"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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Friday, December 19, 2014

The Gingerbread Man by Maggie Shayne

“My darkness is squatting like a demon, right around the next corner, lurking in every shadow, just waiting for me to slip. And when I do it’s gonna grab me, Vince, and I don’t know if I can fight my way free the next time it does.”

Maggie’s Shayne’s  The Gingerbread Man, opens with Vince O’Mally, a smart detective who has trouble separating himself from his victims. He’s haunted by Sara Prague, a mother who is determined not to let the cop forget her missing kids, and makes him promise her that he won’t rest until they’re found. Vince O’Mally does the unthinkable; he promises her that everything will be alright. When it turns out to be a promise he can’t keep, he gets forced into a 30 day leave and finds himself following leads on his own time.

Holly Newman is a cleric at the Dilmun Police Department; Dilmun is a small town in New York where the community is tight and nothing bad ever happens. She suffers from OCD and panic attacks brought on by PTSD, brought on by the one time something bad did happen in Dilmun. In 1983, Holly Newman escaped an attempted kidnapping, but her little sister Ivy, wasn’t so lucky. Holly had to overcome the trauma of witnessing her sister’s abduction, and put her life back together. Now rude Detective Vince O’Mally threatens her peace of mind.

I have both good things and bad things to say about this story; I’m starting with the good.

First the writing: Maggie Shayne had a vision for a mystery and she brought it to life. I’m not criticizing that. The story starts slow and picks up speed; there’s a serial pedophile on the loose and he’s murdering his victims. Two characters from different worlds with troubled pasts, find themselves obsessed with catching the creep. And MS knows what it takes to keep the reader reading: a dark crime, some complex characters, a little misdirection here an attempted murder there… I didn’t guess ahead by the way (I certainly tried). I know some reviews are saying they knew at the 25% marker. At the 25% marker I was staring suspiciously at the misdirect, but I didn’t know. And it makes me question whether the people who say they knew ever finished the book. The only part about the story I found hard to believe, was the idea that a mother wouldn’t recognize her own daughter.

Now. The editing. I’m not stupid. I know not everybody who writes, makes it rich. I know professional editors are expensive. But what stops this Maggie Shayne from printing/emailing out a dozen copies to trusted friends and family and saying, “Hey, read through this, when you have time. Highlight spelling mistakes, grammar mistakes, dropped punctuation. Notate repetitive phrases, story discrepancies-- anything you’re not sure of and want me to double check its correctness…” Because as close to Maggie Shayne gets to perfect, it isn’t perfect. There were spelling mistakes; silly ones. There were dropped punctuation marks. There were unnecessarily repetitive phrases that subtracted from character complexity…The most obvious being Vince’s aversion to “needy women” that “needy was dangerous”. There had to be more than one way to word his fears and yet we read the same thing again and again and again; it makes Vince sound like a shallow idiot.

If Maggie Shayne’s mystery plot was undoubtedly a slam dunk, then she butchered her romantic subplot like a zombie ripping out Dale’s large intestine (Walking Dead fans will get that). I loved the mystery but I struggle to understand the romantic elements, most of which were cliché. In The Gingerbread Man (and other novels by other authors), romance is again defined as the art of behaving like a douche to your potential significant other and having them love you more for it. I don’t get it and it pisses me off. Don’t forget the heroine is also a Virgin. I just don’t get it. And Virgin is synonymous for (In-The-Closet) Porn Star. And I don’t get it. He says he won’t love you, but don’t worry he’ll change his mind once he sees you naked. I don’t get it.

I give this three stars. Could have been a four star rating with some editing. Could have been five stars if the romantic aspects had been better thought out. But over all, I enjoyed this story enough to consider reading more from this author.

Rating: 3/5

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Dust by Hugh Howey

Dust (Silo #3) by Hugh Howey

“Our actions, you know? They last forever. Whatever we do, it’ll always be what we did. There’s no taking them back.”

In Wool we’re introduced to the world of Silo 18; people have fled an inhospitable environment to live underground. They’ve forgotten the world they come from and anyone who dreams of returning to it, is forced out. Shift introduced us to the world of corrupt political heads who are willing to get what they want by any means necessary, as well as the survivors of failed Silo 17.

Dust brings us back to present time in the Silo Saga universe, with Juliette as the newly elected Mayor of Silo 18. Juliette is determined to dig; she wants to expand the Silo 18 and claim 17,  she wants to rescue her new friends and prove to everyone else that she isn’t crazy. Lukas is torn between his love for Juliette and his duties to the Silo as the new head of IT; he’s worried the Juliette is creating too much fear and that the Silo is headed for another uprising.

Donald is still awake in Silo 1, still conspiring with his sister Charlotte, but now he’s running out of time. He’s slowly dying, he can’t keep lying about the noise coming from Silo 18, and the cryogenically frozen body of an attempted murder victim just turned up. Charlotte is flying her drones over the Silo farm, looking to see what lies beyond it, if anything.

Lukas and Donald can’t let Silo 1 become suspicious. All it would take is a little suspicion to trigger the push of a button that would end all life in Silo 18. And Juliette is determined to sever Silo 1’s control over her home…

This story has the suspense that Shift lacked, along with an ominous Us vs. Them feel. Silo 1 and Silo 18 are battling for their right to survive the apocalypse, their right to live and die as they choose. Juliette is struggling with the choices she must make to do what is right; the choice between right and wrong never seemed so cruel. The right think might get her killed but the wrong thing will keep thousands of people enslaved. And the ending… It was kind of perfect if you don’t mind the predictability of the triumph of good over evil, which I don’t.

The only question I was left with at the end of this series: What was Thurman’s problem with dogs? He literally wrote the book on surviving the end of the world, and provided the survivors with resources, including the livestock… So why are they eating dog? How were they mislabeled “food” instead of “man’s best friend”? Thurman just doesn't make those mistakes…although, given the events of the story I suppose he wasn't the most sane or reasonable person to begin with…

Rating 5/5

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Top Ten in 2014 (so far!)

My picks for the Tuesday Top Ten, as invented by The Broke and Bookish. This week's theme is Top Ten Books I Read in 2014. I haven't done one of these in awhile, stuck in a dry, crusty, reading drought. I planned on a reading 30 books this year, via the GoodReads challenges, I've read 17 even though the GR-Challenge Widget appears to be stuck on 14. I'm probably not going to make 30, but I'm going to give it a go. In the meantime, these are my ten favorite so far!


1, 2,and 3 are going to Patrick Ness's YA, Sci-fi novels, the Chaos Walking trilogy.

4, 5, and 6 are going to Hugh Howey's Silo Saga.

7. The Exorcist by William Peter Blatty

8. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

9. Parasite by Mira Grant. (I can't wait for the sequel!)

10. Winter's Tale by Mark Helprin. This magical novel pulled me out of my dry spell!

Monday, December 15, 2014

Defending Jacob by William Landay

“Desire, love hate, fear, repulsion--you feel these things in your muscle and bones, not just in your mind. That is how this little heartbreak felt: like a physical injury, deep inside my body, an internal bleeding, a nick that would continue to seep.”

One morning, a young boy is found murdered, stabbed to death in the park. It’s a horrifying crime in suburban Massachusetts, but it’s business as usual for Assistant District Attorney Andrew Barber. Andy sets out to investigate and prosecute the crime himself, but an ambitious young colleague, is about to blindside him. Neal Logiudice is climbing his way to the top; he knows the case is high profile and he sees his chance to make a name for himself. Neal wants to follow the evidence straight back to Andy’s own son, Jacob. Andrew, finding himself pushed out of a job, must figure out how to save his son and hold his family together…

I couldn’t put this book down. I admit it’s a slow burner; it isn’t a fast paced, overwhelmingly eventful crime novel, but the crime is horrifying and the evidence trickles out tantalizingly slow through a wall of emotional, psychological, and biological character angst. William Landay gives just enough to keep the reader on the hook and no more.

Most of the story swaps between Andy Barber’s home life and Jacob’s trial; and it’s sort of perfect that way. You get to know the characters more than you know the crime; the characters are rich multi-faceted people. Andrew is convinced of Jacob’s innocence while his wife Laura is convince of her son’s guilt. They’re mirror images; Andy’s confidence and professional coldness are contrasted by Laura’s nerves and motherly warmth. Under the stress of a murder trial their marriage fractures, heals, fractures some more. The accusations against Jacob bring up painful memories of the murderous relatives Andy tried so hard forget, and he is forced to confront those memories by a wife who is starting to blame him for Jacob’s problems. You’re seeing him struggle with his past and his present all at once, trying to hold onto a marriage founded on lies, trying to keep his son out of prison, and it’s all at once heartbreaking. You want things to work out. You know they can’t. This story isn’t set for a happy ending because no matter the verdict, someone is going to lose.

The best and worst moment of this book was the surprise ending. I was really surprised! And I hated it. It pissed me off. Had I been holding a paperback instead of a Kindle I’d a chucked the effing thing at a wall in a rage. I also loved it. I loved it because it was a beautiful bit of betrayal. Just as WL is tying things up nice and neat and you think its over, he throws in doubt and something so much worse. Nurture vs. Nature. WL presents a terrifying argument and leaves the answer open to reader opinion.

Rating: 4/5

Friday, December 5, 2014

Winter's Tale by Mark Helprin

“Peter Lake had no illusions about mortality. He knew that it made everyone perfectly equal, and that the treasures of the earth were movement, courage, laughter, and love. The wealthy could not buy these things. On the contrary, they were for the taking.”

Winter’s Tale starts with as a poetic an image any fairy-tale could manage: a white horse traveling through scenic New York City on perfectly snow covered dawn. This is a story of winter romance, magic and miracles, good vs. evil, spanning the industrial age to modern times, as the characters search for reason and justice in the world.

My initial reaction to the book? If you liked Erin Morgenstern’s The Night Circus, or any of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s work, you’ll probably love this story. The painstaking attention to surreal descriptions and the weaving of the fantastic into a canvas as bleak as a city filled with violence and sickness…Well, it dragged me right down to a time where a person could believe anything was possible… Instead of this digital age where a thousand voices across the internet can assure you it simply isn’t.

My second reaction to this book? This is a story best reviewed by introducing the characters; as the plot is very character driven it would otherwise be impossible to explain the book without spoiling the story completely.

The story starts with Athansor, although he won’t be known by that name until later. He’s a great white stallion, bigger than any draft, grander than any warhorse, with a jump so big bystanders think he flies. Obviously, Athansor is no ordinary horse. He chooses to help Peter Lake, tying His Holy Horseyness to the mortal coil--sort of.

Peter Lake is an Irish immigrant who finds himself frequently on the sad side of abandonment. His parents left him as an infant when they were turned away from Ellis Island and his second family rejects him, when they believe he’s old enough to fend for himself. Constantly losing those he trusts, Peter Lake must struggle to choose the right course of action and he grows up to become a master mechanic… He also becomes a professional burglar; hunted by a vicious gangster, Pearly Soames. Tired of running, he takes his white horse to the Penn estate, ready for one last score.

He just wants to rob the house, but his plan is foiled by Beverly Penn. Beverly Penn is home alone while her family has left for their vacation house at The Lake of the Coheeries. Dying of tuberculosis, she’s an heiress who will never spend her fortune; she sleeps on the roof to keep the fever away, counting stars and dreaming up deities in math equations. Peter and Beverly seem destined for one another and Beverly won’t abandon Peter Lake.

Then enter a character that is actually another setting. The Lake of the Coheeries, where the Penn vacation house is located. The Lake of the Coheeries is basically a fairyland of sorts… Like any exotic local in Pirate’s of the Caribbean, The Lake of the Coheeries is a place that can best be found by honest accident or by those who already know its location. Usually on a moonlit winter night. And of course it won’t be on any map, so Beverly must show Peter the way if he’s to meet her family.

Here is where I leave you, if only to avoid spoilers, to talk about a different set of characters who play an integral part in NYC and whose lives seem tied to Athansor and Peter. First the ominous architect Jackson Mead--though you feel free to draw your own conclusions-- I believe is Lucifer in disguise and he' absolutely obsessed with building bridges. His Henchmen, Reverend Mootfowl (who just happened to be Peter Lake’s mentor) and Cecil Mature (Peter’s most loyal friend). And of course Pearly Soames, hell bent on killing Peter. As Peter falls through time and space swept up in winter magic; these four morally flawed characters haunt his footsteps. Whoever they are, they undeniably reinforce the notion that Peter Lake, despite his flaws, is definitely the Good Guy.

Skipping forward to the future, we get new characters who will inevitably find themselves tied to a man who’s supposed to be dead. Hardesty Marrata and Virginia Gamely. Hardesty could have been an heir, but he gave away a vast fortune to travel the world in search of a “perfectly just city” and instead he found New York City and Virginia Gamely. Virginia Gamely, Coheeries-born, is a passionate journalist with a son from a failed marriage and a big heart. What they have in common, they were hired almost instantly by Harry Penn.

Ancient Harry Penn is Beverly’s younger brother who having survived the breakdown of his family and serving his country, has returned to NYC to run two flourishing newspapers. He offers Hardesty and Virginia employment; and will later, unknowingly employ Peter Lake, tying several generations together as the city begins to burn.

The plot is a character-journey-story to support themes that are probably open to interpretation depending on the reader. (To  me this is the most Fitzgerald-y.) For me, it’s about the possibility of miracles being most possible when you can believe that they exist; with religious undertones that are enhanced by several deity like characters. Second, I believe it’s a round about way of saying love conquers all and that good will triumph over evil, even if good isn’t as good as good could be…After all, part of being human is being flawed. Nobody’s perfect, not even if you live forever. Thirdly, I think Hardesty and Virginia subplots are there to remind people to embrace risk; had either one of them embraced the easy choices, neither would have met.

I give this book a 4/5 because I prefer a more concrete ending than I received. And while the ending wasn't my preference, I understood why the story was left open... since I did draw my own conclusions about what happened and why. So I say it again. This is a fantastic read if you like magic, great characters, flower descriptions, and a plot that encourages the reader to think and believe...If you're looking for something a bit more "modern" or "easy" (there's nothing wrong with that) this probably isn't the book for you.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Quotable Thursday

I just finished reading Winter's Tale by Mark Helprin after breaking free of a reading drought. Beautiful story if you're looking for something that will add a little bit of magic to your life. While I type up a review, here's a long overdue couple of quotes.

"The city was like war--battles raged all around, and desperate men were on the street in crawling legions. He had heard the Baymen tell of war, but they had never said it could be harnessed, its head held down, and made to run in place."

And later:

"Lonely people have enthusiasms which cannot always be explained. When something strikes them as funny, the intensity and length of their laughter mirrors the depth of their loneliness, and they are capable of laughing like hyenas. When something touches their emotions, it runs through them like Paul Revere, awakening feelings that gather into great armies..."

Check back soon for the full review!

Quotable Thursday originally brought to you by Bookshelf Fantasies.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Top Ten Authors I Own


My picks for the Tuesday Top Ten, as invented by The Broke and Bookish. Today's theme is: Ten Authors I Own The Most Books From.
  1. Brian Jacques
  2. JK Rowling
  3. Gregory Maguire
  4. Charles De Lint
  5. Dan Brown
  6. Stephanie Meyer
  7. Mira Grant
  8. John Ajvide Lindqvist
  9. Walter Farley
  10. David Clement Davies

Friday, July 25, 2014

The Silkworm by Robert Galbraith

“...writers are a savage breed, Mr. Strike. If you want life-long friendship and selfless camaraderie, join the army and learn to kill. If you want a lifetime of temporary alliances with peers who will glory in your every failure, write novels.” 
― Robert Galbraith, The Silkworm

Cormoran Strike and Robin are back in the second Robert Galbraith novel (whose last name I can never spell correctly the first time around). After solving the Lula Landry case, Strike's business is doing better; he's able to take Robin on as a permanent employee, he's got an apartment, and more clients than he can accommodate. Then eccentric Leonora Quine walks in.

Her husband, a drama-addicted, erotic-horror novelist, has gone missing and she wants Strike to find him. He accepts the case of the missing writer, only to discover that Owen Quine's newest novel depicts his wife, friends and business associates as sexually depraved monsters; giving just about everyone motive to make the author disappear and ensure the novel never goes to print.

I thought this book was actually a step up from the first novel. It's infinitely more suspenseful, I couldn't put it down. I couldn't stop turning the pages because I felt just as desperate for answers as our protagonists. There were certain things I applauded; like the author's ability to balance the stories of Strike and Robin's personal lives with the mystery they have to solve. I also like how the author handled those personal problems; choosing not to cheapen the plot with unnecessary romance. Right now, romance is very in, and I think you see romantic subplots stuffed into stories, just because.

If I had one complaint, it's with what The Quine Case and The Landry Case have in common: a surplus of people who would like to see the victim dead. That being said, in the first book when Strike solved the case it was seemingly guesswork with very little clues used; in other words, I didn't see how he reached the conclusion.

In The Silkworm, when  Strike unmasks the criminal, I can see very clearly how all the clues add up. I can see how exactly how the perpetrator planned and carried out the crime. So despite the similarities between the two books, this one had the better ending. Which says to me, Robert Galbraith is improving with every book... And leaves me curious for more.

Rating: 4/5

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Top Ten Television Shows - 7/15/14

My picks for the Tuesday Top Ten, as invented by The Broke and Bookish. Today's theme was "other stories," either Top Ten Favorite Movies or TV Shows! I went with my favorite TV shows because the movie list is way longer.

LOST -- A plane crashes onto a mysterious island, leaving the survivors to fall prey to supernatural and scientific forces alike... 

I fan-girled so hard, I nearly wet myself every season opener and cried for weeks after every season ender. The writing was superb, every episode full of little clues and mysteries and monsters, questions were answered just so the viewer would ask more. The casting was perfect.

Breaking Bad -- A high school chemistry teacher, diagnosed with terminal cancer, realizes he's going to die and leave his family in debt. So  he invents his own meth-recipe and begins a crime spree to cover his medical bills... 

The writing for this was smart, dark, and funny, all at once. A story of a too-smart Anti-hero with plenty of character evolution to make it feel realistic.  

Wilfred -- Ryan is very unhappy. He's left his job, suffering from depression. His family situation is complicated. Then the cute neighbor starts bring her dog around. Everyone sees a normal dog, except Ryan, who sees Wilfred. 

This show is so witty. First seeing Jason Gann act out and give voice to seemingly normal doggie-behaviors is hysterical. Then watching Ryan and Wilfred get in and out of trouble together as Ryan searches for answers, is disturbing. Is Wilfred a devil? Or is Ryan insane?

The Black Donnellys -- This show only ran for one season (which I think is a sin). It's about an Irish crime family - four brothers who can't escape their heritage - living in Hell's Kitchen at war with Italians. 

It's sort of an Anti-hero story combined with brotherly love. The writing was dark and gripping, and the characters were compelling. This story wasn't about right from wrong, but doing what had to be done to protect 'The Family'.

The Walking Dead -- Rick Grimes wakes up alone in a hospital surrounded by dead bodies. Some of them are still walking. In a world without order and with a surplus of flesh eating zombies, he sets out to find and save his family. 

The biggest cool factor is how the zombies are handled: they're an obstacle course that wants to eat you. This story is set up to show how far people are willing to go when the shit hits the fan, what they're willing to do for each other and to each other. The character evolution is incredible; who these people are in season 1 is not the same as who they are in season 4. Each season has a new set of trials, tribulations, and villains... as if the undead weren't enough.

Supernatural -- Two brothers, Sam and Dean Winchester, take on the responsibility of hunting all that goes bump in the night, occasionally aided by a so-awkward-he's-human angel named Castiel, and the smooth-talking-double-crossing King of Hell name Crowley.

This show isn't particularly ground breaking, but boy is it fun. First you've got your little supernatural/creepy fix, from the monsters and the horrible things they're doing to humans. Then you've got your cheesy hero fix, with two handsome men, rushing in to save the day. Add some funny one-liners, a plot that's easy enough to follow, and the curiosity to see how the brothers are going to be killed (and resurrected) at the end of each season and you've got an addicting little show. 

I would also go so far as to say this is the only show on CW's line up that is consistently written well, despite being aimed at a younger audience. They never "dumb it down" to a point where it feel childish and pointless and predictably soap-opera-ish. It isn't full of overused young adult cliches nor over-actors with only pretty faces... Although some of the faces are certainly pretty.

The Bridge -- A mutilated body is found on the border between Mexico and Texas, putting the crime directly in both jurisdictions. Detective Sonya Cross and Detective Marco Ruiz both want the case and must learn to work together to solve it...And this one crime, inevitably snowballs as it becomes linked to a serial killers, drug cartels, and corrupt cops.

I think the casting for this was smart. Diane Kruger is just that good an actress she can pull of her strange character without making the character seem stranger. And Demián Bichir was a perfect choice for Marco -- a Mexican police officer trying very hard to walk the straight and narrow -- he's just got one of those faces, something about it is very kind. And the murders and murder scenes are consistently horrifying...Which makes me think the writers should have some psych evals done, just in case.

Law & Order: SVU -- What do you say about one of the longest running police procedurals out there? The ideas of being sexually assaulted or having a kid that's abducted or molested, are very primal fears. Human beings are social animals; its in our nature to want contact and not want to be hurt by the ones we come into contact with. It's in our nature to want our children to go outside and play and be safe, and we'd do anything to protect them. So a show that basically exploits those fears by showing you victims of heinous crimes, and then reassures you that the bad guy will be caught and brought to justice...Well, its no wonder it does so well. And really, after 15 years, shouldn't it just be called, "The Mariska Hargitay Show"? Without her, the psychological aspects just wouldn't matter as much; without her the show would tank.

The X-Files -- Special Agents Mulder and Scully from the FBI, are assigned to investigate cases involving paranormal phenomenon. Mulder believes fully in the existence of aliens, monsters, and most governmental conspiracies; Scully is a skeptic, assigned to the X-Files to discredit Mulder.

No matter where David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson go in life, they will always be Mulder and Scully to me. The chemistry between these two was great; the far fetched story-lines wouldn't have worked otherwise. I remember being too young for the show and being terrified the monsters would come get me. I remember getting older, understanding that it was fiction and still be afraid the monsters would come get me! I remember, years after it ended, getting up at 5 am in the morning to watch re-runs on sci-fi channel! Its just one of those things that's easy to go back to.

The Twilight Zone -- The Twilight Zone is a 60s sci-fi/fantasy anthology series, narrated by Rod Sterling. Every episode is a different story, showing characters trapped in strange and disturbing circumstances, often leading to twist endings with a moral/philosophical lesson.

New Year's Eve Marathon. Every year for as long as I can remember, Sci-fi channel shows The Twilight Zone over New Years Eve and through the following day. But my first introduction came on Sunday mornings, as a small child on a channel I cannot remember, lol. My parents weren't church-goers, but my mom always cooked a family breakfast and my dad would find Twilight Zone re-runs, and we'd eat eggs and sausage and get lost in the Twilight Zone.

And I have to say, that show was classic art... Like Monet or Shakespeare or Michelangelo. Because these stories that were produced in the age of black and white are still unsettling today in the world of HD, as they were back then. And it says a lot, that the morals of each story, still ring true. 

Random Blogger Glitch

I had a few TopTenTuesdays scheduled and for some reason they did not post, instead the reverted to drafts...

I'm going to go ahead and post those manually because I did do them and, why the heck not.

I randomly decided to abandon my current reads to read the new Robert Galbraith novel, The Silkworm...Read it two days, it was so exciting, so I'm working on the review for that... Even though my Coming Soon list, shows Wicked is on its way, its going to be postponed again. I did download the 3rd book int the Silo Saga, only to find I'm not in the mood for sci-fi?

I am having a  really weird summer.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Top Ten On A Deserted Island

My picks for the Tuesday Top Ten, as invented by The Broke and Bookish. Today's theme is: Top Ten Characters I Would Want With Me On A Deserted Island.

    1. Jack Shepherd from LOST because you never know when you need a hot doctor.

    2. Daryl Dixon from The Walking Dead because he's got mad survival skills.

    3. Shadowfax from Lord of the Rings so I continue riding until I am rescued.

    4. Jasper Cullen from Twilight because he could probably make me feel better until help arrives.

    5, 6, 7, 8, 9 will just be Dr. Evil's Anonymous Henchmen (from Austin Powers) because we'd need food for the the vampire.

    10. Hermione Granger from Harry Potter because when Jasper's food runs out and Daryl is getting sick of seagull stew, and they both start looking at Shadowfax like he's something good to eat, I'm sure Hermione can magic us right out of there.

Or maybe all I need is #10.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Shift by Hugh Howey

Shift (Silo #2) by Hugh Howey

 In Wool, HH introduces us to a dystopian world where the survivors of the apocalypse are living in an underground bunker called a Silo. These survivors live in fear of the outside world which no longer supports life, even though they've been down there so long they no longer remember their own origin story. The seeds of doubt are sewn in Wool, as the main characters start to realize they've been lied to all along; leading to revolutions and revelations.

Shift is the totally creep-tastic sequel/prequel to Wool. The story starts before the construction of the Silos, introducing new and devious characters. Senator Thurman who'll save the world as he wants it to be, however he can, and his daughter Anna Thurman, who'll do whatever it takes to get what she wants. Donald Keene, a politician/architect who is asked onto a special classified project, and his wife Helen, who fears that the project is driving her husband insane. This is the story of how the world ends, who ended it, and who will become the inhabitants of Silo 1: those responsible for the welfare of all other Silos. As these new characters make the move from above ground to below, this story becomes interwoven with two other story lines.

We also see the an earlier uprising inside of Silo 18, before the story of Juliette and Holston as seen in Wool. Here we meet Mission, a young Porter trying to forget the farm he grew up on and the tragic circumstances of his birth. Mission has a lot to worry about; the levels of the Silo are trying to become independent from one another and the revolution is threatening to pull him under. This story from Silo 18 is a cautionary tale of community failure and human nature as much as it is an example of how far Silo 1 is willing to go to protect the truth...Although given the contents of Wool, I can't say it was as surprising as it was heartbreaking.

We also see how a young boy named Jimmy became Solo, the lone survivor of the mass exodus from Silo 17. The distress involved in seeing a child lose everything he loves and teach himself how to shoot a gun at another human being is overwhelming.  Then seeing the years pass by that child, his body growing even as his mind stops at the age where he lost it all. Watching him cling to sanity and hope in a world where there is none. A recurring theme throughout the book, is time as a burden, a curse. Easily illustrated by a community trapped within walls, more so by a child left alone.

But the story inevitably comes back to Donald. In Silo 1 everything is different. The men work in shifts and the women are left to sleep in cryotanks. At the end of a shift the men are sent back to the storage pods to sleep for a few decades and and a new shift is woken. And Donald, a pawn in a mad man's game, is searching for the truth. The truth about what he did, what others did to him. He's trying to find out the plan for the future of the Silos. And he finds himself growing more powerful with each piece of information.

I won't lie; I think this story lacked the suspense that was shown in Wool. Part of that is because we already have a vague idea of what happened. Learning the specifics doesn't make what happened more surprising, just more depressing. I also think Hugh Howey dangled a carrot in front of us, by mentioning the mysterious Silo 40, but failing to give us a fourth plot-line to tell us what happened to Silo 40. Maybe he meant for the readers to draw their own conclusions, but there wasn't quite enough substance for that... And as soon as Silo 40 is on our minds it appears to be off of his.

I did love how easy the three plot-lines felt, running together. I love a good play on the concept of time, even though this particular concept was a bit morbid: Nobody really feels they deserve the time they've been given and there's always too much or not enough. I enjoyed seeing the betrayals and the corruption in the beginning and throughout the core of Silo 1 (politicians will be politicians!). Something tells me Hugh Howey isn't a big fan of his government (or maybe I'm projecting, lol).

Even though it wasn't as action-driven as the first installment and I do think the suspense could have been pushed a little further, I really enjoyed this story.

Rating: 4/5

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Quotable Thursday

Dropping in with a late quote from a book I've just marked finished, but haven't gotten the review live yet. This passage was too good not to share...Although I wonder, if it still reads the same when taken out of context.
"The ghosts are watching. The ghosts are watching. They watch me stroll alone. corpses are laughing. The corpses are laughing. They go quiet when I step over them. parents are missing. My parents are missing. They are waiting for me to come home."
Quotable Thursday originally brought to you by Bookshelf Fantasies.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Quotable Thursday

This week I'm reading through Shift (Silo #2) by Hugh Howey, sequel-technically-prequel to Wool. This part of the story provides a heartbreaking look into how the Silos came to be.

"That word means something else, you know," his father had told him once, when Mission had spoken of revolution. "It also means to go around and around. To revolve. One revolution and you get right back to where you started."
Donald was verging on the sad realization that humanity had been thrown to the brink of extinction by insane men in positions of power following one another, each thinking the others knew where they were going.
Quotable Thursday originally brought to you by Bookshelf Fantasies.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

My Top Ten Classics

My picks for the Tuesday Top Ten, as invented by The Broke and Bookish. Today's theme, is top ten favorite classics... I couldn't narrow down the list past eleven!
  1. War of the Worlds by HG Wells
  2. True Grit by Charles Portis
  3. Alice's Adventures in Wonderland & Through the Looking Glass by Lewis Carroll
  4. Black Beauty by Anna Sewell
  5. The Call of the Wild by Jack London
  6. Dracula by Bram Stoker
  7. The Hobbit by JRR Tolkien
  8. The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman
  9. The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
  10. The Exorcist by William Peter Blatty
  11. O Russet Witch by F. Scott Fitzgerald

Friday, June 27, 2014

Wool (Omnibus) by Hugh Howey

Wool Omnibus (Silo #1) by Hugh Howey

"These buildings"--he pointed to what looked like large white cans sitting on the ground--"these are silos. They hold seed for the bad times. For until times get good again... This is a silo. They put us here for the bad times."
The world has become a toxic wasteland forcing people to live underground in an enormous, multi-story bunker called a silo. There only appear to be two rules in the silo: don't commit crime and don't speak about going outside. The punishment for breaking the rules: being sent out outside.

This book actually started out as five self-published novellas; the Omnibus edition is all five novellas combined to a comprehensive novel. I was surprised by how much I enjoyed this because self-publishing tends to be sloppy and dystopian tends to be sad... I was ready for a grammatically incorrect depress-fest. There's nothing sloppy about this book, although it is one of those stories difficult to review without giving too much away.

Hugh Howey thought up a world where the characters not only live underground in fear of the outside world, but they haven't a clue how they got underground. Their religion tells them that God gave them the silo and planted them all inside it. A camera on the outside allows a projector on the inside to broadcast a live action image of the barren world above onto a wall in the cafeteria. And while characters may admire the view, they are not allowed to speak of it, or else they could be sent to cleaning. Cleaning, is basically their idea of capital punishment; the transgressor gets a last meal of his or her choosing, then sent outside to clean the camera lens in a suit with a limited oxygen supply. And while many of those sent outside claim they won't do it, they won't clean... Once outside, they all clean.

When the silo looses its sheriff, Deputy Marnes and Mayor Jahns choose Juliette Nichols, a quick thinking mechanic to replace him. Juliette who eventually evolves to become our main protagonist, is probably the best character in the bunch. She won't be bullied and she won't be outsmarted; she's committed to doing her job right, even if it means risking her own life to expose a massive secret. A secret that drives people to murder, that drives people to war.

The only thing, I really didn't understand about this book, is why the Cleaners choose to clean... I totally missed the point on that one. A last act of solidarity, maybe? If it were me and my friends sent me to die, I think I'd pick up a big rock and use it to crush that lens. Screw solidarity... But overall I think the book was well written, well thought out and entertaining. There's enough suspense to keep the pages flipping by and enough story to keep me thinking long after the last page was read.

Rating: 5/5

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Quotable Thursday

Contrary to planning, my posting schedule has gone sporadically off course. I apologize, but make no promises for the future; I'm trying though. This past week marked the arrival of my birthday and with it: book money! And so I indulged in something new, Wool by Hugh Howey.
"Killing a man should be harder than waving a length of pipe in their direction. It should take long enough for one's conscience to get in the way."
And (though slightly shortened):
"None of us asked to be where we are. What we control is our actions once fate puts us there."
Quotable Thursday originally brought to you by Bookshelf Fantasies.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Monsters of Men by Patrick Ness

Monsters of Men (Chaos Walking #3) by Patrick Ness

"He is worse than the others, I show. He is worst of all of them. Because--
The rest are worth as much as their pack animals, I show, but worst is the one who knows better and does nothing."

Spoiler Alert.
Patrick Ness is a bastard.
Just so you know ahead of time, there will be no mercy.

Book 3 began exactly where Book 2 left off: The army of New Prentisstown is at war with the army of The Answer and Mayor President Prentiss is talking his way out of being overthrown by Todd. The Spackle forces are attacking and Viola's racing to intercept her incoming scout ship before Mistress Coyle can get there.

The story once again expands by adding yet another point of view, that of 1017. 1017 is essentially the one that got away... and proceeds to plot vengeance. He was a Spackle slave in New Haven, who watched his one in particular, die to keep him safe. Forced to work under Prentiss's command and branded with a number intended for livestock, he survives a brutal massacre and escapes to find his people. And this is where his POV, becomes really useful; the reader gets to learn about the Spackle from a Spackle. The Spackle are fiercer and smarter than they've let on and they've spent their downtime between wars inventing new weapons. They call themselves The Land and are a species perfectly evolved to a planet that induces telepathy in its inhabitants. They choose a leader, The Sky, to watch over them, to think independently and make decisions to their benefit. And The Sky keeps his secrets...

Todd and Viola are once again caught in a war they want no part of... Todd is stuck keeping tabs on Mayor Prentiss who's becoming increasingly nice, even though no one is buying that brand of BS, except maybe Todd who only ever wants to see the good in people. Viola is stuck trying to keep the scouts, Simone and Bradley calm, while preventing Mistress Coyle from convincing them to unleash Hell on New World.

Throughout the majority of the story, New World is having an all out civil war and there's nothing civil about it. Mayor Prentiss calls his peculiar brand of leadership a war tactic when really there's just a lot of murder. Mistress Coyle calls it opposition against a tyrant when she plants bombs in unexpected places, but most see it as terrorism. And as Todd and Viola try to be advocates of peace, getting what they want is going to cost big.

Which brings me right back to Patrick Ness is a bastard. Todd and Viola, having found each other time and time again, fought for each other, and survived bloody, fiery wars... Todd and Viola, constantly having to prove themselves the heroes of the story, despite the despair...The ending brings hope, hope in the human and the Spackle alike, hope that happiness is near. And then Patrick Ness drives MacTruck over that hope. And I read the final pages in tears.

I can't really find anything to complain about in the final installment...The plot-timing was perfect, the plot twists were exciting. The suspense kept me flipping pages even when I wasn't sure I wanted to read what happened next. The loose ends were tied up beautifully. And even though Patrick Ness made me cry, I can't fault him too heavily for that... The fact that he was able to make me feel so much is a testament to his ability as a storyteller.

Rating: 5/5

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Ten Books That Will Be In My Beach Bag This Summer

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

I had to think about this list, lol. See the beach is really sunny, full of distractions. So if I'm taking a book, it's got to full into one of two categories:

1. Well-worn, so the light bouncing off the pages, doesn't hurt my eyes.
2. Simple-written, Young Adult, So I can follow the story easily, without having to put too much thought or effort into it.

1.Come on, Seabiscuit! by Ralph Moody. My copy belonged to my mother -- in the 70s.

2. The Call of the Wild by Jack London. This book's gone on road trips and boat trips. Its been to the barn, the beach, camping, and to school...Well worn, yes, and well loved.

3. Alice's Adventures in Wonderland & Through the Looking Glass by Lewis Carroll.

4. The Great Gatsby. by F Scott Fitzgerald. Haven't read yet, but if I get a copy from the library I bet it'll be worn in.

5.Rosemary's Baby by Ira Levin. 

6. The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman. I hear good things about this one.

7. Twilight by Stephanie Meyer. Certainly easy to follow.

8. Mattimeo by Brian Jacques.

9.  The Incredible Journey by Sheila Burnford

10. The Hobbit by JRR Tolkien.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Top Ten Favorites I Want to Re-Read and Review

My picks for the Tuesday Top Ten, as invented by The Broke and Bookish. This week's theme was "Top Ten Tuesday Freebie! Pick your own topic!" and I decided to list my Top Ten Books I Want to Re-Read and Review for this theme for two very special reasons.

The first reason is that my "repeat offenders," my favorite books that repeatedly make it onto my TTT Lists, were read long before I started blogging and logging onto GoodReads. So while I pimp my favorite books and authors out, loudly and proudly, I have never left fully articulated and complete reviews as to why they've capture my heart. I feel like that is something I should do.

The second reason, is that my year of moving my reviews from GR to this blog every Wednesday morning, is over. They are all here. And while I strive to read new books every day, I can't always afford as many new ones as I like, and I can't always get out to the library. And when I finish a new book I'm so excited I want to post that review as soon as it is written... which doesn't help with the empty slot on Wednesday. So the logical thing is to re-read and review my favorite stories and let those reviews wind up on the Wednesday time slot.

These are the ten books/series/authors I will be re-reading (in no particular order):

  1. Lord of Misrule by Jaimy Gordon
  2. Twilight Saga & The Host by Stephanie Meyer--I'm sure she's been reviewed to death but its not going to stop me.
  3. Harry Potter by JK Rowling
  4. The Inheritance Cycle by Christopher Paolini
  5. The Wicked Years by Gregory Maguire-- I've only review the 4th book.
  6. Charles de Lint -- I've not read everything he's done, but I'm certainly trying.
  7. Dracula by Bram Stoker
  8. Call of the Wild by Jack London
  9. The Book of Lost Things by John Connelly
  10. Harbor by John Ajvide Lindqvist
(I'm actually in the middle of re-reading Wicked at the moment.)