Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Forthcoming Blogs

Here are the book reviews that will be forthcoming next week (I still need to write them, but they are what I am hoping to deliver):


2 x Curse Words Dictionary – one post two books, compare and contrast DONE

The Last Unicorn - it has been a slow read, I should have been done this a month ago, but hopefully by next week it will be done and I can write to you my contradicting feelings in regards to the book. DONE

The Blueberry Girl - yes it’s a kids book, but it’s by Neil Gaiman.  Deal with it. DONE

Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief - Young adult, okay over the age of 10.  But hey I was totally grooving on Harry Potter so once again deal with it. - EDIT:  Will do a review of series instead, once I have finished reading/listening to the series.  

My Feelings on Audio books and the misconceptions I had about them - not a book but a blog post idea I would like to explore. DONE

Books a I should read because I have taken them out from the library Vs. Books I want to read because they are taunting me from my bookshelf – a quick post with a pros and cons list.  I need to keep my reading ambitions somewhere were I might uphold them.  - EDIT: HAHAHAHA!!!  Solved problem by returning all material to the library and giving myself free reign to read what I feel like now.  Yup, good bye previous ambitions welcome new distractions.  

 

Any way you might ask why am I writing you this list.  Because if I don’t, I won’t remember what I want to blog about.  Life is going on super crazy hectic overdrive mode this week and if anyone throws me a curve ball I may just have a fit. 

It is the last week of Joseph.  Full house last night.  It was an AMAZING performance; the energy was through the roof.  I am hosting a cast party Saturday after the show, and with being in the play and working full time, I have to squeeze in a myriad of things to do before then to be the proper hostess I plan on being.  That being said my life is a wee bit hectic from here on out.  Running on adrenaline.  LOVE IT!!!!!!!!

Monday, June 15, 2009

Changes to be implemented

Here is the deal.  I am struggling a bit with this blog.  I am not sure were I want to go with it.  I have an idea. I have been shopping around at other peoples blogs (A Dribble of Ink, Pat's Fantasy Hotlist) and I like what I see.  But I also don’t want to be exactly them.  I want to be me in my own blog.  I like the casual wittyness and freestyling action of Patrick Rothfuss but am not sure if I can afford that in my own book blog or if I attempt to do it, it comes off as hooky. 

I like giving a back story as per why I have chosen a book, but it may not be necessary and simply extra writing on my behalf.  Some authors do it.  But then they have earned the right to.  Do I need to earn the right to, or can I just do it?  Will it seam pretentious?  Do I care?

I also realize that I am not doing current material.  Their blogs are all about keeping up with recent or yet to be released material.  And they have earned that right obviously as they are receiving ARC.  I have not. I also feel that there is a lot of good material out there that I haven’t read yet and I don’t want to miss it if I am only concentrating on new material. 

Here are some for sures though.  I am going to take away the rating system.  I don’t like giving books a pass or a fail and I certainly don’t like coming up with stars.  Each story has its strengths and its weakness’, some more evident than others, and depending who you are you may zone in on certain ones more clearly than other people will.  Therefore it seams impossible to give something a true ratting.  It makes me feel dirty trying to rate a book, and so I won’t do it.  I will review/pontificate/ramble about a book still or else I would have very little reason to maintain this blog. 

I have an idea for a layout and some artwork that I would like to include on my page.  A new design, possibly even a new location if one is needed or one gives me better features to work with.  These are technical things I will need someone more technical than me to work with me on this.  Also the artwork I want will require someone more talented than me.  This may cost me and at this point money is a fine luxury I will retain from spending on a free blog.  In the future… possibly, if I can’t figure out how to do it myself.

There is also some photo editing programs I think I may like to acquire.  I like pictures of my books with my dog, as she never ceases to amuse me.  However it is hooky.  So in the future, I may just go with the cover art of a book. I do like the look of it as used on other websites.  Perhaps I will keep some Roo photos but not on a regular basis. I am unsure.  I am on the fence between moving towards professional or maintaining hooky in this instance. 

I will also cease to try and pigeon hole a book in a genre.  Some books cross so many lines it all depends on were you are standing in accordance to were they may be placed in a book store.  And that is by no means a be all end all.  As a rule I generally read fantasy or romance and anything that may touch those genres. 

Overall if I can figure it out or cajole someone to do it for free this place may be getting a facelift.  I am still stumbling around with my reviews and how I would like to do them, and I feel it is only fair to be honest and straightforward with you (anyone who may stumble across my site) to be aware that this is a work in progress and that I can only hope that with practice and perseverance this becomes the sight I have envisioned it to be.  That or I write my own book finally and someone else can implement my esthetic visions for this blog and I can blog at random in a rambling style that people will worship and view as quirky.  Yah I like option two better.  

- The Book Minstrel

P.S.  Besides finishing a post I see no reason for signing it at the end, except that it is more like a letter and I don't think I care for that.  Unless you are going to add a PostScript like now.  But whatever.  I could just add an edited thing.  Makes more sense.  

I should also start naming my blog posts after the books I am reviewing.  I find it boring and against my witty nature, however it will provide an ease of maneuvering throughout my blog that might not have been their before.  I do like ease, so I may change my ways.  

Monday, June 1, 2009

The Literary Hangover

 

WARNING:  This post was meant to go directly after Dead and Gone.  Furthermore, the Neverwhere book review was supposed to be published before the Dead and Gone book review as that was the order I read them in.  However, as I am doing mass posting today, it got a little out of hand.  Also, I probably won’t have much time to post anything for about another month.  We are getting into crunch time with production of Joseph, so my access to a computer with Blogger will be in the wee hours of the morning when I need to be gathering beauty rest. 

Literary Hangover

My book picking skills vary. I have a semi system which I implement in the loosest of terms.  Something heavy followed by something light.  Something light for when my schedule is really heavy.  Something heavy and all engrossing when I really need to escape from life. 

I don’t remember this happening so much when I was younger and first getting into fantasy, but now I find it a common occurrence.  The literary hangover.  Sometimes I can pull through the ending of a book with very little lingering feelings of loss.  But sometimes it takes me a very long time to find something to fill that void.  It is like going through a constant cycle and rotation of breakups.  It can become a little weary, to say the least.  And sometimes leaves me feeling a bit jaded towards a new piece of material. 

However I use the literary hangover as a gauge for how good the books where; the longer the lingering affects, the better the book.  The longer it stays with me, that thrum of the book, the better I know the book is.  Even after I get over the hangover, and am into other material, if I find myself still thinking of those books, I know that they are highly recommendable, and worth the time of a re-read. 

I like picking books in a series because I can offset the hangover with the next book in the installment.  But when I come to the end, I feel void, and empty times however many books I just covered.  I will often put down a book mid-action just to prolong the life expectancy of the book.  I will avoid reading while on the bus and opt to stare out the window instead thinking about the book rather than reading it to prolong its life expectancy. 

When I am reading solitary books, or am reading an unfinished series, I have to have the next book lined up in anticipation for the lull.  However, sometimes even with a good book lined up there is still that pause, as I am unable to concentrate on the new material fully.  It feels sometimes like I am wasting time when this delay occurs. 

I have experimented with a couple of cures, pieces to draw me through that lull.  But nothing but time heals a wound left by a good book.

Happy Reading.

Green Pies

It would seam that Neil Gaiman is a love or hate.  People either rave about him or do not like his style.  Mostly I have heard ravers, but Gaiman himself admits that some may like some of his material but not others, and until one has been subjected to all his material one can not truly call themselves a hater, because perhaps they have not yet found the work that he has written that speaks to them.  That was a rather long paraphrase and perhaps slightly out of context, but that is what I took out of what he wrote on the subject. 

I myself was quite indifferent for the longest time.  I wanted to love, but had not yet found a material I could relate to and thus was hesitant to keep wading through lest I never come across the material that spoke to me.  I saw Stardust the movie.  And was itching to pick up the book.  But what made it for me (the bit that tipped the scales) was the gay pirate.  He does not exist in the book.  I was so thoroughly disappointed that I was unable to value the book. 

I picked up Coraline.  It was for children, it was odd, it was creepy.  It was like a weird waking dream (not a good dream, but not quite a nightmare truly either).  I wanted to like it, but no amount of wanting quite struck it home for me.  Indifference was the best I could muster towards Coraline.  I did see the movie, was quite excited for it.  Hoped perhaps it would pull a Stardust and kick the books but.  It was good, but left me with a similar taste of indifference in my mouth. 

Enter Patrick Rothfuss and his many book recommendations.  He professes the shear brilliance of Neil Gaiman the way I worship Robin Hobb.  He recommended Neverwhere as a good starting point for those unsure of Gaiman.  And although I had tried several other starting points, a part of me was still determined to understand the magnitude of Gaiman’s brilliance.  And thus is why the third time is the charm (never mind the idiom “Fool me once, shame on you.  Fool me twice, shame on me.”).

 

Book:  Neverwhere

Author: Neil Gaiman

Genre: Urban Fantasy

Pass or Fail:  Pass

Stars: **** 1/3 (4 1/3)

Richard Mayhew is well on his way to a decent London life, he has a job, a fiancĂ©, an apartment, and a routine.  His life is planned and plodding ahead according to said plan. 

And then a girl stumbles out of a wall, bleeding and in desperate need of help.  Door.

Within twenty-four hours of assisting her, he no longer exists in the London Above, the London as he knows it.  He becomes virtually invisible.  He has fallen through the cracks of society and now finds himself in London Bellow.  A world of secrets and lost time. Of underground labyrinths and rooftop vistas.  A London that London doesn’t even know about or has forgotten existed. 

But in London Bellow he is hard pressed to find anyone who is willing to explain to him his present circumstances.  In feeling dejected he finds the one person who influenced his current situation, Door, the girl who needed help. 

A girl who still needs help as she is on a desperate mission to stay alive and find the culprits who killed her family.  Reluctantly he is enveloped into her entourage on her quest. 

Quest – commencing… GO READ THE BOOK if you want the rest of the tail. 

This book has a great cast of characters.  Characters that are uniquely their own, and bring their own baggage to the table.  Characters that one could love and one could hate.  Although I did not find this an extraordinarily character driven book.  I found I liked the characters, was very, very fond of the characters, but was in it more for the journey and adventure.

It is a humorous book.  And it is humorous in the description of everyday events described poignantly in a witty but truthful way.  Bluntly truthful.  Cruelly truthful.  And silly.  He is silly sometimes, and I appreciate that.  He thinks outside the box and perhaps if your mind is not also outside that box it would explain why not all people understand and can appreciate all of his works.  But once your mind is outside that box with him, well you are in for one hell of a treat.  

I loved this book.  This book is what has persuaded me to reserve the rest of his material from the library, to find other material were my mind travels outside of the regular norms on the journey he is about to weave. 

This author drives me a bit mad.  It seams that he has his finger in so many creative pies.  Actually I am plain out jealous.  Spiting green with envy.  He has so many different genres of creativity under his belt and he seams to draw in audiences no matter what the medium.  I wish he would just stick to one so that it might be feasible to reach his level of creative genius. But now, how is anyone ever going to outshine Neil?  He has moved into the realm of mysticisms among his own kind. 

 

An Ode to Vamp obsessions

 I can’t quite explain my fascination with the idea of Vampires.  I don’t even know why I started watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer (anyone wants to by me the DVD's I am so game) in the first place.  But what I do know is that if I hear buzz about some vamp show/book/movie I will most definitely check it out.  It’s like telling me to not push the big red button, now I have to. 

So I heard buzz about Twilight, tried to resist.  I bought the books then waited around nervously for them to show up in the mail.  Then when they didn’t show up when intended I proceeded to drive everyone around me crazy.  Got the books. Devoured them in a week. Then proceeded to annoy the crap out of everyone in anticipation for the movie.  Which was poorly done by the way, but I still own it, so that says something about vampire’s and their allure and me. 

(By the way, just went and watched the new video trailer for New Moon - really good.   Already I am anticipating significant improvements from Twilight).  That went horribly.  I caved so fast you would think Oakleys were on Sale for 90% off one day only.  (Something of that magnitude and extremity)

Next while I am jonesing for a lack of vampires, I stumble across Charlaine Harris.  Actually I stumble across True Blood.  And find out that it is based on books.  So I proceed to check out all of the books from the library.  LOVE IT!  Mind you I loved them for various reasons.  I don’t know much about the South (states south).  I am purely Canadian.  So this was a venture in getting to know a bit about it, in a fun and entertaining and completely non realistic way. 

I liked Sookie.  And I like her varying love interests.  A part of me was disappointed she never ‘really’ hooked up with Alcide.  But a part of me gets that she couldn’t.  I am a Quinn fan when it gets down to it.  Don’t know why, but I like the passion and the idea that they could have a real future together.  With the whole package of family and growing old together.  She can’t get that with any vamp man no matter how much she loves him. 

And even if she decides she wants to turn to be with them forever the evidence presented in the books suggest that eventually they will get bored of each other and go their own way.  That doesn’t exactly express romance or true love for me, so vamp love while all lusty doesn’t seam like a solid foundation in Charlaine’s world. 

Now I did read the books out of order.  So that may have affected my ability to like/love certain characters.  For example.  Since I didn’t read the first books till the end, my ability to love Bill, just didn’t happen.  I already disliked him for cheating.  Couldn’t love him after that.  And while Eric might have the sex appeal of a God, I just can’t take him seriously as a love interest.  And what I mean is a real foundation of love kind of guy.   I can take him seriously as a sex toy.  That I can totally manage. 

The books were good.  They had an interesting idea that I totally would have loved the opportunity to run with.  But what I would have writin would have been totally different from what Charlaine has written, based on my love of high fantasy and the fact that I am not from the South.  The books have this strangely addicting quality, and I bet that if you read them in order it would be even more compelling, like a snowball gathering momentum down hill. 

But what I really really really want to blab about in this post is the TV show.  After reading the books, I got a little interested in seeing the TV show.  But it never reached that frothing frenzy level I can get obsessed to.  I was at the book store one weekend (two weeks ago to be precise) buying up a collection of books I would need to rearrange my bookshelf to accommodate, and I thought to myself “isn’t True Blood supposed to be released on DVD soon?”  And while at the cash, there it be behind the counter.  So I bought it.  Probably paid too much for it, but I wasn’t in the mood to shop around as I am on a tight time schedule right now with the play, and the times were I have a car and stores are open doesn’t always correspond. 

Anywho, I get True Blood Season One.  I pop it in the DVD player when I finally get home that evening…. And I am hooked.  At first I was like.. “who is this older dude playing Bill?”  And then he kind of explains that the years were different back then.  Time took its toll more clearly and he was younger when he was turned, but just looks older.  And I found his accent a bit strange.  And the way he treats Sookie a bit strange.  Like he wants to be possessive like in old days and court her properly, but is working in a time he isn’t familiar with.  Also the way he says her name, I thought was a little off, however the more I watched it the sexier that became. And I had already disliked him from the books.  All those quirks on screen and my previous dislike from the books, and still the more time I spent watching the series the sexier he became. Truly…. I am all frothy over him now.   Now that is good showmanship.  

I then wrote a paragraph in regards to the show and its effects/involvement in my sex life, and then deleted it. Really there is such a thing as too much information.  It was kind of funny, and a wee embarrassing.  Doesn’t pertain to duplicating anything scene on TV nor doing it while watching the show.  Just don’t need people trying to picture things in the wrong direction.  Nor in any direction for that matter.

So after watching the whole first season I really liked the changes made.  Her books were short and very one sided and I wasn’t sure how well they would translate to the screen.  I knew it would be necessary to take some liberties and generally I am against liberties being taken with print material.  Translation from book to screen normally goes horribly awry because what can be accomplished in print effectively doesn’t always manage on screen. 

However, I liked the liberties taken.  I like the fact that we got to experience other characters and their POV as well.  I like the changes in the story arcs.  I found them effective and added depth to the characters I felt was lacking in the books.  I felt like in the books there was more to the characters that just wasn’t written.  That loss feels fleshed out on screen.  But it also allows for a more dramatic interpretation from the books, were as the books were more light and playful. 

I also realize that if they continue down the path that they are taking in regards to translating the books to the screen they may vary severely off that path to a point were Season 9 doesn’t resemble anything like Book 9.  And I think I am prepared for that.  It’s like watching an alternate reality.  Like if we had these characters set up here like this, but they made this decision differently, how would it affect the outcome of the whole series?  Would we still end up down the same path?  Or would we wind up somewhere similar but never the same? 

Other aspects of the show that I really enjoyed was the soundtrack and the score.  The score was beautiful and leaves me tingling a bit all over.  They use theme music for Bill and Sookie when they are going to have a romantic encounter and that leaves you all set up with anticipation and makes it a beautiful experience.  I like it because it reminds me of Buffy and Angel – they have beautiful theme music that would make me cry.  Sookie and Bill’s given the right kind of dramatic tension has the possibility to make me cry too.   Mind you I am not the same sappy high school girl who is watching this, so I can’t make any guarantees. 

The opening credit sequence is effective and I understand it (after watching some of the show with audio commentary on) however, I do not enjoy it.  I don’t like the dead possum and the decaying fox, found it a bit gross. 

I am so looking forward to seeing the development of this series and its variation to the books that I can’t wait for it to be released on DVD.  I have gone and gotten myself all set up with the movie network package and an extra TV adapter (for high deff ) to be installed in my house.  Yes, score one for HBO, score zero for my ability to wait it out (because inevitably I will end up buying the DVD too). 

This would also be a good time to give you a solid reviewing on Book Nine of the Series.  I had to wait damn near 3 weeks to get it thought the library and I had one of the first copies reserved.  I could have went out and got it new in hard cover but this seams to me like a soft cover collection for me anyways.  Buy them to match the DVD release covers or something to that affect, as I don’t really like the art on the originals.  Too kidsy picture book for my tastes and the books are so in the opposite stream of child oriented. 

 

Book: Dead and Gone

Author: Charlaine Harris

Genre: Urban Fantasy

Pass or Fail:  Pass

Stars:**** (a solid 4 Stars)

 

To be perfectly honest the book was good but not great.  I haven’t found anything that truly compares to the sweeping story arcs, world building, and character development brought to me in high fantasy.  So whenever I am reading a book, somewhere in the back of my mind it is being compared to high fantasy and what the genre represents to me.  The only other variant that can truly distract me and allow for some weakness in those regards is if it is freaking hilarious.  And while Charlaine has humor she has humor in a manner that doesn’t always connect with me.  It is I packaged up in these tight little bundle that hit me sometimes, and I will just laugh.  However, other times it completely misses the mark for me.  It may be that I don’t get southerner humor.  All that being said I still enjoy her series and love the idea of it.

I sometimes find her terse and short in her writing.  Like they went from point A to point B and brushed over some of the details to the journey.  But I feel like there is more to the details and therefore the characters and it would make her a much stronger author if she were to write that missing information. However, it would also invariable change the tone of her books, and then they wouldn’t be what they are.  And while I think it may improve them, she may loose her audience too because of that.  Take them for what they are.  That is how all books must be taken.  Either they work for you or they don’t for your own personal reasons.  Not everyone is a character lover like I am.  Some people like more description, some more dialogue.  Personal tastes. 

DAG.  This adventure in Sookie land involved the shifters/weres coming out of the proverbial closet. That is the opening of the book.  What sets the tone is Crystal’s murder.   Sookie’s brother, Jason, is a prime suspect (yet again) even though she is certain it wasn’t him so she tries listening in to no avail.  It is odd to me that she has this power but that she can’t seam to use it effectively.  If I were guilty of some crime that would be all I would be able to think about, but that is me.  I have guilt bred in to me.   

There is some backlash in regards to the shifters/weres coming out, but the main focus of the story was on the events in Sookies life, that may or may not be related to one homogonous group or another.  Some may suspect that it is related to the were/shifters coming out, and certainly the author perhaps wants us to think down those lines for a little bit at the start anyways. And for a little bit too we suspect the Fellowship of the Sun behind the orchestrated mess, but they are just too stupid to be that smart. 

However there is trouble a brewing in fairy land and soon after we know without a doubt who the culprits are. 

There is also Eric’s claim over Sookie and her righteous indignation against it.  There is the sexual tension and the culmination of said tension to keep one amused.  But that isn’t a foundation for a solid relationship.  I am a relationship future type girl.  So when it comes to my books I like a relationship development over a tryst development.   There is more meet to a relationship, it is solid, and warm and comfortable and it consists of doing laundry and groceries and not just fucking like bunnies.  I like that comfort of being able to be completely oneself and dealing with the day to day mundane with someone you desire by your side.

There is a confrontation with Quinn and his claims on her.  And I totally get what he is saying and was mad reading that part that Sookie couldn’t grasp it.  She lets her vampire lovers get away with not putting her first and understands that they can’t to an extent.  But her human suitor (kind of… shifter) gets the short end of the shift, and told to kick it when he puts her second in place of family.   Now a man who puts family first would be a good man to set up shop with for the rest of your life.  I still harbor feelings for Quinn and hope that he wins her in the end. After she is done her love affair with Eric.  Cause you know… I don’t mind reading their trysts.  Plus I want Sookie to get Eric out of her system. 

And while were at it lets discuss Sam.  If Sookie isn’t ever going to consider him seriously, please, please Charlaine write him a happily ever after, throw the dog a bone (sorry couldn’t resist myself).  The man deserves it.  He is so kind hearted. He shouldn’t have to sit on the fence forever; he is worth more than that.  But then maybe that is what wins him Sookie in the end.  That he is willing to put up with her shit and wait it out till she is ready for him.  The always a friend, never more, finally getting the more.   Mind you I think he should always shift into a Basset Hound.  No biases here.  Just complete honesty. 

In conclusion the book is a fun read.  I got through it in a couple of days (would have been shorter if I had some solid back to back reading time).  The story line and the time line are kind of blurring together for me now and it has only been about a week (at the time I wrote the review), but I remember the overall just of it.  I would definitely pick it up again, but would probably do it in conjunction of the release of that Season to HBO.  Here’s to hoping that the series gets to this story arc.  I definitely want to meet Nial on screen. 

 

Writing for Therapy

Do you ever just write to clear your mind?  Open up a word dock and let flow what is bothering you, simply to get it out there to better understand it and process it.  I do that a bit.  Sometimes I will be writing about something completely cool and happy, and then it will remind me of something else, and then I am going off on a tangent about things that annoy me.   

And then I delete it because you don’t need the harsh flow of negative energy poisoning your vibe when you come to visit my blog. 

Have you ever been around people that give off negative energy?  Or just suck the energy right out of you?  There is only so much of that one person can take.  I wouldn’t want my blog to be like that.  I wouldn’t want people avoiding it because of that. 

But sometimes I just need to get it out of me so it isn’t inside eating me up.  So I write it all out.  Sometimes I save it, sometimes I don’t.  But I don’t post them.  Not unless they are funny and not relating to people who are close to me to whom it may hurt. 

Sometimes I even find gems of story nuggets in there.  Something that rings to me like a characters dialogue in a story.  A Monologue.  And those most definitely are the ones I save.  I keep them and then edit them to be a story bit.  Then save them on my computer for when I need them.  I don’t know what story they belong to, but I know that when I need it I will have this character ready to jump in with their ideas on the world.  I don’t know how I know that they belong in a story, but something about it speaks to me and says, “I am good idea, a good expression to be out there.  You won’t want to lose me even though you don’t know how I fit in yet.”  It feels a little like pack-rating. 

And pack-rating is a little against my nature.  And a little within it.  My parents have a cluttered house and it drives me mad.  However, I have my own version of clutter too.  Like the yarn basket and knitting supplies even though I don’t knit.  I desire to, but am pursuing books with a heated passion like a cat in heat. 

But I do purge on a semi regular basis.  When something gets to me I put it on my list for cleaning night.  So every time I clean there is a new task that is different from the standard, but not reoccurring on a weekly basis.  Tonight it is dryer sheeting my couches and purging my sock basket along with the regular variety. 

Is it odd of me to look forward to cleaning?  I like a clean house.  It makes me feel better.  Like I think clearer or something because there is no clutter or dirt to disturb my thoughts. 

Don’t remind me about the basement.  The basement clutter mentioned is a taboo.  It is strictly in the category of not my responsibility.  And therefore blocked from my radar of unorganized things that annoy the crap out of me. (UPDATE:  Basement clutter has been re-organized [not by me] to accommodate band practice.   Will need to sort out sewing room next though.)

And that is how writing for therapy works.  I start with a clear linear thought pattern and now I have rambled my way into cleaning.  I would generally go and delete it and try to get back on track, but some of it is kind of funny.  And none of it is hurtful or harmful to people I know.  And so I am keeping it as an example of the twisted paths my brain will follow and a PG rated example of writing to express oneself and get matters out their and figured out.