Monday, December 31, 2012

2013 Outdo Yourself Reading Challenge


Brianna at The Book Vixen is hosting the Outdo Yourself Reading Challenge.  All you do is try to read more books in 2013 than you did in 2012.  This challenge runs from 1 January until 31 December, and you can sign up anytime between now and then.

Rereads are allowed, and books read for this challenge can count toward other challenges too.  I'm trying for  the level to "get my heart rate up," which means i'm going to try and read at least 1-5 more books in 2013 than I did in 2012.

Once I get close, I'll be tracking my progress here.



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This Isn't Fiction Challenge 2013


Birgit over at The Book Garden is hosting This Isn't Fiction, a reading challenge for non-fiction books.  Any non-fiction book is allowed, as long as it's at least 100 pages, excluding any appendices and annotations.  Books cannot be picture-heavy (about a 75:25 text to picture ratio), and the books must be read completely, no partial reads.  Rereads and ARCs are allowed.

The challenge will run from 1 January until 31 December, and you can join anytime between now and early 2013.  

I've decided to go for the "Kindergarten" level, which is just 5 books.  As I read, I'll update my progress here, and if I make it to my goal before the end of the year, I'll upgrade to the next.

Mystery and Crime Challenge 2013


The Mystery/Crime Reading Challenge is hosted by Amy at The Crafty Book Nerd.  This challenge runs from 1 January until 31 December, and both novels and short stories count.  To count for the purposes of the challenge, though, 5 short stories will be equal to 1 book.  There will be a prize drawing each month from participants who linked up to Amy's main post.

I'm trying for the "Lieutenant" level, which is 15 books.  Throughout the year, as I read, I'll be updating my progress here:

50 States Challenge 2013



Tasha over at Book Obsessed is hosting the 50 States Challenge again this year, and I'm giving it another go.  I only made it to 14 in 2012, so I'm hoping to get at least halfway in 2013.

Basically, you just try to read one book set in each of the 50 states, in one year.  Rereads are okay, and books read for this challenge can apply to other challenges as well.

Throughout the year, as I read, I'll be updating my progress here:

Mount TBR Reading Challenge: 2013 Progress



Bev at My Reader's Block is hosting the Mount TBR Reading Challenge again for 2013, and even though I failed at it miserably in 2012, I'm trying again!  At a lower level this time, though. XD  I'm going for Mt Vancouver this year, which is 36 books.

This challenge runs from 1 January until 31 December, and you can sign up anytime between now and 30 November.  Only books that you owned prior to 1 January 2013 count - no ARCs, no library books, and no rereads.  Books read for this challenge can apply to other challenges as well.

As I read, I'll be tracking my progress on this page throughout the year.  Best of luck to everyone else participating in this one!

Wrapping up 2012, Welcoming 2013


Well, everyone, we survived another End of the World and another holiday season, and 2013 is now right around the corner!  As far as reading challenges go,  this year I participated in the Mt TBR Reading Challenge, The Narnia Reading Project, The 50 States Challenge, the Sci-Fi Reader Challenge, and the Mystery & Suspense Reading Challenge.  I also set a book counter on Goodreads.  And I failed at all of them!  I came closest to completing the sci-fi challenge, but I really underestimated how time-consuming and stressful my classes were going to be this semester.  I also kind of dropped off the face of the blogosphere for a little while, regrettably.

But!  In roughly four hours, we all get to start with blank slates, and I'm still going to participate in some reading challenges.  I'm just going to try not to bite off more than I can chew this time.  I don't anticipate my classes being any less time-consuming in the spring semester, so I'll be aiming low with the challenges this time around.

Anyway!  Here's what I managed for my failed attempt at 2012 challenges...

Saturday, December 29, 2012

The War of the Worlds

The War of the Worlds, by H.G. Wells, is a classic science fiction tale of Martian invasion.  The story is narrated by a philosopher who lives a quiet life in the English country with his wife.  When visiting an astronomer friend at his observatory one night, they witness what would seem to be shooting stars, but for the fact that they appeared to have been fired directly from Mars.  It is not too long before a large metallic cylinder comes crashing into the earth near their homes.  The news gets out of course, but no one is alarmed at first, since it takes a rather long time for the martians to emerge from their cylinder, and once they are out, they don't appear to be capable of leaving the crater their vessel made.  Their sluggishness and apparent immobility is attributed to their not being able to adjust to the additional gravitational force on this planet, and everyone feels quite safe because of it.

Up until the martians finish constructing their deadly heat ray, that is, and begin burning to death everything within its range.

This unfortunate turn of events is...well...unfortunate.  But they still can't get out of the crater, right?  So as long as you're not in range of this heat ray, you're safe.

Except then it turns out the martians have also brought along things to put together humongous death machines to roam about the countryside in, burning up stuff with their heat rays and snatching up people to feed upon, and causing a widespread general panic.  The military of course was called in, but this is the late 19th century, so their weapons are obviously no match against the superior technology of the martians.  Humankind is pretty screwed, yeah?

Maybe, maybe not.  

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Glory Alley and the Star Riders

Glory Alley and the Star Riders, by C. Deanna Verhoff, is a young adult sci-fi/fantasy about fourteen-year-old Glory Alley, amateur spelunker and geologist.  She lives on Tullah, a planet very much like Earth.  Glory's life isn't what you'd call "ideal" - it's anything but.  Her mother died after giving birth to her youngest brother, and things have been going rapidly downhill since then.  Her father is a drunk, and alternates between being Mean Dad or Nice Dad, but with their family's financial situation being what it now is, coupled with her father's abusive behavior when drunk, the authorities have been a presence looming over the family.  Despite his drunken meanness, and the fact that the Alley family is pretty much the town joke, Glory would do or give anything to keep them all together.  

Little does she know that one solo trip into the caverns at Queen's Mesa will put into motion a chain of events that will change her and her world forever.  

Everyone has heard the stories about the Elboni, but to the people of Tullah, the stories are just myth.  Glory isn't sure what to believe anymore when she barely escapes from the Mesa with her life after picking up a beautiful stone, unlike anything she's seen before either in books or with her own eyes.  Could all the stories be true?  Everyone except her grandfather thinks she's gone crazy.  When three strange-looking men come looking for something, though, she realizes that the stories may indeed be true, the stone she found is much more than what it seems, and there is much more to the universe than the science of her world has been capable of uncovering so far.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Snow Crash

Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson is set in the near future, where everything is a private corporation, including the mafia, the jails, and the church.  Hiro Protagonist delivers pizza, but he is also one of the best hackers around, and the best swordsman in the world.  While "goggled in" to the Metaverse, one of Hiro's friends, a fellow hacker, falls victim to a new computer virus:  Snow Crash.  This particular virus affects only hackers, and in the wrong hands, will have devastating results.  Connected to the virus is a new religious cult, rising rapidly in popularity.  Hiro's ex-girlfriend, a neurolinguist, is investigating the cult, and finds it is associated with Sumerian myth and the Tower of Babel.  Hiro gets involved in the mission to put a stop to the cult's leaders, picking up along the way a cocky young Kourier, Y.T., as sort of a sidekick, and coming face to face with Raven, a psycho out for revenge.

After reading Neuromancer, I was a little bummed out on cyberpunk, but after Snow Crash, I totally get it.  We follow both Hiro and Y.T. throughout the book, and with both of them there is almost non-stop action, both in reality and in the Metaverse.  When we're not in the middle of guns blazing or swords swinging, then we're finding out something new about the virus or the cult, which only adds to the urgency of Hiro's task.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Hiatus


Hey, everyone!  It's been such a long time since I've posted anything, that I thought I ought to update you all.  This semester has been WAY more crazy for me than I anticipated; outside of school, I've been having weird problems with my car, and working on getting my worsening anxiety under control.  The semester is almost over, though...finals end next week, and I'll be able to get back to more regular posting. I'm going to be able to start catching up on reading now, too, thank goodness!

I think I won't be meeting my goals as far as reading challenges are concerned, haha, but I can try to get at least one of them completed before year's end, so fingers crossed for that! XD

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Sunday, September 30, 2012

Dark Oracle

Dark Oracle, by Laura Bickle (writing as Alayna Williams), is an urban fantasy with a strong element of suspense, not too unlike her other series.  Tara Sheridan is an oracle with a gift for reading the Tarot.  Her mother had the same gift, and both were members of a secret society, Delphi's Daughters, who trace their "lineage" back to the Oracle of Delphi in ancient Greece.  Tara, however, who was initiated as a child, wants nothing to do with the Daughters.  Instead, she uses her talents secretly to work with the government as a criminal profiler.  One case she was working on went badly for Tara, and she has since been living as something of a hermit, hidden away in a cabin in the woods with no one but her cat for company.  

She gets pulled back into that life when an old friend of her mother's (who is also one of the Daughters) comes to ask Tara for her help in an investigation that is of great interest to them, for reasons she doesn't really go into.  Tara is reluctant, but ends up agreeing to help.  The Daughters have connections in some very high places, so she gets called in as a consultant to assist Agent Li in New Mexico, where a clean-up crew is already hard at work on the scene of an explosion at a government lab in the desert.  The man responsible, the physicist Dr Magnusson, is gone without a trace, but the agency and the military are both very interested in finding him.  So interested, in fact, that Magnusson's daughter, herself a graduate student in physics, is also now a target.  Tara and Agent Li soon find that if they want to protect themselves and Cassie Magnusson as well, they will need to put aside their differences and trust each other.  In doing so, Tara also finds that as reluctant as she was to take on this case, and as eager as she is to be done with it once more, it may not be as easy to walk away this time.

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After finishing both Embers and Sparks, I hunted for Dark Oracle every time I set foot in a bookstore.  And I actually really liked this one almost as much as I enjoyed those.  It doesn't necessarily have a huge urban fantasy feel to it - it seemed more like mystery/suspense to me, with a heavy mystical element.  But that is fine with me.  I fell in love with urban fantasy, yes, but before I came across this  genre, I was already a big fan of mystery and suspense.  Combine the two, and I am more than content with the outcome.

I love the idea of the Daughters of Delphi, and I won't lie, I kind of wish it were a real thing and that I were an initiate.  The members are all oracles, though their talents vary widely.  Tara and her mother work with Tarot divination, but the current Pythia (basically, the group's leader) is a pyromancer, and another member who features prominently in the story is a geomancer.  Though not quite like the geomancers you come across in World of Warcraft, which is kind of where my mind kept straying to when the practice was brought up.  Bickle's geomancy is more realistic, in that the character doesn't rain fire down upon anyone or things like that.  It involves the reading of ley lines and divination using crystals and runes...things like that.

Once again, I got the feeling that a lot of research went in to the writing of this book; the science behind the dark matter is very interesting, and seems sound.  I am no physicist, though, so don't hold me to that.  The important thing is that this is fiction, and it seems accurate enough to not cross the line into being science-fiction.  Actual physicists, feel free to disagree with me, because you obviously will know more about that part of it than I likely ever will.  But my disbelief, it is suspended.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Beneath A Rising Moon

Beneath A Rising Moon, by Keri Arthur, is the first book in her Ripple Creek Werewolves series.  In the version of the world Arthur has created, humans and werewolves coexist, albeit maybe not too harmoniously.  Werewolves live in their own towns (reservations), there are certain measures upheld to control the werewolf population (basically, the males get some kind of birth control injection), and laws which apply to humans also apply to werewolves.  The werewolves do, however, have their own branch of law enforcement to deal with their own kind:  the rangers.  And it's a damned good thing, too.

So basic werewolf lore tells us that the full moon is a pretty big deal, and Arthur sticks to this.  The nights leading up to the full moon, everyone is more and more attuned to their wolfiness.  In Ripple Creek, Colorado, the Sinclair mansion outside town becomes the red light district; masked and clad in either nothing or next-to-nothing, they participate all night, every night of the moon phase in what is known as "the moon dance."  It seems to be akin to the idea of some kind of sexy pagan festival honoring the moon goddess.  There are centuries-old rules and rituals associated with it, and basically in this entire book, any time you see the word "dance," they are talking about sex.  Dancing = Sexing It Up.  Reverend Moore would have a heart attack.

Anyway, Neva Grant is part of the golden pack in town; telepathic and a powerful empath, she can use the energy from her own feelings and the feelings of others as a sort of psychic weapon.  Her twin sister, Savannah, is a ranger who has been investigating what appears to be a serial murder case; Savannah's determination and tenacity on the job has landed her a room in the ICU, unconscious, and Neva has made a vow to the moon to catch her sister's attacker.  Her plan for continuing the investigation is crazy and potentially dangerous, both to her physical person and her reputation in the pack.

The main lead in the case is the fact that the murderer is a silver wolf, which means the Sinclair family, the head of their silver pack, is at the top of the suspect list.  In fact, they basically make up the entire suspect list.  Their reputation in town among the more conservative golden pack doesn't help, either.  Word is that Duncan Sinclair, the most lascivious of them all, has returned after a ten year absence, and the easiest way Neva figures to gain access to the mansion is to seduce Duncan at the dance.  Once in, everyone else will be too occupied with copulating to pay attention to her snooping.  

What she didn't figure on, however, was the way she would react to him.  To his touch, his scent, his voice...to every part of him.  He seems to be living up to his reputation, though, so to allow herself to feel something for him, to hope that there could be more to their relationship than just the moon dance, would be crazy.  But it's too late to back out now...her sister is hanging on by a thread, and more women could be killed if this case isn't resolved.

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I received this as an eBook from NetGalley, and it's actually the first eBook I've ever read.  I think I picked a good one!  Ha.  I'm a big fan of romance novels, whether they're good or so-bad-they're-good, and I really enjoyed this one; I read it straight through in one night.  The only other werewolf books I've read were Alisa Sheckley's Abra Barrow duology, and while I thought there was a lot of sexytimes either happening or being referred to in those books, this one has those beat.  If you are one of those people who skims along and skims along in a romance novel, just to get to the juicy bits, you might like Beneath A Rising Moon.  The smut begins early in the first chapter and is pretty constant throughout the entire book.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Marvel Encyclopedia: The Avengers

I am sure you're all at least somewhat familiar with The Avengers, an organization of superheroes in the Marvel universe, many created or co-created by the famed Stan Lee.  If there were a pantheon of comic book writers/creators of superheroes, probably he would be the equivalent of Zeus.  But anyway.  The release of the live action Avengers movie inspired me to finally read my copy of the Marvel Encyclopedia, Avengers edition.  Of this group, you're most likely acquainted with Iron Man, Captain America, Thor, Hulk, and now also Black Widow (the Natasha Black Widow).  

What not everyone knows, however, is that The Avengers has a rotating active membership, with a large number of reserve members as well.  Some of these other members are recognizable from the X-Men, such as Wolverine and Storm, and others are known on their own, like Spider-Man.  Others are likely to be new faces to some, or many, of you.  People like Squirrel Girl, or maybe the Kelsey Leigh incarnation of Captain Britain.  

This encyclopedia doesn't just provide biographies, however.  You're given a complete rundown of the characters' other group affiliations and solo endeavors; their gear and abilities; aliases; known relatives, the title in which they made their first appearance, among other such trivia.  In some cases, for example, Hulk, She-Hulk, and Wasp, multiple images are provided which show different variations of the character, whether it is a change in the art style or simply a change in the character's form or costume.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis is a classic children's fantasy story set during World War II.  Four siblings (Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy) are sent to the country to escape the bombing of London, and the house where they are to be living is owned by an old and eccentric professor.  There are many rooms to explore, all full of fascinating and mysterious things.  While exploring the house, the children come across a room that is empty except for a large, wooden wardrobe.  Lucy soon discovers that this wardrobe is a kind of doorway into another world:  Narnia.

She meets a faun not long after entering, and after becoming friends with him, she finds that if she doesn't leave quickly, she will become the prisoner of the White Witch, the dictator-queen.  Of course, when she gets back through the wardrobe and tells her siblings about the wood she found through the wardrobe, none of them believe her; it's not until later, when they all find themselves forced to hide in the wardrobe together from the professor's housekeeper, that they see for themselves that she was telling the truth (although Edmund had actually got into Narnia once as well, and met Lucy on his way out, but he's kind of a dick, so he lied to Peter and Susan about it).

The real adventure starts when they all go to visit Lucy's friend, the faun, only to find that he has been arrested for not turning Lucy in to the witch.  They agree (Edmund not really so much) that it's only right to try and help Mr Tumnus if they can, since it was because of Lucy that he was arrested in the first place.  

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I can't even count how many times I've read this book.  The entire series is great, and I never get tired of reading each of the books.  Because of the movie that came out back in 2005, this is probably the most well-known of the series.  I like the Pevensie children (except Edmund not so much at first, since he's kind of a little d-bag); they aren't exactly the most complex characters you will ever come across, but that doesn't make them awful or too boring.  Sometimes I get a little annoyed with how goody-goody they seem, because that just does not feel very real, but they are children living during one of the worst times in modern history, so maybe they're just trying to make the best of things as well as they can.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Fifty Shades of Grey

Twilight: Reimagined Fifty Shades of Grey by E.L. James is a book about an impossibly naïve, sexually oblivious soon-to-be college graduate, Anastasia Steele, and her toxic relationship with the unbelievably handsome and obscenely wealthy businessman, Christian Grey.  Ana's roommate, Kate, is supposed to interview Christian for the university newspaper, but is too sick to leave the apartment, so Ana fills in for her, even though she doesn't even work for the paper at all, and probably there were other students who are actually involved with the paper who were available and could have used the experience for their CVs or graduate school applications.  Anyway, so Ana meets Christian Grey and for the first time in her entire twenty-one years of life, she feels attracted to a man!  He is so incredibly good-looking that, already nervous anyway, she fumbles her way through the interview as best she can, then wants to die a little bit afterward, because she feels so foolish about some of the things she said.

On the way home, she is so flustered that she keeps talking about how pissed she is and how inconsiderate it was for Kate to have her do this interview without giving her some kind of briefing about this guy first.  ANA.  This is the age of the internet.  Even though she does not have her own computer, it would have been more than easy to look him up online.  And how she even made it through college - as a lit major, especially...you know she had papers and essays probably constantly - without her own computer is beyond me.  She must have spent a LOT of time at the library or in the school's writing lab.

It's fine, though, because she will never have to see that sinfully beautiful man again, right?  NOPE.  He shows up at her place of work, to purchase some harmless home hardware, to be used for some  mysterious and let's be honest, unimaginative purpose.  While helping Grey find these for-now-innocent items, some guy she knows shows up who asks her out every time he sees her.  As if in the good spirit of foreshadowing, Grey immediately becomes tense and suspicious.  If this were a wildlife documentary instead of whatever it is, Grey would be exhibiting some kind of visual and/or auditory behavior in an attempt to signal his claim on Ana as a potential mate.  This isn't a wildlife documentary, though, but nonetheless, he seems to be barely able to contain himself from an open display of competition for sexual resources.

Ana blows the lesser male off and is in total bliss over securing Grey's phone number and flatters herself with the notion that he came there just to see her.  Oh my, he must really like her or something, jeez!

So she calls him under the pretense of needing some photos to go with Kate's write-up of the interview, and they force their nature photographer friend, José, to broaden his occupational horizons and do his best to capture Grey's inhuman beauty on film or memory card.  The same kind of silent competitive exchange occurs between Grey and José, because José it turns out is also in love with Ana!  But heaven knows why, since she is so plain and clumsy, and it didn't matter because up until that fateful day of the interview, she was asexual anyway.  Not anymore, though!  Miracle of miracles, Grey the Grecian God has asked Ana to accompany him for a coffee.  And /SQUEE, he actually holds her hand! No one has ever done that before!  When they are leaving, clumsy little thing that she is, she almost gets run over by a cyclist in the street, but Grey, in his instinctive protective prowess, saves her!  She mentally begs him to kiss her, but as if he can read her mind, he says no.  And tells her that he is no good for her, and she would do best to stay away.

HOW CAN THIS BE? He HELD her HAND for goodness' sake!  So she pretends to have dignity and waits until rounding the corner out of sight before crumpling to the pavement to cry like an idiot.

(And it only gets more romantic from here, guys.  Get comfortable, because there is an awful lot to say about this book; I'm including a cut here, so the entire homepage doesn't get taken over with this)

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Austenland

In Austenland, by Shannon Hale, we meet Jane Hayes:  30-something graphic designer living in New York.  Jane's had thirteen boyfriends in her life, and none of them ever quite match up to her idea of what a man should be.  And what's her ideal man like?  Mr. Darcy.  Yes, Jane has more than just a slight Austen obsession.  She's so obsessed with Jane Austen's novels and with Mr. Darcy in particular, that she goes so far as to hide her copy of the BBC Pride & Prejudice mini-series (ladies, you know the one...Colin Firth).  

During a visit from her mother and wealthy great-aunt Carolyn, the old woman notices the DVDs and knows immediately what is going through Jane's head.  Great-aunt Carolyn surprises Jane by booking a vacation for her at Pembrook Park, a sort of Regency reenactment resort in the English countryside, where guests and a staff of actors remain in period dress and manner for three weeks.  The clientele consists of Austen-obsessed women, who pay the exorbitant fee to be fake-courted by gentlemen like Austen's male characters.  

Jane isn't sure what to make of her great-aunt's strange gift, but the tickets and reservation are nonrefundable, and the prospect of being in the company of handsome men in breeches has piqued her interest.  Once she checks in, however, and the fantasy begins, the total immersion is a little more than she thinks she can really handle.  Will it help her kick her Darcy fixation, or will she just get even more sucked in than before?  

Friday, August 24, 2012

12.21

Released just this month, Dustin Thomason's 12.21 is a novel about...you guessed it...the end of the current Long Count of the Mayan calendar.  We're in Los Angeles, and it's two weeks before the date that's been designated to be the end of civilization as we know it; even with all the hype the "2012ers" are making about the alleged prophecy, things are pretty much business as usual.  Until Gabriel Stanton, a prion expert for the CDC, gets a call from a resident at a hospital in East L.A.:  she's got a patient whose symptoms she can't pin down as anything known, but which are remarkably similar to the extremely rare prion disease, Fatal Familial Insomnia.  It doesn't take long to determine that this was serious, and needed to be contained.

The only problem, however, is that the patient doesn't speak any English.  Chel Manu, a linguistic researcher at the Getty Museum, is asked to act as translator, and as soon as she's told what he is saying, she agrees immediately.  A Guatemalan American, her academic specialty is in Mayan epigraphy, and she has recently acquired (under the table) a complete codex from the classical period.  A priceless artifact academically and an equally priceless piece of her people's history, and the hospital's new patient with the mystery illness seems to be connected to its discovery - the one word he keeps repeating is the Mayan word for "codex."

Before they know it, they're racing the clock to follow clues in the codex to the origin of the disease; without the origin, a successful treatment can't be made, and the infection is rapidly becoming an epidemic of epic proportions.  Could this be the collapse of civilization the calendar is thought to predict?

Sunday, August 19, 2012

The Reaping



Happy Hunger Games DVD release!  I can't swing buying a copy for myself right now, but you can bet your ass I went to Redbox and rented it yesterday.

Anyway, it is time to announce the winner of my Mockingjay Giveaway, so welcome to The Reaping.  A big thanks to everyone who participated, but our lucky tribute is...


Congratulations, Beth!  I've sent you an email; please respond within 48 hours, or I'll have to select a new winner.

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Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Neuromancer

Neuromancer by William Gibson is considered one of the Must-Read novels of the cyberpunk sub-genre.  In fact, the Internet tells me that this is really the Grandaddy of all cyberpunk novels.  It was also the first novel to win the "holy trinity" of science fiction awards:  the Hugo, the Nebula, and the Philip K. Dick awards.

Case was one of the best cyberspace cowboys, trained by the best.  As a thief, though, his mistake was not that he stole from his employers, but that he got caught.  He was punished for his offense by having a toxin introduced to his nervous system that made him unable to properly access his console interface, making him unemployable.  Since then, he spends his time in the Sprawl, slowly killing himself through substance abuse.

And then he's found by Molly, a hired gun of sorts with retractable claws under her fingernails, like some kind of female Wolverine.  They're building a small team for a big job, and they need a hacker to jack into the matrix for them.  With the promise of freeing him from the toxin sacs in his system, Case agrees to be their guy.  The Tessier-Ashpool dynasty has some AI that's apparently getting a little high on itself, but the closer the team gets to closing in on Wintermute and the program they're after, the closer they all come to being killed.
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So, alright.  I had heard tons of amazing things about this book, and about the author.  When I saw that Neuromancer had won these impressive awards, I was sure that maybe I could not go wrong with it.  And okay, yeah, I can see where it became the catalyst of a whole new movement in the science fiction sphere.  The gritty, dystopian setting, with its futuristic technology is pretty fascinating, and so much of the book is very visual in nature.  This speaks volumes for Gibson's descriptive technique, and I think it would translate magnificently to film with the right production team.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Follow Friday #7


Wow, it's been a long time since I did one of these!  Anyway, this week's Feature & Follow Friday (hosted by Alison at Alison Can Read and Rachel over at Parajunkee) asks bloggers this question:
"What would you do over if you were to start your blog again from scratch?"
My answer?  I kind of already started over, in a way, when I completely revamped my blog.  I finally thought of a name and a theme I loved, and was kind of surprised I hadn't thought of it sooner...I'm terrible like that when it comes to naming things, though.  Since I'm still a relatively young blog, as far as post count goes, I felt it was safe enough to change things up without confusing anyone.

It was easier than I thought it would be to change my username and email account on all the different social media networks, so that was a convenient surprise.

Anyway, if I were to go back in time or something and start my blog knowing what I know now, I would have probably tried to do a little more research and put more thought into the setup and such - I went in thinking no one would ever read this except me and maybe a couple bored people on my Facebook friends list, so I figured I'd just put whatever and it wouldn't matter.

I'd also spend more time on some of my earlier reviews.  I'm not completely happy with some of them, especially some of the sequel reviews.  For me, reviewing a sequel is a little tricky, because no matter how old a book is, there will always be someone who hasn't yet read it, and I worry about inadvertently posting spoilers.  So my earlier sequel reviews were very brief and not nearly as thoughtful or potentially helpful as I would like; I think I've gotten a bit better with this particular thing, but there's still definitely some room for improvement.  Maybe someday I'll go back and review those ones again, but we'll see...after all, I have SO many books I haven't even had a chance to open yet!

What about you?  Is there anything you'd do differently if you were to start your blog again from scratch?  Leave me a comment or a link to your own FF post and let me know!  And don't forget to check out the "features" in Feature & Follow, Michael at The Bookshelf Review and Mandee at Compelled By Words.

And now a shameless plug:  I have a giveaway going on that will end on 18 August!  In celebration of the DVD/Blu-Ray release of The Hunger Games, I am giving away a prop replica of Katniss's mockingjay pin!  

In a couple of days I will be able to know if I can add to this prize the winner's choice of one of the books from the trilogy!  So if getting only the pin doesn't interest you, just check back in a day or two.  This giveaway is open internationally.  Just click the word "giveaway" in the above paragraph, or follow the button in the sidebar.  =]


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Monday, August 6, 2012

Mockingjay (pin) Giveaway


As I am sure most (if not all) of you are aware that The Hunger Games movie is being released on DVD and Blu-Ray on 18 August!  I, for one, am pretty excited - I thought it was a great adaptation of a phenomenal book, and I can't wait to get my copy.

I am so excited about this movie release, in fact, that I decided to host a small giveaway in celebration!  When I say "small," I do mean VERY small, since I don't really have money for multiple winners and prizes at the moment.  If I end up with any extra money by the end of the giveaway, however, I will add one more winner, who will receive their choice of ONE of the books from the Hunger Games trilogy.

EDIT: I have added to the prize package the winner's choice of ONE of the Hunger Games books, in either paperback OR ebook format!

What I DO have, though, is one licensed movie prop replica of Katniss' mockingjay pin!  I have one for myself that I wear on one of my jackets; it looks nice, and I really love it.  It's roughly 1½" in diameter.  Here is a stock photo I grabbed from the internets:


RULES
- Open internationally
- Begins Tuesday, August 7th and will end at midnight (EST) on Saturday, August 18th
- One winner only, unless circumstances change
- Being a follower of Here Be Bookwyrms is NOT required for entry (although followers are always very much appreciated!) 

PRIZES
- One replica mockingjay pin
- Winner's choice of ONE of the Hunger Games books (either paperback OR ebook)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

So...this is my third giveaway using Rafflecopter.  If the widget doesn't show up for you, or you have any problems trying to use it, please let me know!  Thanks for stopping by, everyone, and...

May the odds be ever in your favor!

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Friday, July 13, 2012

One for the Money

The widely popular Stephanie Plum series by Janet Evanovich begins with One for the Money; Stephanie is a Jersey Girl who has been laid off from her job as a lingerie buyer for what I suppose is a department store.  She's had to hock all her furniture and most of her household appliances just to make rent and attempt to keep her phone active, and her car has just been repossessed.  She hears that her cousin Vinnie, a bail bondsman, is looking for a file clerk, and even though he is completely skeevy (he has apparently done some very...intimate...things to a duck), Stephanie is desperate.

Turns out Vinnie is no longer hiring, but his receptionist lets Stephanie know that they're down a recovery agent, and if she's really in need of the cash, she could take up the guy's cases while he's out.  One of those cases is Joe Morelli, the neighborhood heartbreaker.  He introduced Stephanie to below-the-belt kinds of games when they were young children, and in high school he sealed the deal and never called her again (what a catch, right?).  After that, she ran him down with her dad's car.  Now he's a cop who's been charged with murder and he's skipped bail.  This puts the tempting price of $10,000 on his head, and Stephanie immediately agrees to take  the job.

So when her first attempt to bring Morelli in fails miserably - did she really think she could go in, completely unprepared, and he'd go down to the station with her, just like that?  - Vinnie's receptionist gets Stephanie in touch with Ranger, some hotshot bounty hunter, to show her the ropes.  It's a good thing, too, because she ends up needing his help several, several times.  

Stephanie runs into Morelli many times, and even steals his car since it's nicer than her Nova, but she never actually gets any closer to bringing him in.  She does, apparently, continue to find him irresistible, and who can blame her, what with his charming track record?!?  He does save her from a criminally insane prize boxer, Benito Ramirez, when the guy tries to proposition her and beat her in view of several other men (who neither say nor do anything to stop it), after she tries to question him about a woman associated with Morelli's case.  Things get worse for Stephanie (and pretty much for everyone she talks to, as well) as she starts to close in on something big, and it doesn't help that she is now being stalked and terrorized by Ramirez, who has taken it very badly that she refused his advances.

This is all very overwhelming for someone with zero real training or experience, and whose street smarts extend only as far as removing the distributor cap from a vehicle to prevent auto theft (though I'm not sure that counts, since that trick is apparently common knowledge in her neighborhood).  Will Stephanie Plum be able to put together all the pieces and bring in Morelli to collect on the ultimate payday?  Or will she die trying?

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

The Homecoming of Samuel Lake

The Homecoming of Samuel Lake is a truly lovely debut novel from Jenny Wingfield.  We're in a small rural community in mid-1950s Arkansas; every year, the Moses family has their reunion at John and Calla's home.  It was tradition.  And every year, Samuel Lake would drop off his wife, Willadee Moses, and their three children.  He couldn't stay himself, because every year he had to attend a convention where all the Methodist ministers would find out where they would be preaching, and therefore, whether they would have to move.  The Lake family moved a lot, because Samuel had his own way of doing things that didn't quite meet eye-to-eye with the church and his congregations.

This summer, though, everything begins to change, and not always for the better.  Samuel has faith that God's plan is at work underneath all the apparent misfortune, but that doesn't make it any easier when things gradually start to go from bad to interesting, back to bad, and then about as bad as you might think it could possibly get.

A lot of the focus of the story is around Swan, the Samuel and Willadee's spunky 11-year-old daughter.  Her brothers, Noble and Bienville, are endearing in their own ways as well.  Noble is only 12, and still plays with his brother and sister in their extremely imaginative and enthusiastic games of make-believe, but he is also beginning to think about being a man.  Bienville is a reader with a scientific kind of curiosity.

I could go on and on about every character in the novel, to be honest (Just Plain Honest, not Moses Honest), because I really felt that I had a good sense of each one.  And those I didn't know as well, I wanted to.  I didn't feel that any of them where caricatures; they are all complex, which brings them to life in a way that makes them seem very real.  My favorites, though, would have to be Swan and her uncle, Toy Moses.  I probably fell a little bit in love with him, actually, which maybe is a little weird.  But so what.  As for Swan, I sincerely hope that if I ever have a daughter, she would be just like this little girl.  She's a good-hearted child with a lot of spirit.  She's just not enough of a handful to be what I would consider "naughty" or bratty, but she's enough of a handful that you know she will grow to be a strong, independent, confident woman one day.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Catching Fire

I know that at this point, it is probably unnecessary to explain anything about Suzanne Collins' amazing dystopian Hunger Games series.  I reviewed the first book earlier this year, so that I would have read it before seeing the movie.  I knew before I had even finished the first chapter that I was hooked and needed to start trying to get my hands on a copy of the second in the trilogy, Catching Fire.  I had received my copy of The Hunger Games in a giveaway, and I needed to get the UK edition of the sequels, so that they would match on my bookshelf.  Yeah, yeah...picky, I know, but so what?  I like the covers better anyway.  It was sold out on The Book Depository, but I couldn't wait any longer for them to email me about it being restocked, so I ended up finding it on Better World Books.  It came in the mail last week, and I could not wait to read it - I know those of you who have read it already understand.

I stayed up almost all night rereading the first book, and I started reading Catching Fire earlier today.  And I did not stop until just a little while ago, when I had finished.

Even those of you who have not read the books or seen the movie of the first book likely know that Katniss survived the Games, since you know...there are two books after that first one.  It's no secret anyway, since anyone can pick up the sequels and figure that out from the cover blurbs.  Their final act in the Games which secured their co-victory - something without precedent - has been seen as one of open defiance.  The Girl on Fire may have ignited a spirit of rebellion in the districts and become the symbol of a coming revolution.  But the smoking patch of rubble that was once District 13 makes it very clear what lengths the Capitol is willing to go to, to put a stop to things, and the game they must now play against President Snow may prove to be much more dangerous than the Hunger Games itself ever was.

Catching Fire, just like its predecessor, is absolutely amazing.  The entire series so far is thrilling; Collins writes in such a way that it is very easy to become immersed in the world she has created in Panem:  to visualize the surroundings as if you were there yourself, to find yourself crying with and for characters at emotional moments, to find yourself holding your breath for several pages before finally sighing with relief or gasping and/or yelling out of something else entirely, be it anger, disbelief, or surprise.  There is every bit as much suspense and action as in The Hunger Games - arguably more, even, and the stakes are much higher now that the citizens of all the districts are potentially involved, affected by whatever move is made.  This time, it isn't just about killing or out-living 23 other people.  It's about Prim.  Rue's family.  Gale.  Peeta. Her mother.  Everyone.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

The Call of Earth

Orson Scott Card's The Call of Earth is the second installment in his Homecoming Saga.  The direct sequel to The Memory of Earth, this one picks up pretty much right where that one left off.  Basilica, the "women's city" is still reeling somewhat from the events that have taken place and upon hearing of its current vulnerability, the powerful Gorayni general "Moozh" sees a distinct strategic advantage for himself.  He has a true gift in his way with words and manner, and in no time he has abandoned his post and started out for Basilica with a thousand of the Gorayni soldiers under his command.

Meanwhile, Wetchik and his sons continue to try and make sense enough of the Oversoul's messages to them, to be able to truly act.  Within the city's walls, the Lady Rasa and her gifted and insightful nieces, Luet and her sister Hushidh, attempt the same.  Time seems to be running out, however, and the abilities and intent of the Oversoul starts to be questioned.  Is the manipulative general a part of the Oversoul's plans, or is he a bigger threat than he seems?  Does the Oversoul even really know what it's doing?  Is it merely a flawed creation of equally flawed humans, or are they right to put their trust and faith in its will, and continue down the path on which they've now begun?  Whatever they decide, there may be no going back, and whatever their choice, the fate of their beloved city as well as their own lives will likely be greatly affected.

-----

I remember feeling that The Memory of Earth began rather slowly, but The Call of Earth started at a good pace which was maintained throughout the whole book.  There is just as much intrigue, if not more, in this book than in the first, which I appreciated, and while the religious theme of the series is still quite strong, I still didn't find it to be overbearing or preachy.  The main characters are not necessarily blind followers of the Oversoul, and faith is questioned and put to the test.  More than anything, I think of this more as an interesting story of a social engineering project that may be either near to or at the end of its effectiveness.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

It's Time: Writing on the Wall

Pavel Kostin's It's Time is a somewhat philosophical novel set in contemporary urban Russia.  Max is a young man working as a night watchman who doesn't do much besides work and hang out around the city with his friends, a small group of street artists.  At the book's opening, Max is sitting on the edge of the roof on a tall building - there seems to be a sort of panic below him on the street, but Max is rather calm.  He isn't up on the roof alone, either; a strange and beautiful young woman who calls herself "Lady F" appears near him and they chat.  After this, she shows up throughout the story at the most random moments.  Mysterious and a little cryptic.  Max and his friends contemplate life, the future, and art, and Max tags along as his friends tag the walls of the city.  Every blank wall is a potential canvas, and the city is their gallery.  

This might sound so far like some kind of pretentious hipster philosophy, a beatnik novel for this generation.  When I read the synopsis on LibraryThing (I received the book through their Early Reviewers program), I kind of expected some sort of modern day Russian La Bohème.  That isn't quite what I got, though.  Honestly, the very beginning was a bit slow.  Boring, almost.  It took me a little while before I really got into it.  

And then things get more and more weird, and the rest of the book had me questioning at every turn whether what was happening was real or whether Max was hallucinating.  Lady F keeps showing up and the questions just pile on until at a certain point, I couldn't put the book down until I'd finished it and found out what in the heck was going on.  Things ended up getting very strange, yes, but also rather interesting.  Much like with Julie Cross's Tempest, I'm unsure just how much I can even say without ruining some twist in Max's story.  The philosophical discussions and comments in the book are worth considering as well; some of them are quite poignant, sometimes so much so that they made me stop and really think for a moment, not about the story exactly, but about what was just said and how it does or does not seem to really apply to my own life and my own experience.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Sparks

Sparks is the stunning sequel to Laura Bickle's Embers, an urban fantasy duology (which I hope will turn into a full-on series).  By day, Anya Kalinczyk is an arson investigator for the Detroit Fire Department; by night, she investigates the paranormal with the Detroit Area Ghost Researchers.  Anya is somewhat reluctant to associate herself with the DAGR, partly because she's unsure whether she would still have a job if word got out, but also because she struggles with her role in the group:  disposal.  If DAGR were the Ghostbusters, Anya would be their Proton Pack.

Anya is a Lantern - a kind of medium who has a special connection with the element of fire and control of sorts over its destructive powers.  As a medium, she can see and interact with ghosts, but as a Lantern, she also has the ability to destroy them by essentially sucking them into herself like some kind of heartburn-inducing ectoplasm smoothie.  It isn't something she enjoys doing.  You can imagine this Lantern business can get pretty dangerous, but that ain't nothin' but a thang when you've also got the companionship and protection of an elemental familiar; Sparky, Anya's salamander, has been with her ever since she can remember.  He might be mischievous like a puppy who enjoys making "short" (heh) work of various electrical devices, but he's also a fierce and loyal guardian.

In Sparks, the DFD is confronted with a series of puzzling cases of what appears to be spontaneous combustion.  What's especially troubling about these cases is that Anya can sense old magick at each of the scenes; she suspects they are linked to Hope Solomon, who heads a shady organization in the city called "Miracles for the Masses."  Trying to get enough evidence that isn't paranormal in nature could be a problem, however, and the body count is rising.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz

L. Frank Baum's The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (sometimes published with the shorter title The Wizard of Oz) is regarded as the first American fairy tale, and it is one of those stories that every American child would be familiar with, even if they haven't read the book themselves.  This is a story of self discovery:  young Dorothy lives on a farm in Kansas with her Aunt Em and Uncle Henry; one day, a cyclone comes and picks up their house, with Dorothy and her dog Toto inside (she didn't make it into the storm cellar with her aunt and uncle).  Fortunately, she isn't hurt - rather, she gets bored or something after a while, goes to her bed, and falls asleep.  She wakes up when the house is set down none too gently in a strange and very colorful land full of strange little people.

The Good Witch of the North informs Dorothy that she is in the land of the Munchkins, and points out that Dorothy's house has landed on the Wicked Witch of the East, killing her.  Dorothy wants to get back to Kansas, and since with the death of the witch comes the munchkins' freedom, they are more than happy to help her.  They set her up with some provisions and the Witch of the North kisses Dorothy, leaving a mark of protection, then points her in the direction of the Land of Oz.  Dorothy decides her practical and worn-in boots are no good for a long journey on foot, and since the Witch of the East is dead and so will not be walking anywhere anytime soon, Dorothy loots the witch's pretty silver and (unbeknownst to her at the time) magic shoes.

As she travels along the yellow brick road, Dorothy makes a few friends who each desire something for themselves, and Dorothy assures each one that there is no reason this wizard of Oz shouldn't be able to give them what they want, even though she only just heard of the guy and knows nothing about this place.  She's very young, though, so I guess she can't really be blamed for making promises of other people.  The party gets into all kinds of trouble along the way, but miraculously, they make it through every danger completely unscathed.  Eventually, they reach the Emerald City and meet with the wizard, who says sure, he'll grant them each their respective wishes, but only if they go and kill the Wicked Witch of the West first.  She's the last wicked witch left, after all, and since Dorothy downed the other one, this one should be no problem, right?

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Puppet

Puppet by Eva Wiseman is a young adult novel based on actual events and a real trial.  In a small Hungarian village in 1882, 14-year-old Julie's friend Esther goes missing.  She was last seen when on an errand for her cruel mistress, and blame is quick to be placed on the community's Jewish population.  Fear and hatred run wild as accusations are made:  it is believed that some of the Jewish men lured Esther into the synagogue and murdered her, slitting her throat and collecting her blood to be used in a Passover ritual.  This awful lie was firmly believed, and is known as the Blood Libel.  The accusations are taken very seriously, and some of the Jews are arrested.  Among them, two children, the Scharf brothers.  Sam is too young to be taken seriously as a material witness in court, so pressure is placed on his older brother Morris to confess (I'm sure you can guess the physical nature of this pressure) and he is coached to testify against the accused.

Julie is swept up in the arrests and the trial when she is sent by her abusive father to work as housekeeper at the jail, then is given a position as the scullery maid at the prison in the city.  She used to play with Morris as a child, and she isn't so sure the Jews are as evil and murderous as everyone says they are; but if they didn't kill her friend, what did happen to Esther?  As the trial progresses, Julie is pulled in deeper, and must make a choice between doing what she feels is right and doing what is safe.

When I read The Last Song by Wiseman, I was impressed with her ability to fictionalize such awful and tragic historical events in a way that is engrossing without trivializing them.  I was just as captivated with Puppet.  This book won multiple awards, and it's not hard to see why; I read the majority of this book in one night.  I've always had a sort of morbid fascination with the historical persecution of the Jewish people (you can probably blame my fifth grade teacher for assigning Lois Lowry's Number the Stars, which quickly became one of my all-time favorite books).  So for me, knowing that the events and the people in this book are very real (with the exception, I believe, of Julie and her family) really made Puppet that much more interesting, and that much more impossible to put down once I'd gotten into it.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

The Invasion

The Invasion is the first book in K.A. Applegate's Animorphs series.  Jake and his friends Cassie, Marco, Rachel, and Tobias are cutting through an abandoned construction site on their way home from the mall one evening when they see a bright light in the sky that appears to be getting closer...it doesn't take long for them to realize that the light is actually a spaceship.  The ship lands and the kids get a message of warning from the dying alien who was piloting it; the people of Earth are in danger.  Another alien race is working on enslaving people by controlling their minds and bodies.  Until help comes, Jake and his friends may have to try and fight the invasion.  To help them, the alien gives them all a gift:  the ability to morph into any animal after acquiring its DNA sequence by touching it.  When the kids start realizing just how many people are already under the alien control, it hits them just how in over their heads they might be.

These books were right up there with Baby-Sitters Club and Goosebumps when I was a kid; come Book Fair time, Animorphs were certainly at the top of the Want List.  There is something very appealing about having the power to change into any animal at will, and to do so in order to fight for the human race would be pretty awesome.  Reading it again as an adult, I realize how cheesy the writing is, but I imagine it isn't so easy to write in the voice of a pre-teen or teenager in a way that might be believable enough to keep the target audience invested in the characters - especially when the way kids talk changes so much over the years.  

The characters so far are pretty one-dimensional, but there are a lot of books in the series, so there is plenty of room for development where that is concerned.  There are things these kids deal with, though, that are definitely not fluffy and childish.  Marco and Tobias don't have the easiest home lives, and the rest of them are about to have to grow up a lot more pretty soon here if they plan to survive the coming war until the Andalites arrive to fight the Controllers.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

True Women

True Women by Janice Woods Windle is a semi-biographical novel of the lives of her own ancestors.  Growing up with stories passed down through the generations in her family, Windle went on to do serious genealogical research, leading to this novel.  True Women takes us through the lives of specifically three women in the author's family tree (which is diagrammed at the beginning of the book):  Euphemia Texas Asby King, Georgia Virginia Lawshe Woods, and Bettie Moss King.  Their stories span from the time of the Republic of Texas, through what seems like war after war after war, up until the present day, when the author is learning more about these women from Idella, an old woman with an intuitive gift.

I was born in East Texas, and I currently live in the area schoolchildren learn as the "prairies and lakes" region of Texas.  We moved around a lot during my childhood, though, and I don't self-identify as Texan.  But while I've personally never felt any real connection with the state, I think it's no secret how proud others are to call themselves Texan.  Some (many) of them, obnoxiously so.  I never much understood it.

This book, however, is about generations of people who have every reason to be proud of being Texan.  Euphemia, her sisters, and many hundreds of other women and children fled from Santa Anna's army in what became known as the Runaway Scrape.  They helped to make Texas the Republic it once was, and  managed not only to just survive in the harsh environments they chose to call home, but they worked hard and came to thrive in what I feel is a nearly impossible place to live.  This is the part of the book that really sets it apart from others for me.  Other states have a lot of history from the scars left by the many wars this country has seen, but the time of the Texas Republic is something else.  I've always thought the obnoxious and blind state pride I've seen in Texas was silly, but for those whose roots go as deep as this, I can certainly see what there is to be proud of.  As for myself, I can't say I have any more pride in being born in Texas after having read this book, but I have a much greater respect for the history and the people who struggled through and fought for its beginnings.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Spin


Spin by Catherine McKenzie is a novel about 30-year-old Kate Sandford, a struggling music journalist in the  big city.  She freelances for small publications, writing about local bands.  Half her friends are still in college and think she's a 25-year-old graduate student, and they spend an awful lot of time partying.  Her best friend from home is on the opposite end of the spectrum - responsible and successful working hard in her career at a bank.    Things seem like they might actually be on the up for Kate, though, when she lands an interview for a position at her dream job:  writing for an edgy music magazine, The Line.  She completely tanks it, though, when she goes out to celebrate the interview and her birthday the night before, and shows up late and still drunk.  

So it's a huge surprise when Kate gets a call asking her to come back for another opportunity - and if she does well with this, she just may be able to get the job she applied for after all.  The assignment?  Going undercover at a rehab facility to get the dirt on Amber Sheppard, the celebrity It Girl of the moment, whose latest exploits have her the focus of every gossip source.  It's not The Line, but the tabloid is published from the same office, and the promise of another shot at her Dream Job is too good to pass up.  All she has to do is make it through the program with Amber, then deliver a juicy article afterward.

Things get complicated, though, when Amber becomes a person to Kate...a friend, actually...rather than just some messed up celebrity brat, and frustrating when friends and family don't seem surprised that she would be in rehab.  Then there is the further complication of Henry.  She needs to decide, and soon, whether her dream job at The Line is worth putting her new friendship (and possible blooming romance) on the line.

Friday, May 18, 2012

The Hobbit


The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien is undoubtedly one of the classics of the fantasy genre; it's the sort of book that adults can enjoy, but that I could very much picture myself reading to my kids before bed (if I had kids).  Yes, of course, there are battles and such (what self-respecting fantasy novel is not going to have any battles?), but I'd say it's relatively tame, and probably wouldn't traumatize your children.

Bilbo Baggins is a hobbit from a well-respected line, with a bit of an adventurous streak through his mother's side (the Took line).  For the most part, hobbits are very simple, quiet folk who mind their own business and keep to themselves and are quite content just sitting around eating and smoking pipes and eating and having some tea and eating and sleeping.  And eating.  Hobbits who go off on adventures of any kind are marked as deviants, because why in the world would any sane person want to go risking their life out in the world where you can't just sit around eating and drinking tea and sleeping most of the day?  

So that's why, when the wizard Gandalf shows up at Bilbo's door to recruit him for a quest, he shuts that conversation down pretty quick, though because he is a hobbit, it doesn't do to be impolite, and he ends up inviting Gandalf to come on back for tea sometime.  Gandalf accepts this invitation, but extends it to thirteen dwarfs (or rather, dwarves, and Tolkien gives an explanation for his use of the -ves plural ending).  You can imagine how surprised and irritated Bilbo was when all these strangers started showing up, and then he finds out it's because he is going to be a part of this adventure whether he likes it or not (which he doesn't).  Especially since this little quest is headed by Thorin Oakenshield, descendant of a dwarf king of old, whose mountain fortress and mounds of treasure have for some time now been in the possession of the dragon Smaug.  Bilbo is expected to come along as the group's burglar, assisting them in the reclaiming of their rightful property by traveling all the way to the Lonely Mountain (which is quite some distance beyond the Misty Mountains, which are not exactly a stone's throw away either) and slaying the dragon.

It had been a long time since I've read The Hobbit, and since I'd apparently forgotten some of the details, it was a thoroughly enjoyable re-read.  At first, I thought "wow, okay, so Gandalf is kind of a dick," what with the devious way he roped Bilbo into going on this little quest with Thorin and his kinsmen.  The dwarfs were none too pleased about it, either, because...a hobbit?  Really, Gandalf?  What the fuck good is a timid little hobbit going to be, especially when all he does is worry about his handkerchiefs and his meals-between-meals and sitting in his armchair by the fire.  But Gandalf gets all kinds of cryptic like he can see into the future or some shit, and insists that they will be pretty glad of Bilbo when all is said and done.  I guess Gandalf is usually a pretty legit kind of guy, since they want to trust his judgment on this, and they set off.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Teaser Tuesday #11 - The Hobbit



It's been quite some time since I did a Teaser Tuesday post, but here you go, internet!  Teaser Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by Miz B at Should Be Reading.  Just take whichever book you are currently reading and post a teaser sentence or two (but careful not to use any spoilers!).  Be sure to include the title and the author's name, as well as the number of the page from which your teaser comes! 

I have started (re)reading J.R.R. Tolkien's The Hobbit; I know the movie isn't coming out until December, but I really wanted to read it again now anyway!  It's been a very long time since I read it.  I'm sure many of you are no stranger to this book either, but it's always fun to revisit the great ones. =]




"What did you do with the goblin and the Warg?" asked Bilbo suddenly.   
"Come and see!" said Beorn, and they followed round the house.  A goblin's head was stuck outside the gate and a warg-skin was nailed to a tree just beyond.  Beorn was a fierce enemy. (p.116)


Leave a link to your own teaser in the comments, or if you haven't got a blog, feel free to leave a comment with your teaser instead! 


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