Wednesday, October 29, 2014

104:120 Fellowship of the Ring by JRR Tolkien

A group of hobbits, a wizard, a rouge, an elf, a dwarf, and a human go walking into the woods....

Yeah, I know, you've heard this one before.  This is my third time reading this book since 2008 and at this point, with the movies having been out for so long and the new Hobbit trilogy currently going strong I really kind of figure that everyone knows the plot of these books and if they don't, it's because they really don't care in the slightest.  

Once again, I'm reading these for my 8th graders literature course and once again, they are managing to draw me with the language.  He is having a bit harder time with it but I'll bet anything that his interest will pick up more as we hit Two Towers and things really get moving.  That seems to the be way of it with the 13yr old boys of my house (and hey, I wasn't all that enamored of them when I was a teen either).  

Here's a previous review of them I did when I first reread this in 2008 with my oldest:

I last read these books back in 1991-1992, something like that.  I remember enjoying them but also being put-off by the intense descriptive scenes which didn't seem to move the plot along (please, no flames on this, I was like 16 at the time, teenagers are stupid).  I've moved them several times and always meant to give them another chance, especially after the movies, but there always seemed to be something new to read or worlds where I didn't remember being so bored so I kept putting it off. 

Until that is, I found the LOTR curriculum and went "Wow! This is way cool! I gotta do this with Christopher!"  And I'm of the mind that if my kids are reading something for school, well, since I'm their teacher I should read it too.  So we are reading it together.  I stay about a chapter ahead of him and then stop (which surprisingly is starting to annoy me LOL).   Now that I'm enjoying it with him and reading it with better appreciation for literature, I'm thoroughly enjoying it.  I can't add much to what has already been said about it by so many thousands of other people in the world except that if you tried it years ago and found it dry, try it again.  Don't give up on it.  It's truly worth the read.  And even better, read it with someone you love and enjoy discussing it together.  It just adds to the experience.

Honestly, this still holds true.  I'm glad I have an excuse to read them again every couple of years with a fresh pair of eyes to discuss them with.  It just adds something to the entire experience.

Page count: 527p/28,728p ytd/209,766p lifetime

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

103:120 To Be A Slave by Julius Lester

In this small book are tales of slavery told by the slaves themselves.  Tales of heartache and pain and subjugation that I never read in any of my history books.  Slavery is awful and that is something that I've always felt in my bones but reading what they went through, in their own words with just the narrative of Julius Lester to weave the tales together is gutwrenching.  Families broken apart we knew but infants torn from their mother's breast to later be drowned.  The absolute lack of any type of  compassion for another living thing, much less another human being.  How the horses were cared for better than the people.  To hear of the beatings in their own words.  Even after reading this I can't imagine how so many endured it for so long and my heart breaks for what they went through and for those around the world today that are still not free.  While this is written as a children's book, I do find the subject matter to be very heavy and am glad that our curriculum did not include this until high school but I definitely feel that it is a book that everyone should read to better understand the history of our nation from the side that wasn't in charge.

Page count: 160p/28,201p ytd/209,239p lifetime

Monday, October 27, 2014

102:120 Diamond Age by Neal Stephenson

It's somewhere in the 21st century and nations have broken down and enclaves of communities have become the thing.  There are those who group together by ethnicity but more often it's by values or other common belief structures.  So it is with the Victorian clave but one man in the higher ups, is recognizing that what they fought so hard for when they founded their clave is being lost on the children growing up in it.  So in a world of nanotechnology and ractives, he commissions a very special book for his granddaughter, a book like no other to create a story that forces her to think for herself.  What he didn't count on was another copy of the book being made and falling into the hands of a child in the Leased Territories (aka slums).  What that book became to Nell was more than Lord Finkle-McGraw could have ever expected.  It became her one companion and grew in her seeds far beyond imagining.

This was my first time reading Neal Stephenson even though he is an author that my husband truly enjoys but it took this book being picked for book club to actually get me to read him.  Overall, I really enjoyed the book.  I found it a fairly fast read although it took me a little bit to understand who all the characters where and how they intertwine (since they all do eventually intertwine).  I found the subversive underplots interesting but as so many before me have said, the ending was very abrupt and left me wholly unsatisfied.  I get that it's supposed to leave things to the imagination but there were just several questions that I felt needed at least a bit more resolution than the none that we got.  I've read reviews of his other books online and this seems to be a fairly common thing for him, at least in his first works and it honestly makes me hesitant to read more of his because it was very jarring to my system to be reading and fully immersed and then have ice water dumped on me to bring me back me to reality because it was over with no explanations.

Page count: 499p/28,041p ytd/209,079p lifetime

Friday, October 24, 2014

101:120 Peter and the Secret of Rundoon by Dave Barry & Ridley Peterson

The 3rd book in the Starcatchers series.  The reports of starstuff falls are no longer being reported to the Starcatchers and Lord Aster is heading to France to discuss the matter with the other Starcatchers.  Molly, curious as always, ends up sneaking away and doing some research to find out that the mysterious reports came from a Mr. Pan who disappeared 12 years ago, about the same time an infant named Peter was deposited at St. Norbert's as an orphan.  Through some further investigation with her friend George Darling at her side, they discover that Mr. Pan had an affinity for knowing when the starstuff would fall and that his son, and their friend, Peter may also have talents where starstuff is concerned.  After giving her father this information, it's decided that Peter must come back to London with them so they can protect him but when they get to Mollusk Island, they discover that they are already too late as the island is overrun with a vicious clan called the Scorpions and Peter and his friends were just captured by a strange ship which is now heading with super speed to Rundoon, the kingdom of King Zarboff the Third, which is where the boys had been headed in the first book of the series.

And that's just where things start.  Now Leonard, with Molly and George in tow, must figure out how to find and save Peter from the Others and not only Peter but the existence of the entire world may hang in the balance.

My younger boys are really enjoying this series and with over a hundred pages left in this one were begging me to finish it right then (sorry guys but mommy's voice can't do quite that much in one sitting) and it's easy to understand why as things start out a little slow but then everything is happening all at once and while we all know it will turn out alright in the end, you just have to  find out HOW and RIGHT NOW!  Definitely a fun series.

Page count: 482p/27,542p ytd/208,580p lifetime

Friday, October 10, 2014

100:120 Brave New World by Aldous Huxley

I read this one as my second ever read on my first kindle (first was 1984) and it was completely memorable.  Here is what I said back in 2009:

A very different look from what is offered in George Orwell's 1984 but with very much the same premise, just different ways the "government" went about achieving it.  I'm glad I read them in close proximity to each other so the comparisons were very vivid.  I think of the scenarios offered between the two books, this one is the more likely outcome and definitely something to be guarded against.  I definitely found myself routing for the savage and agreed with him that "civilization" was hardly something to be applauded.  I found the end somewhat unsatisfying but I think that fit well with the whole book and it's definitely one I'll remember for a long time to come.

I was right although there were definitely details that had gotten lost in the last 5 years so it was a pleasure to read again.  Unfortunately, it's very easy to see how this is even closer now than it was back then which is truly terrifying.

Page count: 196p/27,060p ytd/208,098p lifetime

Thursday, October 2, 2014

New Releases I'm looking Forward To: 4th Quarter 2014

My usual disclaimer:
Let me state, this is really based on authors or series that I'm already reading since those are the things I follow.  I'm not paid to write this blog nor do I have any affiliations with any publishers so I don't receive free books or advance notice of things except what I glean off Facebook from people who do have those contacts or what I research on my own (which again, leads back to authors that I'm already reading).  Maybe someday I'll be one of those who has the contacts and gets ARCs but it's not today.

I am so far behind my reading from last quarter that I'm going quite crazy looking at all these beautiful books on my bookshelf!  I really need to just hole myself up for a few weeks with them and tell the world to take care of itself so I can get caught up.  Unfortunately, the last time I tried that, the kids found me within 15min and ruined that plan.  I don't foresee it going any better any time soon so I will just have to try and figure something else out.

First up is Broken Soul by Faith Hunter, the newest book in the Jane Yellowrock series.  The European Delegation is coming and Leo knows that they want his territory so he is hiring Jane to deal with the security but there is more going on than she can guess and a vicious creature stalking the streets that she must also contend with.  This is such a great series and Jane is such a kick-ass character!

Release Date: October 7

Poison Fruit by Jacqueline Carey is the third book in the Agents of Hel series.  I wish I could say more about this book but I haven't even read the first book in the series yet.  I loved her Kushiel and Namaah series and have heard that this series is fantastic as well but I'm still trying to find time to work it in.

Release Date: October 7

Ilona Andrews has a new series starting up with Burn for Me. A detective is being sent on a suicide mission to bring in a top-level magic user but she is not the only one who is searching for him and the other person is just as dangerous but in a much different way...

Release Date: October 28

Otherworld Nights by Kelley Armstrong sees many of the more obscure and hard to find short stories gathered in one collection.  I know I likely have several of them but there were a few I wasn't able to get so I'm happy to have the chance to read them.  I miss this world and am always happy to have any chance to dip into it with something new.

Release Date: October 28

The Cassie Palmer series by Karen Chance is always fun and I'm happy to see that Reap the Wind is going to center more on Pritkin than Mircea and the relationship with his father as Cassie drags him along on a search through time to find his son's soul.

Release Date: November 4

Waistcoats and Weaponry by Gail Carriger is the third in her Finishing School steampunk series.  Unfortunately this is another series that I'm desperately trying to find time to read but haven't had a chance to yet.  Really want to get it read before she starts her new series next year.

Release Date: November 4

Gin thought that life would get easier after she killed Mab Monroe, but as she finds out in Black Widow by Jennifer Estep Mab's daughter is so much worse than her mother.  M.M. Monroe doesn't go for the direct attacks like Mab but is instead working to wrap Gin and her friends in a tangled web that will destroy all that she cares about.

Release Date: November 25

What was originally a duology by Mira Grant has become a trilogy and Symbiont is the second book.  The first one was incredible blend of possible science with a cautionary tale of what can happen when humans take things too far without fully understanding the consequences of their actions.  I can't wait to see what happens in this one now that the consequences are coming home to roost.

Release Date: November 25

The Dark Angels series by Keri Arthur concludes with Darkness Falls.  This series has been a bit slow going so I'm a bit pleased that hopefully with several things to tie up that this one will actually move a bit better.  Risa just needs to find the third and final key to the gates of Hell and keep Director Hunter from getting a hold of them and putting an end to life as we know it.

Release Date: December 2

Carrie Vaughn is finally doing a spin-off of her popular Kitty series with Low Midnight which follows Cormac on a quest to solve the mystery of a coded diary that could spell serious trouble for Kitty.  We will apparently learn more about Cormac's past which will be nice since he's always been the "mystery man" in the series.

Release Date: December 30

So yeah, 10 new books coming out for the 4th Quarter and I've still got 8 from last quarter still sitting in my to-read pile a few of those as well as a few of these have other books I need to read before them because I'm behind in the series (or just haven't even started it).  So yeah, needing a lot more reading time here!

Happy Reading!