Thursday, March 26, 2015

Wild Seed

Wild Seed is the first novel in Octavia E. Butler's Patternmaster series, in the chronology of the Patternmaster world.  It is actually the 3rd novel written in the series.  If I had known that before I started, I probably would have read the books in publication order.  Oh well.  The edition of Wild Seed I have is collected in an Omnibus titled, Seed To Harvest.  I hadn't fully decided until I reached the emotional end of Wild Seed, whether I would write about each of the four Patternmaster books individually or if I would write about Seed to Harvest as a whole. It was an emotional ending and a fantastic story. Wild Seed is definitely a story on its own, able to stand alone, not just as a part of a series.  The power of the story decided for me, I had to write about Wild Seed (and now each subsequent story) on its own.

Wild Seed starts off with Doro. Sensing the presence of Anwanyu, Doro veers off his path to find her. That decision sets their immortal lives on a new course.  I loved this story.  Not only is the plot interesting and unique, it gives us a view of a world we don't often see in fantasy. Doro is a spirit, who's not a spirit; who changes bodies by first killing the spirit of the ones who own it. He can become male or female, black or white, anyone he wants. Anyanwu is an incredibly strong shapeshifter. She can become any living creature, learning all she needs to know about how a body functions by eating a bite of that animal. She can be a woman or man, make herself black or white or whatever she wants. Doro has lived for almost four thousand years. Anyanwu is young in comparison, only about four hundred by the time the book ends. They were both born in Africa, but their lives have moved to the new world, to a secluded part of New York. 

I love Anyanwu. I love how much she loves her friends and family. I love that she wants to be around her people. I love how much she cares for them, wants them to be safe and to grow and think for themselves. I love how much she loved Isaac. She was amazing, they were amazing. I'm so glad that this is a series and I (hopefully) get to see what happens next to her. 

I loved to hate Doro. I just wanted him to see what he was doing was wrong, not just because of convention or superstition, but because it can create bad people. Before finding Anyanwu, he lost most of his humanity. Anyanwu is a good (interesting) influence on him. I'm excited to see what kind of change will happen to him through the books in this series. 

I liked that we got to know Isaac. Besides him, we don't really see much of the other people Doro and Anyanwu interact with. The rest of the characters flit in and out of their lives, though there are a few we get deeper glimpses into, like Stephen, Luisa, Thomas, Nneke, and Leah. I wonder who we will see in future books. I suppose with the unending lives of Doro and Anyanwu, the next book could start with the end of Wild Seed, or it could start a hundred years in the future. 
I wonder about the other books. How much time will have passed? Where are we going to find this immortal pair? Will Anyanwu change Doro? I'm excited that I have started this series and I'll be reading the other books soon.

 *I really like all these interesting covers from over the years.  I had to share.*

Monday, March 16, 2015

The Girl Who Played With Fire

I love a good ending, don't you?

Though I thoroughly enjoyed The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, I took my time before I read The Girl Who Played With Fire. For two reasons: the length, it comes in at over 700 pages; and the subject matter, I knew it would be a mystery/thriller and have a measure of violence about it. I also knew what kind of violence, so, I avoided it for a while. Recent developments in my life have afforded me some uninterrupted time for a couple weeks, so the length seemed like a non-issue and I decided this was the time to read it.

I'm glad I finally did and I don't know if I should have waited so long. The Girl Who Played With Fire had me hooked from the beginning.  I think I liked it better than the first book. There was character development, intrigue and action. I loved every twist and turn. Stieg Larsson created such a compelling character in Lisbeth Salander and also in Mikael Blomkvist. I liked Berger, Paulo Roberto, Mimmi, Erikkson, Modig, Bublanski, everyone. Admittedly, there are A LOT of characters, and since it's been so long since I read the first book, I had trouble remembering all of them. But I'm used to it... I read Stephen King, after all.

I liked that Larsson created not just a compelling story, but also takes one sensitive topics. I felt that he was not just using it as background to tell a tail, but he also expressed an opinion about them through his work. It gave me something more than just a fantastic story to connect too.

As with so many second books in a trilogy, this felt like a middle book. It didn't until the end. The final few pages created such a cliffhanger, a sense of urgency, I don't think I'll be waiting as long to read the final installment. If it wasn't for those scenes, if the ending was just a bit different, or if the book was just five pages longer, two pages, it could have been a complete story unto itself. This is the Millennium trilogy though, so that it ended that way didn't surprise me.

I'm excited to read The Girl Who Kicked The Hornets Nest. That there is a third book, means I kind of know what's going to happen after that final scene. Part of me wants to keep going on about how much I enjoyed The Girl Who Played With Fire, but I should really just pick up the next book. If you haven't read these books yet, even if you don't like mystery/thrillers, I highly recommend them. It is the characters that make the Millennium books amazing.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: Dawn of the Dreadfuls.

Was that Hawksworth at the end? Wow. A great ending. Both the main story with the Bennets and the epilogue. I feel like the epilogue was not really created to connect to the first Pride and Prejudice and Zombies novel, but to actually connect to the third, Dreadfully Ever After. Which I will be reading, sooner than later. Dawn of the Dreadfuls actually has me wanting to read more Jane Austen too.  It's been a while since I read Emma and I have Northanger Abbey calling to me from a stack of books nearby.

I thoroughly enjoyed Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: Dreadfully Ever After. It was brain candy. Just what I needed. It had women fighting stereotypes and preconceptions. It had twists. It had Lizzy and Jane. It had zombies! Steve Hockensmith did an excellent job moving backward from the story Seth Grahame-Smith wrote in Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. He gave origins to where the Bennet sisters and their father learned their warrior ways, and Lady Catherine as well. Though we got more details about the zombie plague, we don't know where or why it started. I wonder if we'll get that in the third book.  Dawn of the Dreadfuls was funny, tragic, and exciting.  It's everything I expected it to be.  I loved that the Bennet parents got first names and that they are both given more depth.  I liked seeing who owned Netherfield before Bingley.  There's so much I liked about this novel.  I feel like I could gush.  Instead, I'm going to say, read it.  Even if you haven't read Pride and Prejudice or Pride an Prejudice and Zombies, I'm sure you'll still enjoy Dawn of the Dreadfuls.  The story stands very well on its own.  I wish there was more, but I suppose there is and I'll be reading it soon.  More Regency zombies, please!

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

What's in the Fridge? Homemade Pasta Sauce!

What happens when you have to make dinner and you don't have time to go to the grocery store and the cupboards are bare?  You take a bunch of stuff from the fridge and throw it in a pot!  I looked through the food stocked in the kitchen, I found that I had butter, milk, flour, various leftover vegetables and the usual herbs and spices.  First, I decided that I needed to use the broccoli, asparagus, and spinach (I hate when produce goes bad).  Then, I saw the butter.  I don't usually have butter, but I baked recently and had some left over.  Butter, plus flour and milk, add some parmesan, throw in the greens and now I have a veggie cream sauce! I added some black pepper, basil and oregano, what more do I need?  I checked out what pasta I had, and surprisingly, I actually had some fettucine.  It was a quick dinner and it tasted fantastic. Sometimes, you just need a few minutes, imagination and determination to find what you need.

Monday, March 09, 2015

Call Roxanne, by Andrew Pyper

After reading Andrew Pyper's exciting novel, The Demonologist, I just had to read something else by him.  After a quick search, I found a free short story (I'm a sucker for a free short story), Call Roxanne.  (Also, I just finished Cyrano de Bergerac and Roxane!)  This is not a story about a girl named Roxanne, it is a story about a boy and his father.  Something is wrong with the boy and I think something is wrong with the father.  I thought the relationship between father and son was interesting.  I wish I knew more about them.  I loved the way the trip to the hospital was woven into the story without being obvious.  I thought the introduction of Roxanne was interesting and the way she popped back up at the end.  It ends so abruptly though, I wish I knew more about the boy and what happens to him.  Call Roxanne has definitely made me eager to read more of Andrew Pyper's works.

Saturday, March 07, 2015

Cyrano de Bergerac

I want to see this play! The story is brilliant, tragic, and full of emotion. If you don't know Edmond Rostand's most famous work, Cyrano de Bergerac is about love and appearances. Cyrano has a rather large nose and is considered by himself and others as ugly. He is in love with a beautiful woman, Roxane. Roxane is in lust with Christian, though for the time, they call it love. Christian is also in love with Roxane, but must work to woo her. He has no words. Cyrano is an expert at words, he is a poet and perhaps could have been a playwrite. Cyrano believes that Roxane could never love him, so gives his words to Christian. First in a letter, then in the famous balcony scene where Cyrano whispers from the bushes, a scene that has become a part of pop culture and parodied in so many different forms.

The end is just so sad. Though familiar with the balcony scene and the play, I didn't know how it began or ended or the other man vying for Roxane's affections. I hoped for truth, for love to conquer all. I wanted for Cyrano and Roxane to find happiness. You'll have to read it to find out what happens. It's one of those works that is so frequently referenced, that you think you know what happens, but you actually don't. As when I finished Death of a Salesman, I want to see Cyrano de Bergerac now. I'm going to be keeping my eye out to see if the play will be preformed in Toronto or Stratford. I should check a couple of the local theatres too. I have to find a good movie adaptation. Suggestions? Cyrano de Bergerac was a fantastic play and I'm eager to see it performed.

Thursday, March 05, 2015

Shopaholic On Honeymoon

Shopaholic on Honeymoon is a perfect little taste of the Shopaholic series.  It is full of Sophie Kinsella's humourous tone and Becky's insanely wonderful personality.  Shopaholic on Honeymoon takes place during the gap of time between Shopaholic Ties The Knot and Shopaholic and Sister. There's an entire year in there where Becky and Luke go on honeymoon.  They travel the world and come home to all of Becky's purchases.  But was it smooth sailing the whole time?  Was it a perfect year?

I love that Kinsella was inspired to write this short story.  I'm glad it was free too!  Though it had what I believe is the desired effect, I want to read more Shopaholic.  I don't own Shopaholic to the Stars yet.  I want now more than I did before.  I'm itching to read more Kinsella.  I do have a couple of her stand-alone books that I haven't read yet.  Maybe it's time for Twenties Girl or Can You Keep A Secret?.  I have been spending some time commuting with strangers this week, maybe Can You Keep A Secret? is the perfect book to be reading.  I think I just need more Sophie Kinsella in my life.