Tuesday, August 30, 2016

"The End of the World Running Club" by Adrian J. Walker

I bought this book in 2014 prior to it being picked up by a traditional publisher- I'm not sure that much has changed about it, but keep in mind that my edition may differ from the one that's being sold currently.

This one had me at its title- I liked the idea of a slightly irreverent take on the post apocalyptic genre, so I picked it up. Despite it having a different cover now, I really like the old one (as pictured to the left)- it tells more about the book than you'd think, and it's eye-catching.

Although this book is on the longer side, it didn't take very long to read due to great pacing on the author's part. It was difficult to put down because I kept wondering about what might happen next to the main character, Edgar, and his family members and friends. In a way this becomes semi military dystopian after the first quarter of the book, but then it bounces back to grim moments of seeing the end of the world, offset by dark humor.

The Plot (As Seen on Goodreads):
'Edgar Hill is 35 and caught in his own headlock. Overweight slob, under-performing husband and reluctant father – for Ed, the world may as well have already ended.
'So when it does end in a catastrophic asteroid strike and Edgar and his family find refuge in an Edinburgh army barracks, it comes as something of a relief. His world becomes simpler, life becomes easier, things might just be looking up.
'But nothing's ever that simple. Returning from a salvage run in the city, Edgar finds his family gone, taken to the south coast for evacuation by an international task force.  Suddenly he finds himself facing a gruelling journey on foot across a devastated United Kingdom. Accompanied by a group of misfits that include a large, hairy tattoo artist and an old man who claims to have run around Australia, Edgar must race against time and overcome his own short-comings, not to mention 100 mile canyons and a very strange council estate, to find the people he loves before he loses them forever.
'A vivid, gripping story of hope, long-distance running and how we break the limits of our own endurance.'

Despite not being very keen on Edgar at first, he grew on me- he's so human at times that it hurts. His wife and children aren't given as deep of characterization, but the friends he meets along the way are. Another reader mentioned being upset with a certain twist of fate for one of my favorite characters in this book, but I let it slide given that strange things do sometimes happen to those who should be better prepared. I was more impressed with some of the side characters than I was with Edgar at points, but their stories aren't fully realized in this tale. I was slightly disappointed by that.

I can see that this book might appeal more to those who are runners than your average human being, but the character of Edgar might also grate on runner's nerves (as he did on mine). At the start of the book, he whines, and by the end (not a spoiler) he learns to whine slightly less. His whining does provide some entertainment value to this book, but at the same time, when he goes from super whiner to less of a super whiner who suddenly has these philosophical insights that you know are beyond him in the course of the book, I found myself with the abrupt urge to whine about it.

The End of the World Running Club is a fun post-apocalyptic romp that tries a bit too hard to convince you it's serious (and/or higher brow literary fiction) by the end. This change in tone gave me a bit of a headache because while I do think funny books can delve deep, I didn't find much of anything enlightening about Ed's journey... but keep in mind at the moment I'm having difficulty just walking, so I may consider my own problems a lot bigger than his. If you like books that can be funny and grim in the same moment, but may come with the detriment of a whiny character, you might want to try this for your next read.

Rating: 3 of 5 Stars for a good post apocalyptic journey that went a bit too far.

Age Advisory: Ages 16+ for violence, gore, and swearing. Warning- may cause whining.

Page Count: 422 pages

Sunday, August 28, 2016

SFF: The 5 Authors You Wouldn't Mind Having as Your Teacher

Sunday Fun Five #61:

#50: The 5 Résumé-Worthy Talents of the Average Book Blogger

A Countdown of

The 5 Authors You Wouldn't Mind Having as Your Teacher

5. Dean Koontz, author of the Odd Thomas series
Dean Koontz is an incredibly prolific author- we need to tap that energy to see if writing quickly is a teachable skill.

4. Alice Hoffman, author of The Dovekeepers and Second Nature
Something about Alice Hoffman's prose just strikes me every time I read it. I'd choose her for a teacher because she has a distinct style, and likely could help me nurture my own.

3. J.K. Rowling, author of the Harry Potter series
Maybe it's just because she wrote about a magical school (with quite a variety of teachers) but I don't think J.K. Rowling would be hard to learn from.

2. Robin McKinley, author of The Hero and the Crown and Sunshine
Robin McKinley's worldbuilding fascinates me, as she manages to create new animals and plants in her Damar books, and not leave the books feeling clunky for it. I think she would make an excellent teacher for how to manage fantasy worldbuilding.

1. Stieg Larsson, author of the Millenium series
I promised myself I wouldn't put any deceased authors on this list, but when it comes to Stieg Larsson I can't help myself- I usually hate thrillers, but I ended up loving his Millenium series. If he could teach me to write an unputdownable book, I'm sure I could revive him.

Which authors would you like to learn from? Who was/is your favorite real life teacher?

Saturday, August 27, 2016

"Fifth Quarter (Quarters #2)" by Tanya Huff

Though this is the second in the Quarters series, you really don't need to read Sing the Four Quarters to read this book- the magic system is the same, but that's about it. However, I really liked Sing the Four Quarters (and it was funnier), so don't skip it unless you hate books about magic users.

I don't find myself drawn to books about assassins, but I'd never stray from the subject either- as long as it has an interesting plotline to pair with it. Vree and Bannon are a sister and brother who were trained as an assassin team, but end up in trouble when their target body-swaps with Bannon (for lack of a better term), prior to their target drinking some poison. Vree comes to the rescue and Bannon's spirit jumps into her body. Two souls, two differing personalities, in one female body. It leads to some fascinating situations, as you might guess.

My interest in this story grew from the fact that Vree was attracted to her brother Bannon sexually from the start. The author seems to have no qualms with making her characters sometimes unusually sexual beings, given most of her characters would qualify as either bisexual or pansexual (there were no apparent transgender people in this book, so I have no idea on the classification as of yet). However, let me say that the sexual parts of this book often have little to do with romance and more to do with lust- sex is basically given the same attention as what a character might eat or drink in a "normal" book.

The Plot (As Seen on Goodreads):
'Bannon and Vree, brother and sister, they are assassins of the highest caliber who have long plied their trade for the Havalkeen army. But all their skill and experience cannot save them from a magic-sprung trap that will see the two forced to share one body when the very man they've been sent to assassinate steals Bannon's body for himself. How long brother and sister can coexist in one body neither can guess. And so they set out to catch and defeat this foe who has already bested them once.
'But when Bannon and Vree confront this master of a magic beyond their comprehension, he offers them a terrible choice - to continue their new dual existence forever, or to betray the Empire they have served all their lives. For it is not control of Bannon's body which is Gyhard's true goal but rather the body - and with it the identity and power - of the Imperial Prince!'

Vree and Bannon are a very close knit pair of siblings- however, there are some dysfunctional aspects to that as well. Vree basically has functioned as Bannon's mother, even though she's just a year older than him. I understand that some elder sibling/younger sibling relationships might function like that, but again, Vree is attracted to her younger brother- it wasn't quite as creepy as you might think, but it did leave this reader with some brain struggles as to why I loved Vree's character so much.

Add in Gyhard, the villain in this book, and there are lots of unusual conversations going on that speed up the plot dramatically. Though there is some action in this book, much of it is conniving or manipulation between Gyhard and the assassin siblings. Vree begins to have a downward spiral near the end of the book, but there are some surprising developments that bring that about. Although I love Vree, I'm not sure that I would want to share a body with either of my brothers' spirits- I guess I'm greedy like that.

Fifth Quarter is a gripping fantasy read that ponders relationships between siblings even as a race to a possibly life-saving solutions occurs. Due to its unusual aspects, I wasn't tempted to compare this with any fantasy book I've read previously, which may have boosted the rating- but then again, Vree's character had me reading with a raised brow from the beginning. If you enjoy fantasy that pushes boundaries, but somehow maintains that classic fantasy feel, the Fifth Quarter might be a good read for you.

Rating: 4 of 5 Stars for an unusual fantasy that had me reading with raised brows.

Age Advisory: Ages 18+ for incestuous thoughts, sexual content, the walking dead, violence, and a whole spectrum of brother/sister boundary-defying stunts.

Page Count: 416 pages

Thursday, August 25, 2016

"A Fall of Moondust" by Arthur C. Clarke

Sci-Fi Summer Reading Challenge Pick

This book pre-dates Apollo 11, but it speculates as to what problems humans might encounter if we colonized the moon and made it into a semi-attractive tourist destination (imagine that). I think the most interesting aspects of the book are the hypotheses as to what the surface of the moon would be like. In this book's case, Mr. Clarke makes the surface covered with moondust, a mercury like substance that causes many, many issues for the people on board the tourist cruiser Selene.

The basic plot is that this tourist cruiser encounters an issue while touring a scenic area, resulting in them being buried in moondust. Because the cruiser can't communicate (it's covered in dust), and there is no way to exit the cruiser without the bus being flooded with moondust, the people inside are pretty helpless. Their only chance at survival is finding a way to communicate with the outside world, or have someone stumble upon them (which is fairly hard to imagine, given the moondust leveled out above them). Their captain conspires to keep everyone calm by spewing niceties like, "Help is on the way," (not a direct quote, but the general sentiment) when he really would rather have a mental breakdown without everyone else freaking out as well.

The Plot (As Seen on Goodreads):
'Time is running out for the passengers and crew of the tourist cruiser Selene, incarcerated in a sea of choking lunar dust. On the surface, her rescuers find their resources stretched to the limit by the mercilessly unpredictable conditions of a totally alien environment.'

If I cared much for the characters, this book might've been a more interesting read for me. As it is, though I read this book fairly recently, I can't recall any of the character's names. I was upset at some of the portrayals of characters (like a troublesome unwed spinster, and a doctor who was basically the token person of color for the book), because they were fairly flat and hadn't aged well. I think Mr. Clarke meant well by adding an Aboriginal Australian doctor and going off on a tangent midway through the book about how poorly they had been treated by the white settlers, but honestly, it felt forced, not like it was meant to be part of the book.

Lastly, I have something good to report- the author's writing is beautiful. There were many times I was tempted to highlight an entire page of my Kindle (3+ paragraphs) because Mr. Clarke simply has a gift with words, and his musings about space and life in general just jump out of the page, and fit in well with the book.

            My favorite quote:
Ever and again one seemed to glimpse strange shapes moving at the edge of vision, beyond the narrow range of the lights. It was pure imagination, of course; nothing moved in all this land except the shadows of the sun and earth. There could be no ghosts upon a world that had never known life.
           ~A Fall of Moondust by Arthur C. Clarke, somewhere in Chapter 3 Kindle edition.

A Fall of Moondust is a space disaster fiction that reminds you of the plight of the Titanic, but on a smaller scale. The writing was eloquent, but in contrast, the characters failed to rise to the occasion. If I had cared a mite about what happened to the characters, this book would've been absolutely gripping, but I ended up reading this more as a puzzle-solving venture, as I was uninterested in the plight of the characters. I recommend A Fall of Moondust to those who love technical elements of sci-fi, even if the characters don't necessarily interest them.

Rating: 3 of 5 Stars for a solid vintage sci-fi with characters that simply were.

Age Advisory: Ages 14+ for mild swearing and horror-esque themes, in addition to out of date stereotypes (there were robo-secretaries that were always female, among other eyeroll worthy moments).

Page Count: 224 pages

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

"Mind of My Mind (Patternmaster #2)" by Octavia E. Butler

Sci-Fi Summer Reading Challenge Pick

Though this is part of the Patternmaster series, due to the way the series was written, each book can essentially be read as a standalone. However, I recommend reading Wild Seed first, as it lends greater depth to this story. There aren't spoilers in this review.

Mary, one of the children Doro selectively bred to have strange supernatural powers, has come of age in this volume of the series, bringing about a time of change for these super-humans. Though Anyanwu was a strong heroine, she had preconceptions about how things should be that were a bit old fashioned- Mary has a new kind of thinking that is potentially dangerous to the way of life Doro has instilled in all of them.

Instead of the few characters that Wild Seed featured, Mind of My Mind has a fairly large cast. Each of these many characters are given unique attributes that make them essential to the plot- even creating the plot themselves at points. Though Doro looms large, Mary becomes a dynamic force in her own right: manipulating other people to accept her new ways (some of which she can't control). I love the version of the cover I chose for my review because of the way it portrays Mary- she looks apathetic, but inside the storm of her power rages.

The Plot (As Seen on Goodreads):
'For 4,000 years, an immortal has spread the seeds of a master race, using the downtrodden as his private breeding stock. But now a young ghetto telepath has found a way to awaken--and rule--her superhuman kind, igniting a psychic battle as she challenges her creator for her right to free her people.'

Though the way the summary and I describe the book may give the impression that this book is plot-heavy, it really isn't. True, all of Miss Butler's books seem deceptively simple when you read them, and then grow more complex as you brood on their ideas, but there isn't a whole lot of action going on in this book- think of the action less as a battle and more as a game of chess. I think that's why it always takes me so long to review these books- I don't want to sound ignorant, but at the same time I can see subtext in this book that I'm likely not entirely aware of.

Because this is such a cerebral book (as I attempted to describe above), it also makes it difficult to fully review without resulting in spoiling parts of it. In Wild Seed, from the beginning it's clear that Doro manipulates things in ways that do not always result in good situations for the women and men at his command, and that also happens in this book. Part of why Mary grows to be so dynamic is the fact that she sees how poorly Doro treats his people at times, and she wants that to change.

Mind of My Mind is a supernatural war within. There are some action scenes, but most of this book consists of Doro and Mary playing games with each other that don't always result in violence. If you have difficulty concentrating, this is a book to skip until you have full brain capacity at your disposal- I picked up on a few of the breadcrumbs thrown my way, but I am still left pondering what this book might mean for the next book in the series. I recommend Mind of My Mind to those who enjoy science fiction that lingers with you after it's read.

Rating: 4 of 5 Stars for an excellent follow up to Wild Seed!

Content: Ages 18+ for adultery, domestic violence, a racial slur, sexual content, and a battle of the super humans.

Page Count: 224 pages

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Fortnightly Update #17: A Conversation and a Sci-fi Spree

In case you don't follow me on Twitter (where I randomly rant), I was interviewed by La La in the Library for her Saturday Evening Conversations post- it's full of interesting facts like how I've been writing a book for 12 years... and I just realized that I've been writing one book for over half my life. I'm fairly obsessive about writing.

Recent Acquisitions (or the Piling of the-Piles):

the-pile Additions:

None! (Though I have another Better World Books shipment en route- I need something to cheer me up).

the-invisible-pile Additions:


Currently Reading:

I've picked up several books (and even books with short stories), but this is the only one that's held my attention for more than a few pages. And the reason why it's held my attention? The heroine may be having incestuous thoughts about her brother, who is currently sharing her body due to magical meddling reasons. Hmm...

Magic Binds (Kate Daniels #9) by Ilona Andrews 
Expected publication: September 20th
This is much less controversial- Kate and Curran are simply the perfect couple. That's all I have to say about this one so far.

Finished These Books (My Sci-fi Spree):

Oryx and Crake (MaddAddam #1) by Margaret Atwood
I was a bit disappointed with this one, but given I had a depressed mood starting it and that it is a semi-depressing book, it wasn't the best book for me to read in the first place. It reminded me a lot of The Heart Goes Last. I think my favorite of Atwood's will always be Cat's Eye (which isn't sci-fi dystopic at all).

Though this one was cute, it didn't quite strike me as much as Carriger's previous series about Pru's parents, The Parasol Protectorate. I wish this one had more going for it other than being a light steampunk romp with a pinch of romance, but it doesn't.

Tuf Voyaging by George R.R. Martin
This was the most enjoyable book I've read in the past few weeks- it's set in space and it has plenty of cats, along with other mysterious critters. Tuf's wisecracks kept me smiling even though the past few weeks have been tough for me physically and mentally. It's also the only book I've fully reviewed thus far.

A Fall of Moondust by Arthur C. Clarke
Imagine this- you're vacationing on the moon when disaster hits, and your cruiser/tourist bus has been buried beneath the moondust (a mercury-like substance they theorized covered the moon prior to man setting foot on the surface). Though I found the premise intriguing, I didn't relate to the characters, and therefore, I didn't care much what happened, or how it happened. This is a good read, but would be more appreciated by people fascinated with the technical elements (even though I found many of those questionable as well, but again, this was published in 1961).

In the Blogosphere:

Val @ Innocent Smiley does a guest post at The Fox's Hideaway about Shattering Stigmas on mental illness and her Chinese heritage.

Kritika @ Snowflakes and Spider Silk is planning a new series of posts on Bookish Eats. Sounds yummy!

Erin @ The Paperback Stash reviews Alfred Hitchcock: A Brief Life by Peter Ackroyd. Her review intrigued me so much it went straight to my want-to-read list.

If you're in need of a smile, stop by Michelle @ True Book Addict's Cat Thursday - Olympics! post. George currently holds the best napping record in our house.

In My Life:

I'm still walking as though my legs will go out at any minute. Since I noticed my walking has steadily degraded, I saw my doctor, who sent me for an MRI of my brain. I learned I'll be likely waiting until October for a neurologist appointment, so I'm hoping they find something definitive on the MRI so I could possibly be helped now, instead of later. I went in for the MRI Thursday, but my doctor's office was closed on Friday, so I figured I would have to wait for the results. Then she called on Friday, leaving a vague message. We called her back, and of course she wasn't there.

I'm frustrated with my healthcare at this point, because I am now using a walker instead of a cane most of the day just for safety reasons. I usually exercise on our stationary bike, but though I used to be able to have it on the third resistance level and pedal 5 miles, I'm now using no resistance and I can barely pedal one mile. As a person who previously enjoyed being outside and going for walks, these symptoms have not been easy to deal with. It's been at least 27 days since I last walked semi-normally, and I feel like I've been living out a bad dream ever since then.

Is anyone else on a specific genre-reading spree? Which hobby have you persevered with the longest (I'm fairly sure mine is writing)?

Friday, August 19, 2016

Tsuki Appreciation Day

On this day 8 years ago, I adopted a shih-tzu mix named Tsuki from a poor excuse of an animal shelter in Montana. At the time, I was 16 years old, but I wanted a lap dog that would function as a standalone bed warmer, as my room in MT was poorly insulated. When I saw Tsuki stuffed into a 5X5ft cage with five other more rambunctious dogs, it was clear he needed a better place to live. The tag described him as "Zuki, Shih-tzu cross, 7-10 years old". Once I paid his adoption fee and brought him outside, he jumped into our van. Clearly he didn't want to be brought back.

A while later we took him to the veterinarian to get him a check-up, learning at that time that the dog I'd adopted was Tsuki, not Zuki, and 15 years old, not 10 years old. He also was underweight to the point the vet had began to chew me out, not understanding the situation until I said I'd adopted him from a notable, "no-kill" shelter in our city. If Tsuki hadn't been adopted within the month, he would've died of neglect- his ears were dirty to the brink of infection, and his teeth needed cleaned, despite the fact the people at the shelter told me he had had his teeth cleaned already.

Tsuki settled quite easily into our household, despite the fact that we already had a dog (Jewels, my first baby) and a cat (Tiger, my brother's cat, who didn't quite prepare me for the wrecking ball who is George). For the first week I "owned" him, he would not let me out of his sight, and didn't bark. One day, I carelessly left a room without giving him advance notice, and from then on, he barked whenever he felt like it (which wasn't frequently), and often for no reason at all. He had some separation anxiety, which led to a great escape from our dog run- he escaped, then leapt into a neighbor's car, who promptly brought him back to a shelter (but not the same one). Tsuki spent two nights of hard time, due to said shelter being closed the next day. His release fee cost us more than his adoption fee had in the first place.

Due to my vet's office having been involved in his care beforehand, I eventually learned why Tsuki ended up in the hellish "no kill" shelter to begin with- his owner died, leaving five shih-tzus behind. A groomer at the vet's office was taking care of them and almost found them a home, but then his owner's next of kin decided it would be a good idea to take them all to this "no kill" shelter. The groomer, was forced to pay $300 for two of the shih-tzus she felt were least likely to find a home, despite the fact that the shelter hadn't done any vet work for the dogs yet and they were elderly like Tsuki. There was also an explanation for Tsuki's odd tendency to jump in anyone's car- his former owner used to take all his shih-tzus for car rides for fun.

Tsuki and Torrie
Unfortunately, due to his age, Tsuki died almost three years after we adopted freed him. He was a month shy of 18 years old, and the oldest dog we've ever had. He outlived Jewels, my first dog, despite the fact that she was younger, and broke in a new young whippersnapper for us, Torrie. I will never regret adopting Tsuki, despite his short time with us- he was alternately the most loving and stubborn pet I have ever owned. He also had the semi-magical power of bringing smiles to people's faces- he was cute, but also kinda ugly (his front legs resembled seal flippers, and he had a benign chest tumor we referred to as his "airbag"), but despite having a darn cute Dorkie now, Tsuki was a dog who made people wave at him with a smile.

The purpose of Tsuki Appreciation Day is:

-To celebrate past pets in our lives.

-To celebrate elderly pets in our lives.

-To bring attention to the fact that senior dogs make great pets... and sadly, they seldom attract much attention in shelters.

-To inform the general public that even "no kill" shelters can be cruel to their animals- the only way to know shelters aren't cruel for sure is to investigate them thoroughly yourself before donating and/or adopting.

Which elderly and/or former pets made a lasting impression on you? Would you consider adopting a senior pet?

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

"Tuf Voyaging" by George R.R. Martin

Sci-Fi Summer Reading Challenge Pick

This isn't your average novel and not only because it isn't written by your average novelist- Tuf Voyaging is a series of long short stories involving the same character as the hero, told in sequential order. I'm usually not the first reader on board with seemingly endless space adventures (especially if they don't seem to have a point to them), but with Tuf's travels, there are some common themes that do give this book a sort of elegance as well as an amiable conclusion. Though these are short stories, there are recurring characters other than Tuf and his feline faculty, so there is more to this book than simple space exploration and aid to troubled planets.

If you don't like cats, most of the fun of this book will be lost on you. There are many references to the various and sometimes mysterious ways that cats influence our lives. I think many people who have experience with the feline species will know what I'm talking about- cats may be lazy, playful, friendly, or standoffish, but they also have a part of their personality that is distinctly "cat", and Mr. Martin does a great job of embellishing that trait in this adventure.

The Plot (As Seen on Goodreads):
'Now back in print after almost ten years, Tuf Voyaging is the story of quirky and endearing Haviland Tuf, an unlikely hero just trying to do right by the galaxy, one planet at a time.
'Haviland Tuf is an honest space-trader who likes cats. So how is it that, in competition with the worst villains the universe has to offer, he’s become the proud owner of a seedship, the last remnant of Earth’s legendary Ecological Engineering Corps? Never mind; just be thankful that the most powerful weapon in human space is in good hands—hands which now have the godlike ability to control the genetic material of thousands of outlandish creatures.
'Armed with this unique equipment, Tuf is set to tackle the problems that human settlers have created in colonizing far-flung worlds: hosts of hostile monsters, a population hooked on procreation, a dictator who unleashes plagues to get his own way . . . and in every case, the only thing that stands between the colonists and disaster is Tuf’s ingenuity—and his reputation as a man of integrity in a universe of rogues.'

I love that this novel brings the joy of the summer sci-fi movies into book form. Sure, there's not really any beautiful heroines or handsome heroes, but there is a lot of fun to be had in this book- something I wasn't quite expecting, given the author's penchant for darkness. You can find gray morality in this book, but you can also find subtle humor and dialogue that had me highlighting as if my fingers were dipped in yellow. The author's prose boasts the same witticisms that made Tyrion Lannister everyone's favorite Lannister- just directed more toward the niche audience of the cat lovers.

I have to admit one thing- Haviland Tuf is a great problem solver. Somehow, in this book, though, he seemed to be a bit too predictable with his problem solving, and I knew what changes he would bring about from the moment he's confronted with the problem. That's a good thing, because it shows Mr. Martin's characters do make a lot of sense in what actions they take, but it also means Tuf was a bit too transparent to the reader from the very beginning. Tuf is a vegetarian, a feline lover, and also incredibly logical- those traits factor into all his choices in the book. If I had been a bit more surprised by those choices, it would've been a better read for me.

A little political humor for your pre-election pleasure:
"The blame lies entirely with me, sir," Tuf said when it happened. "I failed to remember that you are by training a bureaucrat, and thus good for virtually nothing."
            ~Tuf Voyaging by George R.R. Martin, page 353 Kindle edition

Tuf Voyaging proves that every cat has a "touch of psi" (George was haunting me as I read it- likely he knew what I was reading). It deserves ludicrous amounts of praise from me, given it put a smile on my face and kept me reading even as I navigated a tough day of dealing with my various medical conundrums. At the same time, it was a tad too predictable, because Tuf was true to his character to the point of certain choices becoming inevitable. If you want a sci-fi without too much darkness and with plenty of cats, I recommend Tuf Voyaging for your reading consideration.

Rating: 4 of 5 Stars for an excellent sci-fi romp for the cat-savvy reader!

Age Advisory: Ages 16+ for lapses in freedoms, animal neglect/abuse, dangerous monsters who bring a touch of gore to this book, and even more dangerous sentient beings.

Page Count: 449 pages of feline fun

Sunday, August 14, 2016

SFF: The 5 Literary Characters Who Should Run For President

Sunday Fun Five #60:

#50: The 5 Résumé-Worthy Talents of the Average Book Blogger

A Countdown of

The 5 Literary Characters Who Should Run For President

5. Marvin the Paranoid Android of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
At least Marvin would be dependably honest with us, if not a doomsayer.

4. Tyrion Lannister of A Game of Thrones (A Song of Ice and Fire #1) by George R.R. Martin
More bookish than brawny, Tyrion could lend a certain amount of wit that's missing in the current gamut of American politics.

3. Simon Wolfgard of Written in Red (The Others #1) by Anne Bishop
Though he may not be the most peaceable man to hold the office, I think Simon would have things in order, as long as Meg Corbyn was left out of the opposing party's smear campaigns.

2. Kaladin of The Way of Kings (Stormlight Archive #1) by Brandon Sanderson
Kaladin led Bridge Four- is the United States of America really that much different?

1. Hermione Granger of the Harry Potter Series
Sure, she's a Brit, but she's also Muggle-born, the organizer of a charitable movement to free house-elves, and a brilliant witch to boot. We could use a little magic in the White House.

Which literary characters would you like to run for president? Which character would you vote for if they ran for presidency? 

I'm 110% on board with Hermione Granger 2016, by the way.

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Fortnightly Update #16: Let's Go Back to the Numb Arm Days

I'm not very happy these days. Book-wise, I'm stumbling- I can read some, but not as much as I'd like, mentally I'm unhappy due to my the present circumstances of my health and also an annoying relative who has been attempting to stalk my blog (unacceptably to me, as I've cut all ties), and physically, I cannot walk without a cane. Normally, I can walk- even at a fast pace (if I must), but sometime in the past few weeks I've become so disoriented that if I'm not holding onto something I walk like my knees can't hold me. I'll spare you the details in this introductory paragraph, but honestly I haven't felt this mentally, physically, and spiritually lousy in years. And to be this way at the height of the summer? It's a major disappointment, to put it lightly.

Recent Acquisitions (or the Piling of the-Piles):

the-pile Additions:


the-invisible-pile Additions:

Prudence (The Custard Protocol #1) by Gail Carriger
I was feeling so upset a few nights ago I sprung to buy this off Amazon to cheer me up. Who cares about those mounds of other books I have laying around? I need more happy books (always).


Magic Binds (Kate Daniels #9) by Ilona Andrews
Expected publication: September 20th 2016
As I mentioned in my month in review, I was very excited to get this one early. I've started reading it and it has perceptibly lightened my mood. So if you need cheering up and like snarky heroines, the Kate Daniels series is definitely one I'd recommend.

Currently Reading:

Oryx and Crake (MaddAddam #1) by Margaret Atwood
It's interesting, but it's also depressing. Therefore, I alternate between reading this and Magic Binds.

I'm reading Magic Binds and Oryx and Crake, but I've had to put aside a few of my physical copies. They don't seem to hold my attention as much as the (shiny) ebooks do. Perhaps I need a Smell the Paper Love September after all.

Finished These This Books:

Because Courtney Milan's writing is the historical romance equivalent of Lays potato chips (you can't just eat read one), I finished this one in about a night. It was good, but not my favorite of hers- I'm pretty picky when it comes to romance.

In the Blogosphere:

Two Takes on Dark Matter by Blake Crouch:
Kritika @ Snowflakes & Spider Silk (3 Stars)
Tammy @ Books, Bones, and Buffy (5 Stars)
I liked both of their reviews equally, though I don't think I'd go out and buy it this minute from either of their accounts (I rarely buy a new-to-me-author's book unless it's really cheap).

Stephanie Jane @ Literary Flits reviews The Midnight Palace by Carlos Ruiz Zafon. Because I'm a fan of The Shadow of the Wind, I'm definitely interested in reading more from this author.

Laura @ Blue Eye Books has a post on To Read Or Not To Read: Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by J.K. Rowling. Although I was pumped to hear a new Harry Potter story was coming out, I think I'll be waiting until it's an affordable price for me to add it to my collection, or skipping it altogether. I want to read it, but I like the place I was left at in the Deathly Hallows, as Laura mentions in her discussion.

Heather @ Based on a True Story reviews the entire Song Of The Lioness Series by Tamora Pierce. My childhood best friend was obsessed with the books, but I was too busy trying to puzzle through Robin McKinley's stuff at the time- I guess I'm glad I skipped it.

Book Depository News (for Art-Inclined Folk): #BDDesign Bookmark Competition- you can create a coloring bookmark and upload it to see if you can win a MacBook Air. Personally, I'm going to try and do it just for fun.

Things I'm Watching (Since My Mind Has Turned to Mush):

I'm not really a fan of many tv series, but the ones I find consistently above par are the ones on PBS (Masterpiece Classic, Masterpiece Mystery!, Finding Your Roots, Secrets of the Dead, Nova, Nature, Twice Born... I could go on forever). Because of that, I've been rewatching a series I skipped several episodes of in the past- Inspector Lewis. Though I've never had the pleasure of watching Inspector Morse (a tv series in his own right), I began watching Inspector Lewis during the sixth season and managed to be entertained despite my newbie status to the series- it's based mainly around the mysteries Inspector Lewis and now-Inspector Hathaway solve, but it also tells a lot about the characters. I rewatched every episode on my mom's streaming service, so I'm now ready for Season 8 which begins tonight. I love everything about the series- there's even a middle-aged love affair going on between Dr. Hobson (a coroner) and Lewis that has me cheering. If you like mysteries that aren't all blood and guts and sad things, Inspector Lewis is definitely a good series to watch.

Since I finished with the Inspector Lewis rewatchathon, I also started Poldark (which is a remake of an earlier series). I've only watched one episode but it definitely appeals to me. As long as you have good characters, a good soundtrack, and good scenery with an unpredictable plot in your tv show, I might watch it. I also have a thing against too much drama which has ruined some of my favorite American tv shows (Perception, Elementary, The Blacklist, and the like). There's a balance to drama I can appreciate, but cheap cliffhangers where you know the characters survive, but they appear to die on tv are just not my kind of program. However, I read books like that all the time. Go figure.

In My Life (Episode #5061 of Mystery Diagnosis, Litha Edition):

As I mentioned, walking is a bit of a chore. I get sympathetic looks from people in the grocery store now, which I could really do without. For the first time in recent memory, I'm having symptoms that look incredibly painful but that aren't. True, at night my spine and head ache a lot from the jostling they've received due to my ataxic-looking gait, but otherwise it's not physically painful. It's a hell of a lot more painful mentally, as I can't do the things I like (walk around the yard with the dogs at a reasonable speed, walk around the neighborhood if I want) and I'm only recently a 24 year old geriatric mimic. It seems like my knees are either bouncy, jerky, or not there at all when I need them. It's gotten to the point where I'm thinking of dragging my mom's walker out of the garage just so I can walk straight and not almost hit the ground every time I foolishly try to turn around. I think at this point only pride is preventing me- I much prefer my bamboo cane because at least it looks like my legs could possibly improve that way.

I revisited with my doctor's nurse, who told me my vitamin B12 levels are fine (she initially thought they weren't), and that on Monday a neurologist's office in my little city would call me to see if I can get an appointment. It's difficult for me to fathom what the future might hold because I don't yet know my diagnosis/treatment/everything else. The only thing I can control at this point is to resolve to keep on walking even though it's difficult, and ride my stationary exercise bike instead of doing the other chores I'm used to. I've had so many inexplicable medical conundrums happen to me at this point that I've learned it's useless to worry about something you can't do anything about. Whatever happens, happens for better or worse. And since I err on the side of worse, I'm teaching Torrie to fetch my cane for me. One can never have a dog with too many helpful pet tricks.

The Best Schipperke-Australian Kelpie in the Universe, Paws Down

Which tv shows/movies have you enjoyed recently? 

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Month in Review for July 2016: August, Be Nice!

The Life of a Mama Cow
Although I had a great day on my birthday, the rest of July was not as good. I went Montana for my grandma's 90th birthday, but I had to use a cane 100% of the time due to my knees being excessively wobbly and my balance being off (by a mile). Usually when I get new symptoms, I try to ignore them if at all possible, but between the weirdness that was my numb arm and my current geriatric walking style, I visited doctor's offices 4 times last month (plus one appointment on August 2nd). That translated into less time on the blog, less time looking at other people's posts, and less time reading. I'm hoping August will be different (hence the reprimand in this post's title), but I'm pretty sure my career as a test subject hasn't ended yet.

 Total Posts: 9
  Total Critiques: 2
    Sci-fi: 2
    Part of a Series: 1

Most Popular Posts of July:
The Best Books I've Read in 2016 (So Far)
Month in Review for June 2016: An Overdue Reflection
Fortnightly Update #14: More Books and an Oddball Birthday Cake
Wild Seed (Patternmaster #1) by Octavia E. Butler
"Restoree" by Anne McCaffrey

Flashback Post (From July of a Previous Year):
"Fevre Dream" by George R.R. Martin

Pageviews for the Month: 2800!
Comments: 24!

Reading Challenges Updates:

Travel the World in Books Challenge

Applicable Books:
Total for 2016 So Far: 10 of 15 Books, 6 of 5 Countries

Sci-Fi Summer Reading Challenge

The Rule of Luck: A Science Fiction Romance by Catherine Cerveny
Mind of My Mind (Patternmaster #2) by Octavia E. Butler
"Restoree" by Anne McCaffrey (reviewed on the blog)

Goal: 6+ science fiction books
Total Read So Far: 4 books

Reading Stats:

Books read this Month: 6

Book Stats:
Has a Diverse Main Character: 2
Doesn't Have a Diverse MC: 4
Female Main Character: 5
Male Main Character: 0
Pair and/or Group of Female/Male Main Characters: 1
 Sci-fi: 3
 Historical Romance: 3
Published in 2016: 3
Published in 2000-2015: 1
Published in 1970s: 1
Published in 1960s: 1
Self-Published, Small Press, or Other: 1
Traditionally Published: 5
Series Books: 5
Standalones: 1
Ebook Version: 6
Paper Version: 0
Favorite of the Month: Mind of My Mind (Patternmaster #2) by Octavia E. Butler (because the heroine rocks).
Least Favorite of the Month: The Rule of Luck: A Science Fiction Romance by Catherine Cerveny, because the characters annoyed me.
Most Interesting of the Month (or Book I Learned the Most From): I think this one also goes to Mind of My Mind- it's the only book that really made me think this month.
From the-pile: 0
From the-invisible-pile: 5
Recently acquired: 1
Added to the-invisible-pile: 2
Books bought: 14
Pages Read in 2016 Thus Far (according to Goodreads): 18,394 pages

5 Stars: 0
4-4.5 Stars: 1
3-3.5 Stars: 4
2-2.5 Stars: 1

Author Stats (1 = 1 book read by x author):
Male: 0
Female: 6
Male/Female Team: 0
Diverse: 2
Not-so-Diverse: 4
Living: 4
Deceased: 2

Planning to Read in August:

Magic Binds (Kate Daniels #9) by Ilona Andrews
Expected Publication: September 20th 2016
I was very surprised I got this on NetGalley after requesting, but I'm super excited as well. The Kate Daniels series is my favorite urban fantasy series ever- something about a snarky heroine with a sword just makes me cheer.

I've also been reading Oryx and Crake (MaddAddam #1) by Margaret Atwood for my Sci-fi Challenge (see above), since it's ebook version and ebooks have been easier for me to read lately (it's hard to tote around an armful of books and support yourself with a cane, or so I've learned).

Upcoming Posts:

I have a bunch of reviews in the works, but they'll only get done if I have good days with my brain (yesterday was National Miserable Fuzzy Brain day for me). Other than that, I'll have The 5 Literary Characters Who Should Run For President on for the Sunday Fun Five on August 14th (because literary characters should rule the world).

Happy Reading!

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