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Friday Flashback: Just one more red light please… February 24, 2011

Posted by kmcalear in Friday Flashback.
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Friday Flashback from June 28, 2008

Most of us spend our time trying to avoid red lights. What is it about that bright red lamp that makes us get more impatient, more frustrated and start glancing at our watches and wondering if it’s taking too long? Maybe the light is broken? I’ve had this experience fairly often, but some of that comes from the fact that more often than not I’m running ten minutes late. I could give you a variety of excuses for why I’m running late, but usually it’s simply that I found something to play with, and lost track of time. Or… I just found the thing to play with more interesting, so I keep too /close/ track of time. You know the thought… oh, well… I’ve got 10 more minutes, really. It’s only a 30 minute drive. Hmmm, 5 more minutes reading won’t really be that big a deal. Technically it’s a 24 minute drive…  Oh. Well, it’s really not that big a deal if I’m five minutes late. I can read one more chapter!

Hah, you know the commentary. Or maybe you don’t! but as usual, I digress. I’m generally a polite person, except when books are involved. I’ve snuck a book in my purse to movie theatres, parties, dinners out, family holiday events, pool parties, amusement parks… etc. I can recall my Aunt telling me irritatedly, “Why did you bring a book to our lunch date!” And I responded, “Because it’s too good to put down, I figured I had some time while waiting for a table! (and in the bathroom at the restaurant! I snuck away to “powder my nose” and hid on one of those fancy couches women’s restrooms inevitably have. Who would have thought wearing make-up for the first time this last year had such a delightfully nerdy use!)

But I’m sure you’re still wondering about the red-lights comment? Yes… I take my books in the car sometimes when I’m forced to leave my house in the midst of literary ecstasy. This is the one and only time I choose the route with the most headlights, set the book on the dash and try to read when paused at lights. Is it effective? Alas, no. Is it wise? Nope. But I do generally get about a chapter read before I’m reluctantly forced onto the freeway where reading can no longer happen. I’m not /that/ crazy. I only read at red lights! Promise. The second of the Mistborn series is what held my attention this weekend. I finished five minutes ago, and not a minute too soon! I have to go to a party and I doubt they’d appreciate my reading while there. Of course, being fellow libro-philes and nerds, they’d probably understand.

~ Kristen

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Book review: Side Jobs by Jim Butcher February 23, 2011

Posted by kmcalear in Uncategorized.
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Genre: Urban Fantasy

Age: 16+

Content: Violence, sexual content, language

Overall: 5/5  stars

I eagerly awaited this installment of the Dresden Files, wanting to find out exactly what the aftermath of the cliffhanger ending of “Changes” was. The book didn’t disappoint. This isn’t a full Dresden novel, but rather a compilation of the various Dresden files short stories Jim has published, and the “Aftermath” novelette. I was delighted with the glimpses into the supporting characters the stories gave, as I found most of these tales filled in gaps, or fleshed out these supporting cast members. The stories are full of humor and Dresden wild adventure, and delightfully we get to hear stories from Thomas and Murphy’s points of view as well. What was done so masterfully in these tales was the changing of perspective with the different narrators. You can hear the difference between the “Harry” stories, the “Thomas” story and the “Murphy” story.  And somehow each of the tales is still compelling and captivating. In my opinion the most “you can’t miss it” story of the collection is the short called “The Warrior” which is a delightful look into what happened to Michael after his injury, but not only that, it’s moral is the best of the set. In a world full of danger and destruction as is the Dresdenverse, “The Warrior” reminds Harry of the value of small acts of kindness and the role of God in a chaotic world. Any fan of the Dresden files must read this book! It would be appropriate for newcomers to the series as well, although I don’t think they’ll get the full richness of the tales and I would suggest any Dresden NEWB re-read these tales after going through the regular series novels.

Book Review: Blue Bloods by Melissa de la Cruz February 9, 2011

Posted by Realitybypass in Book Review, Book Series, Urban Fantasy, Young Adult.
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Hey folks,

It’s book review day again.  I have quite a few books on my list of things to review, but this most recent read hopscotched to the front of the line.  Unfortunately it didn’t jump forward for all good reasons.

Blue Bloods is a YA book detailing the lives of a group of elite New York teenagers as they come into their own as vampires and look to solve the mystery of the death of a classmate at a local hot spot.  As a summary that doesn’t sound too bad and is part of why I picked the audio book up.  I drive about 45 minutes each direction to work and I’m finding that I lurve listening to audio books during the trip – which reminds me that I need another one for tomorrow now…hrm.

Anyway…I’m digressing, back to the book.  This book is a classic example of show versus tell done totally in the wrong way and drove me completely crazy.  I kept waiting for a real rise in the action and it was just reveal after reveal mostly in the form of someone telling someone else what was going on.  Our lead character Schyler never actually figures anything out by herself, she just has people tell her stuff.  AAAAAARRRRRGGGGGHHHH.

As well these pampered rich kids make me want to kick them.  this may come, I realize, from never having been one of the rich beautiful people in the way everyone in the book is.  I was never driven around in a Silver Rolls Royce or towncar.  I have never purchased $4000 jeans…that’s like THREE house payments!  So this world of a gazillion fashion terms, day spas and power yoga is just so foreign without help that adding an urban fantasy twist to it just made me frustrated.

The urban fantasy twist, by the way, is the best part of the book.  It’s a fairly unique take on the vampire mythos, painting them as fallen angels who live through a full life from baby to ancient and at the time of their death a drop of blood is gathered and put into the next incarnation.  During the ‘sunset years’ of teens the angels come vampires learn about their heritage and begin to unlock the memories of all of their past lives.  Much of this book ties back to Egypt and Plymouth rock and the settling of America.  It’s interesting and generally well done, except very brief because they have to get back to parties in expensive dresses!

The other problem that comes with this mythos is a fairly high ick factor as people born twins are often an incarnation that is to be mated with the other.  So you get a really heavy incest vibe even if it is explained away in that they have the memories of all these other lives and vampires can’t procreate by normal means, only the implant of the blood and such, but still…if incest bothers you you’ll want to steer clear.  As well though it’s listed as YA and has teen aged protagonists there’s a lot of accepted behaviors that may be of concern to parents, namely under aged drinking, smoking and sexual activities that are just accepted as being part and parcel of the life of the glamorous and vampiric.  For being beings searching for redemption they aren’t particularly angelic.

All in all I was disappointed in the book because I really wanted to like it.  There are some questions I’d like answered and I have some interest as to how the mythos plays out it’s not enough to get me over the relatively weak writing and the show versus tell issues, which keeps me from wanting to read the other books in the series.

~J

Genre: Urban Fantasy/Chick Lit

Age: 16+

Content: Violence, sexual content, teen smoking and drinking

Overall: 2/5  stars

Reading Versus Listening: Book Review: Sookie Stackhouse February 2, 2011

Posted by Realitybypass in Book Review, Book Series.
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I’ve heard a lot of really good things about the Sookie Stackhouse books by Charlaine Harris.  So as an enjoyer of Urban Fantasy I picked up the first book.  I settled in to read it and I just couldn’t finish it.  It seemed a little too silly and the relationships didn’t work in my brain.  I stopped about half way through.

Then I was at the library and going through the books on tape.  I saw Dead Until Dark and on a whim decided to give it another go.  Listening to it on tape the story drew me in and I finished the whole thing and was curious about the next one.

So I picked up the next one…in book form…and I COULDN’T read it.  So swapped for tape…and it works again.  I’m not sure what it is about that series.  I kinda find them popcorn books, so maybe it’s that level of a light book works better while I’m driving and listening than when I’m sitting and putting full attention on it.

I know this isn’t a real review of the content, but it’s a musing.  Do other people hit this?  Books which are better in an audio versus a visual format?

Jana