Kushiel’s Dart Read-Along, Week 6: Chapters 46 – 54

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I got a bit off track with the read-along for Jacqueline Carey’s Kushiel’s Dart.   I’m not attempting to catch up a bit and picking up where I left off.

These questions for week six come from Grace over at Books Without Any Pictures and cover chapters 46 – 54.

One of the questions from last week dealt with initial impressions of Waldemar Selig’s steading. Now that we’ve finally met him, what are your thoughts about him? Do you think he suspects that Phedre knows anything, and will he continue to play a role in the story?

I feel like Selig was a bit of a legendary figure in the last section, up to and including his introduction.   Here we get to see the man behind the myth and maybe understand why his reputation has been built up as it has.  The notion that he’s the one ruler who can unite the various people against the Scaldi is an interesting one — and one that Phedre tries to nip in the bud, though she loses the opportunity.  I can’t help but feel that while Selig is a larger than life, unifying figure, he’s not quite prepared to play the political game on the same level that Phedre has learned.  He seems to either be too trusting of her or he’s underestimated her abilities.  Either way, I can see this coming back to bite him.

What did you think of the visit to Lodur? Do you think it will impact how Phedre thinks of herself?

For too long, I feel like Phedre has underestimated if and how she can play the political game.  She’s sat back a bit and allowed things to happen to her.  The visit to Lodur may have given her a new perspective on her training and what her role can be.  I find it interesting that while she thinks of escaping before the meeting, it’s only after the meeting with Lodur that she formulates a plan and begins to set it in motion.

Phedre and Joscelin have both gone through some harrowing experiences in the past few chapters. How do you think it will change them going forward?

I have a feeling that we’re going to see Joscelin struggle a bit more with the changes that he’s been forced to undertake in this section.  He’s had to betray his oaths (at least as he sees it), though it could be argued that he had some very good reasons to do so.   I expect guilt and remorse to come into play at some point and that he will take his betrayal of who he believed himself to be a lot harder than Phedre might. I feel like the experiences of being a slave and then escaping may harden Phedre a bit and cause her to up her game a bit when and if she crosses paths with Melisandre again. (And I have a feeling a showdown is coming before we reach the end of the book!)

If you were in Phedre or Joscelin’s place, would you have acted the same way in crafting your mastermind escape plan? What are your thoughts on how it worked out?

I think Phedre is learning to plot her moves several steps in advance, but she’s still not thinking through all the implications of her plans.   It’s a good idea to make the move to escape based on the circumstances presented to her, but I don’t think she thought through the weather conditions or that she and Joscelin wouldn’t exactly have the right gear to survive the brutal conditions.   I think that they are both fortunate that there was pursuit of them and that they were able to defeat the pursuers and take their supplies.  If not, I don’t think the escape attempt might have gone as well.

We’re finally getting to observe a budding romance between Phedre and Joscelin. How do you see this playing out? What do you think of it?

So, Joscelin didn’t think that Phedre could enjoy physical intimacy without pain being involved.  I found that revelation very interesting.   I also wonder how much regret he will have at breaking his vows when and if they get back to the world they were so brutally thrust out of.   I had a feeling these two had an eye for each other but as the old adage from Star Trek goes, “Sometimes having is not so pleasing a thing as wanting.  It is not logical, but it is most often true.”

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All Good Things: A Star Trek Podcast, Episode 44: William T. Riker: The Man, the Myth, the Legend

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The only thing that confuses Commander Riker is why it took us so long to do an episode focused on him.

“Mr Worf, fire.”

It’s been twenty-five years since those words were first spoken and the music swelled to a conclusion, ending the third season of Next Generation.   

In celebration of that pivotal moment in Trek history, Barry and I turn the character spotlight onto Commander William T. Riker, also known as Number One, from Star Trek: The Next Generation.  What makes Riker tick and just what makes him such a memorable part of the Trek universe?  Also, we may delve into the pattern that begins to emerge for Riker-centered stories with the poor guy having to question his sanity a lot.

We also discuss the passing of the late, great James Horner and his contribution to the musical landscape of Trek (and other movies).

As always, you can tune in below or follow the link to download HERE.  You can also subscribe in iTunes or via your favorite podcast feeder so you’ll never miss an episode!

http://www.podbean.com/media/player/n53ec-56fb0d

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Review: Those Girls by Lauren Saft

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Those Girls

Heading into junior year, Alex, Mollie and Veronica are the queen bees of their school — and they know it. They’ve all been friends since elementary school, but things are about to start changing for each of them.

Lauren Saft’s Those Girls feels like its channeling the spirit of Mean Girls without any of the heart that made the movie work. The stories are told in alternating points of view from each of our three protagonists and I’ve got to admit that somewhere around a third of the way through the novel, I found myself losing track of certain plot threads, like which girl pined for the boy next door and which one was hooking up with him.

There’s a lot of very bad behavior by all these characters, making each of them completely unsympathetic as the story progresses. Saft tries to get us to understand what motivates each of these girls with the alternating first-person narration, but I slowly found myself getting irritated by the girls and their actions instead of understanding them or sympathizing. Each girl (and the other characters who they come into contact with) come across as shallow, vain and down-right mean. It makes it hard to spend close to 300 pages with them.

Which brings up the question of why I kept reading when I wasn’t really enjoying the novel. I kept hoping that Saft might be setting up Alex, Mollie and Veronica for some kind of a fall in the final chapters or maybe we’d finally see their actions catch up with them. Alas, this doesn’t happen — nor do any of the three appear to really learn anything from their actions. This includes random sex, seducing each other’s boyfriends and two of them slipping the third a roofie that nearly costs a male teacher his job.

Maybe I’m just not the target audience for this novel. Whatever it is, I have to give this one just a single star.

In the interest of a full disclosure, I received an ARC of this book.

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Filed under #20booksofsummer, Amazon Vine, ARC, book review, netgalley, review

Short Movie Thoughts

All the President’s Men

Based on the true story of the journalist duo that pursued the truth behind what happened at the Watergate hotel, All the President’s Men is like catnip to aspiring journalists.

But this one feels more like a police procedural than that of crusading journalists relentlessly pursuing the truth along the lines of Walter and Hildy from His Girl Friday. This one shows Woodward and Bernstein pursuing leads, getting doors shut in their faces and going down blind alleys in the quest for a story. It also gives a hint of the frustration of waiting for things to come in, all while the ticking clock of deadline looms above.

And yet for all of that, the film is never dull. A lot of the credit goes to director Alan J. Pakula and the script by William Goldman. Even knowing how it all ends, it’s still compelling to watch how it all unfolds.

My high school journalism teacher showed this to us in class over the course of several days. Back then, we came away shocked that she’d be allowed to show us a movie that used the f-word this much. This time around, I’m impressed by the acting, writing and directing. Continue reading

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Comic Book Friday: The Flash, Volume 2: Rogues Revolution

Today’s Comic Book Friday is also part of my 20 Books of Summer Challenge.

The Flash, Vol. 2: Rogues Revolution

I’m a bit a novice when it comes to The Flash. My knowledge of the character comes from his portrayal in various television programs — both live action and animated. But I’m interested enough by what I’ve seen in those portrayals to want to go back to the source material and learn more.

This second collection of the New 52 Flash is an interesting one. While many of the characters are familiar, I don’t know enough about their history to definitively say whether what happens here is good, bad or somewhere in between. Back in Central City, the Flash faces overwhelming anti-Flash public sentiment, whipped up by one of his old friends. Couple that with several adversaries coming back into town, all with a new take on their old weapons and you’ve got a very interesting dilemma for the Scarlet Speedster.

I find it interesting that a comic book series would spend a run of issues delving into the minds and psyche of our heroes various foes as this one does. Most of these faces are familiar from the just completed first season of the show and I’ll admit I found myself having to separate what we saw there from what we get here.

I also found it a bit confusing to come across a massive cliffhanger and then go into a storyline that gave us the capsule history of the Flash and had no ties to said cliffhanger. I understand these collected editions are meant to put together a couple of months worth of continuity, but a little more explanation might have left me not scratching my head as I wondered just how and when the flashback to our hero’s origin was going to come into play. I guess this is my Marvel bias showing through because it feels like Stan Lee used to give us a reminder of everyone’s origin every two to three years as a way to welcome in new readers.

Overall, this was an interesting little story. I’m sure to pick up the next installment simply because the cliffhanger left me curious as to where things might go next.

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Booking Through Thursday: Non-Reader Reactions

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What do non-reader friends think about your reading habits? Do they understand? Are they sympathetic? Or are they always trying to get you to “get your nose out of that book?”

I think all things have to be in a balance.  And while I do enjoy getting lost in a book (or tv show or movie or any form of pop culture entertainment), I try not to let that come before relationships with friends, family or the cats.  (Though the cats do enjoy when I read and have a lap they can curl up in which the reading is occurring!)   I think my family and friends understand my loving of reading and support it.

This time of year, I just don’t see how you can’t go to the pool without at least packing a book in the bag (or your e-reader) along with the towel, sunglasses and sunscreen.  Poolside (or beach reading if you’re there) is one of the great pleasures of summer!

And I use the library so much that I figure I’m getting my fair share out of it as well as the fair share of people who don’t read as much or don’t use the library!

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All Good Things: A Star Trek Podcast, Episode 43: Questions and Answers

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If you listen to this week’s installment, this picture will make a LOT more sense.

On this week’s installment of the All Good Things podcast, Barry and I put each other on the spot. We each ask the other three questions — from the sublime to the absurd — and then try to provide a reasonable, intelligent discord on the subject at hand (even Barry’s last question, which I will leave for you to listen and find out just how wacky and fun it is).

We also discuss news of the week and avoid a long rant by me on the Star Trek/Planet of the Apes crossover (keep tuning in!  It’s coming).

You can tune in below (assuming the embed code works like it says it will) or you can listen and/or download it HERE.

http://www.podbean.com/media/player/h3w78-56d1be

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