Twenty Books of Summer Challenge 2015

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So, I stumbled across this challenge a week or so ago and thought — I’d really like to participate.  I then promptly forgot to sign up for it.

But better late than never, right!  (And you can join too because the challenge runs until September 14!)

The Twenty Books of Summer Challenge is hosted by Cathy at 746 Books.   In previous summers, I’ve come up with a list of books I wanted to read that summer, which by mid-July I’ve read about half of and then picked up a few others.  This summer, I’m going to try and follow my list, but I make no promises.  I say this because I can be easily distracted by new shiny books either on the library or store shelf or arriving on my e-reader.   Continue reading

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Top Ten Tuesday: Books I Haven’t Read

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This week’s Top Ten Tuesday (hosted by Broke and the Bookish) asks us to ponder the hyped books that we haven’t read for one reason or another.  Here’s my list for this week.

Books or series I haven’t read yet, but would like to (at some point):
1.  The Mortal Instruments series  by Cassandra Clare
2.  City of Stairs by Robert Jackson Bennett
3.  Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard
4.  The Stormlight Archive by Brandon Sanderson
5.  The Queen of Tearling series by Erika Johnson
6.  The Maeve Kerrigan series by Jane Casey
7 . Southern Reach series by Jeff Vandemeer

Books or series I haven’t read any or all of and don’t intend to:
8..  The 50 Shades books (or really anything) by E.L. James
9.  The Selection by Kiera Cass (listened to the audiobook of the first one and hated it.  I hated every character in it.  I’m not sure why I finished, but I did.)
10. Cinder by Marissa Meyer (read the first one and wasn’t impressed)

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Musing Mondays: Pay by the Page

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Time to start the week off with Musing Mondays hosted by A Daily Rhythm.

Today’s random question asks: So, apparently Amazon is now going to pay itsKindle Unlimited & Select authors by pages read. You can read more about this {here}. What do you think of this? Share your thoughts!

My first thought was — boy, authors are going to have to make sure that every single page of their book is interesting or else run the risk of losing not just readers but also money.

And then I thought about how reading isn’t necessarily the same for everyone.  Some people like to read the last page of the mystery novel first and then see if an how the writer gets there.  Sometimes we get bored with a book and skim.  Or there are times when only certain portions of a book are interesting or we want to read the juicy parts first.  How exactly will all of these be addressed by this new program?  Will there be a time limit once you start reading?  For example, if I start a book and then get distracted by three other shiny new things, will the first author suffer if I read ten pages now and a hundred pages a few weeks later?

I don’t want to see writers get short changed.  And I’m not sure that reading is something that you can necessarily pay the page for.

It may make sense to sell music this way — breaking up CDs into tracks. But I’m not sure it will necessarily work for digital books.

And before we get started on a rant about the evil that is Amazon, let me say that I am a user and fan of Amazon.  For one thing, as brick and mortar stores have less and less shelf space for books that appeal to me, I’m glad Amazon is there so that I can easily find and purchase what I want.   I’ve ranted about this before, but I get depressed when I  visit the sci-fi and fantasy section of my local bookstores and see less space given to more traditional offerings in that genre and more space given to paranormal romance.   I get that these sell, but if you don’t offer me (and other readers) the chance to buy more than just paranormal romance or a tie-in novel, odds are we don’t buy them!   Amazon allows me to find my “niche” books and enjoy them.

And hey, that Amazon Prime is totally cool for the streaming video stuff.

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All Good Things: A Star Trek Podcast, Episode 44: Medical Ethics

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This week, Barry and I celebrate our podcast’s first birthday wishing we could have a nice slice of cellular pep-tide cake.  After we discuss this week’s news, we delve into our main topic — medical ethics in Star Trek.

Star Trek has predicated a lot of technological advances and while I still wish they’d come up with a hypospray for getting shots, there are some interesting questions raised by all five series about medicine.

You can listen to the installment below or download it HERE.

http://www.podbean.com/media/player/ivgmp-572042

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When We Were Animals by Joshua Gaylord

When We Were Animals

For most of When We Were Animals, Joshua Gaylord pulls off the trick of writing a hybrid werewolf and coming-of-age-novel that is clever, subtle and utterly compelling.

Not since Joss Whedon used a werewolf in Buffy the Vampire Slayer has the supernatural being used to comment on the transformation and confusing time of being a teenager been so well done.

When the children in her small town hit a certain age, they begin to undergo a type of transformation. Three nights a month, then become wild, savage — shedding clothes and societal norms to run in the woods and do things that animals do. Lumen is a bit of a late bloomer, not undergoing the process until later in her teenage years, though there is one particular boy who is willing to try and help her along with the change.

There’s also something that happened — a twist that Gaylord hides right in plain sight for much of the novel. That is, until he smacks you squarely between the eyes in the novel’s final chapters as if to say, “You should have been playing closer attention to what the left hand was going, but I had you completely distracted with the fireworks I had in my right hand.” It’s a nice twist that more than makes up for the fact that I felt the novel was starting to lose a bit of momentum once Lumen transforms and we see her life from that point forward.

When We Were Animals is a surprisingly fun, entertaining and thought provoking novel. It’s also of one of those books that has passages that are so eloquent you can’t help but go back to read them again, allowing them to wash back over you and marveling and Gaylord’s technique and storytelling.

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Comic Book Friday: Amazing Spider-Man, Volume 1.1: Learning to Crawl

Amazing Spider-Man, Vol. 1.1: Learning to Crawl

As part of the last Spider-Man reboot, writer Dan Slott takes us back to the early days of Peter Parker’s career as the web slinger and offers us this series that takes place in between the fables stories by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko.

Seems that our favorite web-slinger had an early fan — and it wasn’t just Flash Thompson. It’s a fellow science-geek who doesn’t have powers like Peter does but still wants some of the spotlight — or at least to have Spider-Man notice him. To this end, he becomes a villain of sorts called Clash who uses sounds and sonics as his weapons.

There are a few nice moments in this one. Things like Peter having to go to the school counselor to work through his anger and guilt issues (or the perceived ones). The moments of personal exploration of Peter Parker in the early days of his being Spider-Man are well done. It’s just too a shame the rest of the story doesn’t live up to these flashes of fun.

I can see what Slott is trying to do here with Clash and setting up a parallel storyline to what Peter is going through. But a lot of this material falls a bit flat and it begins to lose its impact by the time we reach the end of the story. The title of this storyline is “Learning to Crawl” and, at times, it feels like that is exactly what the story is doing — crawling.

Maybe I’m just not the right audience for Slott. Or maybe my nostalgia for my days of regularly reading Spidey are clouding my judgment.

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Review: Star Wars: Lords of the Sith by Paul S. Kemp

Lords of the Sith

The first couple of chapters of Paul S. Kemp’s Lords of the Sith reminded me of my childhood, playing in the yard with my Star Wars action figures. I could create a wide variety of scenarios and battles among the action figures, including making Darth Vader the baddest bad guy in all the universe.

The bookends of this one make Vader (and to a lesser extend Emperor Palpatine) just that. Set in between Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope, this story establishes Vader as a complete and total bad-ass. In the opening chapter, Vader uses his ship to kamikaze another after he’s ejected to board the ship and then takes out an entire crew of 24 with just his lightsaber and the Force. At this point, I was fully hooked, wondering if and how this book couple top that. But I was ready to give it the chance to do so.

Unfortunately, the book peaks early and never quite gets back to that point of pure awesomeness that felt like it was straight out of my childhood back yard. Instead, we get a lot of characters who are part of the growing rebellion that we have little or no connection with in the movies. I understand from looking at other reviews that there is a connect to the animated universe, but I’ve not had the time to delve as deeply into that part of a galaxy far, far away as I’d like.

Vader and the Emperor travel to an outer world that is the source of the rebellion. The rebel leaders plan to try to take our Vader and the Emperor. Things do not go as planned.

It’s not that this isn’t interesting so much as I felt like for a book titled Lords of the Sith, we don’t spend a lot of time with Vader and the Emperor.

I wanted to love this one, but ended up only really liking it. It has some great moments, but overall it’s not my favorite Star Wars tie-in novel since the books rebooted.

In the interest of full disclosure, I received a digital ARC of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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Review: The Mysterious Disappearance of the Reluctant Book Fairy by Elizabeth George

The Mysterious Disappearance of the Reluctant Book Fairy

While many of us can figuratively lose ourselves in a book, Jane Shore has the ability to literally do so. As a girl, she learned that she could tether herself to reality and simply step inside the pages of a book to experience her favorite scenes and stories. Jane shared this ability with some of her friends, but as she grew older she stopped stepping into the pages of great novels and became a librarian.

Until one day when her path crosses an old friend who encourages Jane (who moved away and lives under a new name) to use her gift for profit. As Annapurna (love the name), they sell the opportunity for people to lose themselves in timeless works of literature.

I’ve been a big fan of Elizabeth George and her Lynley mysteries for a while now. So when the opportunity came along to check out an original story, I jumped at it. This wonderful novella is a lot of fun and while it’s not quite a hard-hitting mystery that George usually delivers, that doesn’t make it any less of a delight to read. I especially enjoyed some of the rules that Jane and her partner set up for what books or even scenes from books can be visited. Jane won’t allow readers to step into E.L. James’ novels, there are no love triangles and there is only one vampire worthy of meeting (and it ain’t a sparkly one!).

A quick, delightful read The Mysterious Disappearance of the Reluctant Book Fairy makes me curious to see what other offerings the Bilbiophiles series has. And seeing that there is an entry from Laura Lippman, I can predict where I might land next.

In the interest of full disclosure, I received a digital ARC of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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