Tuesday, August 14, 2012

A Note about Webseries

Lately I am all about webseries. Maybe it is because regular TV does not do it for me. Maybe it is because my TV watching attention span is super limited by my reading and game playing time.
Whatever, I am hooked.
I just wanted to take some time to point out some of my faves. I am always open to suggestions, so if you happen to know of a good one, drop me a comment!

The show that started it all for me:
The Guild

Despite my best efforts, I have been unable to get all of my friends on board about this one. It's brilliant.
Here is the link:

Harry Potter and the Ten Years Later
I look forward to watching this one on Fridays. It is currently up to episode 4 and follows, as you can guess, the characters from the books ten years after the fall of he-who-must-not-be-named and our gang is surprisingly---normal. Maybe even a bit more pathetic than we thought possible. This is not, I repeat, NOT for the kiddos.

Check it out here.

And last night I found this one (thanks to the Flog):

Save the Supers
Billed as The Office meets the Justice League. I have now seen the first three, and while I want to love it, there are so many characters and I am not yet sure I am IN love with it yet. It is creative and pretty funny. I am leaning towards the Knight as my fave.
Watch here.

Beyond that I am always on the hunt for new ones and will keep thee posted.

This one is not a webseries (although I am watching it online) by I feel I must mention it, is
The Misfits
I am crazy mad for this series. I kind of feel silly that I just found it and series four starts in the fall, but I am glad I watched it. It is truly twisted. It is a Hulu exclusive, so you know where to find it.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Review: Assasin's Apprentice or Ass App

The Farseer: Assassin's Apprentice
The Sword and Laser August 2012 pick.
By Robin Hobb
Link to Goodreads here

First thoughts (based solely on the cover and reading the back): Good God, what have I gotten myself into?

The story got going for me after the first chapter. I have read enough fantasy at this point to know that the first chapter reads like this:

 "In a mystical place this character you do not know yet and this character you have not met yet warned for many years that this town which you don't yet (but you saw on the map in the front!) has the problem of the _______(insert name of creature or magical power that you have no idea what it means yet). "
Then you get a history, and THEN the story finally gets going. Really, I should just skip first chapters in fantasy books.

Sorry, I got sidetracked.
Anyhoo, this book rocked and here is a short VERY SPOILERY list of why I believe this to be true:

1. Boy himself is an great character. I was especially impressed with the fact that he looked to earn the respect of those he respected and what he went through with training with Galen....whoo boy. I loved this kid.

2. The animals. Hobb has a way of really nailing the behavior of animals and pointing out what is so human about them and what is not.

3. The women in this book were great. Patience, the Princess, and especially Molly. All of them were multidimensional and very interesting.

4. The Fool. How cool is he?

5. Chade and Lady Thyme (ha ha!) I loved that part.

6. The Red Raiders are truly frightening and great villains.

7. Overall, what I took from this book was the sense of finding where you belong and about putting yourself in everything you do: Don't just be an assassin. Be the BEST assassin with a cool hidden room in a tall tower and hang out with a super cool weasel. 

Some problems I had (and they are very minor):
1. I am having a hard time understanding why the Wit is not a Skill. And I don't understand why the Wit has a bad stigma around it. Wouldn't it be super useful?
2. I now have to read the next book to find out what happened to many of the story lines.
3. The Fool, more attention needs to be given to the Fool. Although, after having just read Tigana not two months ago, the Fool had been a totally gut wrenching plot twist and now I kind of nervous.
4. How lucky is Boy?  No seriously. Boy lucks out about a hundred times in this story. I want to see him do something on his own. Someone or something is always saving him or showing up at the last minute. Even the dog had to drag him out of the hot spring to save his life.

I really enjoyed this and am super glad it was chosen. I would never have picked it up on my own.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Leviathan Wakes- Sword and Laser Review

I read Leviathan Wakes as part of my ongoing participation in the Sword and Laser Book Club (which I love). I'm doing it to prove I can manage to be a member in a book club, and to read stuff I would never in a million years pick up on my own to read. This is the "laser" pick for July and this review has been cross-posted on Goodreads.

This was my first space opera. I found it to be a chore to get through, but I can honestly say I didn't hate it. Here is what I enjoyed: all of the flight and fight stuff. I thought the battles between the ships and stations were awesome. I thought the creation of the culture of the Belters was really great. I wanted to read more about them. The overall story was complex enough to keep me guessing, and spelled out simply enough that I got it when it was revealed.
I thought Naomi was pretty cool (and fake Julie, in her own way). But, for the size of this book, there is no major character development. None. Who is Fred beyond what he is famous for and the fact that his smile indicates his mood? He's a mystery. Who is Naomi, really? To me, Amos and Alex were interchangeable and I still could not tell you which one was a pilot and which one liked hookers. Honestly, it probably would have helped to not have two "A" names there.

And if you asked me to describe Miller or Holder, I couldn't. Holden is a goody goody and Miller is his opposite. That's about it. I didn't know what kind of person Miller was that by staring at some case files he could become obsessed with a wild teenager. Holden grew up in a unusual family, but we get such few glimpses of them.

So, on the backs of this very thin cast of characters we have this crazy, action packed plot about three areas of the universe all trying to kill each other and an alien life form that is never allowed to become really scary because the one character who gets the alien and who is trying to explain why this is the BIGGEST THREAT mankind has ever faced is silenced after a few paragraphs.

If there had been even one character I could get behind, if there had been one person on a quest
that mattered (because, let's face it, most of these characters had little to lose if the Earth blew up: Miller- beyond caring about anything, Holden-some family (but imagine if he had a CHILD on Earth), Alex/Amos (one a Martian, the other I forget, but no connection to Earth). And the Belters themselves wanted to be free of Earth. The Martians wanted free of Earth. If no one cares about Earth (who come off as corporate mafia in the beginning of the book anyway) why should I be invested?

I never mind a time clock in a story. We have such and such amount of hours to get this done...or else! But the damn clock reset in this one so many times, I didn't care anymore. You have 27 hours. I need more time. Okay! Take more time!

So, don't misunderstand. I did not hate this book, I just felt like it went in five thousand directions and none of them hit a solid target. Everyday I sat down and read and sometimes the pages turned fast, but most times I was left feeling empty. I hope this does not ruin space operas for me. I probably wont let it.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Review: Brides of RollRock Island


 Heads up! This novel kind of blew my mind.The following review IS FULL OF SPOILERS!!!!

You were warned!

Okay, read on.

        I just finished this and I want to get my thoughts down right away. This is a really fantastic story and I am a huge fan of Lanagan. I have never read anything of selkies, so this is rather new to me. That said, I did not enjoy this story. There were chapters where I actually had pains in my stomach while I read because I KNEW the character was going to let us down. I knew it and like a car sliding on ice, I read on hoping and hoping that the character would redeem themselves. Nope.
   The story raises many great questions. Who is the villain here? Is it the sea witch? Is it the men of the island? Are the women of the island to blame for allowing this to happen? While part of me sympathized with the witch, I just don't understand what happened to her from the time she bought the big house in town, to the point where she moved back to the water's edge. She remained bitter all those years? And why did her children die when all the other male children flourish?
  I am sure my library needs to own this title when it is published, but finding a good match for this book and a reader is going to be a challenge. This just isn't something I think most teens would enjoy. Like I said earlier, I am glad I read it, but I didn't enjoy it. So why am I even writing about it?  Because the storytelling is way above par, the pacing is excellent, and because I am a big fan.
  I do wonder how this would have been had the island women called the men from the sea instead of the way it went in the novel? Hmm.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Tigana= Two Weeks of My Life

Read for the Sword and Laser Book Club. Read about that here.

I am just going to go ahead and drop a from-the-gut review. I just finished the book last night, after two weeks of reading it. Yes, I lugged this bad boy around all that time. And, yes, I read a couple of books in between.

The sheer problem I had with Tigana was that large parts of it were flat out boring. Kay had this habit of telling the reader something, and then proceeding to use six pages to show us what he just told us.
Example: Alessan predicts Erlein will run, despite being bound to the prince. Then we read about the running, the hunting, the finding, and the aftermath. I believed Kay when he wrote something. He did not have to hit me over the head with a stick.

On the other hand, Kay was constantly foreshadowing the results of events, and then not playing them out that way. Instead of being surprised, or pleased, I found myself getting pissed off. Two major examples: Dionora's dive (in which we will assume she will follow the path she is supposed to and die at the bottom of the sea). We have been told for two chapters she would, and went with her on her walk of death, and then, nope, she resurfaces. I had become emotionally connected with this brave woman who was on a mission. Then she drops the ball, and it is unclear why. I felt cheated.Catriana out the window plays the same way. Seriously, she did nothing but pout through the entire book. Saving her from that noble death just allowed her to remain a useless character. Kay, I found, was lining it up so that everyone had a love match at the end. I found that to unnecessary and kind of stupid.

I disagree that the world building is spectacular. In fact, I felt as though I had nothing to go on, so I set the novel in the world of Pillars of the Earth mixed with a little Westeros. I had to research sky death wheels on my own.

Here is what I enjoyed, and why I continued to read: the magic. Unfortunately, there was not nearly enough of it. The wizards were kick ass, if interchangeable. In fact, the healing blind wizard I kind of pictured as Billy Crystal from The Princess Bride.
The riselka: I really expected this to end up being really important. Nope. Brandin uses her as an excuse to marry Dianora. Dianora ignores what it tells her to do. And WTF was up with the ending?

There is a section in the center of the book about an other-worldly fight on a mythical hill on Ember Night. Here is what I really think: I bet Kay wrote this as a stand alone short story and it was so good (it is great) he jammed it into Tigana. And it feels like it is jammed in. Nothing that happens on that hill has anything to do with anything that happens in the rest of the novel (except that Kay uses the Ember Night people as magical amps for the wizards in the big climax). I thought this was a truly great part of the book, and then it hit me that I probably enjoyed it because it did not feel like the rest of the book.

I liked Devin and Alais. I even like Alessan. I got the mission, although I am not sure I would have been as committed to the cause (I am from New Jersey) and would have found myself, like Sandre, more concerned with the removal of tyrants and less about restoring everyone's memories about a lost land. Another note: why have a land called Treaga and one called Tigana? Confusing.

So. I know I am pretty new to high fantasy, and while I did not hate Tigana or even dislike it enough to stop reading it, I would find it hard to recommend it to readers who are looking for an epic, high fantasy book. Sometimes, when I finish a book like this (one I have to slog through) I feel as though, at the end, I should have AT LEAST earned a t shirt. I felt this way about The Historian and The Passage. So, I will expect my
"I read Tigana and Survived" shirt in the mail.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Versus: Kids in Space Edition

Last  week  two books came in for me at the library that had very similar premises. I realized that that kind of happens pretty often-especially when you read as much YA as I do. It may be a trend thing, it may be that I am subconsciously ordering items with the same type of description because that is what I am in the mood for when I order them, or it may just be coincidence. However it happened, it loans itself to a great new idea: Vs. Two books, similar plot/theme, read back to back and discussed. Perfect. So, without further ado, here is the first installment of "Vs":

Kids in Space! I have had this on the brain because of the summer reading theme and one of the books they really pimped at the Summer Reading Workshop was Losers in Space. Earthseed I found while looking for upcoming Tor releases (this is a reissue with a MUCH better cover).


Losers In Space is by John Barnes, was just published (2012) and concerns teens trying to up their virtual popularity so they stowaway on a shuttle to Mars. Then disaster happens.

Earthseed is by Pamela Sargent, was published in 1982, and concerns teens who have been raised by Ship. Ship's mission is to carry these fledgling humans to new worlds so that they may colonize and begin new human populations.


 What really drove me to dive into Losers was Susan (who is pretty kick ass-even if she starts off very fake) and the excellent story telling. Barnes sets this space travel story up really well, and the world building is excellent and totally believable. The book does not get too technical without relieving the reader of the feeling of constantly being forced to solve math problems by introducing "Notes for the Interested" (meaning they do not drive the plot, but if you are interested, you can learn more about the subject or why Barnes chose to include it). I read all of the notes for the interested even when they were a little over my head.
My only gripe, and this is very small, is the lack of emotion of the characters. Except for an early freak out, and a touch of homesickness later, the characters adapt to this scary situation really well. Who the heck would adapt to this situation so smoothly? No one!
I did appreciate the lack of romance as well-the story just did not need it. Barnes handled character relations in the same way he explained math formulas and I thought it worked. Of course, I adored Fwuffy. Fwuffy alone is worth reading this book. I shall say no more on the subject.
This is NOT the typical YA novel

Earthseed is a very valuable story that is, at its core, about the human condition. What is our purpose, and why are we the way we are?
A ship full of human kids has been sent into space to find a new planet to colonize and expand the human race. The kids have been raised by Ship (think Hal) and have spent years learning the skills they will need to start a new world. This first book covers the training exercise inside the Ship that is their final test before colonization. Things go wrong, very wrong, but the best part of this novel is that it is unpredictable. The real bad guy in this story emerges from the kids themselves. And that leads to the question of our nature as humans. Are humans still humans if they are not raised on Earth? Are they humans because they act human, even if that means having war-like tendencies?
I highly recommend this. The narrative is robotic and stilted in some sections, but that would be natural for a group of kids raised by a machine. The characters are very mature, and while there are hints of romance (or hook ups, rather) this is not your typical YA novel

The result:

This is a toughy, as I really enjoyed both of them. They are very different in many ways. I have to give Earthseed to some of my Hunger Games loving friends as it felt as if Collins was paying homage to Sargent, especially scenes in the Hollow-we could have been right back in the HG arena. 
Both books are for the crowd that likes to actually use their brains while they read, both pose the question about what it means to be human, and both have had the side effect of making me want to read more science fiction. 

The Winner (by a hair): Earthseed and really because there are two more books in the series and I know I can revisit these characters again. Both are great books, and paired together, they are a force that is futile to resist.

Monday, April 30, 2012

NetGalley April Wrap Up Post

I believe it is pretty safe to go ahead and do a wrap up post for the Netgalley April Read-a-thon hosted by 
Red House Books. You can read my original goals here. But, as a handy breakdown, see below:

Grave Mercy (LaFevers) *already started
Lets Pretend this Never Happened by Lawson
Tomorrow Land by Mancusi
Hanging By a Thread by Littlefield
Girl in the Clockwork Collar
Innocent Darkness (Lazear)
Touched by Cyn Balog

Okay, so I managed to read some Netgalley titles that I either picked
up after starting the challenge, or had on there before and did not list. 

Hanging By A Thread: loved it review here
Touched: loved this as well review here
A Daring Life: A Biography of Eudora Welty (to say I became obsessed with
  EW after that, you would be right) review here
Blackwood (this I didn't care for) review here

Overall, I read 11 books in April and 4 were Netgalley titles. For some reason, I can't get 
through Grave Mercy, I have not given up on Innocent Darkness, and because I am reading a bunch of 
tween titles and Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter in prep for the movie release, the rest will probably have to wait. Sigh. I hope for better numbers in October.