Thursday, September 27, 2012

This Time They Talk About The Casual Vacancy

The Broke and The Bookish have started a new weekly event.  This week they're talking about what everyone in the book community is probably talking about: The Casual Vacancy, by J.K. Rowling.  They're asking if you plan on reading it.  I do.  I pre-ordered it.  I wasn't sure if I was going to.  I decided that I want to read it before I hear to much about it from critics, bloggers, etc.  I don't expect it to be like Harry Potter, but not all the books I read are like Harry Potter.  Variety is good.  I'm looking forward to it, but I'm also trying not to let my expectations get out of control.

Head over to The Broke and The Bookish to get a variety of opinions.

The Broke and the Bookish - A Book Blog For The Eclectic Reader: A Cocktail & Conversation -- JK Rowling's Newest B...: Every other Thursday here at the Broke & The Bookish is going to be A Cocktail & Conversation time. We'll pose a question to 2-3 member...

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Leaving Myself Hanging: The Top Ten Series I Haven’t Finished Yet

I didn’t think I left series unfinished, but then I started making this week’s top ten list from The Broke and The Bookish.  Oops!  I swear, I plan on finishing them all!  In no particular order, the top ten series I haven’t finished yet:

1. The Undead Series, by MaryJanice Davidson – I’ve read up to book #7.  I love these books.  I read Davidson’s often hilarious blog.  I think I mostly haven’t finished/caught up because I don’t own all the books yet.  I like buying books on sale and I’ve bought almost all of the Undead books I own on sale, so I think that’s what I’m waiting for.  There are eleven books currently published in the series and one more forthcoming.

2. The Legend Of Drizzt, by R. A. Salvatore – I’ve read up to book #13.  I love Drizzt.  I love the characters he battles with and against.  I don’t know why I’m not caught up in this series.  These are my hubby’s books.  He owns all the Drizzt paperbacks (and one signed hardcover).  They’re sitting downstairs, so unavailability is not an excuse.  There are twenty-three books currently published in the series and probably another twenty forthcoming :) .

3. The Mortal Instruments, by Cassandra Clare – I’ve read up to book #3.  I own books 4 and 5.  I think I mostly haven’t finished it because I’m taking a break from YA fantasy/paranormal.  There are five books currently published in the series and one more forthcoming.

4. Canongate Myth Series, by Various Authors – I’ve read six of the books in this unique series.  For the most part, I’ve read them in publishing order.  For some reason, I never got my hands on a copy of the fifth installment, so it has been temporarily skipped.  Each book is a retelling/reinterpreting of a myth from a different culture.  Some are the familiar Greeks, but I’ve also read a Celtic reinterpretation and the next one I plan on reading will be Chinese.  I haven’t finished the series because I don’t own all the books (yet) and there are also a couple books not in English or not available in Canada.  There are seventeen books currently published in the series.

5. The Dark Tower, by Stephen King – I was finished this series until King decided to publish The Wind Through The Keyhole this year!  There are eight books in the series.

6. The Chronicles of Narnia, by C.S. Lewis – I’ve read up to book #6.  I’ve been drawing this series out on purpose.  I don’t want to say goodbye to Narnia.  I know I can re-read the books whenever I want, but it’s not the same as reading the books for the first time.  There are seven books in the series.

7. The Vampire Chronicles, by Anne Rice – I’ve read up to book #3.  At first, book 4 just looked so long, I kept picking shorter books.  I don’t know why.  It’s not like the first three were short.  Then… stuff… Anne Rice… No more vampires… she takes it back… I don’t know.  Sometimes an author’s behaviour can put me off their books.  But my hubby really enjoyed the books (again, they’re downstairs on the shelf), so I should really finished them.  There are ten books in the series.

8. The Wicked Years, by Gregory Maguire – I’ve read the first book.  I read it when there was only the one book.  I loved Wicked.  I’ve seen the musical.  I was so excited that there was a sequel, then a third book.  I’ve got them both.  Why have I never get around to reading them?  I don’t know.  Now there is a fourth (and final) book.  Should I read the two I have or wait until I get the last one and read them all together?  We’ll see.  There are four books in the series.

9. The Millenium Trilogy, by Steig Larsson – I’ve read the first book.  The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo was great.  Beyond great.  I don’t know why I haven’t read the second and third books.  I know people who have read and loved them.  I own them.  I just don’t think I want Lisbeth’s story to end and (sadly) Larsson isn't around to write more.  There are three books in the series.

10. Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, by Jane Austen and others - I've read the first book.  I loved Pride and Prejudice and Zombies.  When I read it, it wasn't a series, it was just a hilarious mash-up.  Then the prequel came out (which my hubby won, so it's on the shelf) and then the sequel, which is yet to be purchased.  I think, maybe, I don't want the first book "ruined" for me, especially since the other two books were written by Steve Hockensmith, not Seth Grahame-Smith, author of the first.  (Not that there's anything wrong with Steve Hockensmith, I've just never read any of his work.  It's more that it's a different author.)  There are three books in the series.

Really?  I haven’t finished all these series?  I thought I was better than this.  Maybe 2013 should be the year of finishing series?  I think some of it comes down to the same reason why I haven’t finished the Narnia series.  I don’t want to say goodbye to characters I’ve grown to love.  Which series should I tackle first?

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Insurgent (Divergent #2)

Insurgent was everything I wanted.  I know a lot of people who have read this book and I'm not talking just about girls.  A LOT of people, even my middle-aged boss loved this book (and Divergent).  From what he said to me, I think the fighting appeals to him.  Not that the story is particularly gory.  It’s just not glossed over, like I’ve seen in other Young Adult books.  The “fights” are well-written; the scenes are charged with emotion and purpose, the details are refined and you get a clear picture in your head.

Also, no love triangle!  It’s not even attempted.  I love that about this series.  Tris and Four's relationship is important, not just to them, but to how certain scenarios play out.  They aren’t a “perfect” couple either.  They have problems, there are trust issues, intimacy issues and family issues all coming into play.  It’s almost like a real relationship (except that it’s in a dystopian Chicago).  I like that they have problems; it makes the relationship more substantial for me.

I don't know what else I can say that won't give away this amazing story.  Veronica Roth did an amazing job.  Insurgent reached all my expectations.  While I saw the "twist" coming since book one, I didn't quite predict everything.  That's probably my favourite kind of foreshadowing; the setup was there without giving everything away.  I can't believe I have to wait a year until the as-yet untitled conclusion to the trilogy is published.  It will be one of those books I snap up as soon as it’s released. After reading Insurgent, I think the Divergent will save the world.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Monday, September 17, 2012

Scylla and the Pepper Pirates, by Rayne Hall

As some of you know, I recently joined Twitter.  I wasn’t sure I wanted too, but now I’m glad I did.  I started following author Rayne Hall.  Following her led me to get some of her work, including Scylla and the Pepper Pirates, free for Kobo.  It is an enjoyable and almost cute story (you know, except for the gut eating sea creature and other violent deaths).

Scylla didn’t quite grab me from the beginning.  I don’t know what it was.  There was just something missing in that first paragraph.  A more immediate connection to Scylla or the surroundings?  I felt a little lost.  The feeling did not last long though.  Once the first “conflict” was over and Scylla was in the Captain’s cabin, I knew what was going on.  That’s also when more of Scylla’s story was revealed and I began to connect more with her as a character.

Scylla and the Pepper Pirates was light fair.  It was not as simple a quest as Scylla made it appear (though I guessed the end).  I like that Scylla became a more complex character as the story progressed.  Though she seemed love-struck, Scylla became a more thoughtful, problem-solving character with each problem she faced.  I really enjoyed the story I look forward to reading more from Rayne Hall.

Short Story Monday is hosted by John Mutford at The Book Mine Set.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Word of the Week!

Hurricane Isabelle
I don't have any words!  Nothing.  For the last two weeks.  When I first was doing this, just over a year ago, I was finding words all the time.  I found words in fiction, non-fiction, newspapers, blog posts, everywhere!  I might skip a week, but never two.

Where have all the good words gone?

Friday, September 14, 2012


When I read the Goodreads summary for Prismatic, by Sarah Elle Emm, I knew I had to read it.  It’s a dystopian, but with a new take that I hadn’t seen before.  The stars of this story are “multi-racial”, “bi-racial”, “mixed” or however you want to categorize them. Rain, the narrator, is part white and part African-American. All except one of the teenagers she interacts with has a diverse heritage.  This is because America has been taken over by a crazy woman.  She dissolved the USA and created the UZTA (United Zones of Authority). Everyone has been relocated by race.  There are White, Asian-American, Latino and African-American Zones.*  If you don’t fall cleanly into one of these zones, you are send to the Mixed zone. Parents of young Mixed children are allowed to accompany their children, but that’s it.  It is the ultimate form of segregation.  President Nicks believes in the purity of race and it’s sickening.

The novel appealed to me personally because my children will grow up with a “mixed” heritage.  I don’t talk about my family much, but I’ll give you the quick take.  My hubby is very Canadian; his Scottish ancestors fought in The War of 1812.  My parents are from Trinidad, a small island in the Caribbean, just north of Venezuela.  Their/my ancestors came from the South-Asian region.  So my babies are going to grow up with all kinds of fun, interesting cultural stuff to call their own.  I think they’re lucky.

They wouldn’t be lucky in the world of Emm’s novel.  In it, America has closed its borders.  People trying to escape to Canada or Mexico are shot on sight. Other governments are trying to find out what happened to America.  They are sent propaganda videos, but no one is allowed into the country.  NIcks apparently hates the Mixed Zones the most.  Though the White Zones get more privileges than the others, the Mixed Zone has the most rules imposed on them.  She clearly wants them to die off.  They don’t go to school, the work long shifts, they can’t get married and it’s illegal to have babies out of wedlock (see the problem).  The idea of it is really scary.**

I don’t usually say this, but Prismatic could have been longer.  It was a lean 250 pages. I really like  the premise.  I thought the first scene and the descriptions of the segregations and the Zones were fantastic.  I just felt like the story was rushed.  Emm mentions the grey concrete and lack of colour from Indy Mixed Zone, where Rain and her friends live, but I don’t really feel like I felt it.  While I enjoyed Rain’s relationship with her brother and her best friend, I don’t feel like her relationship with Jabari was well-developed.  Their meeting and feelings felt too convenient.

I also think their goals could have been fraught with a little more difficulty. Or maybe the tension could have been built up more?  I feel like if the book was longer, the characters, setting and tension could have been deeper.  I still can’t believe that I’m wishing the book was longer.  Because of the genre, I can’t help but compare it to Divergent, The Hunger Games and Wither, all dystopians I’ve read over the past couple years and loved.  They were all at least one hundred pages longer. I think it allowed these novels to go more in depth into the characters and worlds that were created.

I do like that in terms of gender, the men and women are treated equally (whichever Zone they happen to inhabit). Though Rain falls victim to certain circumstances, her friend Zi is strong and as instrumental as any of the boys in their battles and victories. There was also some teenage sarcasm, which might have actually been lacking in two of the other books I mentioned. The change in government is only about four years old, so these people still remember what it was like to be in a world where they went to school, could relax and play and think about their future. It’s nice when they’re not serious all the time.

While I wish I could have loved this book, I still really liked it.  I'll be looking out for Opalescent, Prismatic's sequel when it comes out.  There's so much unfinished business, I have to see how the story ends.

*Question:  Would my family fall into the Asian zone because South-Asia is still Asia? Middle-East is still part of Asia too, is that where the Arabs and Persians go?  Again, though I like the book, I found these people missing.

**Thankfully I’m in Canada and since most of these crazy dystopians seem to take place in America, I feel a little safer.

Wednesday, September 05, 2012

Go Away Big Green Monster

At a playgroup I took my children too, one of the instructors there read Ed Emberley’s Go Away Big Green Monster.  My daughter loved it!  LOVED IT!  While still at the play group she made me read it to her three more times before I convinced her it was time to do something else.  I knew I had to buy it. 

I spoke with the instructor who originally read the book to the group and she told me that the way the book is designed shows the children how to take control of their fears.  I think it is pretty helpful.  There are cut-outs for each of the pages, so you first build the monster with your child.  Once it’s there, the child gets to yell, “Go away, Big Green Monster!”  Then you deconstruct the monster.  At the end, the child is still in control.  Big Green Monster doesn’t get to come back until the child says so

I think the book is cute and a useful tool if you have a child who is having “monster” issues.  It’s just a plain, fun read too.  The colours are bright against the black background.  The writing is clear.  The cut-outs are large and neat, so it’s easy to see what has changed on each page.  My daughter enjoys it and it’s a favourite of mine to read to her.

Tuesday, September 04, 2012

When It Gets Chilly, I’ll Be Curling Up With… The Top Ten Books On My Fall To-Read List

This week’s topic from The Broke and The Bookish was easy… and yet, in a way hard…  Here are the top ten books on my fall reading list.

1.  Insurgent, by Veronica Roth
2.  Undead Reckoning, by Mike Slabon
3.  Everything’s Eventual, by Stephen King
4.  A Thousand Orcs, by R.A. Salvatore
5.  Frankenstein, by Mary Shelley
6.  Clockwork Angel, by Cassandra Clare
7.  The Girl Who Played With Fire, by Steig Larsson
8.  Bodily Harm, by Margaret Atwood
9.  Binu and the Great Wall, by Su Tong
10. Night of the Living Trekkies, by Kevin David Anderson and Sam Stall

Some of these books have been on my list since the Spring…even Winter…  I just can’t seem to read ten books a season (that’s 40 books a year… totally not happening).  So, though I’ve wanted to read them for ages, they just keep getting pushed back.  Plus, I’m easily distracted by other books and influenced by my mood.  There are some great, new/different books on the fall list though.  I’m saving Frankenstein for October.

What’s on your Fall list?

Monday, September 03, 2012

Forty Stories, edited by Cal Morgan

It’s been a long time since I participated in Short Story Monday.  I missed it.  So I thought I'd come back with what is probably my longest Short Story Monday post ever.

Forty Stories is a unique (and fantastic) short story collection put together by Calvert Morgan from Harper Perennial.  Forty Stories is the balance that Cal Morgan felt he "owed" us for the year he started, but didn't finish over at Fifty-Two Stories.  Fifty-Two stories was a great site, a place where you could read a new, free, short story each week.

Forty Stories is free too.  Harper Perennial made a PDF available online at the Fifty-Two Stories website and announced that on July 17th, the stories would also be available to download as an ebook in various formats (iBook, Kindle, etc.)  I downloaded the PDF immediately (I was so excited), then downloaded the free ebook on the 17th of July too.

I'd feel bad not writing something about all of the stories.  Honestly, each one was worth reading.  However, forty separate reviews seemed like a lot. So I'm going to make them “twitter” size. Each story comment is going to be 140 characters or less. 

1.    Ambivalence, by Ben Greenman - Great story. Though I certainly hope my hubby didn't do anything like that before we got married.

2.    Amy Having a Heart Attack, by Sharon Goldner - Umm. This one was a little off. Well-written, but I had no sympathy for the main character.

3.    The Anarchist of Darwin, by Michael Ramberg - Even though the main character was nuts, I could sympathize with him.

4.    Another Terrible Thing, by Catherine Lacey - It was an interesting story.  Though I felt like something more startling should have happened between the main character and her husband.

5.    Barnicles of the Fuzz, by D. Foy - Not sure I understood this one.  Is it about the characters? What's the point?

6.    Baselines, by Adam Wilson - It's a story about repetition.  Well done. I liked that it was snowing.

7.    Because you Asked, by Karon Luddy - Another story in lists? At least I understood this one. They are interesting answers.

8.    Before The Trip, by Adetokunbo Aviola - Had me on the edge of my seat. Very exciting.

9.    The Beginning of the Summation of Our Dead, by Blake Butler - Felt more like free form poetry, with a plot. Interesting. I can see why people would like it.  I still think it needs paragraph/stanza breaks.

10. Birthright City, by Eliezra Schaffin - An interesting look at Jewish tradition and at the growing up of a girl who doesn't fit in.

11. Can a Corn, by Jess Walter - A little morbid and sad.  Definitely attention-grabbing.

12. Confluence, by Mesha Maren. - It was a depressing story. I kept waiting for something bad to happen.

13. Djeser Djeseru (Splendor of Splendors), by Paula Younger - I'm not sure how I feel about this one. I really liked Patty, but why did the driver turn out to be sleazy? The Egyptian Christian was good, but not the Muslim? I understand that he was trying to get out of Egypt and was using her. I suppose this is the same problem I've had with portrayals of Muslims in some writing.  (I know this is bigger than “twitter-size”, but the story really bothered me.)

14. Eighty-six Ways To Cross One Desert, by Alexander Lumans - An interesting way to write a story. I liked it, but I'm not sure I understood it.

15. Everyone Loves Someone Who Doesn't Give a Fuck About Anything, by Jane Faulds - I don’t really like stories with swearing in the title. It was a good story with some serious dysfunction.

16. Fire Weather, by Brady Hammes - I feel sorry for Kate, though she seems increasingly apathetic. Phil is crazy.  Great story.

17. A Girl, by Lindsay Hunter - Interesting story.  I wish they found her. I like closure.

18. Glossolalia, by Kyle Minor - An unlove story...

19. God's Plan, by Daniel Brown - It's a sweetly sad story, but there is hope and potential at the end.

20. Granaby, by Brandon Hobson - What an utterly depressing story. It was well written and there's more to the main character than what we learn here.

21. Graveyards, by Scott McClanahan - Is this really non-fiction?  It has a ring of truth.

22. Head Down, Palm Up, by Mitchell S. Jackson - A somewhat depressing story, but it also left me disconnected from the main character.

23. Hers, by O.A. Lindsey - What a depressing, sad story.  I almost couldn't finish it.

24. The Highline Highway, by Nathan Oates - A unique and interesting story. Glad to have read it.

25. House Guests, by Alan Rossi - A great story with a crazy ending. Another unique one.

26. I Like Looking At Pictures of Gwen Stefani, by Elizabeth Crane - I love Gwen Stefani, but I don't think that was the point of the story. It was looking and seeing.

27. I'll Take You There, by David Williams - The difference between religion and faith.

28. In The Manner of Water or Light, by Roxane Gay - There is truth, the search for it, the real and the one we tell ourselves so we can move on.

29. Jailbreak, by Matt Stewart - Short and sad. If you knew your children would turn out this way, why have them?

30. Jon and Maeve, by David Backer - Amazing story!  A unique plot and characters.  They felt real.  The situation felt impossible and plausible at the same time.

31. Miss November, by Matthew Norman - I loved this story.  It was sad and sweet and very relatable.

32. Most Wanted, by Eric Raymond - It was too sad.  I kept thinking he was going to find her in the faces of one of the random girls.

33. The Mountain Population Is Me, by Shane Jones - Change is bad?  I really liked the story and I feel as though it is trying to teach a message, but I don't know exactly what.

34. opal one, opal two, by Tessa Mellas - Beautiful sentences, but difficult to understand. Haunting? Grief?  Also, no capitals!

35. A Plain Kiss (Letters To Allison), by Jamie Quatro - Very sad.  She just wants something to happen, but she's too afraid. Also, I hate the violin teacher.

36. Plank, by Kayden Kross - Not sure I like stories told in second person. Makes me feel like there is no main character.

37. Poof, by Joeseph Scapalleto - Umm, did he just throw his nephew.  A great, quick story.

38. Some Kind Of Rugged Genius, by Greg Bardsley - I loved this story!  It is unique and you do not see the end coming.

39. What Good Is An Ark To A Fish, by Kelli Ford - An apocalyptic story about family.  Beautiful and sad.

40. You Can Touch This, by Jim Hanas - A somewhat tense story. I was afraid for the zombie at the end, but it seems that it worked out for them. Also, as a mother, how could you forget your kid??!

The stories are great.  I know there were some of them where the story might have bothered me, but none of the stories were poorly written, so I’m taking those few negative reactions as subjective.  I can't express how much I enjoyed this wonderful, diverse assortment of plots and voices. I can't encourage people enough to download it.  This free ebook might just lead you to your next favourite author. 

Also, thanks to John Mutford at The Book Mine Set for hosting Short Story Monday.

Sunday, September 02, 2012

Word of the Week!

It’s been over a year, but I’ve decided to start up my Word of the Week again.  I miss it.  I miss sharing with you all the words that come up in my various reading.

All of this week’s words come from Forty Stories, a collection of short stories put together by Cal Morgan from Harper Perennial.  (My thoughts on the stories will be posted on Monday.)
Haploid vs. Diploid
image from here

From Barnacles of the Fuzz, by D. Foy (Forty Stories)

Jitney (Kindle location 742):
A small bus or minibus which typically operates service on a fixed route, sometimes scheduled.

Haploid (Kindle location 742):
Of a cell of nucleus having a single set of unpaired chromosomes.

From Djeser Djeseru (Splendor of Splendors), by Paula Younger (Forty Stories)

Corniche image from here. (c) Arnaud Clerget
Corniche (Kindle location 1876):
A road cut into the edge of a cliff, esp. one running along a coast.

From Eighty-six Way to Cross One Desert, by Alexander Lumans (Forty Stories)

Alacritous (Kindle location 2207):
Brisk, speedy, with alacrity, quick and eager.

Everyone Loves a Person Who Doesn’t Give a F*$# About Anything, by Laura Jane Faulds (Forty Stories)

Pulsatile (Kindle location 2346):
Pulsating or vibrating.
Characterized by pulses.

Tinnitus (Kindle location 2346):
The perception of noise such as a ringing or beating sound, which has no external source.
Rung, jingled, having been jingled.
Cried, screamed, having been screamed in a shrill voice.
A ringing, jingling, tinkling.
(I didn’t realize this was going to be such a complex word.)

Granaby, by Brandon Hobson (Forty Stories)

Dyspneic (Kindle location 3382):
Afflicted with Dyspnea; possessing unhealthy breathing.

Impetigo (Kindle location 3444):
A contagious bacterial skin disease forming pustules and yellow crusty sores, chiefly on the face and hands. It is common in children and infection is often through cuts or insect bites.

Head Down, Palm Up, by Mitchell S. Jackson (Forty Stories)

Semaphore (Kindle location 3745):
A system of sending messages by holding the arms or two flags or poles in certain positions according to an alphabetic code.

Hers, by O.A. Lindsey (Forty Stories)

Sclerotic (Kindle location 3943):
Of or having sclerosis.
Becoming rigid and unresponsive; losing the ability to adapt.
Of or relating to the sclera.

That’s a lot of words.  I doubt each week will have that many.  In Forty Stories there are so many great authors writing fantastic stories, that I’m not surprised I had to look up more than a few words.

Learned any new words lately?

*Definitions from Wikitionary and Kindle app.