"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, 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