maguire, Christopher Paolini, and Stephenie Meyer.

10. Writers. To the ones I didn't name and to the ones I did: Thank you for being brave enough to share your imaginations with the rest of the world.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Life of Pi by Yann Martel


Pi Patel, unfortunately named after a pool, is a peculiarly devout boy growing up in India. His family consider themselves to be "Modern Indians" preferring to put their faith in Business than in God; his practises are unorthodox to his preachers and perplexing to his family.  The shifting of politics in India, force Pi's father to make the decision to sell off the zoo he owned and operated, and emigrate to Canada, beginning Pi's miraculous journey across the Pacific. After the cargo ship, transporting Pi's family and animals goes down, Pis is left stranded on a lifeboat with his belief in a higher power and a dangerous Bengal tiger...

I don't consider myself agnostic or atheist, but I'm not traditionally religious... My parents aren't religious, they didn't take me to church or instruct me on what we believed; I was left to make my own conclusions about the world as I saw fit. I grew up believing in the power of books above all else; books that were meant to teach and books that were meant to entertain, not that either were always mutually exclusive. I worshiped in libraries and bookstores, in school cafeterias and in my own backyard; as someone who's got her own ideas about God, I loved the message this book sent out. "I just want to love God," Pi responds, when confronted by a priest, a pandit, and an imam, who tell him there is no such thing as a practising Hindu-Christian-Muslim, and he must choose only one. How can you not love Pi just a little for defying religious conventions that have sparked so many wars?

Over and over Pi's faith is tested by another recurring theme: The primal need to survive. Pi's been a vegetarian his whole life and now, lost at sea with an animal that is willing to kill to survive and a limited stash of food and water, Pi's going to have to make some tough decisions. In order to keep the tiger from viewing Pi as a potential meal, he has to establish himself as an Alpha and a Provider. That means being more aggressive than the 450-lb cat that threatens his life and ultimately, learning to kill.

I love the metaphors Algae Island offers; Algae Island is a floating island of algae that grows trees to harvest sunlight, has plentiful fresh water pools that poison saltwater fish, and is overpopulated by mindless meerkats... Here on the island, Pi and Richard Parker find everything they need, it's a literal paradise. There's edible greens for Pi and meat for Richard Parker. There's plenty of freshwater and protection from the harsh elements. I can't help seeing a metaphorical Eden at this point in the story. The meerkats -- Pi notes they originate from Africa, while I note Africa as the known birthplace of humanity -- are content living in their mysterious floating garden. Its only when Pi's curiosity becomes too much to bear and he plucks a strange fruit from a strange tree, that he realizes he can't stay on the island forever. He and Richard Parker must leave and never return.

And of course, now we hit the one flaw in the book. The abrupt transition between being lost at sea and making landfall in Mexico. They're at sea--and then they're not. I suppose there is some kind of mirror there, something to be said about the abrupt goodbye to the ocean and the abrupt disappearance of Richard Parker... Pi will eventually be questioned about the loss of the cargo ship and his journey. The officials think his story is a tragic lie, invented to cover up trauma from the actual tragedy. In response Pi tells them another story, more brutal than the first and asks them to sort out for themselves which one they prefer, which one is truth. I won't lie here; the very last paragraph of the book made me cry a little.

Rating 5/5

Ps. It should be noted that the Author's Note is part of the storyline...Just in case you want to read Life of Pi and considered skipping the AN.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Quotable Thursday


Still reading Life of Pi by Yann Martel, but I'm almost done with it! I'm loving the story, although I admit maybe I didn't need quite so much detail on what happens when hyena eats a zebra...
Oncoming death is terrible enough, but worse still is oncoming death with time to spare, time in which all the happiness that was yours and all the happiness that might have been yours becomes clear to you. You see with utter lucidity all that you are losing.
Pi's not having a great time of it right now, but there is no reason you shouldn't! Happy Thursday!

Quotable Thursday originally brought to you by Bookshelf Fantasies.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Deadline by Mira Grant

Deadline (Newsflesh Trilogy #2) by Mira Grant


Shaun and his friends are in hiding; forced to lay low after the conspiracy they uncovered out on the campaign trail. An employee from the CDC shows up at their door, just after being declared dead. She's got information they need, as a new threat looms on the horizon-- Kellis-Amberlee has a new and dangerous vector as the conspiracy just keeps growing.

This book was even better than the first! The first book was a bit more technical with a closer look at the bloggers of the future, the suspense dribbled out a little slower amidst confusion as the characters began to assemble the pieces of a conspiracy. Which seemed so awesome while I was reading, I didn't bother to imagine the the next level of the story would be so drastically different.

The second book there is no shortage of action: zombies, running, screaming, paranoia... The conspiracy is here, and there is no where to hide. Biology and virology now overshadow our bloggers technical know how, because the virus and the people who have it, are evolving. 

Book 2 is filled with dark tension because its clear something bad is coming and now you know the author has no worries about killing off somebody important. Through each reconnaissance trip, each assassination attempt, each psychotic episode, each moment of calm as our main characters chance a rest in the eye of the storm...You have to wonder who is going up on the Wall next? And each blog post gets more and more ominous as the characters themselves begin to wonder the same.

And the ending is unbelievable. Literally. I didn't believe it so I read it twice.

Rating 5/5
Original review posted:
Jul 23, 12

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Top Ten Book I'd Recommend to...

My picks for the Tuesday Top Ten, as invented by The Broke and Bookish. Today's subject for Tuesday Top Ten: Books I'd Recommend To X Person...(Lister's choice, who to recommend to).

In this case, these are the books I'd recommend to The Reader Who Wants to Get Lost in a Fictional World. These recs are for the reader who just wants to escape and go on an adventure. These are some of my favorite retreats (some of these are series).

1.Harry Potter by JK Rowling. I spent half of my life living in these books; at the end of the day, there are still few things better than hopping on the Hogwarts Express and seeing Harry and the gang.
2.The Newsflesh Trilogy by Mira Grant. This is a newer, but completed trilogy; it's a frightening fun world to play in during those long summer waits between seasons of The Walking Dead.

3. The Inheritance Cycle by Christopher Paolini. High fantasy; a poor farm boy, Eragon, is changed forever when he discovers a stolen dragon egg...And the evil King is desperate to claim Eragon and his find.

4. The Wicked Years by Gregory Maguire, starting with Wicked: The Life and Times of... While I enjoyed all four books, even I can say the original remains the best. Elphaba was the kind of person I'd want to have as a friend if she existed in real life.

5.  The currently incomplete, but beautifully done, The Victorian Trilogy by Felix J Palma, whose praises I can't stop singing.

6. The Book of Lost Things by John Connolly. This is great if you've ever been enchanted by the darkness inside of Brothers Grimm. A little boy crosses into a world of nightmares and fairytales, where the Crooked Man tries to keep him.

7. Let the Right One In by John Ajvide Lindqvist. This is one of my favorite stories, by one of my favorite authors. Characters that are relatable and terrifying at the same time.

8. Good Omens by Terry Pratchett & Neil Gaiman. Outrageously funny...The Apocalypse has arrive and of course, you can never find the anti-Christ when you need him.

9. The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern. This is one of those books you absolutely love or hate, I happened to love it. The imagery, the magic; maybe it doesn't lend itself to life changing epiphanies, but it certainly makes me want to runaway with  Le Cirque des Rêves.

10.Call of the Wild by Jack London. I've read this one so many times I could probably recite it. Buck is dognapped and pressed into servitude as a sled dog in the wild north... There is something very enthralling about this  transformation from pet to predator.