Thursday, October 30, 2014

Fish Out Of Water

I couldn't wait to finish the final book in MaryJanice Davidson's Fred the Mermaid trilogy.  Fish Out Of Water was everything I wanted it to be.  I loved the ending.  Finally!  An ending I was satisfied with.  It wasn't a super happily-ever-after type ending, which I like, but happy enough. Some of the story was a bit predictable, but it was so entertaining, that it doesn't matter.  I wouldn't have expected anything else.

I read the first two books, Sleeping With The Fishes and Swimming Without A Net in the last couple weeks.  I've already talked about how I enjoy the grumpy mermaid and how much I like Davidson's writing.  So here are a few quick, but hopefully not spoilery things I liked about Fish Out Of Water.
- Fred's Dad. Sad, but good... and violent.
- Bad behaviour can make even the most beautiful person ugly.
- Be yourself, not who others want you to be, you'll be happier that way.
- Thomas always saw the real Fred.
- I still love Tennian.

Fish Out Of Water ended the series so well.... but wait!  Here's the main reason I picked up this trilogy in the first place.  The next book I plan on reading in Davidson's Undead series has a crossover story with Fred!  Undead and Underwater is on my to-read list.  I'm glad that Fish Out Of Water isn't the last I'm going to see of Fred.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

A Look At Diversity: Where Has My Reading Taken Me?

I like to think that my reading is diverse.  I don't try to make my reading diverse, but when I see authors from different countries, with different backgrounds sitting on my shelves, I feel like I don't have to try.  I've never had a set reading list (except in school), so I just go where my mood takes me.

Red over at What Red Read, wrote a post last month about her reading stats and trying to diversify where her reading comes from.  It was an interesting post and got me wondering about my actual reading statistics, not just what I felt that I read.  I eyeballed my reading list from the past year and could tell that it was an even split between male and female authors.  I quickly realized that I've been reading a lot series lately, which I felt might skew my stats, because several books would be by one author.  Also, reading a lot of series meant that I was reading a lot more newer books than classics.

I analyzed my reading stats, some of it was what I expected, some of it was not.  I decided to choose a twelve month period, from October 2013 to September 2014.  I thought that would give me a good look at where my reading has taken me.  In that time I read 50 books (I think that might be the most I've read in one year).  25 books were written by women, 24 by men, and the final one was a short story collection including both sexes.  That is what I expected.  What I found surprising was how many of these men and women were white Americans.  Previously, I read a fair amount of Canadian literature (being in Canada) as well as books by English authors, with a few from other countries.  I was very surprised with my findings and wondered why this was (Excel helped a lot).  In that 12-month time frame, 33 of the books I read were in series!  That's more series than I have ever read before. Not that I never read series, but they were much fewer than the 13 I read.  I didn't finish all the series, but from the spreadsheet, that's only because not all the books are out yet and many were books I or my Hubby already owned.  All these series were by Americans. 

As I compiled all this information, I remember, about a year ago, looking at my bookshelf and realizing that I had picked up a few Young Adult series recently decided I should really read them. So, I guess I started to and just hadn't realized how that decision had changed my reading habits.  I also wanted to catch up on two series I have been reading for years, but had been neglecting.  That hasn't left a lot of room for anything else.  I've also read much less classics than in previous years. Previously, I read something like 12 classics in one year.  That's way down for 2014.

This new realization concerned me, so I decided that I would look further back at my reading habits. If I take a look at all of 2013, not just the last few months, my stats improve.  There are many more Canadians and English authors on the list.  There are a few more classics, but not as many as I would have liked.  I eyeballed my list of read books for the last few years (it's a lot of books to actually analyze) and it's more what I thought it would be.  Still a lot of white authors, but not as many as this last year.  That means (to me) that the choice to read through a bunch of the YA series I own has left me with a less culturally diverse reading list.  Now I wonder why that is.

What does that mean for my reading choices going forward?  Well, I still want to shrink my to-be-read pile and the easiest way to do that is to read easy books, but I plan on being more conscious of reading too many of them.  I might research authors more; often times I don't know about an author's background until after I've read their first book.  I'm also going to get back to reading more classics. I've got a list I want to finish.  I still think I have been doing a good job, I just also think I can do better.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Last Shots

The final graphic novel in The Dark Tower: The Gunslinger series was not adapted from part Stephen King's The Gunslinger novel or a related story, it is a series of shorts, a few "last shots" into the world before the end.  Last Shots had everything I have come to love and expect from The Dark Tower graphic novels.  The art, the stories, were fantastic. 

There were three stories in the slim volume.  The first story, Sheemie's Tale , was about the special young man who Roland first encounters in Hambry, in the fourth Dark Tower novel, and then among the Breakers in the final novel.  Sheemie's story was tied to Roland's for longer than Roland ever knew.  In his mind, Sheemie calls to Roland to save him.  The second, Evil Ground, takes place before The Little Sisters of Eluria and The Battle for Jericho Hill.  It's nice to see Roland and his friends again. So Fell Lord Perth is the final story. It's a look at how it all began, Gilead and Arthur Eld.  I loved reading these stories for a lot of the same reasons I enjoyed The Wind Through The Keyhole.  I loved revisiting Roland and the world of The Dark Tower. One thing I appreciate about Last Shots, is that I think even if you haven't read anything else Dark Tower related, this little collection of stories would be enjoyable, just a taste of that world. I'm looking forward to the graphic novel adaptations of the second Dark Tower novel, The Drawing of the Three.  There will be something new to feed my Dark Tower addiction, Last Shots isn't the end.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Swimming Without A Net

Oh, Fred.  How did this happen? How did you end up there? Were you too aloof?  Too nice?  Well, maybe not nice, but she has a conscience.  Fred, the Grumpy Mermaid is trying to help Prince Artur and his dad, King Mekkan with a problem.  A solution is found, but is it the right one for the Undersea Folk?  Fred grows in Swimming Without A Net.  In the first Fred The Mermaid book, I feel like Fred spent a lot of time reacting to the situations around her.  In Swimming Without A Net, Fred is actively participating in mer-people's lives.  She makes decisions that are not entirely selfish.  She grows as a person and the end of this second novel I find a bit bittersweet.
Vague Spoilers....

I really enjoyed the new characters introduced in Swimming Without A Net.  I thought the scenes with Thomas and the King were hilarious.  I loved Tennian.  I thought she was funny.  At first she comes off as the more typical mermaid, but then you see she is stubborn and more like Fred than either of them may admit.  I also liked that Fred had a girlfriend, someone she could relate to, not just because she was also a mermaid.  I liked that Fred cared about her happiness.

I am eager to see how the trilogy ends.  I want to know what happens to the Undersea Folk.  I also want to know about Fred.  Where do her choices lead her?  Will she be happy?  Will she ever meet her father?  I have a feeling yes, but I could be wrong.  I was thoroughly captivated by MaryJanice Davidson's writing.  I read the short novel easily in two days.  Davidson gave me exactly what I wanted from Fred's second book and I am full of expectation for the third.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Doll Bones

Doll Bones is the first book I've read by Holly Black and I don't think it'll be the last. Doll Bones tells the story of three friends, Polly, Alice, and Zach, who are twelve and are growing up. The three friends have been playing together since they were little. Something happens which makes Zach think that he won't be able to play with Polly and Alice anymore. Life changes a lot at twelve and these three are no exception. Growing up, however, is not all they have to worry about. They're being haunted, by a creepy porcelain doll.

What is it about porcelain dolls that make them creepy?  Also, they're creepy, so why do people buy them?  How many possessed dolls have there been in horror movies and shows? But they keep getting bought. The cover of Doll Bones is the creepy doll. It is a great cover for a middle grade horror novel. It is the cover and the fact that I've been wanting to read something by Black (and the crazy sale price) that had me pick up Doll Bones and it was great.

Doll Bones was the perfect read for the car trips we took recently; I barely noticed the time pass by. I loved the three main characters. They each came from different home lives and they are each becoming adolescents in their own way. They are leaving childhood behind, but are also trying to hang on to it. Their quest was fantastic, scary and fun. I liked the end, the last line, but I'm still left wanting more. I want to know more about Polly, Zach, and Alice. I wish there was more at the ending. I want to know more about their families too. It might just be me though, I've been hard to please with endings lately. I'm happy I read Dolls Bones, it was a great October read.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Favourite Poetry - The Classics Club Meme

I don't usually do the Classics Club Meme, but I couldn't resist October's topic.  Classic poetry!  My long-time favourite poem is by Romantic, William Wordsworth:
A slumber did my spirit seal;
 I had no human fears:
She seem'd a thing that could not feel
The touch of earthly years.

No motion has she now, no force;
 She neither hears nor sees;
Roll'd round in earth's diurnal course
 With rocks, and stones, and trees.

It is lyrically beautiful, while also being so very sad.  I first read this poem in University.  It has stayed with me since. 
I went through poetry overload after University.  I took an entire course on poetry, plus there was poetry in other classes as well.  I spent so long dissecting classic and contemporary poetry that I couldn't read it anymore, just for the enjoyment.  A couple years ago that slowly started to change with Disney Princesses, and Rime of the Ancient Mariner (which for some reason I never read in University.)  Since, I have kept up with reading poetry here and there.  I also decided that there were some classic poems and poets I had to read.  This past spring, I started reading the complete works of Emily Dickinson.  I decided to do it slowly, as so many poems would just blend together if I read it all at once and I wanted the opportunity to savour each poem.  From the collection, I have two favourites so far:

That perches in the soul -
And sings the tune without the words -
And never stops - at all -

And sweetest - in the Gale - is heard -
And sore must be the storm -
That could abash the little Bird
That kept so many warm -

I’ve heard it in the chillest land -
And on the strangest Sea -
Yet - never - in Extremity,
It asked a crumb - of me.

Death is a dialogue between
The spirit and the dust.
“Dissolve,” says Death. The Spirit, “Sir,
I have another trust.”

Death doubts it, argues from the ground.
The Spirit turns away,
Just laying off, for evidence,
An overcoat of clay.
I know that The Chariot is Dickinson's most well-known poem, and I do think it is wonderful, but I can't have the same favourite as everyone else.  As soon as I read Hope it stuck with me and I think it might be like Wordsworth's classic, a poem I will think of for years to come.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Sleeping With The Fishes

With a title like Sleeping With The Fishes, you wonder if the mob is going to be involved.  You'll have to read the book to find out....

I loved Fred. The tone of the writing very much reminded me of MaryJanice Davidson's Undead series, but Fred is not Betsy. Fred doesn't care about clothes or men. Fred is a scientist, a marine biologist. She is tough, assertive, and blunt. There are a lot of similarities between her and Betsy too.  She is self-centred. She's also very tall. Fred lacks compassion; it's a decision she has to make rather than instinct. I like that she's not a damsel. She does not fall all over herself for the water fellow or the handsome prince. 

I like that in the novel, the issue of how we "bipeds" treat the environment is the centre of their investigation. People dump into the water, they are more concerned with money. The novel makes it seem as though there are only a few people like Thomas who really care. I hope that's not true. I like that a fun, mermaid novel has a bit of a serious thread running through it. 
I read recently that Davidson will only be writing two more Undead books and then the series will be over.  It's a sad thought for me, since I've been reading about Queen Betsy for years and years.  It's nice to know that when I want something light and fun to read, Davidson will provide with one of her other books.
So, my copy of Sleeping With The Fishes is part of an omnibus with all three Fred the Mermaid books.  Do I read all three since they're in the same "book"? Or do I put other novels in between series books, like I usually do?  I think the latter, but maybe not.  Let's see what I do when I take a bit of time to read tonight.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Binu and the Great Wall

I really wanted to love this book. Binu and the Great Wall sounded like something I would really enjoy, and it is part of the Canongate Myth Series, a series I've been enjoying for years.  But I also had a feeling I was going to be disappointed.  I try not to let other people's opinions influence me when it comes to books.  Since I joined Goodreads, I've seen what more people think of a book than ever before.  Even just a glance at the average star rating lets me know what the overall feeling towards a book has been.  Binu and the Great Wall does not have the best average on Goodreads.  I tried to put it out of my mind.  For the most part I did, until a couple chapters in.  Then I knew.  Binu and the Great Wall was okay.  It wasn't terrible, but it didn't excite me, didn't blow me away, didn't make me eager to pick the book up everyday. 
Binu and the Great Wall is a retelling of The Myth of Mengfrom China, written by Su Tong, a bestselling Chinese writer.  It is times like these that make me wonder if my feelings towards the book are because of the translation or if the original read this way also.  There's no way for me to know.  Su Tong has written award winning fiction, he has a good reputation.  I had hope for Binu.  I think my main problem with the novel was the title character, Binu.  Her choices were just crazy.  She couldn't control herself.  I understand that this is based on a myth and I'm guessing some of what is written falls in line with the myth, but still, her choices were a little too unbelievable.  Her motivation for everything she does is her love for her husband, but her choices could still have been better.  I know main characters in novels often go through terrible hardships before they reach their final goal and that the ending is not always happy (I just read Animal Farm after all), but it wasn't evoking the sadness and empathy I think it wanted.  Binu and the Great Wall is an easy read.  It flows well, so it didn't take me long to finish, I just wish I could have liked Binu more.

Friday, October 10, 2014


I don't normally read romance novels, or any of its subgenres, but for some reason, I couldn't resist reading Skye Jordan's Reckless.  I downloaded it for free on iBooks, it was one of the top books. It is free with Kindle and Kobo too.  I enjoyed the novel so much, I'm considering paying for the second and third books in the series.  Reckless is a hot and sexy piece of fiction.  I've dipped into this genre before and been disappointed.  Previously, I have found that the writer has focused all their attention on the sexy parts of the novels, to the detriment of the story.  I enjoyed the story of Reckless.  A poor girl works hard and achieves success.  A rich boy leaves the family business to find happiness and make it on his own.  I liked Lexi's work ethic, her focus on her goals.  She just needed to loosen up.  I liked Jax's independence.  He just needed to stop dating superficial girls.  I found myself rooting for them as a couple.  I liked their best friends, Rubi and Wes.  It seems like they'll be the stars of Rebel, Jordan's second Renegades book.  I might just get it when I need a quick read.

I would have liked a bit better ending though.  It was just done.  Suddenly.  One of those times where there were other "sneak peaks" at the end of the book, so I thought there was more story.  It keeps happening to me.  I should have known better and checked.  Even without that unfortunate surprise, I still would have liked something more at the end.  An epilogue?  Riding off into the sunset?  I hope that even though Rubi and Wes are going to be the focus of Rebel we get to know what happens to Lexi and Jax. - I just noticed that the girls names are four letters and the boys are three; is that a thing?  Am I going to start reading more novels in this genre because of Reckless? Probably not, but I might read the ones written by Skye Jordan.

Wednesday, October 08, 2014


That's the ending? Really? Well, fine then. I'll just have to read the sequel to Scott Westerfeld's Uglies. It's a good thing I got the box set at such a good bargain. This is the second book I have read recently that feels like a series, like one really long story. Miss Peregrine's Home For Peculiar Children has the same, obvious, cliffhanger ending. Any resolution at all not likely coming until the end of the series. I don't usually like that feeling, that nothing is known, that you must read the next novel before you can know anything, but like Miss Peregrine's, I enjoyed Uglies enough for it not to matter. I want to know more about this society, how it got there and where it's going.

Uglies also reminded me a lot of Delirium. Both stories take place in a society where something is taken away, leaving a more "peaceful" people. When Delirium removes love, the reaction is more shocked, I think, from the reader.  When Uglies removes ugliness, there's more hesitation, doesn't everyone want to be pretty? That's what drew me to the series, the idea that no one is judged on looks because everyone is pretty. There's even a pretty standard. How the Uglies treat each other, how they idolize the Pretties, seemed an almost logical exaggeration of what happens now. The Uglies are teenagers, a time when a person is learning about themselves and also in need of guidance. If pretty adults come to you and tell you that one day you'll be pretty too, why question it?

Uglies (like Delirium) centres around a girl who is fine with the status quo. Tally (like Lena) starts out wanting the operation that will make them normal. It is a friend that starts them down the rebellious path. Is it the boy that keeps them their, or is it that their beliefs change? I like to think the later. Tally learns the truth about the operation. It changes how she views everything and everyone she has ever known. I like the idea of the unwilling rebel/hero. I've seen it twice now in these dystopian novels. I wonder if I'll see more of it. 
I have to say, that scene with Tally, Shay, and the magazines was really interesting. I liked Tally's reaction to them and how Shay explained things too her. I like the idea that magazines, fashion magazines, could hold a piece of our history that future generations would never know about otherwise. I also found it interesting that in Tally's world, not everyone learns penmanship. Not even basic printing. Technology is such a huge part of Tally's world that even people living in the wilderness have to use it. 

I'm excited to read the rest of the series. Westerfeld has created and intriguing world and left the end of Uglies with a big setup for Pretties. The series is four books, and I don't think it'll be long before I have read all of them. 

Monday, October 06, 2014

Animal Farm

Animal Farm was a fantastic, interesting, wonderful novel.  A very short novel (novella), I was surprised at how short, initially.  Once reading the story, however, it couldn't have gone on longer.  It was the right length.  It was everything it needed to be.  It was more than I expected it to be.  Animal Farm is one of those books I should have read years ago, maybe right after I read George Orwell's other famous novel, 1984.   Animal Farm was my Classics Club Spin book, but I was going to read it anyway.  It had been gnawing at me that I hadn't read it yet. 
The comparisons to Communism are obvious, Orwell was definitely not subtle about Napolean and his regime.  I feel so bad for the animals who rebelled against their oppressors, only to have it happen again.  It has a very historic Russian cycle to it.  Though I knew the story was not going to be a happy one (since 1984 was not), I was still shocked about what happened to Boxer.  The cruelty reached a new height.  I wonder what happened to Snowball.  I kept hoping that he would rally animals at another farm, then try to overthrow Napoleon.  I hoped that the horses would do something.  I almost hoped that the men would win their final battle.  I ended the book hoping that the animals would revolt against the pigs. 
 "All animals are equal
but some are more equal than others."
My Hubby told me there are Animal Farm movies/videos.  I'd like to see one.  There are cartoons and live-action.  I'm interested to see how the book is interpreted and if the same feelings evoked by Orwell's story are there when seeing it on screen. 
I think Animal Farm is one of those books that everyone should read.  It isn't long and has such a powerful story told through an almost silly way.  Animal Farm is a book I'd like to read again, but like 1984 with its ending, it might be some time.  I wished so much for the happiness of the animals, even after the brutality of their self-proclaimed leader.

Friday, October 03, 2014

Why I Love The Scholastic Book Flyer

For those of you know don't know, the Scholastic Book flyer is a flyer selling books to school children, making those kids part of the Scholastic Book Club.  The flyer comes home every month with the children. Through the flyer you can buy books and they have a pretty good selection with decent prices.  There are different flyers for different age groups.  I have a sentimental attachment to them.  For most of my school life, that was how I got new books.

My parents weren't readers.  They might read the newspaper or a magazine article, but not a book.  I know a lot of people who (sadly) are not readers.  They would rather do something else.  I guess that's fine. My Hubby wondered out loud once how I developed such a deep love of books; the only ones around were the few in my room.  For many years, the Scholastic Flyer was my only source of books.  It's where I got my first diary, my Sweet Valley Twins, Babysitters Club and Fear Street novels. (Fear Street is probably what led me to eventually be a Stephen King fan.)  It wasn't until I was a teenager roaming the mall with my friends that I would have an opportunity to go into a bookstore.  Even then it was rare, as not many teenagers wanted to hangout with books.

Seeing my daughter bring these home now fills me with such happiness.  It fills me with hope too.  Though I have taken my children into a bookstore many, many times.  I know that there are parents out there who aren't taking their kids to bookstores.  Seeing the flyer lets me know that children will have the opportunity to develop a love for reading even if there parents do not.  I also appreciate that it hasn't "gone digital" as so much does these days.  Many families don't have the internet at home or even computers.  A physical paper flyer means access for everyone.  So much has changed in schools from when I was my daughter's age.  I am glad to see that this one thing has not and I hope it never will.

Wednesday, October 01, 2014

Hollow City

Hollow City is the second book in Ransom Rigg's series, Miss Peregrine's Peculiar Children.  I loved the first book.  I was very interested in all the old photographs and they way that the author blended the storytelling and the photos.  I was a little concerned that the "novelty" of the photos would wear off for me in the second book; I hoped it wouldn't feel gimmicky.  It did not.  I think there were less photos this time around, which, I think, made the storytelling more fluid, where filling it with photos like last time would have seemed forced.

The third book in the series is apparently not coming out until "late 2015".  That's at least a year, if not longer.  I wouldn't be paying so much attention to this if the ending of Hollow City wasn't so intense, twisty and peculiar.  I thought the ending was intriguing, but like the first book, it ended with a serious cliffhanger.  In Hollow City the cliffhanger might even be worse.  Usually, I like my books in a series to still be able to stand on their own, at least a bit.  The books in Miss Peregrine' Peculiar Children do not.  It's a series in an unapologetic way.  The journey of the children, especially Jacob, is one long road, that could not be told in a single tale.  It needs to be broken up into books.  So, I will eagerly await then next Peculiar tale and hope it doesn't take too long.