I think it's impossible to really understand somebody, what they want, what they believe, and not love them the way they love themselves.
-Orson Scott Card, Ender's Game

"Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away."
-Phillip K. Dick

Friday, December 20, 2013

Christmas Book-a-thon

It's been a very busy year for me.  The fall semester has been over for about a week already and I have yet to do much.  I think I just needed a breather.  This weekend I am doing a little reading catch up for the Christmas Book-a-thon going on this weekend.

Here's what I'm reading:

Fablehaven by Brandon Mull - Fantasy
I got this as a Christmas present from someone I am very close to.  It's one of her favorite series and she wanted me to give it a read, I'm already around 70% completed with it and I've only been reading it for about 2 days off and on. Read the majority of that today.  I will definitely finish this before the weekend.

Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins - Dystopian
I finally got myself this entire trilogy...Well I bought my dad The Hunger Games since I won myself a copy when I went to go see the movie.  I bought myself both Catching Fire and Mockingjay in Hardcover. I just saw Catching Fire on Thanksgiving weekend with a friend and thought it wasn't too bad.  Now I remember why I wanted to read this one.  I just started it so I'm not that far into it yet...maybe about 4% done. Not sure if I will finish it before the weekend is over or not but I definitely plan to finish it before the year is through.  I've been wanting to read it, and since I now have it in hardcover (I actually got it as a gift for myself for getting straight A's for another semester), I will be trying to finish it as soon as possible.

The Girl with the Dragon Tatoo by Stieg Larsson - Whodunit (Mystery)
I'm really not understanding all of the hype around this book. I was expecting something magnificent but I'm struggling just to get through it.  It's not the genre that bothers me, but the way in which it is written.  The story feels dry and flat and more needs to be happening.  The most exciting part of this book is....well I don't want to spoil it for you, but lets just say around the middle portion of the book. I'm about 43% of the way through with it, but I've been reading it for a few months off and on when I've had time.

Practical Magic by Alice Hoffman - Witches
I saw the movie for this quite some time ago and had been wanting to read this book ever since.  I started this in October but found myself tapped for time so I didn't get to finish it before Halloween.  It's very different from the movie, and I can't tell if that's a good thing or a bad thing.  Still, it's been sitting on my shelf since about the beginning of the year when I finally found a copy. I eventually aim to complete it.  I am about 42% done with this.  As you can see I jump around a lot and get halfway through books and then haven't really had the time to finish them. Let this be the weekend.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

2010: Odyssey Two by Arthur C Clarke

Genre: Sci-fi / Realistic Fiction / Space / Speculative Fiction

This is the second book in Arthur C. Clarke's Space Odyssey.  It takes off from the viewpoint of Dr. Floyd who goes into space with a crew to the Discovery to fix it, as well as HAL.  They come across the Zagadka, which seems to be some kind of alien or mechanical creature.  Bowman is a ghost like entity that helps them escape initial destruction of their own ship, the Leonov.

Goodreads Synopsis:
2001: A Space Odyssey shocked, amazed, and delighted millions in the late 1960s. An instant book and movie classic, its fame has grown over the years. Yet along with the almost universal acclaim, a host of questions has grown more insistent through the years, for example: who or what transformed Dave Bowman into the Star-Child? What alien purpose lay behind the monoliths on the Moon and out in space? What could drive HAL to kill the crew? Now all those questions and many more have been answered, in this stunning sequel to the international bestseller. Cosmic in sweep, eloquent in its depiction of Man's place in the Universe, and filled with the romance of space, this novel is a monumental achievement and a must-read for Arthur C. Clarke fans old and new.

Before I get into what I thought about this book, I'd like you to first read my review of 2001: A Space Odyssey.  Done with that? Alright, now you my continue.

I'm enrolled in Astronomy at my community college, which shall remain nameless.  My teacher constantly referenced this book throughout the semester, but I didn't actually land myself a copy until maybe 3 weeks ago? Something like that.  Well he shall be happy to know I have completed the read, and now he can be a little less disappointed in his class for not being "readers."  I'm definitely a reader, I just find myself with the lack of time to read due to my class focus. Anyhow on with the review!

After learning as much as I did this semester in my Astronomy class, I found myself never at a loss to understanding what was going on in this world that Arthur has written.  This world he has written is quite accurate, though of course with elements of fiction, for instance, Zagadka.  To understand this better you'll have to read the book.  Hopefully you have some idea about Astronomy that might help you comprehend how accurate he's truly written this novel. 

Though I didn't connect to any of his characters personally, I connected with the concept he laid out.  I was surprised that HAL was less predictable in this novel.  I find it amazing when writers can convince me I know something about a character or idea, then they totally change my mind by blowing me away with things that I could never have foretold.

At times I found myself lacking in intrigue.  That's not to say this novel wasn't written well, it could just have been a bad time for me to read certain parts of it.  My mind is quite scattered being a college student and all.

Sometimes I found myself laughing, though most of this novel seems to be quite serious.  Perhaps it's the context of which it's read.  Perhaps on sillier days it was funnier, or perhaps he had meant it to have humor to branch away from the seriousness at times.  Whatever the reason, humor is something I was glad this book had, in my experience of it.

All in all, I actually preferred this book to 2001: A Space Odyssey.  It was written well, and I applaud him for his ability to be accurate.  Yes of course I know he has passed away already, and for that I am saddened.  May he rest in peace.  He was a wonderful writer.

Shame on anyone who thinks evil of this.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Unknown Futures by Jessica E. Subject

Genre: Sci-fi / Adult / Lesbian / RomanceThis is a story about a woman named Jewel whose face becomes mangled by acid.  She feels like she's alone and lacking in beauty but decides to do a dating site type of thing and she gets hooked up with a lady from a secret space station for a one night stand.

Goodreads Synopsis:
Attacked as a young adult, Jewel is left scarred and alone. She applies to the 1 Night Stand service, believing no one can see past her appearance to love her. But she doesn’t expect to be sent to a space station where her date could be any number of unusual alien species.

Flavia left everything behind to be one of five humans working for the Space Service space station. Extremely homesick, she is excited to learn she will be a guide to a woman from Earth visiting the station for a couple days. She is immediately drawn to the petite woman, seeing past her scars to her true inner beauty, stirring unforeseen desires.

Unfortunately, Jewel is there for a date which Flavia hasn’t been told about. Can she contain her lust and simply show her a good time? Or will she let her desire lead them into an unknown future?

I finally got around to reading some Jessica E. Subject.  She's been following me on twitter for a while and we've communicated back and forth but I hadn't gotten around to reading any of her works.  College eats up most of my time, but she posted a free book dump on amazon and this was in it.  It's a short story but worth a quick read if you have a few moments of free time.

This was a good start of an awesome story. I know it's complete but I feel like I want to read more. I would have liked to have had a little bit more description on the tubes and other places around the space station, but I suppose it left it up to my imagination. Which, being a writer myself, made my mind explore the possibilities. It is a little predictable at times. I would have also have liked to see a little bit more character depth. Flavia just kind of falls in love with Jewel, but it seems like it's all lust, however, parts of it made me feel like there was more to it. I just would have liked that to be elaborated upon more. This needs an in-depth sequel.  I am making a demand lol.

Shame on anyone who thinks evil of this.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

American Literature II [1]

Let me start by saying I'm a little behind on posting on here due to the fact that I have various books I have to read in my American Literature II class.  There are so many that I've read, I'd prefer to just post the ones I like, and thus this is what will be posted here.  I will be reading more stories for my American Literature II class and if any are worth writing a review about, I will come back and post another massive dump.  For now though, I hope you enjoy this review dump.

A ROSE FOR EMILY by William Faulkner
Genre: Classic / Horror / Mystery
This is a story about a woman who doesn't pay her taxes and who buys arsenic, for a purpose which is left up to the reader to decide.

What I thought:
I was expecting this to be a terrible read, having not read any Faulkner and having heard terrible things.  However, this story quite blew me away.  For being a short story it flows well and is very developed.  My only dislike is the fact that we never know why Emily buys arsenic, it's up to the readers interpretation of this.

Rating: ****/5
WINTER DREAMS by F. Scott Fitzgerald
Genre: Classic / Romance
Not technically a romance, but I see it as such.  It's a story about a man who in his youth was a Caddy and later falls in love with a woman of whom he may never truly have.

What I thought:
I was quite bored at the beginning but this didn't last.  The story finally unfolds and by the end I felt myself feeling for the lead character Dexter.  I couldn't dislike it for the fact that it's a very painful thing, unrequited love.  It's one thing that can be most understood for certain people reading it.  I feel in a way that he was quite a strong character.

Rating: ****/5

WINESBURG, OHIO by Sherwood Anderson
Genre: Classic
This is a book with various stories that all intertwine to create a larger whole.  It's about people called grotesques, and the meaning of grotesques in this book is basically along the lines of larger truths.

What I thought:
Some of the stories were dull and not something I would ever want to reread.  Not one of the best novels I have ever read.  I enjoyed some of the stories, and found myself coming to new understandings that are personal only to me.  I feel that anyone who reads this might, through a character's story, come to a new understanding of their own life or the world around them.

Rating: ***/5

THE OPEN BOAT by Stephen Crane
Genre: Classic
This is a story about men surviving a ship wreck by the only means they simply know how.  It's a story of their desire to survive, and their struggle to obtain freedom from the vicious natures throes, the ocean. 

What I thought:
I was expecting for this short story to be quite dull and boring but it was actually kind of interesting.  It didn't take me too long to read and I found myself wondering what was happening in it.  By the end I felt that the men had been more loyal to their captain than to themselves, sacrificing their lives for their loyalty in a way.

Rating: ***/5

DAISY MILLER by Henry James
Genre: Classic / Romance
This is a story about a woman who wants to live by her own rules, and a man who chases after her with love enveloping his very soul.

What I thought:
This felt like a shorter read than it was.  I burned through the pages like fire to paper. I felt connected to the man who loves Daisy, Mr. Winterbourne.  At first I thought he was kind of a douche, for a lack of a better word, but in the end I found myself feeling for him and his situation.  I felt like this is the beginning of a longer novel and was quite disappointed it was left so short.

Rating: ****/5

Genre: Classic / Young Adult / Historical Fiction
This is the story of Huck Finn himself.  It tells of his drunken abusive father, and then leads us into his adventures after he escapes the coils of his father's shack.

What I thought:
This book started out as a 5 star review, but it slowly began to spiral down into a novel of lesser enjoyment.  I was expecting this to be one of the best novels I have ever read, but unfortunately, it wasn't.  I didn't find myself connecting to Huck himself, or the other characters really either.  By every chapter it was a new story, take from that what you will.  I felt like it was a bunch of stories that didn't really connect well to one another.  I'd have to say that I enjoyed the language and comprehension I got from this story more than from the story itself.

Rating: ***/5

Thursday, March 14, 2013

The Maltese Falcon by Dashiell Hammett

Genre: Mystery / Gumshoe / Detective / Noir / Classic

This is a story about a detective named Sam Spade who is seen as a possible suspect in the murder of his partner Miles Archer.  He soon finds himself chasing after a black statue called the Maltese Falcon, while at the same time trying to clear his name.

Goodreads Synopsis:
A treasure worth killing for. Sam Spade, a slightly shopworn private eye with his own solitary code of ethics. A perfumed grafter named Joel Cairo, a fat man name Gutman, and Brigid O'Shaughnessy, a beautiful and treacherous woman whose loyalties shift at the drop of a dime. These are the ingredients of Dashiell Hammett's coolly glittering gem of detective fiction, a novel that has haunted three generations of readers

What an amazing novel.  I expected to like this after having read Red Harvest and enjoying it mildly, but this was freaking awesome.  It was only my second Noir novel, and no disappointments here. I was definitely not expecting to enjoy this as much as I did. 

So why did I enjoy it so much?  Sam Spade is an excellent character based off of Dashiell himself, which probably is why it's so good because he knew enough about himself to write about his reactions. I found myself smiling, laughing, and contemplating as I read through this book, Spade capturing most of my intrigue.  He's the type of guy who lives by his own rules, and plays things quite by ear.  He seems to have a good understanding of the world around him and the events taking place before him. 

I couldn't for one second guess what was going to happen next. 

I haven't seen the movie for this, but I find myself wishing I could land myself a copy to watch after having read this.  I know it would pale in comparison to this novel, but that's besides the point. 

I absolutely loved the storyline.  It's basically a tale about a mysterious black falcon that various characters are after for the soul purpose of obtaining something worth a fortune of which nobody truly tells how much.  It was a story full of characters who were full of lies and deceit.

By the end of the book I found myself feeling like I understood Sam Spade down to his emotional bones.  This is by far one of my favorite books of all time.

It's been a while since I've come across any 5 star novels, and this one is by far one of the greatest I have ever read.

Shame on anyone who thinks evil of this.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Soul of the Fire by Terry Goodkind

Genre: Fantasy / Romance / Magic
Richard and Kahlan finally get what they both have wanted for the past few months.  The Sword of Truth is out of Richard's hands, but he discovers he doesn't need the magic of the sword to bring forth greatness, though he still doesn't seem to think he's great.  Lots of new characters, lots of twists, corruption and wickedness.  Another great story from the Good Kind of fantasy, Terry Goodkind.

Back Cover:
Richard Rahl has traveled far from his days as a simple forest guide.  Emperor of D'hara, war wizard, the Seeker of Truth--none of these roles mean as much to him as his newest.  For Richard Rahl is now husband to Kahlan Amnell.

But there wedding is the key that unlocks a faraway spell, and now a deadly power pours forth across the world.

Separated from the Sword of Truth, stripped of their magic, Richard and Kahlan must journey across the Midlands to confront a secret from their past, and a trap that could tear them apart.  For there's no place so dangerous as a world without magic...

Took me a couple of months to read this due to lack of time because of college, but around midway through I started to read a bit quicker, finding myself more intrigued by the storyline. By the end I was fully captivated.

This went from a 3 star book to a 4 star within the last 5ish chapters. I'm definitely desiring to read the next book.

Also, I'd like to say that I don't think Dalton a wicked character. I definitely felt myself feeling for his poor situation. He's a likeable character in my opinion.

Terry Goodkind can't disappoint. He feigns the ease of it, but by the end of his books I always find myself wanting to read the next one. This is by far my favorite fantasy series yet.

Shame on anyone who thinks evil of this.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Daisy Miller - Henry James

Genre: Classic

This is a story about a man who meets a woman and it's love at first sight.  He watches as she falls in love with someone else.  Or does she?

Goodreads Synopsis:
The plot centers around a Europeanized American man named Winterbourne, who meets a nouveau riche American woman going by the name Daisy Miller. A short novel, James wields the sword of fiction to craft a "study" of the roles of men and women, social relationships, cultural intersection, the allure of money, foolishness and wisdom, the responsibilities of parents, and the impact of one's life upon others.

This was an interesting read. I was in the process of reading it this weekend for my American Literature II class. It didn't feel as long as 164 pages, it felt quite short actually. I kept trying to make a connection to the characters thoughts in a psychoanalytic fashion. At the same time I could see the personalities of the characters for the most part. I found myself connecting to Winterbourne for some reason...Perhaps his infatuation for Miss Daisy. I feel like this story could have been elaborated upon, however, since it was so short, I have to say I was craving more. 

Shame on anyone who thinks evil of this.