Book Wyrm


Ok, so the last time I updated my book list was in July... I've read a lot of books since then. I'm just way behind in updating. 

Geist (Book of the Order, #1)
Ballantine, Philippa

A protagonist in her 30’s? Who smokes? Awesome! Now if only she were more like-able. The support characters do a lot to make up for that fact though. I found myself frustrated that we didn’t get to spend more time and focus with them.

I also wanted to hear more about the setting. It’s is really fascinating, and in some ways reminded me of Sabriel I also want to know more about the Order of the Deacons.

Paladin of Souls (Chalion, #2)
Bujold, Lois McMaster

It has been a long time since I read The Curse of Chalion. So long, in fact, that it was before I was keeping track of the books I read. Luckily anything that you need is covered. I was pleased that the protagonist wasn’t a late teens/early 20’s girl, but was a mature woman. It’s a nice change, and Bujold does it well. I also appreciate how she writes the gods, and the wide variety of reactions of the characters to the gods.  

As with just about all of Bujold’s books, this one is well paced and plotted. While I still think I prefer the Vorkosigan Saga, there is no lack of enjoyment in her Chalion tales.

Behemoth (Leviathan, #2)
Westerfeld, Scott

I’m very much enjoying Westerfeld’s alternate Earth, and Cumming’s reading of it. Everything I liked about the first one applies here.

Time on Fire: My Comedy of Terrors
Handler, Evan *

Evan Handler is a leukemia survivor, but getting there is a journey that is raw, heart breaking, ridiculous, terrifying, and sometimes even funny. The love of his family and his girlfriend and his determination in the face of all the horrors that cancer brings make this an uncomfortable yet compelling read. Yet for all that it could be played up to sensationalize the story, it isn’t. It’s very honest, and that is more than enough to keep you reading.

The Gnomewrench in the Dwarfworks
O'Donohoe, Nick

I really wanted to like this one more. It’s a concept that has a lot of potential, but the author just couldn’t pull it off. The best I can say about it is that he doesn’t screw it up, but he doesn’t do anything good with it either.

The characters are a little flat, and the pacing just seemed off. The evil gnomes... well, they aren’t really like any gnomes I know, more like little demons, and I kept getting the wrong mental image.

Pump Six and Other Stories
Bacigalupi, Paolo

I think the short story is the author’s better medium. I enjoyed Pump Six way more than The Windup Girl, even with several of the stories taking place in the same world as his novel. This is a really strong collection, and as long as you don’t mind fairly depressing dystopian/post-appocolyptic stories, this is a great read. “The Fluted Girl” was I think my favorite of the tales, while "The People of Sand and Slag" is enough to make any animal lover disparage for the human race.

Classic Ghost Stories
By Charles Dickens, Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu, Guy de Maupassant, Bram Stoker, Rudyard Kipling, and F. Marion Crawford

The collection of stories and authors:

The Judge's House by Bram Stoker - When a young scholar seeks out an old house for some solitary studying, he soon finds himself dealing with a very frightening companion.

Dracula's Ghost by Bram Stoker - When an English traveler goes wandering during Walpurgisnacht, he soon learns that the dead can be all too lively.

To Be Taken with a Grain of Salt by Charles Dickens - A rather sensible Englishman finds himself being haunted by the ghost of a murdered man, and when he is selected to be on a jury, he soon finds out what the ghost wants.

The Upper Berth by F. Marion Crawford - A man crossing the Atlantic is told that his cabin is haunted, and he decides to get to the bottom of what is going on, no matter the cost...and it will cost dearly.

Who Knows? By Guy de Maupassant - A man afraid of the world seeks refuge in his house, but learns that the outside world can reach in after him.

Narrative of the Ghost of a Hand by Joseph Thomas Sheridan Le Fanu - A story of a house that is being haunted by the ghost of a disembodied hand.

The Furnished Room by O. Henry - When a young man comes looking for a furnished room, it soon becomes apparent that he is not so much looking for a room as he is looking for a certain young lady. He takes the room, and in a mysterious way he finds the young lady.

The Open Window by Saki - The story of a man with shattered nerves and a widow waiting for her husband's return...and a girl with a lively sense of humor!

My Own True Ghost Story by Rudyard Kipling - A night spent in an old, converted billiards room is interrupted when the dead come back for one more game.

Called by F.C. Wren - A man in the Foreign Service in Siam is a hard man indeed, but when he grows tired of his wife, he soon learns that a wife's anger can last a long, long time.

When I Was Dead by Vincent O'Sullivan - What a surprise it is for Alistair when he suddenly turns up dead!

Of them I I really enjoyed To Be Taken with a Grain of Salt, The Furnished Room, The Open Window, and Called, the others I found to suffer from a classic ghost story blunder: stupid protagonists. This is really driven home in The Judge's House by Bram Stoker, which had some really great elements, but just didn’t come together.

The Island of Dr. Moreau
Wells, H.G.

It’s odd listening to a story that I’ve never read, yet know already. It’s also a little odd how easily this story, written over a century ago remains timely. Swap “gene-therapy” or “DNA-splicing” with “vivisection” and the story could be set now, or in the very near future. I’m very glad I took the time for this one.

Aside from mispronouncing “puma” the reader does a good job, though the sound editor could have been better. The volume is a little up and down.

Great Classic Horror: Six Unabridged Stories

A Watcher by the Dead by Ambrose Bierce

The Body Snatchers by Robert Louis Stevenson

The Adventure of the German Student by Washington Irving

Dickon the Devil by J. Sheridan Le Fanu

The Fall of the House of Usher by Edgar Allan Poe

The Open Window by Saki

As with Classic Ghost Stories I found this collection to be a bit of a mixed bag, though on the whole I enjoyed this collection more than the other. I probably would have enjoyed it a little more had I been reading them next to a camp fire in the woods, rather than listening to them in the car on my commute home.

The Zombies of Lake Woebegotten
by Harrison Geillor, Scott Altman

If you’re a fan of Garrison Keillor’s Lake Wobegon and also of zombies, this is the book for you! While it certainly contains the usual brain eating zombies, head shots, and gratuitous violence and gore, there’s also plenty of kinky sex (mostly off-page) psychopathic serial killers, a viking, a bear, a bible thumping (emphasis on the thumping) priest, an ex-Israeli commando, and a conspiracy theorist survival nut, not to mention the usual assortment of small town Minnesotan characters.

While generally not laugh-out-loud funny, it definitely had it’s moments. I especially enjoyed the meta-humor. Some of the characters seemed to realize that they’re actually more caricatures, and while recognizing that fact they remain well rounded characters.

Finishing it on Halloween was just icing on the cake.

Voice Post

97K 0:35
“So - I don't think life could get very much better at this exact moment.

It's Friday afternoon. My boss told me to go home early. The weather is cool, and it's <em>even</em> supposed to snow. I don't know about you, but things are looking up!

I'm heading off to the library first - to pick up an audio book that I requested - and then I'm heading home and I'm going to hang out with the girls.

I hope you all have a wonderful weekend, and I'll talk to you or write you soon! Bye!”

Transcribed by: sallythetimid
Book Wyrm

Book Quiz

stolen from tigergladys, who stole it from kiwiria.

1. Favourite childhood book? The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis

2. What are you reading right now? Pump Six, Classic Ghost Stories

3. What books do you have on request at the library? None at the moment.

4. Bad book habit? Reading them when I should be doing other things

5. What do you currently have checked out at the library? 3 audio books - Classic Ghost Stories, Great Classic Horror, Dauntless: Lost Fleet #1

6. Do you have an e-reader? I have shared custody of a Kindle 2.

7. Do you prefer to read one book at a time, or several at once? I usually have an audio book in the car, a book at work, and at least one book at home.

8. Have your reading habits changed since starting a blog? I don’t have a reading blog, but between LJ and Goodreads I keep better track of what I read.

9. Least favourite book you read this year (so far)? Gulliver’s Travels it has not aged well.

10. Favourite book you’ve read this year? The Golden Age of the Solar Clipper series (Quarter Share, Half Share, Full Share) I just can’t put them down once I start them.

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Well, hello there!

Wow it's been a while since I updated! as you can tell, I've kind of given up on the whole voice post thing. You didn't care for them. I can tell because no one bothered to transcribe any... There weren't even any auto-transcribed ones after a while. Plus I didn't much care for the format either.

So what have I been up to? Work, and the commute to and from work, suck up huge amounts of time. Working on school stuff is taking up a big part of it too. Various projects around the house are take up their share, as does spending time with tigergladys and the rodenthoarde. Somewhere in there I do a little writing, and even sleep a little too!

The house projects deserve their own post, but in short we've recently:
Replaced the ceiling fan in the bedroom - electrician
Semi-de-clogged the main sewer line - plumber
Serviced the water heater - plumber
Fixed the dryer - ME!!!!!
New toilet - plumber

Things that are in progress or need to be done:
Get the back door replaced (next week)
Scope the main sewer line to see how bad it is (hope to get a video to share) - plumber
Possibly replace the main sewer line ($,$$$) - plumber
Sand down and repaint the window and door frame in the bathroom - Me!!!
Replace the shower fixtures (next week) - plumber

The dryer was an experience. The main belt broke, and finding a replacement required going all the way to White Marsh (30 minutes both ways) because none of the local parts places (5+ w/in 10 minutes) carries parts for Kenmore. Stupid Sears proprietary parts... It's a big rubber band!

Anyway, once I got the part I had to disassemble practically the entire dryer in order to install the belt! They did not make it easy... My guess is they really don't want you doing it yourself. But, it's fixed, and aside from the time it took, it only cost $20, about a gallon of gas, and several hours of work.
Book Wyrm

Books 20-27

by Garth Nix

The cover of this book was what initially caught my attention when Virginia picked it up from the library. I’d never heard of it before, and the description on the back seemed interesting. Unfortunately I stuck it in the mental pile of Things That Would Be Cool To Read If I Had More Time, and moved on. Virginia finished it, and loved it, and then told me there was an audio version! At the library we discover that it’s read by none other than Tim Curry!

In some ways this is a fairly typical YA fantasy novel. Young heroine forced to take on a burden before she’s really quite ready, and face down the big bad guy. Along the way she picks up the obligatory side-kick and friend, neither of whom are what they appear to be.

Where Sabriel takes things in a new direction is the setting. The introduction of which is surprisingly slow, however the fact that it is slow allows the reader to really discover it, rather than just having it handed to you in one big lump.

Sabriel is a holy necromancer, tasked to aid the dead through the transition from life to death. It turns out that dying isn’t as easy as you might have thought. There are 7 gates a soul has to travel through, otherwise it may return to cause mischief! Just such an undead thing has dragged Sabriel’s father into the realm of death, forcing Sabriel to take her fathers tools and quest to rescue him from the BBEG.

Tim Curry did a wonderful job bringing this book to life, and I’m really looking forward to listening to the second book in the series!

Summon the Thunder (Star Trek: Vanguard #2)
by Dayton Ward

Sadly not as good as the first book in the series. It felt like there was just a little too much crammed in that just didn’t work. Forced humor, twists to the story line that kinda killed some of the tension...

Leviathan (Leviathan #1)
by Scott Westerfeld, Alan Cumming (Narrator)

This was a wonderful book to listen to on the way to and from the beach. It’s an alternate history of the early days of World War I where the Allies have developed biotechnology and use created beasties in place of machines and the Central Powers use mechs. The story focuses on a young girl who is pretending to be a boy to enlist in the British Empire’s air force - a force made up of giant floating jellyfish and whales, and a young man who is the heir of the crown of Austria-Hungary who’s grandfather (the current emperor) is trying to kill.

This really had the potential to be really bad, but between Westerfield’s writing and Cumming’s reading it became a wonderful and somewhat silly book.

Fragile Things
By Neil Gaiman

Neil Gaiman is an amazing storyteller, and this collection of short stories highlights some of his most interesting work. Unfortunately it wasn’t all his strongest. Like most collections of short works it had its good and its bad. I’d hoped for less bad from Gaiman.

The Good
The poem “The Day the Saucers Came” seems to have become an instant classic, and for good reason.
Sunbird was a really interesting phoenix story.
A Study in Emerald was my personal favorite of the whole volume. It was a great start to the book...
Pages from a Journal Found in a Shoebox Left in a Greyhound Bus Somewhere Between Tulsa, Oklahoma and Louisville, Kentucky was interesting and I think hit the mark just right.
The Problem of Susan was wonderfully meta!

The So-So
Monarch of the Glens was good, but long. I know that Gaiman sometimes takes a while to get where he’s going, but it just didn’t do it for me, at least not as part of this collection, and not as the last story in the book!
How to Talk to Girls at Parties was cute, and I liked the idea... but it just didn’t work for me.

The Bad
Fifteen Painted Cards from a Vampire Tarot
October in the Chair
The poems

I think the biggest issue with this collection is that is isn’t coherent. It never comes together, which is a shame. Another reviewer described it as a mix tape rather than an album, and I think that is a perfect analogy.

Go the Fuck to Sleep
by Adam Mansbach, Ricardo Cortés (Illustrator), Samuel L Jackson (Narator)

Seriously, you don't need kids to appreciate it. Puppies work just fine.

Cugel's Saga
By Jack Vance

The third book of the Dying Earth saga continues to follow Cugel as he once again has to make his way back to revenge himself against the Laughing Magician. He is an interesting contrast in character traits, often conflicting, even contradictory! Yet he can fairly easily be defined by his two main traits: he is selfishly lazy and highly goal motivated. This leads him to engage in some really vile acts, yet his acts seem only to highlight the corruption and absurdity of the world he inhabits. His fortune is constantly on the rise or decline, and it’s usually doing the opposite of what he thinks it’s doing.

There is something endearing about Cugel, which made reading about him a very pleasant experience. This time I listened to the book, and I really enjoyed the reader Arthur Morey. He did an excellent bringing the Dying Earth to life.

Quarter Share
by Nathan Lowell

18 year old Ishmael Horatio Wang’s mother, a professor on a corporate world, is killed in an accident. Ishmael is given 90 days to find employment or get off-world, and the corporation isn’t hiring. With no interest in joining the military, he signs on to a merchant ship. This is how quarter share begins. Over the next 200 pages we learn with Ishmael what it means to be a member of the crew of a merchant ship plying the space lanes.

Aside from some really fascinating world building there isn’t a whole lot that actually happens in this book. It’s the story of an above average, but not really exceptional, kid becoming an adult.

There was a notable lack of conflict in the story. No jealous crew mates, no real personality conflicts, nobody even really having a bad day and snapping at anyone else. I think the story could have used a little more, as sticking enough people together for long periods of time in a contained environment is bound to cause some issues.

Also, were they slipping something into the coffee to keep everyone’s libido in check? I get that there was a rule in place that forbid fraternization, but as with the near total lack of conflict, the lack of sex seemed... artificial.

In spite of these flaws, I found the book to be very engrossing. The world building is really quite fantastic, and I’m looking forward to reading Half Share. If I could I would rate the book as 3.5 stars due to the flaws, but 3 seems too low considering how much I enjoyed it.

Star Trek: Vanguard: Harbinger
by David Mack

This is the first book in the Vanguard series. Set in the early days of the original series at the very beginning of Kirk’s command of the USS Enterprise this series focuses on Vanguard, a huge space station perched at the very edge of Federation territory in an area of space known as the Taurus Reach, located between the Klingon Empire and the Tholian Assembly.

As a means of introducing Vanguard and it’s crew to readers they bring the Enterprise limping into base after the events of the episode “Where No One Has Gone Before”. In spite of the fact that this was written well before the re-imagining of Star Trek by J.J. Abrams, the portrayal of Captain Kirk as a skirt-chasing hothead seems to fit very well with Chris Pine’s Kirk.

There are certain parallels between Vanguard and DS9, including the fact that it’s a big space station at the Federation’s edge, with a diverse cast of characters that is introduced by bringing the flagship there and having the crews mingle. On the other hand, in some ways it’s even darker than DS9, while at the same time retaining a bit of that... something special that made a campy tv show from 4 decades ago still a driving force in the cultural and media landscape.

Only 1 classic this batch, bringing my total to 10/27.